I am slowly coming to the end of this pregnancy journey and it has me reminiscing about what it was like when I had my first born being a new mom. The experience wasn’t easy and I feel like as a society we are setting new moms up for failure by only portraying the good or beautiful side of motherhood. The truth is, is that motherhood is messy and unpredictable and you just might have that difficult baby that makes your question not only your sanity but also how you view yourself as a mom. This blog post is raw and honest about my delivery and post-partum experience with my now 6 year old who despite his beginnings has grown into a smart, funny, loving little boy who I wouldn’t hesitate to do it all again with.
I don’t remember much from being pregnant with Hayden except for his little kicks and bumps he blessed me with and the overall feeling of being uncomfortable especially since he was born at the end of August. By the time the last few weeks of pregnancy rolled around I was begging for an induction. I was hot, fat and miserable. I would have done anything to get him out of me so I went in for an induction at 39 weeks (which looking back on that decision was probably not the best idea since my body was not ready for it). I went in on August 29th, 2011 in the early morning hours with my mom and Hayden’s father. The induction process ended up being delayed till afternoon due to the labor and delivery floor being extremely busy so we sat in the room and waited.
Waiting sucks. There is an entire theory and science around waiting and how people tend to react and respond to waiting for something, anything to happen. I will be the first to admit I hate waiting for things. I enjoy instant gratification and at that moment I was so ready to meet my little guy who had already spent 39 weeks growing inside of me so by the time they started the induction process it had felt like I had been waiting an eternity (in reality it had only been 5 hours). I remember them starting pitocin gradually and initially thinking that this isn’t so bad, I can do this. Why do women always state that labor is the equivalent to getting ripped in half by two horses running in opposite directions? These thoughts were fleeting as soon as they began to increase the pitocin dose in order to force my uterus into contracting. I would not wish this medication on anyone, even 6 years later I can still remember how terrible the pain was in having a medication force my body into doing something that it just wasn’t ready to do.
At some point I got an epidural, probably after I decided I was in agony from the contractions and can remember trying to stay absolutely still during intense waves of contractions while some old anesthesia doctor jammed a giant needle into my back. At this point I was so exhausted I just wanted to lay down. Eventually, 14 hours into my labor Hayden’s heart rate dropped to below 40 beats per minute and despite their best efforts to re position me (which is pretty difficult when your lower extremities are numb), his heart rate continued to yo-yo up and down. It was officially c-section time. Hayden was born around 3 am on August 30th, 2011 by c-section with my mom accompanying into the operating room weighing in at a gigantic 10 pounds.
I did experience a post-partum hemorrhage after delivery most likely due to being induced and having a larger sized baby. This complication led to a delay in breast milk production causing both myself and Hayden to have to stay in the hospital for about a week. Me due to my low blood levels and Hayden because he dropped more then 10% of his body weight. Finally, we were able to go home.
I don’t really think that I was prepared fully on what to expect when it came to being a new mom. Thankfully, my mother was around to help when I needed it but I still felt incredibly isolated and alone. Hayden was not an easy baby. He cried a lot, mostly at night, and I struggled significantly with breast feeding. All of this and a rocky relationship to begin with led to post-partum depression. I was constantly at war with my boyfriend, sleep deprived, felt unattractive and overweight and felt like a failure for not being able to do the most basic and natural thing to feed my baby. Something had to give and after meeting with a lactation consultant I decided that it would be best for me to exclusively pump and bottle feed Hayden. I am so happy that I made that decision since I was finally able to give him enough of what he needed without the tears and struggle. It was hard work and for the first couple of weeks I have to pump every 2 hours even through the night to build up my supply but it paid off in the end when I was able to overproduce what Hayden actually consumed.
Don’t get me wrong, even through the sleep deprivation and depression my son became my entire world after he was born. I would have done anything for him. The moments where he would smile or giggle overcame the moments when he was unhappy and crying. Despite this, I still couldn’t help but feel like I was the worst mom ever. Those first 6 months after he was born were some of the hardest days of my life and I thought that the reason he wouldn’t sleep was because of me, that there was something that I was doing wrong and I was detrimentally effecting this tiny human who depended on me. It didn’t help that the person that was suppose to be my partner was distant and not supportive about anything. Sometimes still when Hayden has a bad day or acts out I feel that it was because I wasn’t a good enough mom in the beginning (which is crazy and untrue, I know).
Eventually things evened out and my son and I found our groove but the struggle leading up to that was unexpected and difficult to talk about even with my closest friends and family. I felt like a failure and that others would judge me for my poor parenting skills. No one talks about how hard it is to have a new born. People generally only talk about how good their baby is and how their baby sleeps all night and never about the other struggles that arise. I wish I had known about the dark side of being a new mom, maybe then I would have been more prepared and less hard on myself when things didn’t go exactly the way I imagined they would.
I want all new moms to know that it will be difficult at times and that is OK. Not everyone will shed every single ounce of pregnancy weight immediately after delivery, your baby will most likely not sleep all night, and you will struggle with multiple things such as breast feeding, sleep schedules and even your own self esteem. This doesn’t make you a bad mom, in fact your doing an amazing job and things will get easier.