This mother's journey begins with the interesting task of juggling her emotions has a new mother. Being challenged by her mommy mood one moment but laughing the next...can you relate?
This blog entry comes from an anonymous person that felt like everything, seriously everything was a challenge: the weird questions you ask yourself with a new baby, the emotions that come into play, and the anxiety that seems to settle in.
My pregnancy was not how I thought it would be. I thought I would love it and be one of those woman that had a glow. But I felt sick for the first half, was in pain for the second half with round ligament issues, hip separation, mild diastasis recti - I couldn't roll over without using my partner as support. I enjoyed the movements for the most part; although I didn't start feeling anything until about 19-20 weeks and after that a lot of the time it felt like I had a limb coming out my crotch/butt (sorry but the truth hurts, literally).
I didn't think I'd be up for going through another pregnancy after this one. Giving birth was okay but not how I planned. I ended up with an epidural which I wanted to avoid. I was Group B Strep (GBS) positive and my water broke naturally so I was given 18 hours to labour and deliver on my own and after 13 I was still only one centimeter so I needed to be induced. I hadn't slept in over 30 hours because my water broke at midnight (and of course I was awake and doing laundry). At about 15 hours in I opted for the epidural so I could sleep and be ready for go time. No one told me epidurals don't get rid of ALL of the pain. I didn't feel my contractions but I felt a LOT of pressure in my butt. Once I hit about 7-8 cms the pain really kicked in. Luckily I was ready to push in no time and my little one came out in about 15 minutes!
I would like to say I immediately knew I'd have more children but it took a few weeks to get over the ordeal to accept that yes, I would go through it all over again. Postnatal was different for me. I expected the worst. I heard the battle stories and braced myself for the absolute worst pain post battle but everything was fine! (So sorry mommas who had difficulty). However, that didn't last. By the 8th day my stitches weren't dissolving, they were too tight and causing serious irritation and swelling and a fluid pocket developed and got infected. I couldn't sit to nurse, I couldn't go to the bathroom without clawing at the walls - even with the magic bottle - and I could barely walk. I went back to see an OB who put me on more antibiotics and... OXY! No thank you. I was actually told 'there hasn't been much study on oxy and breastfeeding so if your baby is the one in a million that doesn't wake up go right to the hospital...um, pardon? I'll just suffer, I guess.
Breastfeeding was a breeze. We were literally made for this. We made the perfect team. Little one was gaining like a fat kid at a buffet - I felt like a 24/7 buffet - and not one crack or sore nipple. Again, it took a while but we faced our setbacks later on in the game with a drop in supply and weight loss. The journey has been insane and amazing. I feel insane most days but the love I have in my heart is nothing short of amazing. I didn't prepare myself much before giving birth and in some ways it paid off really well as I didn't sweat the small stuff but in others I suffered, like with the drop in supply. The lack of sleep is very hard and most days I hate my partner. Some days I know why - the house is a mess, he didn't respond quick enough to something, the animals need water, he didn't read my mind - some days I have about as much idea as he does.
I am currently working with someone to help our breastfeeding journey and someone to help my postpartum anxiety journey. Call me crazy, but a lot of the time I feel like I am. However, the love I have for my child is fierce and I know I have way more to give. My motherhood doesn't end here. I'll just try to be more prepared next time around.
Seriously??? Everything. Life. Wanting to poop but having to hold a screaming baby that only screams louder if you put them down... So wondering if it's possible to poop while holding a baby.
But really seriously? My biggest challenge has been the emotions and mommy moods. Some days I feel like I have no idea who I am in the sense of my reactions to things that happen. For example, one minute I can be laughing and having a great time and the next I'm screaming expletives at my partner for a reason even I'm uncertain of and then I cry because I am not sure why that just happened. Anxiety has made itself at home in my house so most things can be a big challenge if it just hasn't been a good day. Other days, everything is sunshine and rainbows and I can conquer anything.
Some days there are too many laundry baskets full of clean clothes that have been sitting around for too long; breastfeeding is hard and I feel rejected by my baby; my partner isn't around when I need him; and some days I stop asking for help and just take it myself and physically leave my environment. I might leave my little one with dad and I take the car keys and leave because I can, or I go take a nap because I'm allowed, or I sit in the tub or hot shower. I don't ask, I tell. This is what is happening because I need it and I'm taking it.
My one saving grace is I have never felt anything but love for my little one. So no matter how bad the day is, there is always that. And I'm certain this won't last forever even though some days it feels like it will.
How to Overcome this Challenge
#1 Pay attention to yourself
I know who I am and I know what's normal and what's not normal for me. I diagnosed myself before getting help. I told my partner who told me I was fine so I'm glad I invested in myself and didn't wait for someone else to notice I might be drowning. I told my healthcare professionals I had concerns and I was referred right away. I wasn't scared of depression or injury or anything but I just knew my reactions now were not my reactions then so what was changing?
#2 See a Counsellor for anxiety
Seeing a counsellor for anxiety has worked wonders. It is a clean slate, a separation from the rest offline your life, it's private and it's time away to just focus on you. An added bonus is that it's an appointment so you can't cancel or brush it off like going for a walk or doing yoga in your living room. For the most part, you have to show up. This has helped me look at things so differently, in ways I never would have thought. I definitely encourage anyone who is struggling with their moods or who just feels off to reach out! It's not permanent and it's not admitting failure or defeat or a fault. It helps. It's ok!
#3 Joining groups
I also joined several different groups (e.g., regular local mom groups or online support groups with members from all over the world). The connections are so important because no one can even begin to know what you're feeling or going through better than someone who has been there, or who currently is.
A Quote or Saying of Advice
I don't think I have used one for this but I have sang "I am slowly going crazy 1,2,3,4,5,6 switch. Slowly going crazy am I 6,5,4,3,2,1 switch." That seems to help because how can you not laugh while singing it.
I talk out loud a lot. To myself, to my animals, to my babe. Good, bad, indifferent. I feel like expression helps no matter what. Except if yelling is required use a pillow or go into a different room, in my experience if you suddenly yell it tends to send the baby into a screaming fit. Woops.
I do also try to stop and remind myself that they are only this little once. And I don't plan on having a brood of children but I will only experience this so many times in life and it will be different with every child so it is important to stay in the moment, no matter how hard, because it only happens once and I don't want to look back and think I missed out. Even if it means walking away for a minute to take a breath and regroup. Being present is so important.
I don't know that I have any tips or resources aside from stressing the importance of making mom connections. One thing I do try my best to do is stand up for other moms when I feel like I'm in a situation that is tough for me and may be tougher for other moms. I was shocked coming into motherhood to see just how much moms truly are overlooked. You always hear 'once the baby comes you'll be forgotten about' which makes you think, sure, they'll want baby snuggles instead of rubbing my belly and I'm cool with that! What they don't tell you is that means the health care system will no longer make you a priority.
People also seem to stop calling once the novelty wears off and they realize having a baby means you can't do all the same things you used to, and the one that pisses me off the most is how many people will shove their opinion down your throat. I have been told I am doing my child 'a great disservice' and that I am spoiling my child by picking them up or tending to them when they cry. I have been told what to do, not do, what is safe, not safe, right, wrong, it's uncomfortable when I breastfeed, I'm starving my child, so on and so on and so on.
I don't know if this is allowed but I would like to offer up a nice big f*** you to anyone who treats moms like this, especially first time mommas who were probably just crying, literally over spilled milk, before they were told they were doing something wrong raising their child.
Yes, I think we can all agree the child needs advocates but since when is our first assumption that the mom is not the best advocate? Or that she is intentionally doing something wrong? This is a serious chink in the armour and I try my damndest to fight those battles when they happen so that other people will know it's not okay to speak to moms like this and hopefully spare one fragile momma from having to go through shit she should never have to.
If you have an opinion you want to share, fantastic. Maybe start the conversation by asking how momma bear is holding up first because today might just not be the best day for you to tell her she's failing according to your standards. Having mom groups and mom connections is so important so when things like this happen you know that no matter what, you ALWAYS have support.
TR Take Aways
PPPfffff seriously? Is there anything to add?
All I can say is that I smiled, laughed and almost cried during this entire blog post because I SUPER relate. I have left my house twice in the car to go drive down the street to cool off and get some physical energy out and there is this beautiful blue house down the street with an empty parking lot beside it. I have parked there before for a couple minutes to medidate (after I screamed) and I always wonder if anyone in that house can hear me haha.....probably. Then again, I am working less on what people think so who cares - maybe it's a parent that's like yup right there, new mom. HA!
Other than pay attention, see a counsellor and join groups - I could maybe add like this individual already mentioned to give it time. After 16 months of being a mom I have noticed a crazy amount of change after I stopped breastfeeding and went back to work. Also, she's older and more consistent in her habits and I feel I have more time for myself SO what this tells me is try and apply some of those things early. Maybe look into some part-time work that can give you fulfillment if your moods seem to be triggered when you feel unsatisfied or look into planning with your family consistent times a week where you can have alone time...but then again this goes back to just paying attention to yourself so again, enough said - this survey ROCKS, thank you mamma!
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