42 hours of labor, an emergency C-section, put under general anesthetic and waking up to a spinal headache makes for one heck of a horrible birth story.
This is how my life as a new mom started. I did not get to meet or hold my sweet baby boy in my arms until the next day. By meet him I mean being wheeled to the NICU with a pillow behind my neck, high on Dilauded and Percocets and suffering from the most intense headache I have ever experience. I could not lift my head. I could barely focus and my experience of breastfeeding for the first time was from a wheelchair and all I could think about was getting back to my bed to lay down instead of cherishing my first moments with my son.
I repeated this process for 5 days. 5 days of crying, 5 days of trying to pump a mere ounce of breast milk, no sleep and an abundance of frustration. The doctors finally agreed to try a spinal blood patch to relieve the pain. I will not get in to the details of what they do for a blood patch but being extremely dehydrated makes for a very difficult procedure.
In recovery I laid perfectly still, listening to the beeping of the hospital monitors praying for it to work. Praying that my blissful journey of motherhood could begin. The problem is it never really began.
My first days at home were filled with midwife visits, doctors appointments, and staying still with heating pads on my neck and my back.
I wondered every morning if “today is going to be the day I connect with my baby”. Did I love him? More than anything I have loved before.
I had (and still have) tremendous support from my husband, my family and my best friend. She had had her baby just a mere 2 days before me, we were living the best friend dream. Yet every day I would cover up the fact that I felt so disconnected. Everything was “great”, “fine”, “I love being a mom”. I was lying to them and to myself, trying to force a relationship with my son that wasn’t there.
Coupled with these feelings were breastfeeding struggles. I hated every second of it. It was painful, lonely and just wasn’t working out for us, but I followed the little voices in my head that kept saying “breast is best”. So I kept trying, I kept forcing myself to do something I hated because I would be looked at as a "bad mom" for not being able to stick with it.
What I learned from this is positive mental health is best!
I started researching postpartum depression and how to handle it. I came across an article from a local university that stated “(mom and baby groups) provide needed support and improve mom’s mental health”. Now generally I don’t do well in new social settings, but January 6th, 2014 was the day that I overcame that fear and the day that changed my life. I decided to join a moms group!
I phoned my best friend for her words of encouragement, I got up, I showered, I did my hair and my make up and I think I even wore high heels. I opened the door and of course my luck, a snow storm. My husband knew how badly I needed this and he strapped his boots on and started shoveling, cleared off and started the car.
In hindsight Putting my 6-week-old in a car during a snowstorm probably wasn’t my finest parenting moment
but come hell or high water I was getting out of the house and I was going to this mom group.
I arrived to 3 other moms sitting with their babies. They welcomed me and my snow-covered hair with warm smiles and big hellos. I put my baby down on the blanket and jumped in with two feet and joined the conversation. We talked all things mom, all things baby and talked about what most people would consider oversharing.
The next Monday, the Monday after that and the Monday after that I went to this meet up. Only the next time I went in sweats, 2 days of dry shampoo and pretty sure my socks didn’t match. It didnt matter at all because now I was connected to my baby boy.