The first few moments after birth are essential to a mother’s ability to bond with their baby.
So what happens when they lose out on those moments due to complications? While many mothers can go on to breastfeed well and develop a strong bond with baby, some mothers feel robbed of the opportunity to have skin-to-skin contact or start breastfeeding. Those feelings, when combined with an already delicate emotional and mental state, can make it difficult to move forward.
Brianna from Mastering Mom Life is a mother who’s postpartum experience was not what she imagined it would be. Read more about her journey with postpartum depression.
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* This is a guest post and all opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of www.runningintriangles.com. Due to the nature of the topic, this post may contain graphic details that some may find disturbing.
My name is Brianna and I am a stay at home mom in New York City. My husband and I found out I was pregnant in August 2016 and we had a beautiful little girl in April 2017. I’m nowhere near being “the perfect mom” and even though at times it seems like I may “have it all together”, the reality is that I DON’T. As much as I love and adore my daughter, many people would never guess that I experienced one of the darkest times of my life right after having my precious little girl.
Many women are fearful of sharing their postpartum story because of what others may think of them but staying silent doesn’t help new mothers experiencing the same feelings. I want to be able to encourage another mother and let her know that everything will be OK. So, this is my story…
How I Felt When I Found Out I Was Pregnant:
When I first got pregnant I was completely shocked! I felt pregnancy symptoms but just assumed that I was stressed from the move that we just made. I was very sick during that pregnancy and had to go to the emergency room because of the Hyperemesis Gravidarum (extreme morning sickness) I was experiencing. I found out later that week that I had a miscarriage and had to have a D and C procedure. It was the hardest thing I have ever been through…
3 months later I found out I was pregnant and I was ecstatic! I knew that wanted to be a mom and missed being pregnant. During my pregnancy, I was excited and going through the normal roller coaster of emotions of being completely happy and terrified at the same time. I didn’t have any complications during pregnancy so I was looking forward to having a good labor and delivery.
My Labor and Delivery Story:
I started having contractions 1 week before my due date. I went one full day having contractions every 5 minutes lasting 30 seconds. When my contractions were 3 minutes apart I went to the hospital and the doctors immediately admitted me because my blood pressure was very high. I began to walk every hour to help with my dilation but my blood pressure was steadily increasing and the doctors were afraid of complications if I waited any longer to go into labor. I was put on Pitocin for 6 hours and then by the next morning, I was in full labor.
After an hour and 15 minutes of pushing, I had my beautiful daughter. Immediately after she was born the nurse informed me that my daughter had to go into the care unit because during delivery I developed a fever and my daughter was at a risk of infection. Due to this, they had to put her on antibiotics for 2 days in the care unit.
I was crushed. All the dreams I had of having my little girl by my bedside in the hospital and learning to breastfeed were thrown out the window. Now, my daughter was placed in a little bed with a plastic dome where no one could touch her except for the nurses. This was the first time I started to experience a sense of panic that I had never felt in my life.
The First Few Weeks After My Baby Was Born:
When I was able to take my daughter home I felt like a completely different person. All of the expectations that I had- the nestling, the latching, being able to bond with baby – everything was different than what I expected. I felt the opportunity for me to connect with my daughter was robbed from me when she was in the care unit. Now that I had my daughter at home with me 24/7, I felt like I didn’t know who I was. I felt like I NEEDED those days to bond with her and it was affecting me so much that I didn’t have them. I was so afraid that no one would understand what I was feeling and that they would think I was being dumb. But I couldn’t help what I was feeling. This is how it all began.
The Moment I Realized Something Was Wrong:
I felt like I was suddenly a mom responsible for everyone else’s well-being but no one cared that I felt like I didn’t properly bond with baby. I loved her to death and felt like I would do anything for her yet somehow deep inside of me I felt like I was sad. I never once said it out loud that I suspected I had postpartum depression. I never wanted my family to think that I was unhappy being a mother. After all, this is what I wanted. This is what I thought was going to make me happy. I felt like everyone was pushing me to be something that I couldn’t be and do things that I couldn’t do.
Because my daughter was in the care unit, I didn’t have that first latch of breastfeeding. And because she wasn’t with me in my hospital room I couldn’t feed on demand and initiate that “bond with baby” that everyone was telling me is so important. Breastfeeding was so difficult for me. I felt like breastfeeding should have made me feel close to my daughter, like we were bonding in a way that no one else could. But the reality is that it made me feel like a failure. Because I didn’t latch with her in the hospital for the first couple days, she was already being supplemented with formula and it was impossible to fully commit to breastfeeding. My milk wasn’t coming in, my daughter was constantly hungry and I felt like a complete failure. This fueled my fire and I really began to see that I wasn’t as okay and everyone thought I should be.
When I Was Finally Honest:
I finally decided to quit breastfeeding and just formula feed. This was the hardest decision I ever had to make. I wanted what was best for my daughter but the doctors told me that I wasn’t producing enough milk and that I would have to continue supplementing. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind mentally or emotionally to do a 30 day “cleanse” to see what the issue was with my milk so I made the decision to just stop. My husband was supportive but disappointed. And not only did I feel like a horrible mother, but also a terrible wife. After all, we are drilled that “breast is best” and I felt like a complete failure for not being able to offer my daughter the “best”.
After all of these situations kept occurring I realized that something was wrong. The way that I was feeling was wrong. Something just wasn’t clicking. I felt lost and alone. I felt dazed and confused. I felt like I was a shriveled up former version of myself waiting to be brought back to life. I felt like I lost myself. Like I would never be the same. My family even said I looked gray. Then I knew it was time to tell someone how I was feeling.
That night I cried the whole 3 hours in between my daughter’s night feedings. I knew I had to tell my husband how I was feeling but I didn’t want him to look down on me for not being a “super mom”. I finally chalked up the courage to tell him- and then he looked me in the eye and started crying. I collapsed into him in a hug that I felt was healing.
Why I Felt Guilty and What Made it Better:
I felt guilty for not thinking that my life is now complete.
I felt guilty for not being the “strong” woman who can deal with anything.
I felt guilty for not being able to handle what was happening to me.
I felt guilty for not feeling ready.
I felt guilty that I felt this way because I went through a miscarriage.
But after I spilled my guts to my husband the comfort and relief that he brought me was indescribable. It felt like a weight was literally lifted off of my shoulders, my heart, and my mind.
After I became satisfied with my decisions, came to a place of acceptance of my labor and delivery and my time in the hospital, and when I was honest with my family is when things started turning around. Instead of comparing myself to the Pinterest and Instagram moms- the ones who look like a movie star after delivery, the ones who claim that life with a new baby is no different, and so on- I started to see myself in a new light. I had to tell myself to be proud of who I am and what I accomplished.
I know all of this may sound crazy to some- and maybe I don’t even “qualify” as having postpartum depression.
But I know that what I felt was real.
And many new moms don’t feel like their stories are worth sharing because they didn’t need to be diagnosed or treated. Many mothers feel like their story isn’t worth sharing because someone may have had it worse. Everyone’s story is different but everyone’s story is worth sharing and deserves to be heard. After all, that story may be the one thing that saves another mother. And I only hope that it can bring encouragement and comfort to a new mother who is feeling what I felt.
[Read More from Brianna at MasteringMomLife.com]