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Postpartum Pain Points: How to Deal: Elisha and Kathryn Voetberg

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
August 11, 2023 5:15 am

Postpartum Pain Points: How to Deal: Elisha and Kathryn Voetberg

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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August 11, 2023 5:15 am

Whether this you're a first-time mom or a seasoned veteran, your struggles postpartum might be the same: Sleep deprivation. Healing. Body insecurity. Lack of sex. Expectations. Caring for yourself. Keeping a tiny human alive. Hormones. Kathryn and Elisha Voetberg provide ideas to navigate the biggest challenges of bringing a child into the world.

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Intrigued by today's episode? Think more about life "after the baby" in our blog post, Postpartum Depression: Admitting It to Myself … And to My Husband, and this FamilyLife Today episode on the wake-up call of new motherhood.

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I had this expectation my mom was going to come stay at my house for a week after the baby, and now we're in this, you know, tiny two bedroom apartment and Elisha like has his mother-in-law there 24 seven.

It's just kind of like, what do I do? Right? I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today.

Okay, I'm taking a shot here, but I'm going to guess one of the hardest transitions for husbands, I can't speak for wives, is when his wife has a baby. Not because that's not a wonderful, it's awesome, it's incredible, what a blessing of God, but at least for me, you've heard me say this before, I felt like I became number two. And then number three, the baby came first. I was an afterthought. And I felt like I don't even know who I am. I don't know what's happened in my life.

It was such a shock to me. I thought I'd be this great, amazing mom. And I remember my dad coming to visit with my mom. I think that our baby was a month old, super colicky, first born. And my dad said, how is it?

How are you? And I said, Dad, I'm the youngest of four. I said, this is the hardest thing I've ever done in my entire life.

Like, Dad, I could go run a marathon and think like, boy, that was hard. This is a thousand times harder for me to transition into this life. I lost myself. And so I can understand why you would feel like that because I didn't even know who I was.

And so I'm sure you felt left behind because I was lost in the desert somewhere. Well, we're going to talk about that because I think life and marriage and family changes after the baby. And I just read the title of a book that we have the authors in the studio with us today, Elisha and Katie Vogtberger back. And the subtitle is The Five Biggest Pain Points of Postpartum and How to Work Through Them as a Married Couple. So obviously the subtitle tells us a little bit, but have you experienced the same thing? Like, wow, after the baby, it's a whole different ballgame. The whole reason why we wrote these was because I did feel like there was a lot of information supporting moms on the transition through postpartum and saying like, and there's a lot more out. I don't know when you were having children, if there was anything. There was nothing. You know what she's saying is we're really old.

Back when they had a pre-press. Oh, goodness. But I just feel like there's so much more resources for anything you're looking for now when it comes to support on the internet. I was seeing, okay, there was this answer to the need of moms feeling like I'm losing myself.

What is going on? I am having this baby and everything changes. But then there wasn't a lot for dads and there was definitely nothing that we found that was talking about navigating through it as a couple because when you're married, everything that you're going through, your spouse is also going through to some extent.

Yeah. And I think there was an element of being totally taken off guard because as we've talked about before, we were from big families and we thought, man, my dad was happy. My mom, they were happy that this great marriage. And for whatever reason, we just thought we were going to seamlessly go from being these people that were newlywed with no children to going into our first children. That was not going to have an effect on our marriage because you're excited about the child and you're reading parenting books and you're reading all the things to prepare you for that. But then you're still married when you go into that postpartum season.

In fact, your marriage becomes even more of a crucial element of your life. And so I was excited to be a father. Katie was excited to be a mother. And then a couple weeks after having the baby, you're thinking, who is this person I was married to?

And so all of a sudden our marriage started suffering, even though we are thrilled to have a child. Well, I feel like my mom kind of tricked me. So she birthed 11 children.

I was the oldest of those. And so I was able to see a lot of new babies into our home. You watched her all those years. And she just made it seem like a piece of cake. Like one week later, she was back to homeschooling, making all the meals. My dad was back at work. I was just like, you have a baby, you're in bed for a few days, and then life goes back to normal.

Like, that's what I thought. And so we're like three weeks in with our first and nursing didn't come naturally as you'd think it would. And so I'm stressing out about that. And Elisha is kind of acting like I don't exist at this point, because he's just stressed out about all of it. And I think kind of feeling like, where is my place in all of this?

Yeah, I was a really, really brilliant guy. I tell you what, because I was thinking, okay, sex is off the table. So I don't need to show any physical attention towards my wife.

I don't need to give her any affirmation. And so she was feeling the neglect for me because I was just kind of like, well, I don't know how to show affection at this point if it doesn't lead to the ultimate affection. And so at that point in our marriage, communication was terrible.

We talked about we are one, but we weren't feeling as one at all. Katie felt very isolated with her baby. And I was not caring for her in any loving way at all. And if anything, the entitled mindset that I had was, okay, well, you're taking care of the baby, but then I'm left on my own here feeling isolated from you. What about me?

And Katie, I'm understanding that's not on your mind. Your physical relationship isn't necessarily at the utmost part of your mind right now, because you're thinking like, how am I nursing this baby and your hormones are shifting? What were you feeling? Yeah, well, it was kind of this big shift for me because one, I'm feeling very like kind of animalistic trying to just nurse my baby. And obviously my body's changed in ways it never has before. I'm like, it's never going to go back.

You know, that's all stressing me out. And then I felt like Elisha told me every single day I was beautiful. Every single day. Our first year of marriage, right? And so then we have the baby and he just stopped complimenting me. And I think part of it was because I was walking around the house in this jumper trying to get as easy access for nursing as possible. Hey, in fact, Elisha, you got to tell the story. Maybe you don't want to, but you wrote about it. So I laughed out loud when I heard what you said to her when she was talking about nursing. Oh, sure. I would say this is not one of my better moments.

I'm going to go ahead and say that with this one. I came home. I had just gone back to work and I came home and Katie was pretty broken down with how challenging it was to nurse our firstborn, Leon.

And he was really little, you know, so we were watching his weight. And of course, there's a lot of stress. Honestly, I can't remember it verbatim, but I do remember trying to encourage Katie and saying, well, you know, you had a cow growing up. You know how how much work it took to milk the cow?

Just think about that. I think for some reason, Katie feeling like she was being compared to a milk cow didn't sit well with her. I wonder why she thought that. I don't know why she was thinking that. I did laugh out loud too when I read that. I can't even imagine, Katie, what were your thoughts when he said that?

Oh, my goodness. Like, I think I probably just cried. I just cried all the time.

And there was that, too. I started crying because I just loved Leon so much, my firstborn, right? So I'm crying because things aren't working. I'm crying because things are. I'm crying because I love my baby. And Elisha just looks at me.

And what did you say? You were like, Katie, you're going to have to start getting your emotions under control. It was so funny because he's just looking at me like, OK, so apparently women go from like being this fun person to just this emotional mess for the rest of their lives. And he's thinking, I'm just going to cry at every milestone of this kid's life. And they're walking around in these jumpsuits. And we're just sweatpants. Exactly. No fashion sense. No, I don't know, self dignity.

I had no dignity at that point. I was just, yeah. Well, welcome to every single parent. Don't you think every parent faces that? Unless the time you started recognizing your mom, how many kids had she already had? Yeah, probably seven. Did you talk to her?

Six or seven. Yeah. Did she go through any of that at the beginning, do you think?

You know, it's so funny. I have never even talked to her about her specific experiences, having like me and my couple other siblings. But I remember when we showed her the books, we had her proofread them and she was like, I wish I had read this. So I have to assume that there was something in there that she resonated with to the first time around.

You know, you don't you really don't know what to expect. And honestly, after every baby, you kind of have to reevaluate what your expectations are because the dynamics are changing. You know, when you go from one to two, well, now Elisha is going to have to be taking care of the toddler while I have the baby for a certain amount of time. If that's not an expectation that's spoken, then maybe, you know, we don't have a game plan for that. That really ups the demands on his time and intention and meals are a bigger deal.

And so all of that stuff changes. Both you two have gone through, you know, being a mom and exactly what you just said about especially number one and how hard it is. There's a mom listening that is maybe having her first and struggling with all the things you're saying. What would you say to them?

And then I want Elisha to speak to the dads, but what would you say to the moms? I mean, if you're already in it, you know, there's no time to really prepare because you're already there. And so just know that this is a season and it does end. I think that's something that we can forget a lot as parents or just a lot in our marriage is like life is not a straight uphill climb.

And so there's lots of dips and valleys in it. This is a hard season and you're in it and it feels like you aren't sleeping and you don't feel attractive. And maybe you and your spouse aren't communicating well, but it does end if you just keep putting in the effort, even if it seems like a long time. When you're in the thick of a hard season, a day, two days, that could seem like a really long time. And then you look back and you're like, oh, that was eight weeks. I think of the fact that women go through nine months of a pregnancy, have a delivery at the end, which is really painful, and then do it all again.

It's like we forget how hard the hard was and that's why we keep going. Kind of embrace it and make the best out of the season that you're in and know that it ends and you'll probably do it again. I would agree with that and give yourself grace. But also to know, too, that some women are entering into postpartum and it's really deep and dark. I've had friends and even some of my friends' daughters go through that where I think the greatest step, too, is to talk about it. To tell people, this is what I'm feeling. I'm scared sometimes about what I'm feeling, but to talk about it with a mom, somebody that you can trust even spiritually. And I think, too, maybe some people don't agree, but see a doctor. Sometimes our hormones are so messed up to find that out and medication can sometimes really be helpful, too.

But talking about it is important because there's a lot of women that are walking through that same thing. What would you say to us men? Alicia and I are just like, I mean, I can relate to what you felt. I was like, I don't know what to do. I can make a Cal State comment, too.

I'm not sure what she needs from me right now. And I responded probably the wrong way as well. I responded like I started the program. Like, what about me? I'm like number 101 now in the family.

Talk to the guys. What is the best thing we can do to come alongside our wives when they're going through this? Katie already mentioned it's a season. And for me, when I simplified things and I looked at the most important things in life, sometimes crazy seasons can help you do that. You think, OK, we're not going to make Bible study every week and we might not even make it to church.

I'm going to miss the open gym that I'm used to going to. Then you start breaking down and think, wait, what are the core things in my life that I can really take control of right now? And you get in God's word and you're edified by that. And when we talk about being renewed, transformed by the renewing of your mind, that's a daily thing, getting in God's word. And as a husband, I think I would get bogged down. It'd be day four or five or six or 18 in the house and people are bringing you food and you're eating out all the time and your workout routines thrown off. You don't know when your quiet time is going to be.

And I just wouldn't feel like I was equipped at all to have clarity when it came to being a spiritual head. And first and foremost, you need to be sensitive to the reality of your wife's situation. Like it's that is carnage. I tell you what, that is a crazy thing that happens when a child enters the world. And to be able to walk with her in that and seeing that my respect for my wife went, you know, like through the roof in a huge way. And she became just like a celebrity to me in that time after our babies entered into the world. But being also sensitive to that, you know, and being sensitive to the reality that her body is just the physical thing that's taking place here.

There's a physical healing needs to take place. And then there's going to be emotional things that you aren't going to be able to wrap your mind around at all. And I think that was really big for me is not taking it personally when Katie needed to lean on other women because we had talked about, you know, that need to be one and that need to be the person that we go to. But there were things where Katie's talking to me about what she's feeling or not feeling.

She's trying to figure it out and I'm giving her a blank stare. And, you know, I'm trying to be a problem solver and saying, well, let's find a verse in the Bible. And she really I mean, there's never a bad time to go to God's word, of course. But really what she was probably needing wasn't necessarily somebody solving the problem in that way and not taking it personally when she felt like she needed to call her mom or call an older woman in the church and talk things out.

Yeah. Well, when you mentioned like your priorities, I do think like you leading yourself was still helpful for us. You know, because one person's really depleted and then the other person, I feel like this is a time where Elisha just started expecting less from me. I think sometimes, you know, we can expect our spouse to fill certain needs that we have. And that's a blessing in marriage that we can fulfill each other's needs. But ultimately we have to be filled by Christ.

And there's a season there where I wasn't filling as many of Elisha's needs. And so I felt like when you became a lot more sustaining in your own relationship with Christ and even things like working out for you kept your mental health in a good place, eating well, going to bed at a decent time. You know, like he just became the source of strength for me and for us. And it gave me this season to be able to focus on recouping and not really feel pressure to prioritize him in the same way. Although that is something that we did talk about because I do think it is important for wives to still show their husbands, even if it's in little ways, that they are still a priority.

I think that's actually really important in marriage in the postpartum season. Well, Elisha, you talked about that you weren't the greatest communicator. And even in your book, you talk about tool number one, what not to talk about.

I was laughing. Number one, jobs. Number two, housing.

And number three, moving. Yeah. Like I said, I kicked into problem-solving mode, you know? That's what we do.

Yeah. And we made some life-altering decisions in that really eight-week period that, you know, by God's grace, haven't been too detrimental to our life, but they probably weren't great decisions. And that is something that's so crazy about this season. You think, oh, you know, how long does it last? And of course, it's going to last a different length of time for everyone. And you think it's a small amount of time, but you can say extremely hurtful things that last a lifetime in that amount of time. You can make decisions that the pain is of is felt for a lifetime.

And so I don't think that you can really treat the season too lightly. When you think about poor decisions, life-altering decisions in our life, it came in a season and it came in a moment of weakness. It came in a moment of not feeling clarity and where you're supposed to be heading. And I guarantee your thinking's not clear.

You know, you don't have this clarity on this is the direction the Lord is leading us in. This is what's important for our home. And that can lead to just making poor decisions. And part of that's from no sleep. Exactly. Just the physical reality of not thinking clearly because of the lack of sleep.

Yeah. One of the things you do in both your books is the expectations and help our listeners understand because you have a lot of very practical ways to communicate and think through this season in real life. So help our listeners know what's that look like? Like the expectations chart. You even had 25 questions asked before you go into labor.

I was looking at those, Dave. I thought, did we ask any of these things? We weren't smart enough. Well, it's funny. We start out the book with expectations being one of the biggest pain points of postpartum. Because really, if you have expectations just communicated ahead of time, then you have a place to work from. So you can pivot afterwards and be like, hey, I know we had this conversation and this is what we thought we wanted. I'm not feeling that way anymore.

So let's try this. But at least you're starting from this shared point of view and you aren't trying to find that shared point of view when you're both emotional or sleep deprived or one of you struggling mentally. We kind of formulated these workbooks based off of what we felt like we needed to work through. Like the 25 questions are like, these are all the things we should have talked about before.

And then you're trying to talk about these things afterwards when emotions are high and sleep is low. And it's like, that's a communication disaster. And it's the same thing with the expectation translator. We actually, Elisha and I were working together at this time and this was a business tool that we took from our business coaching at the time. And we reformatted it to kind of reflect our expectations in other areas of life. Because we're like, this is how we get on the same page with business. And we can use this in other areas of our life. We found that when we're writing down our expectations of even simple things like, oh, I had this expectation my mom was going to come stay at my house for a week after the baby. And now we're in this tiny two bedroom apartment and Elisha has his mother-in-law there 24-7.

It's just kind of like, what do I do? Right? And so there's all these things where when I wrote them down, I was able to clarify my own thoughts and then we would show these papers to each other. And I'd be like, we noticed the discrepancies in there. What were some of the discrepancies?

Yeah, that was one. I think the, I love my mother-in-law, but again, it was a small space. And then I think the involvement from our church, we were blessed with an amazing Christian community. And I think that early on their love and support became overwhelming, which is a crazy privileged place to be in. A lot of people feel isolated and alone in that first, in that season of postpartum. But we had our church and our small group wanting every day, multiple times a day to come by and bring meals and show support.

And see the baby too. And so it was like social hour every day. And we're both pretty introverted and I wasn't feeling at my best.

Because you want to look halfway decent with some clothing on. I don't want to be this bedraggled, be like, hey, I just had a baby. Things aren't going so well. Getting on the same page there then kind of gave me the playbook, so to speak, on how to then engage with people from our church.

And I was able to text and say, hey, today's not a good day. Maybe if anybody wants to come by, this is the day that you can come by and meet the baby. But Katie and I were able to be on the same page with that rather than just being receptive to anything and trying to react. And not knowing, even if Katie, does Katie want to see these people? Does she not want to see these people? Because if it were up to me, I'd tell them all to get lost. But maybe Katie wants that support. I hope they're listening right now. Exactly.

We love you guys. That's the thing, people don't know how to help either if you haven't set clear expectations for your community. So are you expecting help and no one's expecting to give it to you? Or are they expecting to give you a lot of help and you're like, okay, I'm feeling a little over-helped? Physical intimacy after the baby? Talking through that? What are your expectations for that?

What are your expectations for just things romantically? We had friends who, the wife didn't want to go on a date without the baby. Her game plan was two years. And the husband was thinking, oh, in a couple of weeks we could just get a babysitter.

Right? So those are things that it's helpful to talk about. Or sleeping. You know, are you planning on co-sleeping? Because that's going to be something you're going to want to talk about with your spouse before you have the baby in the bed with you. Or do you have that expectation of your husband getting up with you through the night every time you're nursing or bottle-feeding the baby? Are you going to share those duties?

Or is someone going to take it and run with that? Those were just different things that we had to discuss. We wrote down a couple of them too.

I thought they were really smart. Like, what role do you see your parents playing in our lives after the baby's born? How do you feel about, as you said, children sleeping in our room or our bed?

Who are you comfortable with allowing to watch our child? Do you feel our marriage is ready to take on new strains? Or should we look into conferences or counseling before the next baby arrives? Those are just super wise things to talk about before the baby comes. When, as you said, your emotions aren't high, you're sleep-deprived, it's so much better to have those conversations then.

Now, how do you do it now? You've got four, number five on the way. We talked earlier about your marriage being a priority. Like, even when you just said the wife wants to take her baby for two years, I'd be like, that's a really bad decision. Again, I'm not telling everybody how to live, but it's like, man, you want to make your marriage a priority. You've got to let go for an evening or an hour or whatever it is to say to my husband, you're number one, you'll always be number one. Our marriage is always going to come first. So how are you navigating that world?

Because you've got a house full. So is your marriage something that you are able to keep as a priority? Yeah, and we do make great efforts to do that. Early on in our marriage, we live close to family that we're extremely supportive in taking the kids, which is a huge blessing.

We've got that. They want to take, even if it's a newborn, they want to take them and send you away for a date night. And our parents were really supportive in that we're currently living in a town where we don't have that family support. Honestly, like on our list, when we moved to this town of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, we knew we didn't have any family. It was, you know, on the list was find a church, find a babysitter, you know, that we could really trust.

And we did. It's got to be a decision that's made with wisdom and discernment. You want to scrutinize the person with the person that's coming in to care for your children. But we prioritize that early on. And then I love that Katie especially sets the expectation for our children that mommy and daddy, if we're in the conversation, you know, we're not going to blow the kids off. But they know that if we're talking about something important, it's to their best interest. If we get stuff sorted out, you know, it's to their best interest when we are on the same page and when we are walking in unity. And we want to not just say that to our children. We want to exemplify that and truly prioritize it. So even if it doesn't mean getting away for a weekend to remember conference and having your kids.

Way to throw the plug in there. But maybe it does mean making sure that all the kids are in bed at a certain hour. So you can count on that two and a half hours in the evening to talk stuff through. Or maybe it means getting up earlier before the kids. But it's something that we've prioritized. And I think there's always a way to be able to prioritize that in a practical manner. Yeah, I think for us quality times really big. So day nights are big. And then if we want to be spontaneous, the kids can watch something.

The baby can sit in their pack and play. It's a safe place for them. And I feel like Elisha and I are still able to show each other, hey, we've got this house with a bunch of kids and it's crazy. But you're still a priority to me.

And the conditions will never be ideal when you have this many kids in the home. So somehow make it a priority. Yeah. You guys, this has been really helpful and really wise.

I'm just looking at all their lists of things like I'm thinking of if you aim at nothing, you'll hit it. And many of us parent just making it through the day without really any kind of plan for our marriage with our walks with God or discipleship. And you guys have put together these books to really help couples navigate a difficult time. So thanks for doing that. Thank you. You know, prioritizing our spouse in the midst of the chaos that is raising children is a common struggle. A lot of people go through it, but one that we've been given so much help with today. I'm Shelby Abbott.

I'm extremely grateful. You've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Elisha and Katie Vogtberg on Family Life Today. Elisha and Katie have written two books, one called After the Baby for Her and one called After the Baby for Him. These books help walk you through the pain points of postpartum and really how to work through them as a married couple. You can pick up copies of those books at or you could give us a call at 800-358-6329.

Again, the number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Now, is there a chance that you could lead a small group growing healthier families and a deeper knowledge of God in your specific community? We have packed Family Life's Art of Parenting Small Group Study with a lot of key principles and practical advice on shaping your kid's character, their relationships and identity. We'll help you facilitate meaningful conversations about messy parenting and help you dig into God's word through this video-based zero prep.

Yes, I said zero prep study. You can get 25% off for a limited time or preview it in today's show notes. Now, coming up next week, Dave and Ann Wilson are going to be joined by Dana Gresh talking about Lies Girls Believe. She's going to unpack empowering teen girls with God's truth to overcome anxiety, insecurity and identifying lies in their lives. That's next week. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-11 06:55:41 / 2023-08-11 07:08:02 / 12

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