One of the things that pulled me out of the mommy wars was all of the stories. This week I’m sharing the stories of other moms that have touched me through their experiences. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email me at email@example.com and I’ll publish it here this week. (All names will be changed to initials to keep them anonymous unless you give me permission to use your name.)
My daughter was born in December of 2011 after a series of miscarriages. We were excited and nervous and thrilled and anxious. I had researched birthing methods and gone to classes and had my plan all mapped out. No interventions, no epidurals, no c-sections, nothing. I was strong. Heck, if I could go through the pain of losing 2 children and keep my sanity I could surely get through labor and delivery without drugs.
The morning that my water broke it caught me off guard. It was 4am and she wasn’t due for another 2 weeks. By 7am I had not only made no progress but I wasn’t dilating on my own AT ALL. Nothing was moving. I knew my plan was going to be tossed out the window but in that moment all I cared about was her safe arrival. So they hooked me up to pitocin and still nothing was happening so they kept pushing it. I went as long as I could before crying out in pain for them to give me an epidural because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Yep, there went my birth plan.
After 16 hours of labor she was born at 8:02pm on December 14. A beautiful brown haired, brown eyed little girl. After everything we’d been through to get her here, I had zero emotion. I didn’t feel that immediate bond. I wasn’t gushing with love for this little person I had just birthed. I felt empty. I was exhausted and I just wanted to cry. What was wrong with me???
I was breastfeeding, because it’s best for your child right? Despite all of the problems and her tongue-tie and inability to latch correctly. I tried and I tried and I tried. Through the 24/7 spitting up, back-arching, screaming. I tried. Through the bleeding nipples and baby’s inability to latch correctly. I tried. Through the pumping sessions and endless nursing sessions. I tried. Through my tears and pain and her screaming in agony. I tried and I tried and I tried. I thought it was supposed to come naturally and be easy??? It wasn’t.
When she was 5 weeks old I had to have surgery to have my gallbladder removed. That surgery was a god-send. If I had never had that surgery, I would have continued to try to make breastfeeding work. But at the same time and after trying formula after formula we discovered she had both severe reflux and MSPI (milk-soy protein intolerance). It took us 6 miserable months to get there but we had made it.
Despite having all the best laid plans in the world, nothing went like we expected. I never expected that I would have to be induced. I never expected to have no feelings when she was born. I never expected my child to be born with a tongue-tie making it impossible for her to latch correctly. I never expected breastfeeding to not work. I never expected her to have reflux or MSPI. I never expected any of it. But it was the most amazing lesson for me.
You never know why a person chooses to do things the way they do them. Unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, you just don’t know.
For months and months after all of that, I felt very inadequate as a mom. I felt shame that I didn’t have that immediate bond with her the day she was born. I felt guilt that I had given up on breastfeeding. I should have tried harder I thought. I read blogs that said moms that formula fed were either lazy or uninformed. I was neither but I still felt like a horrible horrible mom.
It’s now 18 months later and not only am I completely in love with my daughter, but she is healthy and happy and you’d never know by looking at her that those first 6 months were as miserable as they were. I’ve learned a lot and I don’t judge anyone like I used too. We all have our own journeys and none of them are the same. If all of this taught me anything, it’s that we just need to encourage one another. We’re all moms, we’re all in this together and we’re all doing the best we can with what we have.