Mama of the Month: Katrina Schrool

Can you tell us about your transition to motherhood?

My transition was pretty smooth in some ways and very jarring in others. Actual physical baby care was a breeze. I had been a nanny and a birth doula and as the oldest of all my siblings and cousins I was very comfortable around babies. Nursing and my recovery from an unmedicated vaginal birth went well. Emotionally and mentally I did find it harder to find myself and climb out of the baby bubble. I had just moved away from all my family and friends and though we did have family visit and help I didn’t have the mom community I would have had in my home state and that left me feeling isolated and anxious. I had the sweetest, easiest baby in the world so that helped a lot. He was so content to nurse and be carried in a woven wrap and that helped me feel like a good mum and made the transition easier.


How did your different postpartum periods vary?

With my first baby we had a really sweet transitional time with my partner home for several months while he was job hunting. While I missed out on having close community and family nearby I did get to have so much quality time with my tiny family in the woods. Living the rural cabin life meant we didn’t have to worry about choosing a daycare or nanny, we had cares like whether the spring would run dry washing cloth diapers. My son was so mellow that I could wrap him up on my body and do my daily activities pretty easily; I had that baby that rarely cried unless he was on a long drive. I did struggle in my relationship with my spouse as I felt I had to really speak out just to get appropriate care and attention after having a baby. The expectation that I could just bounce back right after birth was not spoken out loud but it was clear my ex had no idea how to care for a new mother. When family came to help I often felt isolated and left alone with the baby and had to learn to be vulnerable and ask for help even when it should have been clear I needed it. Teaching someone to care for you in the middle of needing care is a huge burden and I feel like our culture has so much work to do in the care and feeding of new moms. This is where doulas save the day by their actions and coaching other support people, which so many of us need.
My second postpartum time was very intense and stressful. Our daughter was born in the house we had just finished building and though birth and recovery was great we ended up moving out of state 5 weeks later. This included my ex leaving for several weeks and my mom coming to help, and me having to pack our home with a newborn and toddler, who tandem nursed around the clock. Thankfully both kids nursed well and I was able to rest when they napped together. I struggled with a lot of anxiety during this time, and needed more rest.
My third postpartum time was somewhat easy but lonely; I lived close to family and friends this time but my ex worked out of town and we only saw
him weekends. A newborn and two preschoolers is a lot to handle solo but I figured out a lot and rolled with it as best I could. I relied on my mom tribe the most with that pregnancy and felt supported as I did my best to heal from birth. I finally learned how to back wrap with a woven wrap and really got into the babywearing “scene” and that helped practically as well as socially. I needed to be around people and my mom friends were there for me.


We often say that illnesses and major life changes seem to call for needs that mirror postpartum needs (meal support, community, rest etc). Would you say that has been true for you while fighting cancer?

Oh definitely. When the body is in recovery mode we need so much more help and nourishment. It does take a village of support.


What can people do to support parents with cancer?

That’s a great question. I think it was most helpful when people sent thoughtful gifts to my kids and offered to come for play dates or take one of my kids for a few hours.


How are you balancing motherhood while undergoing chemo right now?

My ex husband helps a lot; we get along and he is flexible so we can spend time as a family. I spend quality time with them one on one as well, which is great since I am too weak to care for them all at once. We talk on the phone and catch up that way too.


Where do you shine as a mama?

Engaging emotionally with my kiddos.


Can you tell us one of your hilarious (perhaps in retrospect!) mom fails?

Hmmm…I think the worst mom fail was trying to bake with xylitol and giving my family mild diarrhea for a few weeks. Yikes!


How do you stay tethered to yourself while mothering?

When I was momming full time I would try and check in early morning or at night and schedule time for real self care, not just zoning out on social media.


Do you have any advice for new parents?

Do your research, then relax. Be flexible. Deal with your own issues proactively so you can be present with your kids. Create rituals and traditions that are your own, and try to find ways to enjoy all the stages of your child’s development even if it’s difficult, because it really does go by so fast.

Thank you for talking with us Katrina!

Follow and Support Katrina’s journey:

IG @thelittlekiss


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