From the moment we found out we were pregnant with Ben it was a whirlwind of chaos. I had the Mirena IUD implanted the year prior in the hopes that it would be the birth control that would do exactly that: give me back control over when I wanted to conceive. But there I was, absolutely losing all semblance of control in the ER.
“Your baby doesn’t have much of a chance, maybe less than 25%.”
Oh those words, they would frame most of my pregnancy with fear. Should we be excited? Or should we just prepare ourselves for the worst? How are you supposed to feel?
I mean from the moment I find out, I imagine those wiggly toes and those eyes full of wonder. Being told that your baby may die? Just agonizing…oh my heart goes out to those mothers who have suffered through such losses.
Ben’s pregnancy was hard. Mostly because the two trimesters were mostly spent in fear. I had miscarried before and that was without the added circumstances of a IUD complication. Then as I got closer to my due date, it became harder mainly because I could not stop. I had two rambunctious toddlers who needed to be cared for! My whole body ached, my lady bits were in agony due to vaginal varicose (yeah that is a thing, a horrible horrible thing), and I felt as though Ben was going to just fall out of me.
Fast forward to my incredibly fast delivery. The quickest out of all of my deliveries, but perhaps that was due to me being an “old pro” as the nurses called me. Heck they even discharged me after just 24 hours because I was such an “old pro.”
Then Ben came home. And he cried…and cried…and cried. For hours and hours on end, he screamed until he was purple and hoarse. I tried desperately to rock, nurse, pace, sing…anything to soothe him. My husband and I felt like failures. We had done this before! We were “old pros” remember? So why couldn’t we soothe our Ben?
“He is gaining weight like a champ” — but why does he nurse almost constantly?
“Purple crying doesn’t start this early” –so why does he cry so hard for so long?
“He doesn’t have the symptoms of gas or colic” –which means there are no answers, gee thanks.
I started slipping fast into a deep depression, especially after my husband went back to work. I remember crying in his arms some days after he would come home, happy for just for a place to be able to cry in peace.
Breast feeding became a huge struggle as well. I began noticing a steady decrease in my supply. I ate oatmeal, drank what seemed like gallons of water, and researched different methods to increase my supply. Pumping and nursing, nursing and pumping. My life started to revolve around these things.
Then on a day in which Ben could not be soothed and my breasts were a chapped/sore mess, we gave him a bottle of formula.
For the first time in weeks he seemed more content. A giant burp escaped his lips and he slipped off to sleep.
Sweet bananas and cream, is this real life?
Yes, formula became my saving grace. Which made the mom guilt set in. I had successfully breastfed my two toddlers past the one year mark! I was an “old pro!” And now instead I was a failure…
I felt shame. So much shame…I can even express to you how ashamed I was when I would mix that formula and watch as Ben would latch onto the nipple almost gleefully. What if someone saw me and judged? Breast is best! Breastfeeding should be the only source of food for the first six months!
Yes, even these words of encouragement for nursing mothers became knives to me.
So at my six week postpartum visit, when I burst into tears, my OB looked at me and said the most amazing thing.
“You did not fail. You are a strong and amazing woman to admit that you need help. Forget what you have heard, because FED IS BEST.”
Ahh Major Gonzalez, you have no idea what those words meant to me.
She was right. I did not fail. And by reaching out I was ensuring that I would not fail MYSELF.