Podcasts Viktoria Angelova on recovering, adding another little member of the family and what she learned between the two Listen/ Watch links: Enjoying the show and you'd like even more? Become a Patron! SUMMARY- Join Carly and Viktoria as they discuss Viktoria's recovery from Thyroiditis, how she survived without the correct medication, adding another baby to their family, and how different her experience with her second has been. Viktoria also shares some key lessons she learned between her first and second little ones, and the key ingredient in her recovery. Full Episode Transcript: Carly: The Beyond Sleep Training Podcast- a podcast dedicated to sharing real tales of how people have managed sleep in their family outside of sleep training culture because sleep looks different with a baby in the house and because every family is different there is no one-size-fits-all approach to take. I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which this podcast is being recorded, the Kalkadoon people, I pay my respects to the elders of this nation and the many other nations our guests reside in from the past, present and emerging. We honour Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, water and seas as well as their rich contributions to society including the birthing and nurturing of children. Carly:Welcome back to the Beyond Sleep Training podcast. I’m your host, Carly Grubb, and with me today is Viktoria Angelova. Viktoria did our previous episode with us as well, so if you haven’t yet listened along you might like to backtrack one episode so that you can hear the first part of her story which was super interesting. Welcome Viktoria. Viktoria's first episode Viktoria:Hello, hello. Welcome… thank you, Carly. Carly:It’s great having you back on the show and I’m really keen to hear a bit more about how the story went. So, where we left off was basically you’d been through the absolute wringer trying to figure out why it was that you couldn’t sleep even while your baby was asleep. And he was a frequently waking little fellow. You did a stint at Tresillian which was very unhelpful aside from the fact that you actually did get to see a doctor who finally listened to you and ran some tests and figured out that you had a thyroid disorder. Viktoria:Yep. Carly:But even then you were given the wrong information about the medication you needed and so you didn’t get any relief with the medication because apparently it wasn’t breastfeeding safe. But… Viktoria:Yep. Carly:… it actually turned out to be. What happened in that three month period you said that you had no access to the medication and you still weren’t able to sleep? Can you go from there? Viktoria:Yeah, so we saw a specialist. After… after it was discovered that I did have the thyroid disorder we got referred to a specialist, and that specialist pretty much said unless you’re prepared to wean your bub I’m not going to be able to prescribe you the medication to kind of slow your thyroid hormone production down. So, but she did say, well, that’s a self-limiting condition, which essentially means imagine a roller coaster, it goes up and then once it reaches a peak it kind of goes down. And so, she said it will pass. Now imagine being a sleep-deprived mum holding a five-month-old baby having not slept properly for well over a month and a half and listening to those words and pretty much being told, ‘Try to relax and one day you will sleep.’ Carly:Mm hm. That would have gone down like a ton of bricks in my house. Viktoria:Oh my god. And I was like, what do you mean? We don’t have any family support around here. How are we going to make it? And she said, well, the condition usually takes between one and three months. And I’m like, uh huh. And she said, well, you’ve already had it for one and a half months, so it should pass pretty soon. As it turned out mine was the three month version. So… so it took another month and a half for it to pass. Carly:Wow. Viktoria:Which essentially meant… which essentially meant that during that time I was a wreck. Like a literal wreck. I could not sleep at night even when I was super exhausted. I could not take a nap during the day even if I was super exhausted. It’s the most debilitating thing on Earth to be extremely tired but not be able to fall asleep because your body is simply not letting you sleep. Carly:Oh, you poor thing. That must have been so painful. So, during that time it’s just you and your little family. How… was your husband able to support you? How was it looking in day to day life? Viktoria:Yeah, he… I mean he essentially had to stop working, and we were all hands on deck. It was… it was a nightmare. All I was prescribed was a drug called Avanza I believe, and that was kind of like a mild anti-anxiety. I was prescribed a tiny, tiny bit at night so that I could try and fall asleep. It sometimes worked and it sometimes didn’t. Oftentimes it didn’t. A few nights a week I would probably be able [5:00] to have a few hours, and that was pretty much what we survived on. So, my partner ended up spending part of the night with me and part of the night kind of co-sleeping with our son. And so, what I would do is I would stay with them like in our master bedroom, I would stay with them for part of the night, and if I was completely and utterly like sleepless I would take myself off into another room and make sure that obviously if baby needs me I would go back. So, it was just this kind of musical beds kind of thing where baby didn’t take a bottle and didn’t take a dummy. So… so, I was it. And I remember we were really petrified and we kind of thought, wow, what’s going to happen if you end up really, really sick and you have to go to hospital? Like, what will happen to us? How are we going to make it as a family? It was a petrifying time. But in time I was able to sleep a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more, and despite our baby being super wakeful he was still going through… at that time he started going through the 8-month sleep regression and he started cutting quite a few teeth at the same time, so he really needed me at night. The one thing that kind of we did though at that time was already ditch any idea about how he should sleep and how, you know, how we should have his routine. I remember at that time I completely just resolved all of those preconceived ideas and I resorted to whatever works works. So, I was co-sleeping, we were bed sharing. I was pretty much sleeping with one boob out and… and that’s how we made it. We made it to… to one year old and things got a little bit easier at that time, and I remember during the days because he would sleep I the pram better than he would sleep at home I was just the pramming mum. So I walked miles and miles and miles with the pram and he was happy in there. So yeah, we somehow made it, but it was really, really, rough. Learn more about Safer Sleep Carly:That is extraordinarily rough. I just can’t even fathom. Like, that’s… that’s like sleep deprivation on steroids and for such a long period. I’m so glad your husband was able to actually take that time. I can’t imagine what it would have been if you’d been in a situation where you couldn’t have had him, so I’m just so glad that that was one… one small saving grace. And so what… did you feel the… because after all that time, being that deeply sleep-deprived, did you feel like the relief of starting to get some sleep was apparent? Or was it like you needed to go through quite a long time of getting reasonable sleep before you felt better? Viktoria:Oh, it was actually… it was a journey that pretty much only ended very recently to be honest with you. Like, people, even healthy people, if they don’t get about a week or two weeks’ worth of sleep, they start developing what is called like stress or anxiety around sleep. And for me it was three months. So, during those three months of me not being able to sleep because of my thyroid, I essentially developed such an anxiety and such a strong level of stress around the whole bedtime, so it was almost a feeling of like facing a dragon. You know, I was going to bed and here I am. Will I sleep or will I not? And here is my mind racing again, and here is my heart pounding again. And so you just start associating the whole bedroom and your bed with… with all these like scary and really, really confronting feelings of being alone at night and not being able to sleep and thinking, oh my god, how am I going to make it tomorrow? How am I going to be there for my bub tomorrow? How am I going to look after him tomorrow? How am I going to get off the bed? And all these like scary, scary thoughts that obviously compound on top of what’s already happening. So, it took quite a long time and it took a lot of therapy. I ended up finding a practice that did what they call… I think they’re called Neurocare, and they essentially rewire your brain. So, they deal with people who have suffered posttraumatic stress disorder, and they teach your brain to wire itself differently after a trauma has happened. So… Carly:That’s amazing. [10:00] Viktoria:Yeah, it was a pretty… it was a pretty interesting kind of experience. You get like wired. Your brain gets… like your head gets wired with all these… all these wires, and they measure your brainwaves, and then they pretty much try to reward your brain for wiring itself in a different way. It’s very… it’s very weird but it’s very scientific at the same time. We spent a lot of money on that and, I mean even though it did work I ended up finding out that what worked best is time. And unfortunately many people and many mums view, who had to deal with trauma, they would probably know that time is your best healer and with time it will come and it will naturally pass, and unfortunately there is no better advice from like… from me. If… if… if anyone has suffered sleep stress or sleep anxiety, time will heal it. Carly:I think it’s really important to know, because time’s something we actually… as much as you might not feel like you have it, you usually do, and it’s… it can hurt through it, but to know that there is a light at the end of it all, that’s so important to hear as well I think. So, thank you for letting us know about that. So, you were… you continued to have these struggles with your own sleep, but your little fellow, you said it was a bit of a relief by 12 months. How did the… how did the rest of your story pan out up until now? Because you said he’s about two and a half? Viktoria:Yeah, he’s about two and a half. So, about… about 14 months… He was about 14 months when I discovered we were pregnant. And that was… I mean that was totally, we wanted to have a second child of course, but that was totally unplanned because our first one was an IVF baby. So we… we actually thought falling pregnant was an impossibility. And surely not while I’m full-time breastfeeding day and night on demand and almost not sleeping, still struggling to sleep. So, most nights I was still kind of having at least five or six hours a night of not sleeping, of being wide awake at night. And so, I kind of, I couldn’t even fathom how on Earth did my body fall pregnant in those like completely adverse… adverse circumstances. But it did and… Carly:How beautiful is that? Viktoria:Yeah. We were… we literally could not believe it. And I… I remember I had this one test, one pregnancy test that was left from the years and years and years we spent like trying to conceive, and after having kind of like a two week long stint of not being able to fall asleep and not sleeping well at night and feeling sweaty and hot at night I was like, I’m sure this is not it, but my period is late and so I’m just going to check. And then I remember because that test was like so many years old I was like, oh, surely the test is just out of date and it’s just giving me a false positive. Carly:Off to the shop you go. Viktoria:I know, exactly. So, we did. I did four tests. Every day I was doing a test. And there is a funny story actually. There is a funny story. So, each of those tests was pretty much showing me a fat positive result, but there is a test line and a control line. And I kept looking at one of those lines and it was fainter than the other line, and thinking, oh, maybe the pregnancy is not progressing. Because it kept staying as faint as it was. And I was like, hmm, the pregnancy is just not progressing. Maybe we’re just having a miscarriage or something. So, we rushed to ER. I was in tears - that was week one after we found out – with those four tests, holding them. So, presenting myself at ER saying there’s something wrong with my pregnancy. I think I’m having a miscarriage. Obviously I wasn’t bleeding or anything. I was still kind of feeling well and truly pregnant, but I was convinced that it wasn’t possible to fall pregnant naturally so I just talked myself out of it. So anyway, the nurse measured my blood hormones and said, ‘Well, they’re well and truly above like the threshold, so we don’t think you’re having a miscarriage yet.’ And then I looked at the tests again, and lo and behold the pregnancy line was the dark line and it was ... And the control line was the faint one, so I was that pregnant. Carly:That pregnant. Oh, that’s awesome. Viktoria:I was that pregnant. Carly:Oh, happy days. That is amazing. Viktoria:Oh my god. [15:00] But that goes to show how sleep deprived I was. Carly:Yeah. Viktoria:Like, I couldn’t even read the test properly. Carly:It’s like, oh, which one’s which? Hang on, what? Oh my gosh. So, did you have… how was your pregnancy? Please tell me it was an easy pregnancy. Viktoria:So, the first 12 weeks I was still anxious because we… like we conceived IVF our first one, and before we had him we had several really tragic losses. So, I was pretty anxious the first 12 weeks. That on top of like a really full on morning sickness was kind of aggravating stuff. My obstetrician was - oh my god, bless him, he is an amazing, an amazing human being – and he said I am going to see you every week and I’m going to open the door with a heartbeat monitor and I’m going to check the heartbeat every single week until you’re 12 weeks along so that you calm down. And he did that for us and, yeah, after that the pregnancy was very, very smooth sailing. So, second trimester was wonderful and really enjoyed it. And yeah, we actually managed to also do another impossible thing at the end which was our first… our first birth had to be a C-section because bub was too big and he never descended into the birth canal. So, ended up a C-section. So, during the whole pregnancy, like many people said, well, it’s going to be safer to do a second C-section. It’s going to be safer. It’s going to be safer. I kind of kept saying, well look, we’ve got to cross that bridge when we come to it but I’m hoping for a VBAC. And yeah, with our second one we managed to do a natural birth, so… Carly:Congratulations. That’s amazing. Viktoria:It was. Carly:I’m glad you got to do that. Viktoria:It was a complete blessing. We were… we were really, really happy that we… we managed to experience that. So, yeah. I almost feel like the second time around everything that kind of went not to plan, or everything that was… that was done in ways that were scary and confronting the first time around kind of almost got mended and got healed. It was a healing pregnancy and it was a healing birth experience all along. And then came Maya. Like, she’s our second… she’s our second bub, and she was the absolute opposite of what we had experienced with Mick. She… I don’t know, as a newborn I just remember her sleeping for long, long stretches of time, and I googled – I kid you not – I googled is my baby too sleepy? Carly:That’s awesome. And what did Google tell you? Viktoria:Does my baby sleep too much? Carly:I love that. See, that’s just… it’s fantastic that that was your experience. I feel like the poles apart across siblings really speaks to how little control we ever had about how our babies sleep. They really do… Viktoria:We didn’t do anything wrong. We didn’t do anything different. I was still breastfeeding her and yet she was… she was just different when she was a newborn. Of course, 4-month sleep regression came. Right. And so that ‘Is my baby too sleepy’ kind of period of time, that just stopped. But… Carly:And the answer was no. Viktoria:Yeah, exactly. The answer was no, your baby is a normal baby. Don’t worry. But yeah, no. she… I mean she still doesn’t sleep like… I don’t… I don’t even know where and who comes up with these ideas of babies sleeping through the night. Like, we don’t sleep through the night. Normal infant sleep Carly:Oh no. It’s one of the… like, if there’s one thing I could get rid of it would be that whole notion. Like, it’s… it’s not a thing. Viktoria:It’s not a thing. Yeah. Carly:It’s not a thing at all. If we could just… Viktoria:And you know… Carly:… remove it, that would end... Viktoria:As a person who went through sleep, like struggles myself as an adult, I can tell you we rarely sleep through the night. Like, even now. I’m sleeping much better of course, and I’m… I don’t need to take any meds to sleep or anything like that, but I’m aware that I’m waking up a number of times a night. Carly:It’s… and it’s… that’s for me too. Like, my babes are a bit older now, but I… I know that I wake up to go to the toilet at least once a night and I have a sip of water at least once a night, and this is all without the other humans in my life needing me for things. That’s just me, my body. So, it’s just such a false notion. [20:00] Viktoria:Exactly. Carly:It’s really… it places pressure on our babies and on us which just doesn’t even need to be there. Viktoria:Yeah, hundred percent. It’s like double standard. Like, oh, we’re allowed to wake up at night but our babies aren’t. Carly:Yeah. Viktoria:So, yeah. Carly:It’s like waking… our wakings are nothing, whereas their wakings are something that needs to be squashed. Like, it doesn’t… yeah, it’s harmful at best. That’s all I can say. Viktoria:It is. Absolutely. Absolutely. So yeah, with her I am… I’m having a side cart cot, which was pretty much what we used for Mickey boy when he was a baby. Mick is now sleeping on a floor bed with his dad. So, they’re… they’re bed sharing and I’m bed sharing with Maya in the other room. This way we all get sleep, and we get morning and evening cuddles. Carly:It’s so good, isn’t it? I know so many families who that’s exactly what works for them, and it’s really important that people can see that getting sleep for everyone is the name of the game. It doesn’t actually matter what that configuration looks like in your family. There’s no right way to make that look for you. You need to work it out for yourself what’s going to work for your little, unique crew. So, that’s great if that’s going… yeah… Viktoria:Hundred percent. Hundred percent. And you know, if you think about it, how much are they going to need you for that, you know, that… how much are they going to need you for five, maybe six, maybe seven years? But they’re surely not going to be 15-year-old, you know, teenager saying, ‘Mum, can I cuddle you at night?’ Carly:Yeah. Although actually… Viktoria:You know, so… Carly:I think too, like I remember talking to Pinky McKay and she was saying she always knew something was up with her teenagers when they’d come home from school and they’d go flop on her bed. And she said like that was a sure sign that they wanted to talk, and so she’d go lay down with them in bed, and sure enough whatever it was that was worrying would all come pouring out. And so, to me it’s kind that whole like, the… it’s temporary, but at the same time how awesome would it be if our little people know they can come to us any time and it’s a safest thing for them to do that? Viktoria:Absolutely. Actually I must correct myself because I was even 25 and I still would sleep with my mum. My mum co-slept with both me and my sister and I remember me and my sister taking turns, like even when we were grown women, like in our twenties, we would… we would be like, okay, it’s my turn to sleep with mum. It’s my turn to sleep with mum. And our dad would be on the sofa in the living room. Carly:Oh, so funny. It really is. It’s all… it’s all what you put in your own mind about what’s acceptable or not acceptable, that there’s way more to that than meets the eye, and I think there’s a lot to be said for being a bit more open to the idea that it’s not such a bad thing to enjoy comfort and company of someone at night time. Really isn’t. Viktoria:Hundred percent. Hundred percent. Hundred percent. And, you know, our children need us so much in those early years. Those early years are so formative. Like, I could… I could definitely see like how affectionate and how caring, how a two… two year and eight month old boy is, and I can’t help to say, well, this is because we cuddle him so much and this is because he… he would never be told to self-settle. He would never be told that, oh, you can’t really reach out for us because it’s 1am or whatever. Like, he’s… we’re always there for him and I’m pretty sure that, you know, this comes out in… in ways that we would in the future appreciate and see and would make us happy. Carly:Absolutely, and it’s not something we’ll ever live to regret, which I love that about even all through your struggles that was something that you were able to keep going with. Because I can imagine you would have faced fairly stiff opposition, like being through the Tresillian experience and coming out the other side, being able to say this doesn’t work for my baby. All of that takes a lot of strength, so you’ve done really well to be able to do that for your babies. Viktoria:Yeah, yeah. Hundred percent. And this time around, I mean the postpartum thyroid condition came again, but this time we were prepared and we… we knew that it’s not anxiety, we knew that it’s not depression. So, even though I went to my GP and I kind of said, look, it’s the thyroid hormones are up again and I’m sure something’s not right. And she said, yeah, but maybe you have anxiety. I immediately knew, and I could tell, okay, look, I’m just going to find the right person – the right person who would listen and who would take some action. So, we did find a [25:00] professor of endocrinology who actually knows about that condition and knows that this rare presentation of the disease can actually cause really, really severe sleeplessness, and he gave me the meds and they worked. Like they were proven to be safe for breastfeeding, I’ve been taking them for about two months, and it resolved now. Carly:Amazing. Viktoria:Yes. Carly:And so you didn’t need to get into the depths of the sleeplessness again. Viktoria:No. No. Carly:You were able to actually address it. Viktoria:Within two days the… any sleeplessness that I had had stopped and my weight loss has kind of stopped as well, because it comes with weight loss and you kind of start feeling shaky, which can be absolutely mis… like mislabelled for anxiety. Because you… Carly:That was me… Viktoria:Yeah, you get kind of… you get shaky, you get anxious. Carly:I’m a postpartum weight loss person. Yeah. I end up really skinny and really… Viktoria:Yeah, same. Exactly. I was a rake. I was a rake. Carly:Yeah. I ended up way – after all three of my babies I ended up way lighter than I was pre-babies. Viktoria:Yeah. Carly:So, it only plateaued after my third baby had weaned at about two. So, yeah. It was definitely a feature, but I know that that was seen as part of my anxiety as to do with my first baby. Just, I’m not sure, but I didn’t have the sleepless problem. I had insomnia, but mine was mental health related, so you can kind of see how there is this crossover, but at the same time… Viktoria:Hundred percent. Carly:… you can also see that it’s not always that as… Viktoria:Absolutely. But also we know so little about the brain and how it works. And we know so little about mental health and the physiological root cause of some mental health disease. So, there is strong overlap between hormonal imbalance and mental health. There is strong overlap between thyroid imbalance and mental health. And definitely if something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. So, like if it’s not your normal don’t, like don’t settle on.. Carly:Accept it. Viktoria:Yeah, don’t accept it. Don’t accept it. So yeah, I’m… sorry? Carly:I’m so pleased you were able to actually get the help you needed this time around. The whole thing sounds like it was a hugely healing experience. Viktoria:Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely it was. It’s… we are just so lucky to kind of… to be where we are with our second one. And even though we’re still just the two of us and we’re not able to kind of get family to help us, just knowing that we need to advocate for ourselves and we need to not settle to, you know, to just have, as I was told, milk and milo, was… was really good and it helped us along. Carly:Awesome. Well, I’m just looking at our time and we’re coming up to the end of our episode. I would love to hear; do you have one more tip that you’d be able to share with our listeners for today’s episode? Viktoria:Actually yes. You know, between my first and my second child I… I actually, I realised a few things that I was doing different that would have been absolutely welcome and helping with my first one, but I didn’t do them. With the first one I kind of tried, I had this notion and it’s probably society telling you those things, as a new mum I… I don’t know, there was almost like a feeling of being a mum was somehow less important than working. So, I constantly kept thinking, okay, well if… I need to… I need to then do things perfectly, or I need to do them to a certain standard, or I can’t let somebody help me. I need to do it myself, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And then I realised with our second one that, oh my god, being a mum is hard and if we can get help we should welcome that help. We should totally welcome any help that we can get. And just because our, you know, our half, our other half is working full-time, that doesn’t mean they can’t do their fair share of work around the house. That doesn’t mean they can’t do their fair share of looking after children. You… you don’t have to do it all. Carly:Absolutely. Viktoria:Even if there is voices in your head loud and clear talking to you and telling you you need to do it all, that isn’t true and that’s society pretty much rejecting this… this idea that women somehow are less worthy than the working man or the working other part of the family. Carly:It’s so true. Viktoria:I was definitely captive to that, and I could tell that I was and it took me two months [30:00] after our second one was born to wake up to it. Carly:Thank you for sharing that wisdom, because I do feel like it’s a really common thing that people struggle with, and it’s that whole idea of trying to find value in unpaid work. Like, just because it’s not paid does not mean that it diminishes in value. If anything it’s some of the most valuable work people do in their entire lives, this whole business of raising new humans. Viktoria:There is nothing more valuable than that. Carly:Absolutely, and this is why we’re, you know, valuing the childcare sector and whatnot too, to understand that the people who work in those fields are some of the most crucial members of this society. And I feel like the early pandemic did a great job of laying that bare for people. You could see how much the economy just crashed hard when there was all of the worlds collided of all the unpaid work and labour, or underpaid work and labour that goes into the childcare sector as well. And then it sort of feels like it’s kind of lost a little bit of the momentum that we started to see at the beginning of the pandemic. And people are sort of… I figure it’s because the people who do the work have figured out how to just get on with it, unfortunately in many ways, like we always do. Viktoria:Yeah. Carly:And so it’s kind of being masked once again. But that doesn’t diminish its value. So, I think that’s really important that you brought that up. So, thank you so much for that. And thank you for coming on and sharing your story. You have been through so much, and there’s so much value to be taken for the people listening along at home, particularly people who are facing challenges themselves in being able to advocate for the care they deserve so that they’re actually feeling better as well. So, thank you so much for coming on the show, Viktoria. Viktoria:Thank you Carly. Thanks. It was a pleasure. Carly:That was brilliant. Thank you. Bye. Viktoria:Thank you. Take care. Carly: I really hope you enjoyed the podcast today the information we discussed was just that information only it is not specific advice if you take any action following something you've heard from our show today it is important to make sure you get professional advice about your unique situation before you proceed whether that advice is legal, financial, accounting, medical or any other advice. 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