Ep.11 Premature Birth, Postpartum Depression, and Letting Go of Perfectionism


Laura We're joined by Mari Morris. Mari is a mom of two energetic boys, a wife to Noah, a mompreneur, a nutrition expert, a college instructor, and a mentor. She loves cooking, running, dancing and playing and singing to music. Join us as we dive into conversations about her birth, her postpartum story. Learn about how you can better come alongside new mothers and mothers struggling with postpartum depression and so much more.

Laura Why don't you tell me a little bit about the birth of your two boys. I know that with one of your sons, it was much more difficult than with your other.

Mari Sure. So when Coben was born, so he's almost five now, which is kind of crazy to reflect upon because he's totally normal. You'd never know that he was a preemie, that he came so early. But in my pregnancy, things were very smooth. I didn't expect that anything would be a surprise or not go to plan. And of course, I was at work. I was 30 weeks and I was at work working at the clinic as going to grad school, doing all that. Just running at the high speed that I know. I was at work and I was just like, gosh, I'm really comfortable. I'm having these bad cramps, these Braxton Hicks early are horrible. The nurses that I work with because I work at a dialysis clinic. They're like, Mari, you need to go to the hospital. I was in denial is like, no, this is not happening. It can't be in labor. It's just way too early and obviously I was totally freaked out and started crying. One of the nurses, she's like, girl, if I got to drag you down to the hospital myself, I'll do it. So I went and even the doctor was like, I don't know if you're really in labor, but let's just take a look. And then he's like, oh, yeah, you're already dilated.

So then they pumped me full of the mag sulfate, which makes you feel like you have chili peppers or lava under your skin. I had to drive back because we were living in Napa at the time. And Noah had to drive back on his motorcycle from work. He's like showing up and all of his, like, gear to the hospital. Then they kept me overnight for observation and stopped the contractions and then sent me home on a few different medications that are supposed to help keep labor at bay. I was on strict bed rest, staying with my parents at their house so that someone would be with me the whole time. Meanwhile, I'm still in bed trying t finish my graduate work very much a crazy person. It was about two weeks later my water broke and Kobin was coming We arrived at the hospital around eleven o'clock in the morning, and he was there before 7:00, like 6:53. It was just such an overwhelming experience. And I remember feeling like, oh, no, no, no, no, no, I don't want this to happen. Cause knowing what I knew through my graduate work, in maternal child and infant nutrition, you learn about like the effects of having a premature baby almost like to a detriment.

I wasn't really able to hold him for two seconds the moment when he was born, the nurse had to carry him off to the NICU to get his lines placed and all that. But I think some of the blessings of going into labor early were they were able to hold off labor. They were able to give Kobin the steroids that helped develop his lungs. So he was able to breathe on his own. He was able to do a lot more than if he had just been born straight away at just shy of like thirty-three weeks. But it was still just a really overwhelming experience.

I remember family coming and not even wanting to see them because I didn't know how to take somebody saying congrats. I just felt like this is so overwhelming and disappointing because it wasn't what I wanted and I was so worried. It was just so many emotions. You're exhausted, too. Luckily, I was able to have a natural birth and I didn't do an epidural or take any pain medication because that was part of my birth plan. And I felt like. If I could do one thing the way I wanted, and I'm glad I did. Feeling like you have failed in some ways. It's just really hard. I think that was a lot of dealing with postpartum depression afterward. You're so sleep-deprived, too, trying to pump to make sure they have enough to eat in their feeding tube and all that.

It's kind of crazy because then you flash forward to like today. My second son in with that pregnancy, it was all pretty smooth. But I had known what I had with the high risk of going into pre-term labor for no reason. They don't know why I did. There was no way they could figure out. But they gave me progesterone shots and my second pregnancy. Luckily, it helped. Like I. It was funny because taking those shots, I think made me feel like after I'd have them, I felt like stronger somehow. It was weird. The progesterone definitely felt it helped whether it was. psychosomatic or not, I'll never know. But it did help because I went full term with. I fully believe in it.

Now you know and it's funny how things change with life experience. To not be so scared of certain things. My second came on his due date, and it was like a redo because I actually ended up in the same birthing room at the hospital that I was in before. That was really healing in a way because I felt like, I learned so much in that first experience. I wouldn't say that I regretted anything because there was so much out of my control. But it was really nice to kind of redo it and actually get the experience that I originally hoped that I would get the first time. And so I don't know. It brought a lot of peace in that I was able to kind of do it the way that I'd hoped to and not have the worries and have the cloud over my head of like all the what-ifs of, you know, is my baby going to be okay? Did I do something wrong? Is this my fault? Like all those weren't there with the second birth. So that was really awesome. And we got to go home together. So it was a lot of differences for sure. And they're different boys. There are similarities, but they're very much their own personalities.

Laura What are what would you say are a couple of like the biggest lessons that you learned from that whole experience and having the ability to kind of compare and contrast?

Mari Just generally for my mental health sake is just learning to let go of control. I know I kind of mentioned that before, but the biggest thing and I continue to learn like as a mom, you can't control these little kids. They're individuals themselves. And the more you honor that and just learn to kind of go with the flow a little more, the easier it gets. And I think that's what was so hard about the first. I was so stuck in the idea that it was had to be this way or was going to be this way. And I think having Madeo, having that second experience really helped me see like, oh, wow. Okay. These are the things I didn't get the first time, and then these are the things I got in addition to like the second time around. So it definitely helped with the perspective of, if I can just let go even a little. Being more flexible with my plan. I was just setting myself up for a lot more success, like mental health-wise and just having realistic expectations. That was such a hard experience for Noah and I, and we were just zombies for months on end. After Kobin was born and we survived it may have not been pretty. It was not perfect. We but we survived. We didn't kill each other. We kept telling each other that during the second pregnancy, because we had those like, oh, gosh, what if this baby comes early to this second time around? But, you know, we've done it before. we'll make it through.

Then to know how strong you are, I mean, regardless of whatever birth experience you have, I feel like it can be really empowering. Realizing that my body grew this human and I released it into the world. You birthed that baby. It's hard on the body. But knowingly, damn, I'm strong. I did this. I think that's really cool, an empowering thing of any birth story is that like whether because of it or in spite of it, you made it through and you did amazing, miraculous things.

Laura It's crazy with the human body can do especially a woman's body.

Mari I marvel at it all the time. I mean, that's why I'm such a science nerd. Despite what we do to our bodies, it still survives.

Laura You mentioned postpartum depression and how, especially with your first child, that was something that you really struggled with. But you also mentioned that there are a few things that kind of helped you feel normal again. Also, some advice for women who maybe are going through that currently or have gone through it. What would you say to that?

Mari I experienced postpartum depression after both of my pregnancies and both of my birth. I didn't really understand the first time around, I really didn't know what it was, and I think part of it, too, was I was dealing with like some post-traumatic stress. Because it was really traumatic, going through all that had happened and all those worries. I just wasn't myself I think it was hard for Noah, too, because it was also new for us that like he wasn't able to decipher, like, is this just our new normal? Is this just like the new Mari? So the second time around is a lot easier because he's like, oh, it's not gonna be like this. So he knew how to better support me too. We learn. But yeah, just like just feeling like you have a dark cloud over you all the time, just not feeling motivated, feeling anxious about every little thing and having, you know, and having such a short temper with everything. I think my anxiety came out as anger a lot of times.

Mari Honestly, I just wish I had gotten help sooner. But luckily, my O.B. had screened for a lot of this stuff. So at least they sent me in the right direction, too, a counselor and having a therapist and going through some therapy and having some options that way. I think was important. Then having a support group, it was just a breastfeeding mom support group, but just being around other moms and just hearing other people's struggle and be like, oh, shit, I'm not alone or like, oh, this is norma ow wait, no, I do need help. Having that kind of frame of reference in some context because it's also new. So it's hard to know what is a normal struggle and what is more than that. What's clinical. I learned to get out right on a regular basis, whether it's just like walking down the street or walking to the park. Moving your body, all those things were my medicine, were what I needed to feel normal. And I was so much more cognizant of that the second time around. And luckily, I had even bigger like mom village around me by the time I had my second. Which I wish I had had with my first. You live you learn what it's like through that experience. I learned that I needed that. And so my second time around, like I knew, oh, here is like the signs like these are the thoughts I'm having or these are behaviors that are showing up. So getting that support and then trying to just stay really consistent, creating like a schedule where you're delegating that to the people around you to make sure these things are there. In order to feel functional.

Mari Don't be afraid to get help. If you need medication, I was definitely one that was like, no, I don't want it and was scared of that. But if it helps you just to see like where you can be. Oftentimes some people need it because it's their chemistry. I think we shouldn't be so afraid of medication or other interventions if it's gonna help us to show up better for ourselves and for our family. But it's a real thing. The more of it we can to support other moms when they're going through it and ask for help. I think that makes such a huge difference in the outcome and the duration in which you're suffering.

Laura So definitely for like myself, if I have a friend who's dealing with postpartum depression, what would you say would be one or two things that potentially could be something I could do to help?

Mari Well, I think a lot of it is the feeling of isolation that even just like when a friend would stop by. Even if you're like looking like a hot mess or whatever. It doesn't matter. Stopping by with a meal, the meal trains that I got from my mom village after my second was amazing. Just those simple things to not have to worry about and to have those moments to connect. When people are dropping off those meals, those things are invaluable. And then just making sure, like for me, Noah knew what to do, and he knew kind of what was happening. So if he saw that I was having like I was having these obsessive thoughts or whatever, he'd be like, you know, I'm noticing that you're feeling like you're stuck like this sounds like this or just reflecting that. And so I think as a friend if you notice that to just be honest and it's not like a judgment, it's just like, "Hey, I'm noticing this about you and this isn't you like what's going on?" And then you can get yourself outside of yourself in those moments.

Mari So whether it's like getting out of the house or doing some gratitude. That's a big thing. I work in my daily, well, almost daily. But journaling I try to just because that helps kind of reframe even when you have those negative thoughts or the things that you struggle with. If you can stay in gratitude even when you have those thoughts that the worst things are gonna happen, if you can reframe and focus and stay in the gratitude, you just feel a lot more joy. I feel like throughout the day, which can help kind of counterbalance all those things.

Mari It's one of those things you don't really know till you go through because I didn't really know anybody either before I went through it. And so I didn't really have a guidebook. And I think the best advice that I could give is just like take care of a small things like the laundry so they don't have to worry about that because you're just so like focused on I got to pump for this baby, deliver this milk, hope, you know, kangaroo carry the baby. It's really hard to even remember to take a shower or do these things. So having someone with dinner covered, you've got groceries like here remember to eat, drink some water. Go take a shower. It is stuff normally you remember to do, but when you got so much stress and depression, you know that postpartum depression or PTSD from the traumatic birth, you need someone to kind of hold you up. And lean on those people when you're the person that's suffering.

Laura As a nutritionist, I would love to get your advice for all the moms listening as far as like do you have a couple of tips and tricks to provide like healthier snacks to a kid or a mom who's like on the go just maybe like a little recipe?

Mari I get this question a lot from other moms like at the preschool or in my practice private practice, too, but it really depends. You want to make sure kids getting enough, and that you're getting enough what you need. Often that's a lot of whole grains and fruits and vegetables. That's mostly what a lot of us don't get enough of. Pre-prepping some of that stuff. The other day I was at a playdate and my friend was laughing at me. She was like, of course, the dietician would cut up veggies in Ziploc bag. But I'm like, actually, I didn't do this morning. I cut it yesterday and I just keep them in the fridge and I can just bust a few out. Having those things handy, even if you don't end up eating them, at least they're there for that at the times that you do. And if that's what you keep offering, your kid will get used to eating it too.

Mari Also, because another thing I feel like as kids move until like toddler years and they get pickier or want to show that they have an opinion. It's not just your kid all kids are like that. Little things like serve veggies first for dinner and put those on the table. So if they're yelling at you starving, that's what they're gonna go for first. My husband, he'd be like, "oh, you don't want these vegetables like these Brussel sprouts or green beans well, you can't have any." Like reverse psychology. We don't need to oversell fruits and veggies to kids. They're smart, but we'll get savvy on that to not be like, "oh, why? Why are you trying to sell it so hard? What's wrong with it?".

Mari Also, don't be overly restrictive with the play food or foods that we might consider not as healthy like sweets and things like that. We can't live in a vacuum. It's okay to have things that maybe aren't stereotypically healthy because, you know, they're fun too and food should be enjoyable. For us as well to not be so restrictive and feeling like something is bad or sinful. But if you want to eat that cupcake at that birthday party, you know, enjoy it. Don't eat it every day. But, you know, it's better than saying, no, I can't have that. And then eating a whole chocolate cake when you go home. Life is about balance, especially motherhood. That's what I'm trying to learn. Everything has a sweet spot. Not too much. Not too little. Just right in the middle.

Laura Any other pieces of advice that you would love to pass on to the moms listening or any more just little pieces of wisdom that you have that you would love to share?

Mari I don't know. I mean, I think there's a lot of wisdom out there, but I think for me, the biggest is just giving yourself grace as much as you can. That self-compassion, because you can show so up much better as a mom if you give yourself that patience and are willing to be vulnerable with yourself. You can show for your kids too, when they're having meltdowns or hard times because you're being patient with yourself and giving yourself that kindness. You know, or just whatever. Because I think oftentimes when we feel impatient with our children or, you know, with life, it's because it's something internal that we're not willing to be vulnerable or willing to acknowledge something that revealing. And so we don't have the patience for everything. So that's something I'm currently working on.

Laura Me as well. I'm having to really be better about myself care because I'm just like you. I'm constantly doing a zillion things and I'm having to learn to say, "okay, Laura, you need to take today and do nothing or what seems like nothing. That's OK. Because you're taking care of yourself, which makes it so you can perform better." What more can you do, right?

Mari And we don't need to be in a rush to like get to any destination. I guess just here and now and just take today and let it be today and not get caught up in all the business and all that and then miss what's in front of us sometimes. We don't have perfect like I'm such a recovering perfectionist. But motherhood has definitely knocked me down a few pegs. There's no room for that. It's okay to make mistakes and that's actually what you want to be doing, that's learning.

Laura If you enjoy this podcast, go check out more of what Mari does on www.nutritionliberated.com or her instagram @nutritionliberated

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Listen here! Health and Wellness Program Brittany began her journey creating fitness programs for women who want to reach their fitness goals. She got pregnant and realized it was a whole other world.