In case you were wondering, babies do not come with instructions and neither does motherhood or marriage. Steven and I planned to have our first baby once we were closer in our 30's. We were emotionally prepared, had stabled jobs and we were financially ready as well. At least we thought we were. No one ever talks about what happens after the baby comes. The only thing I remember people telling me was to nap as much I could at the time so I could be well rested. Why didn't anyone ever talk to me about breastfeeding, or post par-tum depression?!? Or just the pressure society puts on you as a new mom! How all of this is challenging and overwhelming. That after having a baby it's not all butterflies and rainbows. So if you're a first time mom or just a mom period here is my take on all of this.
I struggled with Madison for two months trying to produce enough milk for her. It was literally something that took a toll on me from the time she was born. The pressure put on me at the hospital from the doctors, nurses and the lactation consultants was very overwhelming. I felt guilty for not being able to produce milk right away and feed my baby. I was sent home after 24 hours of giving birth with this precious little being. We had not purchased formula and my milk had not come in yet. Madison was starving that night and I remember I was crying with her trying to latch her on knowing that I was enough but in reality I wasn't. Steven remembered that we had gotten a sample can of formula, so he opened it and made her a bottle. After she was fed she slept like a baby. The next morning we had her first doctors appointment and of course she was diagnosed with jaundice. (Jaundice is a yellowish discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes and of the white of the eyes caused by elevated levels of the chemical bilirubin in the blood (hyperbilirubinemia)) The doctor recommended to formula feed her to help her clear out the jaundice. And that's exactly what we did. Well on day 4 my milk finally came in and I was producing hardly anything. Maybe 2 oz at a time. It was so frustrating but you want to know what frustrated me the most… It was when family, friends and even strangers would ask if I was breastfeeding. Like why does it matter to you how I feed my child!? It was probably worse when a guy asked because seriously why do you care so much! (Things you should never ask a new mom.) I remember feeling so guilty for not being able to produce enough milk and how I would beat myself up for it. So when people asked this question it just made it worse. Eventually we decided it was best for Madison to be on formula because breastfeeding wasn't only taking a toll on me physically but it was making me depressed and it was also taking a toll on my marriage, which I will explain why in a bit.
With Maya I was prepared to conquer breastfeeding. I had been through it once and I wasn't quite ready to give up on this journey. I knew exactly what I needed to do and nothing was going to stop me this time. I wanted my child to have the best of the best. But sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you just have to go with it. This time around I was an over producer (go figure!) from day one. The biggest difference was I did not come home with the baby after 24 hours of delivery. I didn't even get my one hour of bonding time with her because her oxygen levels were low. She was taken immediately to the NICU. The following day she was breathing fine on her own but right before them bringing her to me she ended up spitting up blood. She possibly swallowed fluids during delivery so the doctors wanted to keep her on antibiotics and in observation for a week. Honestly that was the hardest week of my life but I was committed to pump around the clock and bring her milk every day. And sure enough that is exactly what I did. I was producing so much milk that I had a stash of milk in the freezer for when she came home. So one month goes by and we take her to her first wellness check up and I tell the doctor that I am concerned about her baby acne. Her face felt so rough almost like sandpaper. The doctor then tells me that she has a milk allergy. That I would have to be on a soy based diet in order to keep feeding her my milk. Which was fine but what was I going to do with the 600 ounces of milk that were in my freezer? Luckily it did go to a cancer patient that needed it very much. I did keep a few ounces because I could not just completely part ways. I know it sounds weird but unless you've been through a breastfeeding journey yourself you wont understand. Anyways, we did try out soy milk and it worked ok for a short amount of time. Until she also became allergic to it and now she's on some crazy expensive stinky formula. But it works great, she's as healthy as can be and that's all that really matters.
Marriage & PPD
So after having Madison I wasn't feeling like myself. We had discussed post par-tum depression with my doctor prior to having the baby but I always told her how I would be ok and it would never happen to me. I had a loving husband, family and great support system. What else could I ask for? Well little did I know that no matter how great your support system is, when PPD decides to come, it comes and everything is out the door.
PPD is something I can't even really explain. I just mainly felt disconnected from the world. I loved my baby but I didn't have that bond right away. I remember telling Steven this and just crying about it because I was so ashamed to even think like that. I would constantly cry for nothing at all. I also felt anger and I had resentment towards Steven. Mainly because I felt like I was going through it alone. I know now that it was all of my unbalanced crazy hormones but everything was so real then. I never wanted to hurt myself or anyone but I just felt so lonely. And as the days went by I think I was pushing my husband away more and more. Until one day he snapped and with tears in his eyes he told me that he loved me but that he no longer knew who I was and that I needed to get help. That was my breaking point. Seeing the man that I love, also hurting as much as I was but in his own way, I needed to change. I finally admitted it to myself that I had PPD and I made an appointment the next day. Luckily I was able to pull myself out of it without medication but it did take time. Nothing happens overnight. Plus going back to work was a great way to get back into my groove too. I was able to socialized once again with adults and trust me there is nothing wrong with that. Of course I was at higher risk for PPD this time around after having Maya but thankfully I never got it. I was aware of the signs and I also stood my ground this time on how I wanted to do things.
( I still remember the emotions going through me on this picture. I hate looking at it but it's reality. PPD is real but it does get better, I promise.)
Now you see how both my experiences have been different from each other and that's ok. Some people have successful breast-feeding stories and some don't. There is no need to mom shame one another for the way we feed our babies as long as they are being fed. FED IS BEST! And nothing is more important than being a happy mom. Especially first time moms! You need to do what works best for you and not worry about what other moms are doing or how they are doing it. And if you ever feel like you're falling into depression please seek help, talk to your doctor. Post par-tum depression is real and it's scary. Trust me you are not alone. I've been there and I remember not wanting to talk to anyone about it because I was ashamed. But depression is nothing you should ever be ashamed of. Even just having a support system of girlfriends that are going through what you are going through or have gone through it can sometimes help tremendously. This personally has helped me out a lot. I also have a whole different perspective on motherhood and have so much more respect for all moms now that I am one myself.
Children are beautiful but they also change the dynamic. Life can become very challenging and I know that I've questioned myself plenty of times but at the end of the day I know that this is what I'm meant to be. A mom to my two beautiful chaos. And for this I have become a stronger and better person. Not just that but it has made our marriage stronger than ever. I am also very lucky to have Steven by my side because in all honesty I probably would have lost it already if it weren't for him. Being parents is the hardest but most fulfilling job ever. I would not want to do this with anyone else. And I share this journey with you ladies because I know most of the time all you see is beautiful pictures on social media of my kiddos. But there is always more to the story behind each picture. For instance to get that one good picture we probably went through a tantrum first but sometimes we do get lucky and we have kids that will cooperate.
And if you've read this far, THANK YOU!
What are some of your experiences? And what advice can you give first time moms?