This story offers raw images and refections on common challenges in family planning and the postpartum season. Pain is common, but skilled lactation can help. She's my cousin, and I was not aware that the pain continued until I read this. Dear clients: we love updates and we want to help. There is always something to try, even when you think you've tried it all.
I dreamed my whole life of being a mom. I would walk around with dolls playing “house” whenever I had a chance. I was babysitting by the time I was 12. I took every single opportunity to hold babies. And I most definitely asked my parents for a baby every single chance I had. Everything I ever wanted was to be a mom. Dreams fade and life takes over but there was always a yearn to have that “perfect picture life”. A husband, a family. In my adult life I became an Aunt and it was my favorite title. I spent every moment I could with my nieces and nephews. I went to college far away and I found myself missing them eternally. I just wanted them to remember me. I grew up with an absent uncle and I didn’t have any relationship with him and I did not want that for them. I barely knew he existed till I got to high school. So I made a point to be there for them. Being their aunt only made me more sure I wanted to be a mom. My older sisters once told me they were sure that I would have a teenage pregnancy just because I loved babies so much. Fast forward to 27, I find out I’m pregnant, and without a chance to process all the feelings that come with those two pink lines, it is taken from me. Swift. Like a kick to the gut. Literally. I knew the moment I was miscarrying. I felt it in my gut. I remember telling myself this cannot be happening. I had just started a new job and I couldn’t stand straight. It hurt from the inside out. I moved forward from that experience knowing with all of my heart I was ready to be a mom. I wanted it more than anything and someday I knew it would happen, but after that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to carry a child. I took the opportunity to better myself to be the woman I wanted to be when I had a child. I worked towards my goals in my career. I pushed myself in fitness and worked on my relationship with my family, with my significant other, with myself. I wanted to be the best version of myself if I was ever given the gift of pregnancy again. Two and a half years later, I took the only digital test I’d ever taken and the word PREGNANT popped up. My world stopped. Halted. I was terrified. Absolutely ecstatic. And so excited. I was 5 weeks pregnant. I found throughout my pregnancy there was a lot of things no one talks about. The exhaustion was next level, I wasn’t really ever nauseous, I didn’t have any cravings. I didn’t really show till almost 7 months pregnant. I had terrible carpal tunnel, my jaw was sore, some things tasted different, and my feet were about as swollen as my belly at the end. Overall I found myself scared I would lose the baby, for 9 whole months. Every time I heard the heartbeat a wave of relief poured over me. I had to have 3 NST’s because baby was “lazy”. I wanted to enjoy being pregnant but I just kept living in a constant state of dread. Walking around scared that at any moment I may lose the opportunity to be someones Mom. I did in fact end up having some complications. Baby was breech and my doctors never told me I had a timeframe for when we could attempt an ECV. At 37 weeks we did try to turn baby but their little booty was engaged in my pelvis so the attempt was unsuccessful. Which meant I had to have a C-Section. I had spent 9 months researching birth and postpartum. I felt so prepared until this news was given to me. Again I was TERRIFIED. I felt scared as it was to experience childbirth, but a c section? No thank you. Be cut open on a table? Nope not me. I also knew I wanted to breastfeed, and I heard that it may be harder to do when your body doesn’t go through the natural process of labor. I spent the next two weeks fighting with my doctor on waiting to go into labor naturally and then seeing if baby would turn. Eventually they didn’t give me an option and gave me the date that I would go in for surgery. This date was significant in my life , so I said it was meant to be and instead of mourning the loss of the birth experience I thought I would have, I prepared for my new journey. April 15th came quick. We spent the day in a room waiting to meet our little one, who we still didn’t know the gender of. We arrived to the hospital 10 am and we didn’t meet our son till 4:45pm. The hour leading up to his arrival, was probably the hardest time I’ve experienced, and I didn’t even have to go through labor. It was brief and yet the longest hour of my life. Foster Theodore Arrived at 4:45 pm, the doctors told us “It’s a boy” And I will always tell people that moment, was the single most joyous moment of my life. All I could think is “He’s here. He’s okay. I did it.” and every anxiety I had simply melted away. I was euphoric. Looking back there are things I wish would’ve gone differently. There were things I had asked for that the nurses and doctors ignored and did not follow through with. But at that point I did not really care. My only concern was the baby. Once I finally got to recovery I was able to hold Foster. ( he didn’t actually have a name for two days so at this point he was just “baby” ) I remember asking the nurse if it was okay for me to try to feed him, and she just looked at me odd and tilted her head like a confused dog. Which of course embarrassed me and so I didn’t even try. Nor did I get to do skin to skin which is what I wanted to do. I was shaking uncontrollably, which we later found out was from hormones, but those nurses told me I was cold and kept covering me up with blankets. We were in recovery for about an hour I had apparently lost a significant amount of blood so I was under close observation. Or at least it felt that way. I was so nervous to be exposed before birth and after it was a free for all, nothing mattered anymore. I mean nothing. I had been blessed with the ability to be a mom and he was okay. My greatest fear had been erased, and I was the happiest I had ever been. I didn’t care who saw me at that point, especially with literally being unable to move my legs or sit up after being fresh from major surgery.
The following days are a blur of nerve pain from my incision, baby blues, sensitivity, and pure bliss. I spent the time getting used to breastfeeding and nursing Foster whenever he needed me to. I was up through the nights and I did not even care, the exhaustion did not really hit me till day 3. The nurses on the floor helped me find the right positions to feed him and what worked best for us.
In fact there was a lot that came with being a mom that no one tells you. So much so that I could probably write a book with all the little nitty gritty details. From the pain you have in those first few weeks of nursing all the way to you will have a fresh coating of goldfish and cheerio crumbs in your life from toddlerhood till forever. I will say the first few weeks of being a mother were incredibly humbling. Just when you think you have it, those babies show you a curve ball like they are in the major leagues. Due to my c-section I needed help getting out of bed. Sometimes I needed help picking up Foster. I needed help covering up with a blanket while nursing. I was constantly thirsty and nervous I wasn’t eating enough. Because let’s be honest the last thing on your mind is your own well being when you have a newborn. I was bleeding EVERYWHERE. In a nutshell I’d say I was thriving and simultaneously riding a pretty big struggle bus. As grateful as I was it was still hard to navigate this new role. Maybe my experience is out of the ordinary, but if you thrived right away with a newborn you are a superhero. Being a mom was hard. Getting out of the house without help? Forget it. Taking a shower while the baby is in your sole care? Yeah no- I’ll be stinky for another day, in the lounge clothes I wore yesterday and no bra. Again, let’s be honest being naked was sometimes just easier. Have to have access to the girls.
Once my milk came in, I was astonished at how painful it was, I was probably 3 times bigger than I had ever been and I could feel it
The cherry on top of this postpartum fog was the breastfeeding and all that came with it. I was so nervous that breastfeeding wasn’t going well. Once my milk came in, I was astonished at how painful it was, I was probably 3 times bigger than I had ever been and I could feel it. I read all the articles, I had all the apps, I spent my time watching the clock and feeding every 3 hours on the dot, 20 minutes each side. Sometimes more. Sometimes I would just let him eat to his hearts content on one side. And then switch. The main course, dessert technique if you may. I changed up what I was doing for whatever worked for Foster and I was religious on everything they say to do. But it was so painful for me. When I say razor blades, I MEAN RAZOR BLADES. I thought because of the pain I was doing something wrong. I continued to ask consultants, doctors, friends. They continued to tell me that if baby was having wet and dirty diapers, and gaining weight everything was fine. And Foster was rapidly gaining weight. He went from an average baby to in the 95th percentile within the first month. But Foster was still very fussy those first 8 weeks. Poor thing was figuring out life, just as I was figuring out being a mom. At first I thought it was easy, painful but easy. I remember texting my sisters and saying that I finally figured it out and the next night Foster proved me wrong. That cycle has continued for a year, every time you think you have it figured out, they just throw you for a loop. In those early days, I gave in and I finally reached out to Carly, just purely wondering if she had any insight. She offered up her services and her associate assured me everything I was doing was exactly right and she gave me tips that helped my let down and Foster’s latch. As a first time time mom reassurance was exactly what I needed at the time. Through it all I think everyone needs reassurance. Support is really all anyone can give you during those days. And it helps leaps and bounds. We are 14 months into our journey and as the time has passed my confidence has increased, I feel that I can now be a resource for new mothers who are trying to breastfeed, and preparing to breastfeed. I found that for something that is shown as so natural it was the hardest part of motherhood. The mental load we hold as nursing mothers. When do I pump? Do they need more? Am I doing this right? Why is this so hard? I found that in those first few weeks
I almost gave up a few times. But in the end I was determined to push through this struggle and fulfill this goal of nourishing my child for a year. I still remember my disbelief when we made it a year. How did we do that? How has this time flown by? Nursing was never easy but it was by far the most proud I am of myself and of my son and I for doing this together. My not so little guy is healthy and strong.
If you’re reading this searching for answers, just know no matter what you’re doing a great job. Use your resources but also trust your gut. Do what’s right for you. At the end of the day you’re the momma, and it is your greatest blessing. Everyone says it but you are in fact that little baby’s whole world. Take it in. Take a deep breathe. You got this.