Thursday, February 18, 2010

Different Expectations

Today Emily wrote about suffering from anxiety after having her last baby. I thought that maybe it was time to talk about one of my biggest struggles, not just in parenthood, but in life. It seems so taboo to speak about our (perceived) shortcomings and struggles, especially when it comes to our children and being a mother. When I was pregnant, the images I had about being a mother were all happy, smiling and perfect but it didn't work out quite like that.
I tried and I tried and I tried to breastfeed my baby, I tried so hard and felt like a total failure as my milk never came in. I tried every herb you've ever heard of, pumping more, feeding more, and prescription medications, you name it, I tried it out. I saw multiple lactation consultants, but still I felt like I was failing my baby and that she would grow up to be the opposite of all the great things they say about breastfed babies. I think this is really what led to postpartum depression, and I didn't even realize that it was affecting me. I was at the doctor for a checkup and as she was finishing up she said "And, how are you doing?" I couldn't even answer without crying. I cried every time I fed my baby, be it bottle or breast. I felt like I loved her so
much but I was just totally failing her from day one. I started taking a mild antidepressant and really only needed it about a month, I think it just helped to get me "over the hump."
I finally let go of all the romantic notions in my head and started living for the days as they came. And things got better, baby slept better, dad got to feed her and bond with her, other people got to help out with that process… and you know what? Everyone was happier and better off. I'm still sensitive when people say things like "all babies should be breastfed" and a little part of me gets jealous when I hear people talk about how easy it was for them. When people are struggling, I try to tell them that I couldn't do it, I tried and I couldn't, but I certainly didn't fail at anything. If I ever have another baby, I'll probably give it another shot, but I'm not going to wage all my happiness on it. I will try my hardest to not put so much stock in all the opinionated comments and remember that I am doing what is best for me and for my family, whatever that may (or may not) be.


Brandy said...

I'm glad you were able to get over the hump and see the good side of it. being a mom is hard. just all the way around.

designHER Momma said...

It's so true - we put so much unnecessary pressure on ourselves when we're new moms.

It's funny - because I can say it out loud, and I can tell others to "lighten up"...but doing and saying are always two different things. Someday I'll try to take my own advice.

Thank you so much for sharing, and being part of my journey as well.

We need big hugs. ((((hug))))

Melissa said...

great many new moms out there are unaware of the true reality of having a baby, all the hormonal changes, hair loss, one ever told me about this!!! Mano man, it's difficult! But the life change is so worth it! It's just something more of us need to share :)

Jessica Monte said...

Gosh, this post was so relevant for what I've been thinking about lately. 6 months ago I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. As part of my treatment, I took an antidepressant, an anti-anxiety drug, and a sleeping pill. These days I am feeling great and have stopped taking my sleeping medication. Meanwhile, I let go of breastfeeding. This was so hard to do because I had nursed my first baby for 2 and a half years, through my pregnancy.

I share this because I want others, including you, to know that you are not alone. So many women struggle with a new baby. It's beautiful to become a mother and yet it is an overwhelming and tiring experience too. I am among those women who needed help.

6 months later, again, I am feeling great. And my now 3 year old is asking to nurse again. Since we practice A.P., I am letting her nurse with open arms. And I am hoping to work with a lactation consultant and a supplementer to begin nursing my newborn again.

Months ago, I needed to let breastfeeding go. As women, I think we need to support each other, whatever mothering and parenting practices we find are best at the given moment for our families.

Thank you for this post.