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From Anxiety to Advocacy: Casey McGrath's Postpartum Experience
Episode 12028th November 2023 • Momma Has Goals • Kelsey Smith
00:00:00 00:56:09

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Today, we're joined by one of my dearest childhood friends Casey McGrath for a candid discussion on motherhood, birth trauma, and postpartum struggles. Casey shares her journey, from a traumatic birth experience to postpartum anxiety, painting a vivid picture of the challenges mothers face.

Casey's story encompasses the emotional rollercoaster of motherhood, balancing independence and organization while preparing for pregnancy and labor. Her story takes a dramatic turn with a C-section, internal hemorrhaging, and the emotional aftermath. We delve into the impact on her relationships and family dynamics, highlighting the resilience of mommas like Casey.

Postpartum anxiety becomes a focal point as Casey bravely opens up about her struggles and the importance of seeking support. Her journey extends beyond the first year, emphasizing the value of ongoing help and community. If you're a mom with dreams and a desire to balance motherhood and personal growth, Casey's inspiring story is a must-listen!

What you'll hear in this episode:

[0:00] Motherhood, birth trauma, and postpartum struggles.

[2:25] Motherhood journey with a focus on pregnancy and labor preparation.

[4:20] Birth trauma and internal hemorrhaging after C-section.

[9:35] Postpartum anxiety and independence.

[12:05] Postpartum anxiety and seeking support.

[17:20] Postpartum anxiety and resources for support.

[20:35] Postpartum depression and anxiety support.

[27:05] Work-life balance as a nurse after having a child.

[29:55] Childcare challenges and trusting others to watch children.

[32:50] Postpartum anxiety and setting boundaries.

[38:55] Lactation counseling and breastfeeding support.

[41:50] Postpartum care and support for new mothers.

[47:45] Career changes, self-discovery, and prioritizing personal growth.

[51:10] Prioritizing self-care and family time as a busy parent.


Follow Kelsey: @thisiskelseysmith

Follow Momma Has Goals: @mommahasgoals

Download the app for Apple or Android

Learn more at

Join our text list. Text "Goals" to (707) 347-0319



They always say, oh, it takes a village to raise a child. And this code actually fought against that and said, it doesn't take a village to raise a child. It takes a village to support a mother. Yeah. And I was like that is 100% true, because it's not you're not I'm not asking you to raise my kid. Yeah, I'm asking you just support me and raising my child and taking care of my family. And that sat with me so well, when I saw that I was like, I wish that was what people said more.


Let's reimagine mom life together. Mama high schools is your hub for relatable support and helpful resources that help you fuel yourself alongside motherhood. Your identity is bigger than mom, and whatever your goals are. Together, we're making them a reality.


Today is such a special episode for you guys, because I am bringing on one of my best and longest friends. My friend Casey and I have been friends since we were nine years old. We continued to stay friends until I moved for high school and we stayed connected social media wasn't as prevalent. phones weren't as prevalent. And when you're a high schooler and I moved across country, you can only stay so connected. But I ended up back in our same town when I married my husband. And we've been inseparable since we are talking through her journey into motherhood today, and she has not had necessarily an easy go. So we're gonna talk a little bit about her traumatic birth experience. We're going to talk about postpartum anxiety and depression, how she navigate to being a nurse and her husband being a firefighter scheduling, and parenthood. alongside those changing and busy schedules. We dive into just the realness of motherhood and some of the things that people don't always talk about. We also put this through the lens of being really independent and organized semi controlling individuals and how sometimes when things are out of your control, that can be a shift. This is such a good conversation, and I hope you're gonna love it. So listen in and grab a beverage because I know that you're gonna find yourself in this story, too. All right, I'm super excited. This is a really fun episode for multiple reasons. One, this is like my childhood. That's Brian, that I've been friends with. Gosh, for since we're probably nine or nine years old. Yeah, yeah. And we're recording in person. Yeah. So first, like in person area. I'm done. So very exciting. While we are navigating Naptown. So Casey, welcome to the show. Other than being just like my best friend and amazing person, all of that. I want to talk about, like your journey to motherhood. Yeah. So your son just turned two. Yeah. And it has not necessarily been the easiest ride from the moment he entered the war absolute. So let's talk a little bit about your background. Like why not? You have a different experience. Yeah. And the experience you do? Okay. So like Kelsey said, My son was born two years ago to the day and I am a nurse I N was a med surg nurse when I was pregnant with my son, so didn't really have any experience with labor or anything like that first kid. So it was all really new to me. And I actually utilized a perinatal fitness instructor for both prenatal and postnatal workout because I wanted to be like, physically prepared for labor. I wanted to make sure that I could handle it. I really was hoping to go like unmedicated, I had all of these crazy thoughts, like every new mom does, that they're gonna be able to do it without anything. And so I from the time I was three months pregnant, started participating in this fitness program for about two to three times a week to prepare for labor, essentially. And then from that point on my son pain at 38, and six he was born but I actually went into labor after my water broke at 38 and four, so that's 38 weeks and four days gestation, and I labored at home for about eight hours, then went to the hospital was four centimeters dilated, and didn't really find out until after I was admitted that the reason I was having so much back pain while I was laboring is because my son was flipped over. And the nice way to call it is I've suddenly side up so he used facing up instead of facing down. And I eventually did end up getting an epidural just because I was having solar thing with each of my contraction. When because my waters broken they had to confirm in fact, the opposite case. So it's basically like getting a pap smear while contracting and that as anyone else who's ever had a baby anytime that they check your survey, cause your contractions to do worse and so I was having a lot of really consistent, heavy contraction so I ended up getting an epidural. and almost 24 hours in, I was able to actually start pushing and push for a really long time four to five hours. And my son was essentially getting stuck his head was at the point of that step, but we are anatomies just didn't work together my pelvic anatomy, the fact that he was facing up, there are a lot of things finding against us. And so after a lot of discussion, the doctors and I opted to go for C section, which, as somebody who was a medical professional, I wasn't really concerned about I take care of a lot of patients post surgically and felt really confident just in general about it. While I was in nursing school, I was in a lot of C sections. It wasn't like a scary thought for me to go into surgery. And so my thought was born a couple of hours later, one something in the morning, and that was the end of that. And so here we are thinking everything was really great. And then a couple hours later, when they were changing Shin, the nurses were noticing that my vital signs my blood pressure specifically was low on the low side, and I wasn't really feeling too hot. And they discovered that there was an internal hemorrhaging, so I was bleeding internally. They did a lot of different tests and exams to try to see where the bleeding was coming from. I was getting blood transfusions almost around the clock, because just with continuous lab where my lead was not recirculating, it wasn't regrowing. And so I went into surgery almost exactly 24 hours after my son was born. And I was all paid with that, except that in that moment, my son is crying and screaming his head off because he was hungry. And I have anesthesia doctors and a surgical doctor that my mid side along with nurses giving me rapid blood transfusions telling me what it is, that's going to be happening going through all the risks of now going under general anesthesia, no longer using an epidural. And because they couldn't find where the bleeding was coming from the possibility of a hysterectomy. And so that just created a flood of emotion between all of those things. And of course, I got very emotional at that moment in time and had never really been scared from surgery before I went into surgery just 24 hours earlier, but definitely had this nerve of am I going to come out of this was this the last time that I'm saying goodbye to my husband and my son, what's going to happen also, is this the possibility that this is going to be my one and only child like there were so many things going through my head. And I just had to focus on like getting through it and being okay with what was happening, trusting the doctors trusting the medical staff, which I did, I had no question whatsoever about how they were handling it, I felt very comfortable with the medical staff. And here I am. I didn't have any hysterectomy and still on the uterus. And I clearly came out of the surgery without any issues. But it definitely led to a lot of like postpartum things that I wasn't really expecting or prepared for. So obviously this is very traumatic situation and having the medical background you have that can be helpful and hurtful in the moment. Because for me in my birth story in situation like I had no idea. I was just like we're going with the flow or going with the motions. The other thing that we both have in common is we're both very independent Sean women. And so typically we're able to take the lead and handle ourselves. And also having strong partners, we both share that in common as well. They're used to letting us take lead sometimes Yeah, I'm a strong person we are, but they're also very nurturing supportive people. And I know in a situation like this, it's also really difficult for the partner, because they're watching you not be able to take care of yourself for maybe one of the first times ever. Yeah. And they're not able to help you either. And that is one part of it that I don't think people talk about enough because obviously this is happening to you. But this is also happening to the family. And it's a very different dynamic. Yeah, your family and my family hasn't typically experienced before. And all of a sudden, no one's in control. And you're just trying to figure out how to stay alive. Yeah. And how to make it through what's supposed to be a really beautiful moment, right? If your son just comes into the world, you're now a mom, but you have all these other things questioned? Yeah. And in the moment, there really is nothing you can do. You're just trying to get through the pieces, then you were able to come out of that you're able to get home. Yeah, let's talk about how that kind of like down happened of being like Okay, wait, we're okay. But am I right? I don't really know. Yes, we


spent almost an entire week in the hospital from start to finish. And by the time we got home, I was really ready just to be home and was going through the motions. My husband is a firefighter and so he took a couple of weeks off at that time to be able to be home and help again, just because this experience was not what we were expecting and I was not able to be be as independent as originally planned, I basically went through two C sections within a 24 hour period. And prior to that basically was having a vaginal birth as well for pushing for four and a half hours being 10 centimeters dilated. So my body was in major recovery mode. And so once I finally got past that initial recovery and was more mobile and a little bit more independent, was able to do things on my own. It was time for my husband to go back to work. And then it was navigating what was next. And I can remember the first time, I was trying to create a little bit of independence for myself, not that I wanted to be away from my son, but it was like, Okay, we need to get some groceries, why don't I try going to the grocery store and the view my husband with my son, it'll be a quick trip. And I found myself on our way on my way to the store without any issue. And then as soon as I got to the store I felt then like this really weird, urgent need to constantly be calling my husband and checking to make sure everything was okay, because that was my first time being away from my son since delivery, basically. And I wasn't that I didn't trust my husband, but it was like this really weird feeling of Is everything okay? Is he doing okay? It's my husband, okay, what's happening, I don't know what's going on. And found myself in the store basically having to leave like I couldn't concentrate any longer on my shopping list. I left my basket halfway full. And I just left the store. It was like I had to get home. And it takes me 30 minutes, I was gonna say thanks. That's an important part, too, is like this could happen if you live down the street, but like you don't live right by a store, right. So it takes me 30 minutes just to get to a store from my house. So in the timespan that I drove and got to the store and came back, it was almost a total of two hours that I was away. And I was just in street panic mode. And I felt really good. Once I got home, I knew that my son was safe. It wasn't a concern. But it was like, almost this feeling of I was being torn away from him again, and I couldn't control the emotions felt almost like a panic attack. I've never had one before, that was the best way that I could describe it. And so I tried to just give myself some grace and work through it. And then try doing the same thing about a week or two later and had the exact same feeling of reaction yet again. And so at that point, I was almost three months postpartum, and said that it was time for me to maybe talk to my doctor and find out is this something normal? Because again, I was a first time mom. And yes, I had a traumatic birth story. But I also knew that, from your experience and other people that it wasn't completely uncommon, what I went through, but also not the norm. Yeah. And I just I reached out to my doctor, and I said, this is what's going on, is this something that I should be expecting, I understand baby blues before I left the hospital, they were talking to me about postpartum depression and Bensley, because I guess in their eyes, they thought that I was going to be at high risk because of my birth experience. Yeah. And basically came to find out that it wasn't really postpartum depression I was experiencing, but postpartum anxiety. And I was able to meet with a counselor and go through that process, but really didn't know like, they don't you don't hear about that you always hear about postpartum depression, you don't really hear about postpartum anxiety. And after working through it, and talking to a counselor and meeting once a month. And going through that process, I learned a lot more about how to control what was going on What Was I feeling, but also what was driving that. And it truly was my husband and I talked about it a number of different times, and just that feeling of basically being stripped away from my husband and my family with not knowing what was gonna happen. Like anytime that I had to leave anytime I felt out of control of the situation, my anxiety, my nerves just shot right up like I was just this immediate sense of panic of I don't have control over the situation anymore. What do I do, and so returning to work for me, it was really difficult. It took a long time, I didn't go back to work until about six months and working through that process. It's still ongoing, even two years later, it's gotten a lot better. But I still can recognize moments of that anxiety that starts to build up. But I just go back to some of the tools and things that I learned with meeting with a counselor and things that I've researched on my own. I actually have done a lot of support stuff online looking and joining different groups, and learning that postpartum anxiety actually affects more mothers that postpartum depression. Yeah. And that it's just it's unspoken. A lot of moms think that it's a normal thing to have this postpartum anxiety. Yeah. When it's not it really, is it? No. Yeah. And I think again, this can happen with anyone but when you have a way that you become a mom, that's a little more traumatic, that can definitely be part of it. But it's also hormonal, like your hormones are changing so much from the time that you're pregnant to having a baby, if you're nursing all these different things, yes. So some things are completely chemical and completely out of the situation, then the situation gets thrown in. Not yet you literally just brought a baby into the world. I think sometimes once we become moms, we forget about the fact that you like, literally are now in charge of a whole nother human. Yeah, and your life is completely different. And yes, it's full of so much beauty too. But it is life changing. Yeah. And you're all of a sudden expected to just know how to do it overnight. And so it can be interesting. I was talking to a new mom recently, and she was asking me about postpartum anxiety in my experience, and I always am a pretty anxious person in general. But the difference for me, and I'm not a professional, not a doctor opinion. But my personal opinion, is that where you really need to pay attention is when whatever's happening is stopping you from doing something else. Yeah. So you can be fearful and scared, that happens in motherhood, in my opinion, like, you're gonna be scared, you're in charge of a little human now. But when it's stopping you from doing something else, and it's debilitating from you having experiences or going to the grocery store, or you're really just living in constant fear. That's definitely when you need to get support. And even if you're not there yet, it doesn't mean to not get support. If you are scared all the time. You should get support. You're not alone. It happens to so many people. Yeah. But I think it's important to also understand we are doing things that are scary. We're in charge of a human, and they rely on us. And that is scary. Yeah. But there's a difference. And you have to know when to get help. And the other thing that you said that I think is really important is advocating for yourself. Yeah. Because there are great resources, and you had some that were provided by your doctor and your insurance and things like that. But you also went outside of that. Yeah. And I think that's really important. Because sometimes people will have an experience where they get in a, an insurance covered or a doctor recommended room, and they're not getting the support that they wish they were. So you have to keep searching, you have to keep looking. So was it truly just typing into Google? Or what were some of the best resources that you found in? How'd you find out?


It's funny, before I went on maternity leave one of the moms that I actually was a co worker with she said to me, she goes, don't want anything bad to happen to you. But take as much time off as you possibly can wink, wink. And I was like, what is that mean? And she explained to me a little bit of her experience with postpartum anxiety. So I really didn't know what postpartum anxiety was. And I probably wouldn't have even asked my doctor about it had I not had that little nudge from VR. And her kind of telling me her experience of it wasn't even with my first kid, it was her second kid that she had this come up. And when I reached out to my doctor, it was your typical, okay, this is our process. This is who you see first, and then from there, you're going to do XY and Z. And then I took to googling a little bit of what is postpartum anxiety, how much does this affect people. And then from there, I was able to see a couple different websites that were focused on not just postpartum anxiety, but postpartum mental health in general, and really went to social media. From that point on, I know that like we're in that day of age that social media takes over everything. But in this way, it was a good thing. Because I was able to see there are moms that experienced the same thing I'm experiencing that have the same neuroticism that I am about whatever it is, whether it's the messy house, or the person holding my baby, or whatever it was, there were so many different things that would set me off. And being able to relate to other people that were having the same things made me feel less irregular, made me feel more normal made made me like, almost allow myself to have this experience and have this feeling and turned from I have postpartum anxiety as an excuse and an exception to like, why you can't hold my child or things like that to it now being the reason why I'm creating boundaries. And I'm okay with saying no to you. Yeah, because the certain things, you know, made me get triggered. And that was a lot of what I talked to my counselor about. But really, my counselor helped guide me to different resources and classes that more even postpartum, specific, and so even from, again, the guidance that they gave me, it made it easier when I was looking for additional resources online and looking at social media. There's postpartum international actually is one of the social media aspects that I followed on Instagram, and they talk a lot about the different mental health things that can happen. And they will focus on postpartum depression. And they'll focus on postpartum anxiety and even prenatal because we talk about how these are things that can happen prenatally as well not just postpartum. And so that was really helpful for me and one of the things that I thought was really interesting as I made a switch into my career. Now being a postpartum nurse, I watch for that stuff and I look for the signs and symptoms and my patients. and some of the things that maybe cause them to be a little bit more at risk for some of these things, whether it's a previous history or it's a delivery experience or whatever it might be. And as a nurse, I have to be really careful about making recommendations because I can't be endorsing specific products or companies. But I do just try to help moms relate to this is something that I experienced, and there are resources out there, I highly encourage you to look for them. And to utilize them, the Mommy and Me groups that are local to the hospital I work at will recommend those. But I think if anything, that's where I found the most support, you know, I found a lot of knowledge and education from other resources online. But it was more the support that I found within the groups that I associated with my postpartum fitness group that I work out with, even though I didn't really talk about my anxiety, but just in general is talking about these are experiences we're going through and stage that we're having with our kids of all kinds of different ages. Yeah, I had my one year old, someone had a newborn. So one had a two year old, and we were able just be able to talk about these different things. And with that could support each other through Oh, yeah, I had the same thing. And this is what we did, or Oh, my gosh, I have a six month old is that something that's gonna happen when my kid turns one like to expect? So just really utilizing your resources, whatever that might be. I think it's dependent on the person, I think you can be really hard to get out of that shell though, too, and be able to be a part of a group and talk about it. I mean, I participated in an online support group postnatally, with my anxiety, and it was completely anonymous, it was over zoom, but you couldn't see anybody. Yeah, there were no names, it was just voices. And we were all moms in different stages of our lives and listening to each other talk about what was driving our feelings that moment. And it was all kinds of different stuff. And some of it, I may have, you know, judged in that moment. And I had to step back and think like, I can't be judging these mothers on the things that are causing them chaos, and expect them to provide me support like, and so that was also a really nice eye opener, as well, as I was sitting there and judging, thinking like, that's not okay, I don't want to be that person. I want to support these mothers in their journey, just the way that I want to be supported. And whatever is leading us to this journey is going to be different for everybody. And so that was a really good experience to but it's hard to say the least there is they don't make it easy for you to find resources out there. And I think that's something that our world can do a lot better when it comes to postpartum. I think moms are supported, not in the way that they should be. Just to say that we only have one person, postpartum appointment, when you see the doctor multiple times throughout your pregnancy, I think is just a tall tale sign that we're not supporting our moms enough in that first year. And I think it's actually beyond that first year. But that's when the first year is when you're like, Oh, this is the first time I've done it. And this is now I'm getting thrown in. Yeah. And you're actually the I think it's we all know this, but we don't actually stop and think about it is once you become your postpartum forever. It's not like a season Exactly. You're in. Like, we know that on paper. But we don't talk about it. Yeah, we talked about the season of postpartum I know you're actually always postpartum once you've had a baby. Yes. And you can have symptoms of depression, anxiety, whatever it is that you may be navigating at any point, it's most common within the first 18 months. But it's but it can happen at any point. And it can happen to our male partners, too. Absolutely. It's not just us. So I think that's really important, I should say non birthing partners, it can happen to non birthing partners. Yeah, their way. And I don't think there's a lot of conversation about that. We're all here to just like, hug and support each other. Yeah. And I do agree, like resources in general need to be more common. And that's literally what built mama house goals was having a resource platform because I was in the same boat. I was like, why are there not more resources? I'm just like, on Google and Pinterest. And I feel like there's no one I can talk to you find something that works for you. Yeah. And for so many different aspects of life. And mine actually started with organization. And then I went backwards and was like, Oh, wait, I should probably also get help and resources around these other things. The other thing that you talked about was just like the differences between who you could talk to and about what and then seeing yourself judging others. And I yeah, that's not just about postpartum, but just like a really important note for life is being able to look at your self in the mirror. Yeah, yeah. And what are you giving help to when you're looking to receive help? Yeah, but then also, on the flip side of that, you don't have to help or receive help from everyone. Right. Yeah. And having those professionals or outside support, I think is really important. Because what I hear a lot of is people feeling like they can't talk to their current friends and family, right? Yeah. And sometimes you just can't because they're not helpful. And sometimes you just need to be able to hear it from someone else. Yeah, you Yeah, and sometimes someone else's story isn't helpful. Yeah, if even if it's relatable, like even my story is not that relatable that has similarities to yours, right. But it wasn't helpful in that situation and being able to have like other people to talk to. Yeah. So I think that's just really important, whether it's postpartum or anything else, like, you really have to go find whoever can help you and go out and keep looking till you find that person. Absolutely. I have a couple of friends that started therapy, and they talked about like, the general person that starts therapy has to go through four therapists before they can find the one that helps that Yeah, and I think that that needs to be said more, because how many people probably start therapy, and they go to the therapist, and they're like, You suck. I have nothing against the therapist, but it's just not a good fit. Yeah. And I think it's like the same thing with dating, like, how many people marry the first person that they ever went on a date with? So few? Yeah. So why do we expect that from anything else in life? So I think just keep going. Keep working through that. And that really, the next thing I want to talk about is just how you've continued that through motherhood? Yeah. For two years, your lifestyle alongside motherhood, like mine is chaos in a totally different way. Yeah. But yours is chaos in a way that I like can't see myself in. Yeah. And I think it's also super relatable this community. So you're a nurse, Your husband's a firefighter? Yes, you go through this experience, you continue to navigate it, you get back at work, you get back into a calling that feels a little bit more like yours. Yeah, within the nursing environment. But your schedule is all over the place. And now you have to travel to work. Leave your baby, figure out firefighters schedule on nurse schedule, and you've made it work. But it's been hard. Yeah. And so what are some ways that one, you have said, Yes, I want to go back to work. And I want to keep doing this, because I know you're super passionate about what you do. But sometimes people are like, Oh, I just have to change careers. Yeah. So how have you been able to say, Okay, we're gonna figure this out. And I know, we'll talk a little bit about the seasons and some of the other stuff you're pursuing. But initially, how did you say no, I need to be here, too.


Yeah. So I have always wanted to be a nurse. I love my job. And it wasn't really a question of continuing it. I definitely felt this angst and this kind of pool, obviously, towards my son, and now my family of three and not wanting to be away from him. But I still wanted to be a nurse, I still wanted to be able to go to that job and help people, even though sometimes they don't always want your help. And that can be really hard and trying in this career. I knew I wanted to make a shift, and was really working towards trying to figure out how to make that shift in my focus in nursing. But in the meantime, it was also creating my own boundaries. And I feel like that's the biggest thing that I learned through my journey with my postpartum anxiety was creating my own boundaries. Where are my triggers? What am I comfortable with? What am I not comfortable with. And in that instinct, alongside my husband's crazy work schedule, it was like, I can't go back to work full time, yet just I was working 12 hour shifts, which means on a full time schedule, you're working 36 hours a week, which I understand that most parents who work like a Monday through Friday, they work 40 hour work weeks. But when I say that my workday is 36 hours, it's 36 hours, and then some because you still have everything you have to do before you go to work, traveling and everything else. And a lot of times in the nursing world, you don't actually get off when your scheduled time is to off, things happen. And you don't have the ability to control that a lot of times my 12 and a half hour day would turn into a 13 and a half hour day. And so by the time I leave my house at 6am and get home at 830 or nine, it's done, I didn't have time to see my son, I kind of just really wanted to take that focus of like, where's my boundary? What am I willing to do as far as my career and what am I willing to sacrifice for my job when it comes to my family and really when it came to the sacrificing I at first was like I don't want to sacrifice anything like my family's first and foremost and I think any parent feels that way. But especially because of my birthing experience again, just I anything that pulled me away from my son in the moment was really hard to grasp returning to work was difficult and was very different. But going back part time was definitely the best move for us. I was the I was still go and have adult interaction and a work life but also be able to say hey, like I'm not going to work as much and limit the amount of time that I'm dedicating to work and being able to dedicate that time back to my family. And so that shift really made a difference really made a difference. And obviously I'm so here for doing for what feels good for you in picking the part time schedule because that's what felt good but also the reality of the logistics. Yes, I remember in that season we were talking about it is you were like there's no daycare. Oh It this hour and open this earlier this late for the days that I need date, right? I mean, my husband and I were trying to navigate what are we going to do if I don't have any control over my schedule, and we are working the same days, we obviously just can't leave our son home alone, we yeah, we have our son home alone for an hour and a half until a daycare opens, these things don't happen. And it was it was a huge navigation issue for us, but of like, okay, we also don't have any buddy in our area to nanny, let alone do I trust anybody in that moment in my life, I couldn't find any trust in somebody to be watching my son really. And so it Yeah, to have to leave my house at 615 to be able to start my job at the time that I needed to with travel and everything else. Same for my husband, it was like what daycare is open that early. And also what daycare is going to allow us to pick up our kid at 637 o'clock at night like not where it was open for 14 hours a day. And I don't blame I'm like, Who wants to be raising someone's kid for that long? Like they have to have a life too. They have to have their own boundaries. When like cities and metropolitan areas, there might be some of those options. But where we live? There's not absolutely, yeah, and you've made it work, right. So you've figured out how to make it work alongside your husband's schedule as a firefighter. Yeah, but he's made some different decisions to try to make it work too. But the nature of those businesses are, you're unplugged while you're at work, and you have to be physically present. You have to be there. You can't, I'm going to bring my kid today, or, Hey, I'm gonna come in an hour late. It just doesn't work that way he is. And as someone that has that flexibility in their job, I admire that so much from you, because there is not an option. And we talked about the other benefits of I can't ever not respond to email. So there's other perfectly Yeah. But it's so challenging as parents, it's so challenging to figure out who's going to watch your kid. So other than finding that person, how did you get yourself to a place where you could trust leaving him because you've now had nannies babysitters family watching? Yeah, and I feel like you just rip the band aid off. But you feel pretty comfortable at this point. So what are some of those mini rips that got you there, the first person that I had watching my son, other than my husband and myself was my mom. And that was the easiest thing to be able to say this is the person that raised me. And she was there during the whole process of my delivery experience. And so it was just an automatic for me. And there's a sense of comfort with my mom also with communicating with her that's going to differ from anybody else that I communicate with. And being able to say, this is what I want. Yeah. And being able to be open about how I was feeling and what my triggers were in those kinds of things. And whether she understood them or not. She accepted what I had to say, yeah, she didn't question she didn't judge, it was just okay. And that was it. And so that helped a lot being able to have that. And I understand that not everybody does. A lot of people who live where they don't have any family at all. And I can't imagine even though my mom works full time, I can't imagine not having her here to be able to support me through it. I think if that were the case, I probably wouldn't have gone back to work. I think if I didn't have her as my backup resource, I wouldn't have been able to continue doing what I'm doing now. And so that was like you said, I ripped the band aid off. But it was my mom, it was a little bit of an easier band aid to rip off. And then when it came time to having to put other people into that mix, I actually had an online training at home that I had to do. And I brought a babysitter in for that while I was there. So I was for a very short period of time, it was four hours, I was there in the present at home. And that was the first time I really had anybody outside of my family watching my son. And it made it much easier for me to feel comfortable about okay, even though I'm not there in the immediate vicinity with my son, I'm just behind a closed door. In the other room, I can hear everything that's going on. If I need to step away, I can you know, I have more flexibility in that moment than I would if I was actually at the hospital. And so that made it a lot easier for me to step over that line for myself and say, okay, as I go back to work, I may not have my mom or my mother line may not have family that can watch my son. So what am I going to do next? Well, am I going to call on two we have multiple friends, but they all have kids, they all have lives. And as much as they want to help every time that isn't always going to work in either of our best interests. It just depends on when and who and where and all of that. And so had to step out of that box and see who else can I include in my village and I actually saw a quote the other day and now I wish I could remember where I saw it but they always say oh, it takes a village to raise a child. And this code actually fought against that and said, it doesn't take a village to raise a child. It takes a village to say afford a mother? Yeah. And I was like that is 100% true? Because it's not you're not I'm not asking you to raise my kid. Yeah, I'm asking you to support me and raising my child and taking care of my family. And that sat with me. So Well, when I saw that I was like, I wish that was what people said more instead of, it takes a village to raise a child, because realistically, it's the family that needs the support. It's that home unit, it's the parents that are needing the village, not just the child. Yeah. And so that's definitely what I felt like I've been able to build upon just really utilizing very close friends, highly recommended people that I've been able to either observe on my own with my child ahead of time, or family and things like that. My son has still never been to a daycare. He's never been to preschool. Me, he's only two. So he's never been in that kind of situation. Anytime that he's ever been watched by somebody. It's either been in our home or in their own home. Yeah. And you know, when the time comes, I'm sure that's gonna bring a whole nother slew of emotions. But


yeah, I mean, I definitely think that just trying to expose myself and my son to other environments, other people and entrusting him towards being okay with other people. I think that this society also puts a lot of pressure on like, our child being safe. And what does that mean? Yeah, and who are we trusting our child with? And can we trust our child with that person? And that drives like a whole nother level of anxiety? And it's not, that's not something I think about, but it's more of our mind boundaries. And my rules and guidelines being that when I'm asking for somebody to watch my child, are they adhering to the things that I'm asking. And if they're not, then I don't trust you to continue watching my channel, I have a conversation with you. And I don't feel comfortable with the response that you gave me. Sorry. And that's a boundary that I have found, that I have tried to set as after becoming a mother, but also just with my postpartum anxiety. Again, it's something that I learned a lot about just setting those boundaries and trying to let yourself be okay with the boundaries that you set. Because we can set boundaries and say, in our head, these are my two lines that I want to work within. But then also, trying to enforce those boundaries on other people is really hard, because that hurt feelings and you create rifts. But I still struggle to this day being okay with that, and just trying to say like, I'm okay with this person being mad at me, because I created this boundary. You know, it's something I struggle with. But it's something I also try to adhere to. Because I think as a mother, it's really important to create those boundaries, but also just as a person, to create those boundaries for yourself. And knowing whether it's postpartum anxiety or regular anxiety that you have triggers. And you need to find your boundaries to protect yourself from being a person you don't want to be. Yeah. And I know you so well to say like, it's, you do it in such good delivery, right? There are times where I've heard other people set boundaries, and they're not well received. And it's like, you could have maybe delivered that a little bit differently. And like, it's still okay to have that boundary that maybe it's delivered a little better. But the reason you can be confident in your boundary, if someone doesn't respect it is because you delivered it well, and your intention was good, but coming back to just like having that confidence. And then you say, Okay, I know I did what I was supposed to do. And if that wasn't respected, then yeah, this probably this person probably shouldn't be in my life. Yeah. If they're not willing to hear me out, or listen, and like you said about your mom originally, they don't have to understand. Yeah, and I actually say that to my kids. Look, you can always ask me why. And you don't have to understand why I'm saying what I'm saying. I want you to, like, hear a reason behind it like, but sometimes you're not going to understand. And it's the same thing with someone else. Hey, look, this is my kid. And my job is this and this. And you don't have to understand if I'm doing the best of my ability. One of the things I also really admire about you is while you're navigating, like all of this through motherhood, you haven't ever stopped figuring out what you want to do next. Yeah, you. And I think that's really cool. Because two things, one, you're going after something else that you want to do in the future. Yeah. But also, there's a part of the you know, you can't execute right now. And I think that is what's super cool about it. Because sometimes I hear from women, they're like, Oh, I can't do that right now. So I'm not going to get started. Yeah, and I understand why sometimes people do that. But it does make me a little sad, because it's like, if you got started now, you'd be that much closer when you can get there. So talk a little bit about like some of the things you're pursuing and the certificates that you're doing for when you can do something a little bit different, even though you know, you can't jump all in right now. Yeah, so just again, everything has been led from my personal experience, and I've always wanted to work within women and children, babies that's always been my passion as a nurse and getting into being a postpartum nurses just opened that door for me. But even before I started working as a postpartum nurse, I was already developing on that journey for myself and looking at okay, I had this experience with struggling with lactation. I was breastfeeding my son, and when I returned to work had you major issues with supply and didn't really understand because I never really got that coaching or education about what it was like to return to work and pumping and scheduling, demand and all of that kind of stuff. And so I took the opportunity to learn about becoming a lactation counselor. And that was just the very beginning of it. For me, I'm working towards becoming a lactation consultant. It's an internationally board certified role. And so that's really exciting for me, at this point, my life, I'm not like, no place to be traveling internationally. But it's something that could open that door for me to go and work in other countries with moms and children, if I ever had that opportunity, which I think would be really exciting just because we as a culture do things way different. And it is really cool to see that some of the other cultures within our world take more to that like motherhood, nurture, nature aspect. And so with that, I've learned a lot about that. But in general, I'm working on developing sort of where I want to be, I'm working towards my SDLC. So I've done that education, I just have to take the exam, that exam is only offered twice a year, and you have to have a certain amount of hours of experience before being able to take that exam. So that's currently what I'm working at now. And most of that is in work experience. But there's so much beyond in hospital lactation, that is where I really want to be helping because that's where I struggled was not in the hospital, not actually at home. But when I returned to work and trying to continue on. Beyond that six months, there's a lot of different recommendations out there on breastfeeding, and everyone makes their choice. Totally fine, no matter what way you go. But I think without the support and education, our moms are sometimes not even able to continue with the jobs that they want. as a whole. Obama has goals, we believe you should do whatever you want to do. But when you decide what you want to do, yeah, we want to support you just whatever, whatever you can do. And I did breastfeed both my kids, I don't always disclose that. I say it's one of the most challenging things that I experienced in motherhood. And I don't think people talk enough about even if it comes naturally at first, right, that's just the one section of it. And then the continuing is actually what I hear from most parents, where it's harder. Yeah. And I think the only conversations that I really heard were about when your milk comes in the first couple of days. And we know when you go back to work when the child is now eating food again, or if they're sleeping, or once they're like super hungry, and things are just changing, or your lifestyle is different. Because you actually can do things with your baby now. So yeah, trying to balance all of that. And a lot of people don't talk about that. And like you said, supporting outside of the hospital, but also having the experience you had in the hospital, there's only so much they can tell you that you're even absorbing that like what in the world just happened to me and the is the baby ear. And I'm like, do you remember them saying this to me? Do you remember us doing that in the hospital? If if I don't remember any of it, and I hear it all the time that like, we wouldn't continue to have children if we remembered how bad is better or what the experiences were like. And I think beyond that, it's like, I there's so many things I don't remember about when I was in the hospital and as a nurse and taking care of all this. I try to also think about that. And I'm like, I am telling them so much information to remember when they go home. And that's why I feel like but you do remember the feelings, right? Like being a nurse or being a mom. That's really what I think is important to focus on is okay, how am I feeling in this moment? How is that person feeling in this moment? Yeah, yeah. And especially when maybe emotions or circumstances are high? Yeah. How do we like bring that back together? Yeah. And I can imagine as a nurse, that's like a huge part of your job. But I think as an individual, bring it back to us, I think that's where it can get really important is like, really everything we've talked about whether it's the hospital, or like navigating work schedules and daycare, or pursuing something else alongside of it is coming back to okay, how am I feeling in this situation? And then what can I do about it, because while as much as I do want to tell you, you can just sit and cry and hug yourself. Eventually, we have to get back up. So yeah, like having the ability to get back up and move forward. And so you're doing all these different certificates alongside how you can use that actually in your job. It does align with what you do for a living, but even if it didn't, yeah, you could be doing something completely on the side where you're doing certificates to go pursue at a later date, en continuing to stay excited about like where you could go and it doesn't mean you don't like your job. That's the other thing that I think is really important is you don't have to not like where you're at to say I want to pursue something else also, or instead of in a little bit. Yeah, cuz I would love to


be able to still do what I do, but maybe in a less formal capacity not necessarily have a hospital telling me what my schedule is or beyond the demands of the specific The hours have more flexibility, I think, maybe not for every mom, but for most moms is probably a dream to be able to say that to be able to say, Guess what, I'm going to take these two hours and not be working. And instead, I'm going to work two hours when my kid goes to bed, I don't have that. And I love that to be able to focus a little bit more where my time lies. But like you said, that also isn't always sunshine and rainbows either, because you have emails coming in 24 hours a day, and you have to respond to them. You can't just turn off. But there are a lot of different resources that I follow, again on social media, who have taken that same track that I'm trying to eventually maybe get to. And I've reached out to them and said, like, how did you get to where you are now? How much time experience did you have? Before you felt confident to be able to do this on your own without the support of a hospital? Yeah, because specifically because I'm looking to be lactation amongst a couple of other things. Ultimately, my end goal and a dream would be able to be to support moms, prenatally and postnatally. Whether it's first year postpartum five years postpartum, and I don't want it to just be Mom, I want it to be mom and baby, I want to be able to support during lactation and introduction of foods and nutrition during pregnancy and was an overall basis because I had that fitness and health aspect beforehand. And it didn't help in the sense that my delivery didn't go as planned. My fitness instructor did an amazing job and helping prepare me for what would have been a very typical delivery. And because of my experience, we then redeveloped what my postpartum fitness was going to look like. And that's what I love that she was able to take. Okay, this is what ended up happening. Now let's redirect what your postpartum recovery is going to look like. And she I feel like was an inspiration to me in the aspect of what happens prenatal can very much and in delivery, develop? What happens, postnatal, and how can we support throughout the entire journey, because it's not just an XY and Z the first 910 months, the first year and you're done, it goes so much more beyond that. And having multiple kids you can be in a postpartum and prenatal life. Yeah, at the same time, like you said, Because postpartum happens for the rest of your life. But then people continue to have babies. And then guess what, now you're postpartum and prenatal at the same, same time. So I just think that there's so many ways that we can still continue to do things that we love, but choose to structure it differently. And that is hopefully my goal, what you did, I mean, you chose to say, I don't have the resources that I want, I'm gonna structure this, I'm going to create a lifestyle for myself when it comes to working. That is something that I'm passionate about, not that you weren't passionate about what you were doing before. But this created something that you could take what was happening in your life and your experiences, right then in there and say, This is where my passion is right now. Yeah. And build and develop and grow on it and create the schedule that you wanted, and the flexibility that you wanted, all while still having an income and flexibility and things like that resources. And yeah, I just think that being able to develop on something that I've already experienced personally in my life, but also work experience is a blessing that I have that everybody does. But I think it's not because I'm unhappy, and what I'm doing, like you said, which is that I'm looking for something different. When we have such a long span of life, right? I'm like you said when I looked to pursue something else, it wasn't because I wasn't passionate about what I was doing. But I didn't feel unfulfilled in the moment until I realized what else there was. And that's what I want to encourage people to do, too. And what is so great to watch you do it is until you challenge yourself to find better and more. You're settling apps and you don't actually no, like what you would be more excited about. And social media is good and bad. But you've brought it up a couple times. And it's been a huge part of my journey. And my story too, is when you search for good things on social media, and you search for people to help you and support you in stories. There's actually a ton of good out there. Yeah. And it is up to you to be able to do that. And also messaging those people not just following that not Yeah, I literally would not be having this conversation today. If I had not messaged a random stranger on Instagram and been like, Hey, how'd you get started doing what you're doing? That's exactly what you said is sending the message and saying, How did you make that transition? How did you do that? Whatever you're looking to accomplish if you couldn't find someone that's done, a portion of it doesn't have right exactly the way you don't want to do it. But they've done a portion of it that you like how'd you do that portion? And really bring it in. I think that's so important. And I just think for anyone that's sitting and they have both of us have had like things happen in our life. And I think so often things happen in someone's life and they use that as power to move forward or they use it as an excuse about why they can't accomplish something and I don't want to be like harsh You're hard on those people. But can you imagine if both of us just sat in where we were, and like, didn't do anything about it, it's so important to be like, Okay, this happened, and what am I going to do with it, and it doesn't mean that you're going to switch it right away, like you're even seeing with your job. And I didn't leave my job right away, either. Give yourself a runway to figure out what you do want to do, because you might go try something and be like, I actually don't want to do that. I'm gonna go back. But giving yourself the timeline of just exploring and yeah, I'm curious, and what a good blessing for our children to see us doing that, because that's what we want them to do. Right? Yeah. So I just think that's so important. And I think you do such a good job about it and navigating all the crazy things at life. So let's just wrap this up with just some final routines and checkboxes that you do hit alongside this crazy life. Yeah, because you don't have a consistent schedule ever. Your husband does not have a consistent schedule, ever. But you guys just bought a camper to go camping together, you do some really cool things to be able to figure out. Okay, how are we going to be able to love our life alongside the chaos of this season? Yeah. And you also do a good job, like taking care of yourself connecting with your family and your friends, obviously. So how are some of the ways you like make all that happen? I think just grounding myself. And grounding our family is like one of the biggest things that I try to focus on in every week or every month, depending on the week, the life that we're having in that moment. Like, what are we seeing going on, we just celebrated my son's birthday, we've had a lot of chaos lately, just because we've been so busy. And regrouping is like the number one thing is prior to it being falling winter, like my son was taking swim lessons for six months, and it was on the same day at the same time. And that was an opportunity to say, okay, like, I'm going to be going to a swim lesson every week with him. And if my husband can join us, like, we're going to do that. And that's something that's going to help just ground us and regroup us. And we try to pick one day, if we're lucky enough to be off together in that week, to say, Okay, we are going to focus on our family of three, whether it's just hanging out at home and playing games, watching movies, reading books, that's fine. Or if it's going to the zoo, just finding something that regroup and reground finding time to focus in with family and friends saying, Okay, let's have a Sunday dinner with our friends this week, let's do a Sunday dinner with our friends or family next week. Like just really trying to find an opportunity. I feel like there are so many opportunities for us to make excuses as to why we can't regroup and refocus and be able to say we're just going to live right now like roommates raising the same kid like that's so easy to say and fall into. But I think because both of us are really focused on also making sure that like us, as parents and us as husband and wife continue to grow and develop and not fall into that pattern that we do regroup, we try to pick Okay. These are the months that we are able to take vacation time together again, whether it's our really close or really far. What kind of travel is it going to look like? Are we involving other people just really refocusing regrouping, and finding an opportunity to say, let's slow down, let's step away from your crazy work schedule, my crazy work schedule, let's focus on our child because ultimately, at this point, he is like the heart of our family. I'm not that if it wasn't for him, my husband, I wouldn't be able to still do those things. But now the focus has obviously shifted. We're parents, we have a child. So things are much more focused on Him. And so it's let's take this opportunity now and say, What are we going to do with him? What are we going to do to make this day fun and exciting for him. And for ourselves as a family, we just had Halloween, we went to the pumpkin patch, it was like three times that we went but that's okay. It was different every time. But it was an opportunity for us to regroup and refocus and just be able to have some fun. That wasn't always like schedule list as often that is what it is. And it's so easy to fall into the habit of those stressors and those things that are your checklist that are a constant. But taking that time to slow down is definitely absolutely key. And I hear keeping it simple. Yeah, it can be something at home, it could be a movie together, or it could be going somewhere and doing something but keeping it tangible so that it actually does happen because you overcomplicated then you'd be like, Yeah, we can't go on that weekend getaway and pay for room at Great Wolf Lodge and all these things that Yeah, sure. On paper, that is great. And that can happen occasionally. But if that's your go to every time here together, then you're probably not setting yourself up. Because


things cost money. Things cost energy. When you have now a two year old. It's all about nap times and sleep schedules. And when are we going to have time for just us? And when are we going to have time for him and it's going to be fussy and things like that. Yeah, just taking that season that you're in and being able to decide like where are we going to prioritize regrouping and refocusing keeping it simple and not always making it this extravagant, expensive, time sucking energy sucking activity every now and again. Sure that can be really fun. But you also have to think about what causes that come and regrouping and almost sometimes though holes cause an additional regrouping of now that we've exhausted our expenses and our energy now, what do we need to do to regroup and reset for the week? Yeah, yeah, this was such a good conversation. Obviously, I could talk to you forever. We've been friends for years. But I'm gonna let you go. If you were to share what you're most excited about a goal that you're working on. Currently, we talked about a couple of them. But what would be like the main thing that you're like, This is what's lighting the app right now? I would say honestly, just continuing on in my journey towards developing a way that I can stay passionate in my career, but also be able to focus more my time at home and I goal is to continue on with these sorts of patients, and to not sacrifice too much on either end. And spending lots of time with my family. That's always the number one goal.


Yeah, well, thanks so much, Casey. You your story and what you have to offer this world builds me up. I want to meet you join me on Instagram at this is Kelsey Smith. And let's create a ripple effect for mamas with goals together is better