I have always wanted to be a mother. I have dreamed of it, prayed for it and waited patiently for it with my husband. When we found out we were going to have a little girl, I could not feel happier. I just imagined dressing her in the cutest outfits and styling her hair and going shopping with her. Pure perfection. I planned a natural childbirth and planned to breastfeed.
I had a fantastic pregnancy over all with a natural childbirth as I had hoped, (you can read about our birth here) and have been exclusively breastfeeding now for a solid 5 months and 3 days as I write this.
When I originally pictured motherhood and breastfeeding, I 100% saw rainbows and butterflies, pure bliss with maybe some spit up and some poop. You just do not envision the nitty gritty of motherhood when you become pregnant – I didn’t anyway.
After having Lily I remember feeling beyond blessed and so incredibly in love with this little girl. She was and still is the most beautiful soul I have ever seen. But then there had been other feelings. Always tired, never being able to fall asleep. Feeling completely over whelmed on the day to day. (We also live across the country from any family and lack that immediate help) I didn’t love my body anymore like I once did, it just looked and felt so different. My husband and I have certainly had some incredibly trying days and a real chance for a date night would have been great, but I couldn’t get over the fear of actually leaving her behind for any amount of time.
In regards to breastfeeding, it was so hard at first. We had so many trying moments and I desperately was ready to throw in the towel and stop fighting the fight, but for me I just feel it was the best thing for my daughter as long as I make the milk she needs.
There were days that were so hard I just didn’t want to get out of bed and face the music. I was afraid to leave the house and actually take her anywhere. I was afraid of her getting hurt or sick. I was afraid to have anyone touch her or hold her outside of my husband and I or immediate family and it even took me a while to allow friends to hold her. I just felt constant anxiety and fear – fear that I might mess up or not give my all 100% of the time. I was afraid to separate from her and even get in the shower, so there were days in a row that I may not shower and just let my needs completely go to the wayside. I recall my husband literally demanding that I take care of myself. Take a break. Get in the shower, get dressed, brush my hair, take a nap. I remember feeling anger toward him and I just felt there is no way I wanted to, I wanted to be there for her every second of the day.
Fast forward to about 4 months in and I finally saw a doctor and was diagnosed with Post Partum Anxiety, with some mild depression, but mainly anxiety just not knowing how to cope and find myself and also play the mommy role.
“Baby blues are commonly due to the hormonal shift experienced following birth and typically go away within a couple weeks up to a month post-partum. If you’re experiencing symptoms of baby blues after this time, it could be something more serious.
In 2013, the largest scale depression screening of 10,000 postpartum women was performed by a Medicine Researcher at Northwestern University. Their results were surprisingly high as 14% of the women screened positive for depression, that’s 1,400 women in a short time frame from 1 hospital!” – This Wife and Mommy Life. You can read the full article here.
Currently I am on the route of healing, and finding myself while also being a mommy. I have had to realize I am not just a mom to Lily. I am also still Lauren, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a hair stylist and someone who loves to cook. I have had to try to figure out how to fit Lily into our lives, and not necessarily how we fit into her life. I have had to sometimes relinquish control and realize “life happens.”
Above all, I have had to give myself Grace and forgiveness. In the sleepless nights sometimes I get frustrated with myself wondering what I am doing wrong that she doesn’t want to sleep… but it turns out, this happens to just about every mom on the planet. Babies go through phases of sleep and sleep regressions. Phases where they nurse perfectly and its a perfect ebb and flow, and other days where she may scream at me and just not want anything to do with me (or so it seems.)
The real truth about motherhood is that it is a dirty, tiring job. However, it is the most AMAZING job I have ever had and I would not ever trade it for anything. It is the biggest honor I have had to raise this little girl and watch her grow. I have learned I have more strength and patience than I ever thought I had. I have watched my husband become an amazing father and grow immensely as a husband. Our bond is now stronger than ever before because now we have this little human that is totally ours and we have to protect her and raise her as we see fit. As for loving my body – yes it looks different, really different. But I grew a baby from smaller than a poppy seed to a very healthy 8 pound, 2 ounce little girl that I then birthed. So yes, it is going to look different, and that is okay with me.
So if you are having a hard time, allow yourself Grace. I thought that PPD is something that would just go away, but I am realizing it is a journey and I have to take each day one at a time. Never ever forget to pray and count all of your blessings and only then pray for what you need. You are never alone in this journey, but just know it is all worth it, and your tiny little human one day will thank you for it.