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REALLY wanted + REALLY hard with Kayla Kohl

 

Kayla Kohl has been BEEN THROUGH IT - from endometriosis + infertility to hyperemesis + pre-eclampsia, from weighted feedings +  PPA, to deployments + a pandemic...

This episode is one of those where the guest's journey + experience into motherhood is so unique, yet so incredibly universal.

Kayla Kohl is a full-spectrum doula and owner of The Birth Chronicles.  She became a mom through open embryo donation after years of infertility and loss and documents her journey into motherhood on her blog The Kohl Chronicles. 

In this episode, she shares...

  • Her rollercoaster ride of infertility + the road to IVF
  • How she gave birth to a child not related to her
  • The transformative power of having honest conversations with other moms

DON'T MISS-

  • Her struggle with not feeling like it's okay to say it's hard when she wanted it so much
  • How she overcame crippling anxiety postpartum in a pandemic
  • The advice she wished she would've realized sooner


// CONNECT WITH KAYLA KOHL//
Biz IG: @thebirthchronicles.co
BLOG IG: @TheKohlChronicles
Website: https://thebirthchronicles.co/

 

*FREE* MASTERCLASS: Learn how to CONFIDENTLY parent your strong-willed child WITHOUT threats, bribes or giving in altogether so you can BREAK FREE of power struggles + guilt

www.parentingwholeheartedly.com/unapologetic

I believe in you & I'm cheering you on.
Come say hi!  I'm @parent_wholeheartedly on Insta.

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TRANSCRIPT


Kayla Kohl:  

My pregnancy was very rough. I had hyperemesis gravidarum. So I had to be on a lot of medication, getting IV fluids struggling to gain weight. I had to be on steroids for a bit too. So I did get quite puffy. But it was a really, really rough pregnancy. And for me again, I felt like oh, so you failed to get pregnant, you're finally pregnant and you're failing pregnancy. Like you can't even keep your prenatals down. This seems like the simple is swallow the pill and keep it down. And here I am, again failing. And it was not the pregnancy that I had envisioned for so many years.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood, I mean? have too much anxiety, tot enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. But this is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you.... You feel like you're screwing everything up and you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud... This podcast is for you. This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Sharing her insecurities, her fears, your failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough and you're not alone. I hope you pop in ear buds, somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend. We're so glad you're here. Hey, it's Danielle. If you are anything like my guest today, you may have always known you wanted to become a parent. One way or another. I guarantee your story of where you're at today is not exactly what you might have pictured. For Kayla, that's an understatement. It's been a whirlwind. Kayla Kohl is a full spectrum doula and owner of The Birth Chronicles. She became a mom through open embryo donation after years of infertility and loss and documents her journey into motherhood on her blog, the Kohl Chronicles. At times, she has felt like she failed to become a mom, failed pregnancy and failed to feed her daughter enough. She shares her road to giving birth to a child not genetically related to her at all. You guys she has been through everything from endometriosis to hyperemesis and everything in between. In today's episode, she speaks to the hard contrast of not being able to admit when things are hard, because she worked so hard for it, being humbled by parenthood, and the power of having an honest conversation with another mom who gets it. She sheds light on her crippling anxiety and how she began to overcome it. And we get a glimpse into her doula work and how she's breaking the cycle for her family. And since we recorded this episode, her family has grown as well so be sure to follow her on Insta. So enjoy this episode with Kayla Kohl. Welcome to Failing Motherhood. My name is Danielle Bettmann. And on today's episode, I'm joined by Kayla Kohl. Thanks, Kayla!

Kayla Kohl:  

Hey, thank you for having me.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Of course. I'm so glad you're here. Before we dive into like, the whole backstory and all the goodness you have to share, go ahead and just introduce yourself to my listeners. Who are you and who's in your family?

Kayla Kohl:  

I'm a mom to my rainbow baby Nora.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yay And how old is she?

Kayla Kohl:  

She's 21 months old.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Oh my goodness. I goes by so fast. It's such a fun age.

Kayla Kohl:  

It really is. Amazing age.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yes. She like a new word every day.

Kayla Kohl:  

Oh yes. Yes. And finding something new to climb every single day.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yep, right on track then. Expect it! Any big emotions yet? Yeah.

Kayla Kohl:  

Yes, actually. Yeah, I hope she doesn't mind me saying this but she just learned that she can put herself on the floor to cry and that has been that is just opened my eyes to the big feelings because I too sometimes want to put myself on the floor to cry.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yeah. Join her in the corner next to her.

Kayla Kohl:  

Oh, yeah.

Danielle Bettmann:  

So I was trying to remember how we first connected I think it was through a Facebook group.

Kayla Kohl:  

Yeah I want to say yeah, I think so. Because we're local. Yes.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Do you remember exactly?

Kayla Kohl:  

I think it was LIT that we were both in? are both

Danielle Bettmann:  

yes. Yeah, it's okay. So when I even in? Yeah, getting like a glimpse of what you do and your motherhood story, I was like, "I have to have her on the podcast, this is gonna be such a unique perspective to learn from and be able to showcase" because it's just another avenue of how we're all connected in one way or another for what we want for our kids and our road to get there. So first to prequalify, Have you ever felt like you were failing motherhood?

Kayla Kohl:  

Yeah, all the time.

Danielle Bettmann:  

All right. Welcome to the club. You're one of us! I know you listen to the podcast. Yeah. So this is not new to you. But I'm gonna grill you on all the things today. So I'm so thankful you're here. So your journey to motherhood? Have you always wanted to be a mom? What was that like for you?

Kayla Kohl:  

I've always wanted to be a mom. I think my first stage to failing motherhood was failing to become a mom, actually. I was diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 13. So I've known since before I was in high school that I was going to struggle with infertility.

Danielle Bettmann:  

That has to be so hard to hear that age.

Kayla Kohl:  

Yeah, it was hard. I've always known I wanted to be a mom. And then I was kind of like, well, I will be a teacher. And that will be enough for me. And as I got older, and you know what my husband, we just knew, we knew we wanted kids, and we wanted to get to raise them together.

Danielle Bettmann:  

So what options did you know were available for you at the time?

Kayla Kohl:  

So I'm actually really lucky, my husband and I have a blended extended family. So like I have family members who are birth parents, he has family members who are adoptive parents, adoptees in his family. And so when I, you know, met him, we very quickly like we're in love, and it was one of those like, first date, I don't even think it was a day, I think you're in a Taco Bell, like talking about our future together. And you know, first we had to get through college, and then what was going to happen, and I was very honest about you know, I may not be able to have kids, but I am going to be a mother. And I don't know how I'm going to achieve that. And so both coming from blended families, different members of our family have also had infertility, we just kind of knew we were going to explore everything we could. And then you know, shortly after we were married, it became very clear that having biological children was not going to happen. It didn't happen. There's no amount of meditation or supplements or anything that could cure what isn't there. And that was a really hard pill to swallow. I think I sort of thought if I worked hard enough, and I did all the right things. And I was nice to the doctors that maybe that would just magically make it happen. And it didn't. And I think that was kind of my first lesson. And motherhood is it's not going to go the way you want it to go. And sometimes you're just going to fail. And you have to live in that. So we didn't really know what was moving forward, we knew that IVF wasn't like creating embryos wasn't going to be something that we could just logistically do financially due, we didn't have a good shot at that, per se. My endometriosis is mostly affected my egg quality in my fallopian tubes. But surprisingly, my uterus looked pretty good. And so I was like, Well, if we can't make a baby that uterus is, you know, not going to do his job. So we explored adoption. And we learned so much about what that system truly looks like in America. And it just, it didn't work out. Like we went through the full process. And the mother became empowered to parent, the mother who had chosen us, which is just so awesome for her and her baby. They're doing great, we still keep in contact with them. But we sort of closed the door on that chapter of working with an agency, just the more you know, it wasn't the right fit for our family. And I was in a couple different Facebook groups. And it was there. I actually met my daughter's genetic family. And we learned about this thing called embryo adoption, which is a term that's used for it, but more accurately would be described as embryo donation. And so there are, you know, egg donors and sperm donors, and that's how a lot of people build their families. And some people use an egg and a sperm donor to create embryos. And then when they have embryos leftover or if it's a family that's gone through IVF. They create embryos, and then when their families complete or they're done doing IVF and they have embryos leftover. They get to make a decision whether that's to donate to science to discard to donate on to another family, they get to choose what they do and my daughter's genetic Parents, they created embryos, a husband and wife were married. And they had an abundance of embryos like it doesn't happen these days. They got double digits in embryos, which is just, most people were lucky to get one or two embryos, they completed their family. And then they decided to donate on these embryos. And people sort of call it embryo adoption. Because it's not a donor sperm or donor egg, you can get donor embryos from a bank as well. But it was more of a connection with them. So either is interchangeable, I feel like and so we met them online. And it turns out, they had, like I said, quite a few embryos, and they had donated them to a friend. And then that friend had completed their family. And then they donated them, again to two more families and those families completed their families. And they had all completed their families, there were four embryos remaining. And they collectively all of these families got together. And they talked about me and my husband, and they decided that they wanted us to have the remaining embryos and to parent them, which is just the honor of a lifetime to have somebody entrust you with that. And so we said yes, we knew that my uterus looked good. We did some more testing. And it was a go. And so we the embryos were in long term storage we shipped to to our clinic, and we went through the IVF process. Lots and lots and lots of injections, interlude infusions, I had to have steroids and blood thinners as part of my IVF protocol. So it's pretty intensive, pretty all consuming. And we had our embryos in St. Louis, and we live in Omaha. Well, we traveled for the embryo transfer. And the morning of the transfer, I was literally doing yoga, and my phone rang, it was the clinic and I picked up my phone. I'm still like on the floor, my husband is still in bed, and they tell me that the two embryos that we taken from long term storage to the clinic did not survive the thaw. And so there was nothing to transfer, there are no embryos. And those embryos had been frozen in that same straw. So we would have transferred to at that time. So two of the four embryos, they deteriorated. We later found out it was probably due to a genetic or chromosomal abnormality and those embryos likely would not have become viable pregnancies. But we were devastated. And it was in December of that year, and my entire goal for oh gosh, was it 2019 Was to just become pregnant. And that wasn't it didn't happen. So we went to our clinic. And we did what's called an era it's an endometrial receptivity analysis, where they biopsied my uterine lining and they sent it off and they came up with the exact date and time to do the index transfer. And we decided like, Okay, we'll go off all of our medication. And then we'll start again next year. And so I had to go off of the blood thinners, the steroids, the progesterone, the estrogen all over Christmas. I know children are living, amazing, tangible humans. But all I wanted for Christmas was to be pregnant, almost like a present to myself. And so that was just, it was really, really hard. But I just was like, okay, there are two more embryos we have, we have two more chances and every transfer that my daughter's genetic family and we call ourselves the snowflake family. Embryos are sometimes referred to as snowflakes. So everybody in the snowflake family had gotten pregnant off of their transfers, there's never been a transfer to fail, there had never been embryos that didn't survive a thaw. There had never been a transfer that didn't result in a pregnancy. So this was just like unheard of for us. And IVF only has a 30% chance of a living baby at the end of a pregnancy too. So it was I was like, why did it have to happen to me. And so we went off everything. And in February which do the transfer. My husband couldn't be there he is in the Air Force. So I went down with one of my best friends from college, we stayed with her parents who live in St. Louis. And the day of that transfer, I just like, started to get this feeling. And I emailed my clinic and we had two embryos left one was a day five embryo. One was a day six embryo we're going to thaw the day five and transfer it. We shipped it from long term storage to the clinic, emailed them. And I was just like, verify and they said hey, yep, we're good to transfer your day six embryo. Wow. And I shot back like, oh, we were supposed to transfer the day five what happened? And they told me when they went to thaw that embryo, they took the straw out of preservation and they basically flush it with saline fluid into a petri dish and observe it. There was no embryo in that straw, the shipping come And he had at some point damage, that straw in the embryo had fallen out of it. So that day five embryo was gone. Oh, and they panicked and knew, and we'd signed consent forms. And so they thought the day six, and the day six looks good, it was expanding, but I just like gutted me to think, you know, when we started this journey with these embryos, our intention was to transfer all of them at some point. So whether that resulted in four children, or however many children that was our plan was multiples we strongly wanted our child to have a genetic sibling to grow up with. And so going into that transfer, knowing not only is this my last chance at IVF, but my child will never have a genetic sibling in their home. And of course, my husband wasn't there. So we went through the transfer, you can't really refreeze an embryo, once it's been thawed, the likelihood of it surviving a second thought was not good. So we did the transfer. And the next day, I drove back the, like six hours to Omaha. And it was kind of scary. It was a lot to process. And I just kind of was like, Nope, we're shutting it down. We're shutting down all of the what ifs and the trauma of this loss. And we're just going to focus on getting pregnant, we're just compartmentalizing, put a pin in it. And so Sunday morning, I woke up and I just I looked at my husband was like, I'm going to take a pregnancy test. And he was like, okay, but you know, it's going to be negative, because you literally transferred this embryo like four days ago, and you're not going to have a blood test for another like week. And I was like, I know, but I'm just going to take one. He was like, okay, like, when you're trying to conceive, sometimes you can pee on a stick addict. And that was me. And so I went into the bathroom. And I like dipped it. And then I started to bring it back to my husband. And I looked down, and I started to see this pink line forming to the left of the window. And usually the left of the window was blank. And you're only getting that one negative pink line. And I looked up on my husband, and he just jumped out of bed and ran over. He's like, no way. There's no way it's too soon. And he held it up. And he's like, there's two lines. There's two, like I didn't even get to see the control line for me because he took it out of my hands. And he was like, Kayla, there's two lines, you're pregnant. And I was just like, what? Oh, my goodness. And so it was just like, so exciting. And then of course, you have to wait until you get the blood test and they want your number, your number has to be over 50. And then, so my daughter's genetic family, all of the moms, you know, we all parent our kids differently. Some of them wait until we know if you're pregnant or not to tell them about the transfer. Some of them tell them beforehand, it just developmentally depends on where the kid is at. And so I had to go in for my beta blood tests and it had to be a 50. And one of the moms recorded her daughter and like shooting me a little video. And she told her she was like, Okay, be the number has to be over a 50 When your snowflake siblings mama goes in, what do you think it's going to be? And she was like, Oh, I think the number is going to be 65. And Mama, by the way, makes sure she knows the very last embryo was frozen with was a girl one. And now we have the technology to where you can biopsy embryos and test for chromosomal and genetic differences as well as the sex that had not been done. And so I go in for my blood. And it's a 67 two numbers above what we told me it was going to be and then later on, we found out it was a girl.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Wow.

Kayla Kohl:  

And it just just like it just gave me goosebumps. And the kids were so excited. They knew this was their last sibling. My daughter is one of nine. And so we've got a pretty good family. My pregnancy was very rough. I had hyperemesis gravidarum. So I had to be on a lot of medication, getting IV fluids struggling to gain weight. I had to be on steroids for a bit too. So I did get quite puffy. But it was a really, really rough pregnancy. And for me again, I felt like oh, so you failed to get pregnant, you're finally pregnant and you're failing pregnancy. Like you can't even keep your prenatals down this seems like the simple is swallow the pill and keep it down and here I am again failing. And it was not the pregnancy that I had envisioned for so many years, right. Like I had this fantasy of motherhood and I think when you're so deep in the thick of infertility and all your friends that have kids are rooting for you. They don't want to give you a reality check they don't want to tell you anything that's going to hurt your feelings and so I got pregnant and I wasn't glowing and I was so upset and I felt like all like I ca't be ungrateful because they gave me a chance it finally worked I better not complain about this right but I'm you know vomiting so many times my esophagus Is this terrifying? And I'm bleeding and it was terrible. And I was like, Well, you know what, this is okay, because I'm pregnant and I'm gonna have a baby and I was in therapy, a lot of therapy to get through my trauma and to be positive, which is still a struggle. And I was like, Well, you know what, like, it's okay. I'm a doula. I'm going to have the birth of my dreams. I'm prepared for this. I am going to walk into motherhood, I'm going to have that baby. And then at a routine prenatal appointment, I develop preeclampsia, and my baby has severe fetal tachycardia, to the point where we had a preterm emergency cesarean pending an open heart surgery for our daughter.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Ah!!!

Kayla Kohl:  

She's fine. Thankfully, she's fine.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Hey if you're new here, I'm Danielle. My company, Wholeheartedly, offers one on one and group coaching programs to help families with strong-willed kids aged one to seven, prevent tantrums, eliminate power struggles, extend their patience and get on the same page. It's kind of like finances, you can read lots of info about what a Roth IRA is and how the stock market works. But if you really want to get serious about paying down debt or growing your wealth, you go see a financial advisor who can give you very specific recommendations based on all the unique facets of your situation. I'm your financial advisor for parenting. And I've designed the way we work together to give you nothing less than a complete transformation. While we work together, I am able to help you figure out why your child is losing their mind and why you are losing your mind and guide you to master effective long term solutions through three main focuses. Number one, my cultivating cooperation guide teaching you the tools of positive discipline. Number two, managing your mind by working through my triggers workbook. And number three, establishing your family's foundation by writing your family business plan. My coaching is comprehensive, practical, individualized and full of VIP support. So if you struggle to manage your child's big emotions, if you and your partner's arguments seem to center around parenting, especially if one of you is too kind and one of you is too firm. If you struggle to stay calm and be the parent that you want to be, it's possible to stop feeling like a deer in headlights when a tantrum hits, effortlessly move through simple directions and care routines without an argument and go to bed replaying the way you handled the hardest moments and feel proud. If you have a deep desire to be the best parent you can be, and your family is your greatest investment, find me on Instagram. Send me a message that says SANITY. And I'll ask you a few questions to see if we'd be a good fit to work together. I can't wait to meet you. Back to the show. SCARY! What week was this?

Kayla Kohl:  

We didn't make it to full term. I think I was almost full term. So I was around 36 weeks when I had my daughter. Okay, so not quite full term not quite a preemie. Early term. Babies have a lot of complications. Yes, the statistics are better than 35-34 preemie, but we ended up with severe jaundice. We had a lot of complications. So I was like, Okay, I didn't have my fertility. I didn't have my pregnancy. I didn't have my birth story. But I have my baby. I had that magic moment. We bonded instantly. She had to be taken to the NICU monitored, her heart ended up being fine. She had severe jaundice, and they weren't sure if she had necrotizing enterocolitis. So we went from-does she need heart surgery? to-does she need her bowels resected? Wow. And waiting that out. And then she didn't need that. But we find out she has a milk and soy allergy. So any dairy or soy products that I was consuming. Were making her sick. And I thought she had a lip and tongue tie but it was kind of skirted around and I was pumping in the NICU because that's the easiest way to track weight gain is how like we were measuring her feeds, we were measuring her diapers we were measuring her and so breastfeeding did not go the way I thought it would and then so coming home from an emergency C section. I thought I was gonna go you know, to 40 weeks at least so a month earlier than I had anticipated and I have this baby and I can't eat dairy I can't eat soy so everything everybody brought for a meal train meal was off the table. I'm cooking everything from scratch because everything is cooked in soy oils or you know cross contamination. So here I am with this baby that is having to have weighted feeds twice a week for the first six weeks of her life, sometimes more. And then I think my daughter was 12 weeks old when we stopped going every week. But for the first

Danielle Bettmann:  

Oh, how stressful?!

Kayla Kohl:  

Yeah, my daughter finally got on the growth curve. Around four months, she was finally on a curve. She got on at around six. And then I had her ties revised. So yeah, three months, she got on a growth curve. And then but four months, she finally jumped up to the 21st percentile for weight, and I could stop going in for checks. But for the first, the entire newborn phase was me cooking every meal from scratch. And because she was in the NICU, I had to pump so I had an oversupply. So I would wake up in the morning, and I would pump 15 ounces of milk. And by the end of the day, I was freezing. 35 ounces of milk. That sucks. So I was trying to wean myself off of the breast pump, learn how to latch her, cooking everything from scratch, washing bottles, washing pump parts, driving, and you can't drive the first six weeks. So getting rides, my husband taking off work to take us to all these appointments. The newborn phase was just a cluster, I felt like I failed it. Like, where were the moments where I was just lounging in a bathtub with my infant against my chest? You know, where was the beautiful pictures of her laying in a crib with her full nursery decorated it? It didn't happen. And it felt like a blur. And then my daughter was five months old and my husband deployed. And he was gone for about four months. And so it just felt like the beginning of her life as beautiful and perfect and wonderful as she is and man is she my everything. But she and I did not have what I pictured. And I really think it wasn't until it was just her and I day in and day out that I finally felt like oh, maybe I'm not failing at this. Maybe even though I'm completely alone. Maybe I'm doing enough.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Wow. Yeah, like when were you able to give yourself some compassion for like, I don't have to be enjoying every moment of this. Like, I'm grateful. But also, this is really hard.

Kayla Kohl:  

Maybe today for the first time. I just think with everything that I've been through, it just felt like a slap in the face of so many people to ever say this is hard. Oh, yeah. And I started a blog when we were going through infertility because we got married and we moved away from everybody we knew for the military life. So I started this personal blog of mine that sort of grew and grew and grew, where I was kind of chronicling my life and my fertility journey. And not everybody on the internet is nice. And I felt like Man, if I slipped up at all, if I showed weakness, if I showed that I wasn't grateful for every minute, if I didn't just radiate joy out of every pore on my body, that I was a fraud, and I was being ungrateful. And it really took like my daughter's whole genetic family came out last July while my husband was deployed. And we all spent a week together. And it really wasn't until I'm sitting with these other moms who have gone through every single mom has also gone through infertility and is what led us to IVF or embryo donation. Every single mom has either had a miscarriage or pregnancy loss or not been able to get pregnant. And I'm sitting with them with all of our children. And just like we'd got done at the zoo, and one of the moms was like I'm done, like I am done for the day. And I was like, Can I say that? Can I say that? I'm done. Can I say that? I'm exhausted. And they were like, yes. Because that's what motherhood is. It doesn't matter how bad you want it. Once you're in it, it's going to be hard and you're allowed to say that it's hard. Like we all love our kids. By it's hard and it's not the loving them. That's hard. It's the getting to naptime, getting to bedtime, you think you've got it figured out and then they start growing more mouth bones, and they're a completely different human. And it just, I think also because it was COVID I wasn't going to Mommy and Me groups. Like my support was virtual. I didn't see anybody else.

Danielle Bettmann:  

You didn't even mention that there was a pandemic!

Kayla Kohl:  

I should have mentioned we got pregnant and then a month later COVID hit America. So oh, so yeah, so we our daughter was born in October of 2012. The timing is impeccable. Yeah, so yeah. So not only do we not have support, but we didn't have you know Like, anything, everything was shut down, man. And so for like, the first time in my life, I'm sitting in a group full of women who are mothers who have kids older than mine. And we all share kids that are related. And so the kids have the same ears. Like some of them, it's like looking at their twin like, and just seeing all of these beautiful kids at different stages of development picturing like, what this is going to be like for me in the future. And being allowed to see that two is hard that 10 is hard. That, you know, seven can be hard, like all these different ages, seeing just like the full beauty of like the love they had for their families, the excitement, the different things they could do. But still knowing at the end of the day, like we were doing all these activities for our kids. And then we were like, tapping out, like the second those kids close their eyes. We were done being mothers, we just need to belong to ourselves, and to see what I was really experiencing in person changed everything for me.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yeah, that is such a unique experience. But I feel like every mom has like this awakening, when you get to truly be vulnerable, for the first time, in like, the safest environment. And when you can, like truly say how you're feeling without fear, or still with fear of judgment in some way. But then, like feeling like you are actually like, heard and seen and like shared in that experience. And I can still remember what that was like for me. And it was so powerful, it completely changed my perception of other mothers, I felt like everybody else had it together. And you know, I was the only one that was struggling, or they were all fake, you know, and I just couldn't even say anything that was real, like we could only talk about superficial things. You know, like it was so sad. Because once I kind of crossed over that barrier, it felt like a whole new world existed, place things that I could talk about in ways that I could be true to myself, and just being honest with yeah, Nobody doesn't love their kids. It's just no, it's just that hard. And that's fair to say!

Kayla Kohl:  

It is so hard. And when you want to, you know, being a cycle breaker, being the first to parent differently outside of the box is another level of hard. I think that, especially in this digital world, I can listen to your podcast and get all of these amazing strategies. And then like, my brain is like do them all today. Do them all right now. Now you have just learned how to do this. Why aren't you doing it already? Yeah, the ground running, let's go. I think that I have this like visual of like, okay, this is the kind of mother I want to be, or this is the strategy I want to use. But then when you're right in that moment, it's like, maybe I will just give you a fig bar to make the crying stop. Maybe, maybe I will cry with you. Yeah, not always using those strategies. No, in that I think they'd part like that repair piece that you talk about, like, woo boy, man is that the crux of motherhood is just repairing what you are healing from over and over again?

Danielle Bettmann:  

Right! Yeah, cuz did you have? Like, are you parenting the way that your parents parented and did you have a really good role model?

Kayla Kohl:  

So you know, I have no contact with my family. Okay. And so I am a cycle breaker. My in laws are amazing, wonderful people. We model a lot of how we parent after them after actually, I think the one thing about infertility is that we had so long wanting to be parents, that anytime we around anybody who had kids, we would get in the car afterwards. And we were just gossip about them. Like did you see how they handle that? Oh my gosh, like, their teenager was really rude. And they were so calm with them are like, Oh my gosh, their toddler just ate cake. Like, all day long. They just ate cake. Or like, all these little things of parenthood and judging and picking what we wanted. And then, you know, coming around and seeing like, of course, that kid just ate cake. It was a birthday party. Like, you know, we know that we have a childhood like, oh, yeah, that's why kids eat nothing but cake because they never have access to it at any other time. We're like, man, they were so patient with their teenager and now that I'm a parent, and now that I have that sleep deprivation, they're so much cooler to me like, right? It was so funny all these years of observing and looking and picking what we liked, I think really helped us solidify. I still don't think we'll ever be the parents we thought we would be I don't think anybody is?

Danielle Bettmann:  

No, but it's humbling in that way.

Kayla Kohl:  

Oh my gosh, but it gave us so much to pick and we still do it when we're at birthday parties or we're at the park and we see how other kids are doing it. Or we'll send each other things we see on social media, my husband keeps sending me pictures of toddlers on balance bikes, and I'm not ready for my toddler to be on a balanced bike, but he is ready for her to use those motor skills. And it's so funny, just the different things that were drawn to his parents. I wouldn't say either one of us is the fun one. He is definitely like, oh, yeah, we can be wild. Like, let's toss her here. Let's jump off this. And I'm just like, what if I just held her all day long?

Danielle Bettmann:  

Right? Yeah. You find that since it was such a hard, long road to motherhood, that you have more anxiety about? Just the risks of like having that, you know, heart outside your sleeve, running around getting hurt all the things?

Kayla Kohl:  

Oh, my gosh, yes. I told my husband all of the time. I don't think anybody on this earth feels as deeply as I feel about anything. And he's like, I think that's just anxiety. But I'm like, there is no way there is no way anybody on this earth loves their kid that way. I love their kid, because they turn around when their kid is playing or like they go to sleep when their kid is sleeping. And I can't do that. And now I can but and what I'm learning was it wasn't my amount of love. It was my amount of anxiety. And I so deeply needed to be present and watch everything my daughter was doing, especially when my husband was gone. And I just felt like this is my sole responsibility is to keep this kid alive. And what do you mean, she's going to start crawling, and she's going to hit her head on stuff. Like, I remember somebody telling me that their kid fell off the bed. And I remember thinking they were a terrible parent for putting their kid on a bed. And do you know, my daughter fell off the bed when my husband was deployed. And that day I took my bed off the frame and had it on a mattress. That way whenever she and I were playing on the bed, or watching TV on the bed while I was nursing her there was no way she could roll off the bed because we were on the floor. That's how bad my anxiety was. We just this week, my daughter's 21 months, and we just put her bed back on the frame. Because now I convinced she can slide off the bed safely.

Danielle Bettmann:  

That's an improvement that is progress.

Kayla Kohl:  

It is progress. It is slow, but it is there. I think I've always been an anxious person I think motherhood PPA was I didn't have was one depression. But I remember getting diagnosed with PPA. My daughter was she's over a month old we were going to do we hadn't been able to do newborn photos because the NICU so we were doing a mini session for Christmas photos. And I was just beside myself. I knew I wouldn't be able to put myself together. So my husband said why don't you go get your hair done? Why don't you go have somebody curl your hair for you. And then when you're done, we'll pick you up, we'll take you right to the studio will all get changed there. It'll be great. So 45 minute, maybe appointment and I'm sitting there with a hairdresser I've never met before. But I picked her because she's two minutes from my house. And I knew I could get home. I could run home if I needed to. And I'm sitting there texting my husband every three minutes and I'm sobbing, like so hard. And she's fine. She's asleep. But I was away from her. And my hairdresser just was she's a mom herself. And she told me she was like, I remember coming back to work after I had my baby and nothing could have prepared me for that. It was really hard. And she just really empathized with me and we just sort of talked about my story. And then towards the end. She was like, you know, it was hard, but it got better. But do you think that you could be struggling with some postpartum anxiety? A lot of moms have it. And you know, I think you may have that. And I was like I think you're right person who's just met me. I think you're right. We're such good friends. Now. She's still my hairdresser. And Oh, see, see I remember even when she like we were catching up it'd been a while and she was like you haven't texted your husband for updates at all. Like you're doing this I'm so proud of you like oh, you're trusting and just from going from like I can't get my hair curled without being able to touch my baby to I work now I go to births and I'm away from my daughter for hours and when I'm at work, I don't have that anxiety because I am doula Kayla. I'm not mom Kayla, and I didn't work the first six months of her life But I don't think if I hadn't gotten help for my PPA, I don't think I would have been able to go back to work.

Danielle Bettmann:  

All right, yeah, guaranteed. And what did that look like for you?

Kayla Kohl:  

For me, it was medication and more therapy. I was doing like EMDR therapy beforehand, I switched the method of therapy. And I also started going out into the world I started. It's called Fit For Mom. So I started working out, I started taking care of my body and getting out of the house every single day, whether it was just walking my dog, whether it's grocery pickup, I started leaving our bubble. I honestly don't think we'd ever use a diaper bag outside of doctor's appointments for the first nine months of her life. I just really hunkered down. And as soon as I started just taking her into the world with me, and seeing like, oh, I can do this, and I'm doing a great job and nothing catastrophic is happening. And you know, she doesn't cry the whole time. She's in her car seat. We're safe here. And once I started leaving my comfort zone, that is when I actually became more comfortable. That's a good thing.

Danielle Bettmann:  

But you had COVID on top of that, too, and like, oh, gosh, no one was vaccinated. And

Kayla Kohl:  

yes, exactly. Yep. The world is so different. It still is.

Danielle Bettmann:  

How can you blame yourself? Right? Like, right, you're doing the best.

Kayla Kohl:  

And it's so different. But man, it's been a wild ride. And we're making it.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yeah, yeah. So what does that look like now that you're on the other side? If there's a mom, listening to this that has a nine-month-old, that also struggled with anxiety you basically like where you were, what would you want to tell her?

Kayla Kohl:  

That your child is not going to become unattached from you because they cry, or because they have an experience that's less than ideal. You're allowed to do things for your health, that might result in your baby crying, that includes showering, that includes putting your baby safely in their car seat and driving to get the groceries, going for a walk, you're allowed to step outside with your baby, even if you're not comfortable in crowds yet, that's okay. Walk to your mailbox every day, twice a day, if you have to, but get the heck out of your house because there's nobody in that house but you and your anxiety. And when you're trapped in that home, all it's going to do is grow. And it has been transformative to just take my kid out into the world even if it's a very small little piece of the world.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Just a drive thru? Yes. I remember like when I had a one year old and a newborn and was recovering from a C section. I was like, why is the entire world not all drive throughs? Yes. Why is everything not a drive thru?

Kayla Kohl:  

Nothing prepared me for that C section recovery. No. So speaking of that, when did you become a doula? So I was a teacher. And then when I started going through, wanting to become a mother, we knew with adoption, when that was on the table for our family that, you know, I couldn't just drop everything and go on maternity leave whenever I wanted. That wouldn't be what was best. I mean, I could have but that wouldn't have been what was best for a group of students. So I career switched around that time. And then I rebranded myself and I launched it's called The Birth Chronicles and that's just my Doula business. I relaunched that this year. I started working in when my daughter was six months old. But I relaunched at the beginning of this year, which is just wonderful. And then in May of this year, I had to close my calendar for births. I booked myself through December so exciting. It has been it's amazing and I love what I do and I'm honored to do it and no two births are the same. And you know, my husband flies planes and I go to births we both have unpredictable high stakes endorphin pumping jobs. Yeah. And it's awesome. Then when we have those quiet routine weeks where we're all just talking together, it makes it so much sweeter. Because we both miss bedtimes you know, we both miss family dinner, but then those moments where we're all together to do it together, it makes it so much better. And I am so excited to get to not only own my business but do something that I truly want to do for the rest of my life and my daughter gets to watch me do that.

Danielle Bettmann:  

And I love that too. About like what I do because it's such a cool thing to get that as a gift of like seeing you be yourself and do your thing and help people. yeah so powerful!

Kayla Kohl:  

and I think her knowing that I have things for just me even if the thing for Just me is going and getting my hair done or getting a massage, it doesn't matter. But I don't think there's any greater gift we can give our children then showing them what self care looks like. And for me self care is being a mom who works outside of the house sometimes.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yep, I learned that really early on

Kayla Kohl:  

Yeah, my husband and I just sat down two days ago, about myself as well. Like I thought, before I was a mom, that I would be a stay at home mom. And then with finances, you know, I kept working. And then when I had my second, then I went to part time and I realize, part time is is good. Part time is when I'm at my best, like, I really am a better mom, when I get to clock in and out and feel like a grown up and have other social connections and be able to continued and have passions that I'm acting upon. Like that made me a better mom and the time that I got to pick them up and spend with them. So it's different for everybody. And you don't know what that is before you're in it, and every season can change and, and flow as well. So it's so fun that you get to have like such a flexible and predictable. and we mapped out 2023 And the breaks that I'm going to be taking and what holidays I'm taking off gaps, summer vacations, because you know work life balance, even if you're doing what you love. Sometimes it's a struggle. So we already blocked out weeks, months of self care in 2023.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Oh, that's awesome. Because it's gotta be bizarre like booking out your life, like seven months in advance when you're like having people hire you. Yeah, it's pretty exciting.

Kayla Kohl:  

I'm the only doula in the state of Nebraska that is TRICARE approved. So military families can use their insurance benefits. And so I work pretty much with military families, non military families, as well. But yeah, I have had people who are there now trying to conceive and they've already reached out to me to see like, what my availability is in the future. Wow. And I'm getting, you know, clients having their second baby, andI'm going to birthdays. And I'm just like, how are these kids in my community already growing up? And yeah, it's so cool to get to see them and to be a part of their team.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Wow, you're like, invited into their whole family?

Kayla Kohl:  

Yeah, I'm there, you know, one of the best days of their life or, you know, one of the most transformative days of their life. And that magic never goes away and getting to see those kids grow up and seeing those parents really step into parenthood. It is awesome to see.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yes, I get a glimpse of that, too. And you see the little light bulbs. See the connection happening? It's been it's it's so good. I love working with families, but is again a surprise because I thought I was going to work with kids. Yep. Being a certified teacher myself, coming from classrooms, I would never have it any other way. But then there's classroom teachers that would be like- I could never. Right. I could never deal with grownups and all their problems, but I love it so much. So if families are listening, that are local, how can they connect with you?

Kayla Kohl:  

Yeah, so my Doula work is thebirthchronicles.co on Instagram, Facebook, and that's also my website. And then my personal life is The Kohl Chronicles on Instagram.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Okay. And I'll share those in the show notes. Just put some there and go connect with you. So the last question before I get to the very last question I want to give you is like, is there anything that you want to share? If I just like gave you a pedestal and said, like, just preach, say what you feel like needs to be heard? What do you love to share? When given a platform and speaking to other moms?

Kayla Kohl:  

Oh, gosh, I think one of the pieces of advice everybody always hears is you are exactly who your child needs you to be. And there are times where I'm like, my kid doesn't need me to be a hot mess. And so for the longest time, that phrase was so triggering, especially as somebody who maybe didn't have the parents that I needed. And that phrase was so triggering for me until I finally realize like, every child is going to go through different stages, and they're going to need a different version of you. And so you may not be the version that is your best self when they are a newborn, you may not be the best version of yourself when they are 16. But if you can repair that relationship, if you can be the example of an apology, the example of change behavior for them. That's exactly who they need you to be.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yeah, that is like so reassuring. Because yeah, we can look at our behavior all day and find all the critiques in the world of how we could better but it's so important that they realize through the ups and the downs while they are To eat it, how to carry that into their relationships. And yeah, there's gonna be conflict in every relationship moving forward. So lots of opportunities to practice. Yes. So then to sum that up, how are you, the mom that your daughter needs?

Kayla Kohl:  

I am the mom that Nora needs, because I am always willing to continue to learn best practices and to continue to learn who she is. I'm never going to tell her who she is. I'm always listening and letting her show me.

Danielle Bettmann:  

I love that, ugh. Again, it's such a huge gift to give her. Just so lucky to have you.

Kayla Kohl:  

I'm the lucky one.

Danielle Bettmann:  

I'm so glad that through that wild ride. Yeah, here you are rocking toddler life.

Kayla Kohl:  

I made it to my dream.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yeah. Yeah. And you're killing it and you guys are much, that is so meant to be. So thank you. Especially when you know your husband like back off on deployments and things. Yeah. So thank you so much for being so willing to share at that vulnerable level, what your story looks like, because it's hard enough to do in person, let alone on the internet. So being willing to share with that on your Instagram page or your blog, or just with us. We're so grateful, so honored to share your story. So thank you.

Kayla Kohl:  

Thank you for having me.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Of course. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Failing Motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms know they are not alone if they feel like they're Failing Motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong-willed child, and invest in the support you need to make it happen. Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you, and I'm cheering you on.

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