My Not So Perfect, Perfect Life.
We may look like your ‘’traditional’’ family from the outside, but things sure didn’t start that way.
I met my now husband 6 years ago while out with some friends and we hit it off. A few months later I was still thinking about the night we met so reached out hoping he was still single and lucky for me, he was! We quickly became an ‘item’ and 6 months into officially dating we found out we were pregnant.
I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was 3 days before my period was due, I had cramping and pms and was convinced my period would make its appearance at any second. My mom however kept telling me she thought I was pregnant, asking if I was pregnant, mentioning it in passing... and it got to me. To prove to her I wasn’t pregnant, I went and bought a pregnancy test, took it... and watched as 2 pink lines appeared.
I was pregnant.
In shock and disbelief I called Sean.
‘Are you alone?’ I asked... ‘I can be..’ I heard him say as he shuffled around for some privacy. ‘What’s up?’ He asked with some worry in his voice...
‘I took a pregnancy test.... and... it’s positive’ ...
From that moment on he clicked into everything I needed him to be. ‘how are you feeling?’ He asked, my well-being trumping anything he was feeling.
On my 23rd birthday we went for our dating ultrasound. A little peanut shaped blob with a strong heartbeat, scheduled to arrive July 15th.
My pregnancy wasn’t easy, there was a lot of puking, failed GD tests, trips to the ER for kidney stones, 6 ultrasounds and people asking if we were engaged/getting married... (We both agreed from the beginning we would wait until we felt it was right. Not just because we were having a baby.)
We welcomed our daughter on July 6th at 4:41am after 28 hours of labour. (5 of which were induced and 3 hours of pushing).
We nursed right away after birth and she pretty much stayed latched until 6am the following day. I was tired and numb, both physically and emotionally.
I cringed every time I had to feed her but felt I owed it to her as a mom so vowed to stick it out.
4 days after she was born on July 10th, she quit nursing.
She refused to latch, I was engorged, we were both soaked in breastmilk and tears.
This is the day my journey of exclusive pumping (EP) began. I pumped each side with my single pump feeling immediate relief.
Then watching this pink little blob chug down an entire bottle in a few short moments brought both relief and grief. I was starving my child trying to nurse but had so much milk to give.
(I now know after some reflection and research the cause of her quitting was because of a heavy let down and over supply. But as a young new mom all I felt was failure. )
At 11 days old I took her to the mall to get out of the house, as I was sitting on a chair feeding her my hard earned breastmilk from-a-bottle an older woman across from me shook her head, ‘tisked’ at me and walked away.
I have never felt so judged in my whole life. Here I am, trying SO hard to provide my child with breast milk in a way that works for us and a stranger has the audacity to judge me just because she sees my baby being bottle fed.
She didn’t know me, she didn’t know my story. Yet she felt it was acceptable to publicly shame a new mom.
A few days later I worked up the courage to let a family member feed her. At this point I was still working on my grief of not being able to nurse.. and by not allowing anyone else to feed her, I was still able to feel like I was the only one she needed.
It was harder then I thought, I smiled on the outside but was breaking down inside.
Fast forward through an engagement, a wedding, a new house and the joy of welcoming our second baby in 4 short years.
Our second daughter was born after a quick 6 hour labour, a perfect delivery and zero birth complications. Just like her sister, she fed for the first 24 hours straight. Only this time being more confident I was happy to nurse side lying and we had the best first night. (I honestly can say, this first night with her was one of my favourite nights of my life).
4 days after she was born I was admitted into the hospital for gull bladder complications and like clock work, my milk came in. This time I knew more and instantly started to pump. (And pump and pump and pump. My Dr had warned me with an over supply, the second time around is even heavier.)
Once we were back home I still really wanted to nurse and we gave it our best shot. But the poor girl would projectile puke EVERY.TIME. I fed her. (Hello heavy letdown.)
So I turned to exclusive pumping for a second time around.
With our first I was able to pump for a total of 16 months and our second 11 months.
Both times, as I was weaning, postpartum set in.
The first go around was isolating and I was filled with rage. I wanted to leave my family because I didn’t think they needed me and I didn’t really know how to be a wife/mom or want to be one. I went to a herbologist who made me feel ‘normal’ and we worked together to balance my feelings and hormones and I felt ‘fixed’ ... I still had moments (who doesn’t) but I was getting the hang of life as a mom, even though deep down I still didn’t really feel that connection to motherhood.
Then I had my second daughter I felt great! I was so happy I didn’t have that feeling of despair and I bonded instantly with her. I wanted to stay, I wanted to be a mom and wife! And then I weaned off the pump..... and the worst feelings set in. I didn’t know how to manage because this time around it was sadness. I cried myself to sleep every night after kissing the girls and prayed I would die in my sleep. I had horrible thoughts about them choking and me not being able to save them... and panicked through every drive with my husband in case we were in an accident and both of us died leaving our babies alone. Intrusive thoughts took over my life.
You would think, because I have suffered before I would know to reach out for help, but I sat alone in silence for 7 months. Until it was too much. I finally broke down to my husband, I confessed how horrible I felt and we agreed I needed to see my Dr straight away.
I’ve now been on an antidepressant for 4 months and it has saved my life.
I still deal with panic attacks (something I’m currently working with a herbologist again for) but the dark cloud has lifted and I’m so grateful.
Postpartum is scary, it’s intimidating, it’s lonely, it’s frustrating, it can be embarrassing, it’s really fucked up. (Pardon my language)
I am SO thankful for the support of the mama community around me and for finding the PPSC group. While I still have major anxiety, having the communication with other moms about how they are feeling makes things not so lonely.
While every day may not be perfect, I’m working hard at allowing my feelings to be valid and then letting them move on, instead of dwelling in them. Sharing my story has been a huge help, reaching other mamas suffering in silence and helping reduce the stigma of mental disorders has helped me process and heal.
I made a vow to myself that I would never hide my feelings from the world again, people need to know that while we may look like you’re ‘perfect happy family’ on the outside... we’re not.
Perfection only lives on social media in those curated little squares. But behind those highlight reels are REAL humans, with REAL feelings just like you’re own.
I have worked hard to be open and honest on my instagram allowing the good with the bad and hope through my journey I can help reach mamas and make them feel not so alone.
REMEMBER .. YOU ARE STRONG. YOU ARE BRAVE AND YOU MATTER.
Submitted by Rebecca Hagedorn - www.everlineco.com