Being a New Mom, breastfeeding, depression, first time labor, first time moms, Labor, mastitis, Mommy Mojo, postpartum depression, support for new moms, symptoms of mastitis, what is mastitis, what is postpartum depress
Today I am going to share (some of) my story.
The story is a difficult one to share because I truly hate myself for some of the feelings I felt as a new Mommy, but I am (now) absolutely certain that I am not alone…
The labor portion of Mommyhood was actually easier than I had expected. I did choose to have an epidural. Though some don’t like the idea, and I respect that, I definitely do not regret this decision.
I loved my labor nurse! She was amazing and so encouraging for me!! She and Hubby Ben were my cheerleaders and helped me push, push, push! I gave her a big hug and thanked her before she left me, after Jacyn was born.
My pushing lasted 45 minutes, and it was not as difficult as it had been in my worried mind, leading up to the day. The doctor said, “Wow! You pushed like a champ! You are amazing!”
I loved our hospital stay, too. I was such a happy and proud new Mommy!!! All of the lactation nurses told me what a great feeder Jacyn was. “She is latching right on like a pro!” and “You must have paid extra for such a super breast feeder!” they would say to me. Awesome! Maybe I can do this Mommy thing!!
To this day, I am still wondering if these are things they say to all new Mommies during the hospital stay. Do all Mommies push like a champ? Are all babies breastfeeding pros?
Don’t get me wrong – I love, love, love positive comments, and I think everyone should give out more of them more often, but everything changed when we got home, and I was very unprepared…
The next few weeks were rough. Actually, horrible is a more fitting word. I am no longer a champ; I am sore down there and cringe at the thought of using the restroom. Jacyn is, somehow, no longer a breastfeeding pro; the latch was actually excruciatingly painful.
I cried constantly. One day, Ben found me sitting on our bedroom floor, holding our dog, Lilly, sobbing to her. I told him that I felt guilty because we were giving all the attention to Jacyn now, instead of Lilly. Next time, I was bawling because we went to CVS to pick up a prescription and they told us it wasn’t ready yet…….
Hormones? Yes, please. Lots of them.
But I also cried for other reasons. Through loads of tears, I told Ben multiple times that I hated this, and that I wished we could go back to the way we were before Jacyn. I sobbed every day and every night because I wanted it to go back to being me, Ben, and Lilly. I just wanted to have our normal routine back. I told Ben that I hated being a Mom, that I shouldn’t have done this, and that I will never have another baby. Now, looking back, I am so angry at myself for ever thinking those thoughts.
Was this hormones? Do all new Mommies feel this way?
In the first few weeks of Mommyhood, I did not even tell Jacyn I loved her. I hate myself for that now, and my heart seriously hurts when I read that sentence. Really, I feel it in my chest.
I was always angry and irritated when she wanted to eat because I knew that it meant unbearable pain for me. What a bad Mommy, right? Selfish.
I was more than fine leaving Jacyn alone with her grandparents, even in the first few weeks. I did not have that separation anxiety I had heard about from other Mommies. I did not even give her a kiss goodbye. I just wanted to leave. What was my problem? Seriously.
Poor Jacyn. Poor Ben, too. Millions of tears. Finally, Ben called my doctor. I was not about to make that call.
By this time, amidst the madness and tears, I had already experienced my first case of mastitis. What a nasty little infection. Mommies who are breastfeeding or pumping, be on the lookout for flu-like symptoms. That is the first indication.
Many people say mastitis is caused by not properly washing pumping gear. This is not the case. Trust me, I washed, sterilized, washed, sterilized. I felt like it was all I did. Some women are just more susceptible than others. Lucky me. I learned that it is often caused by bacteria, from clothes, bras, anything, entering the body through small cuts in the nipple. Yes, I had those. Lucky me.
Trying to care for a newborn, chills, nausea, vomiting, shakes, tears, no sleep. I truly had never felt worse. Is this what it is like to be a Mom?
After talking with my Mom, Ben, and then my doctor, I finally accepted the fact that my feelings were not completely normal. When my first case of mastitis cleared up, I went to a therapy session, as ordered by my doctor.
Looking back, I am able to realize that I was at an incredibly low point. I remember telling the therapist that I did not want to kill myself (ugh, I hate, hate, hate typing those words), but I simply did not want to exist. I did not want to be here. I did not want to be a Mom.
What was going on with me? Apparently, one in seven new mothers feel exactly this way. This was a good fact for me to learn, as other Mommies never told me this. I was never warned about these feelings. During my pregnancy, whenever I imagined being a new Mommy, it was never ever like this. Not even close.
I absolutely love my doctor. I am blessed to know her. I am far closer to her now than I was, even after my delivery. I have called her multiple times in the middle of the night. I have been to visit her often, as I eventually ended up with two more cases of mastitis.
The final case landed me in the hospital for five days. Those nasty bacteria inside me were resisting all antibiotics my doctor ordered. I was hooked to an IV for larger doses and even that did not work. Finally, she ordered a doctor of infectious disease to see me.
After five nights in the hospital, a PICC line was inserted into my arm. PICC stands for peripherally inserted central catheter, kind of like a portable IV. The line traveled from my arm to the large arteries near my heart. It allowed me to give myself antibiotics which were normally given through an IV.
I was finally discharged from the hospital with the worst case of mastitis my doctor had ever seen. Antibiotics were delivered to my house every few days. I infused all of my meds into my arm twice a day; I flushed and cleaned the line with eight syringes of saline each day. A nurse came by weekly to check on me, change my PICC dressing, and draw my blood for testing. All of this, plus caring for a newborn.
At one point, my infection number was an 87; 20 is the high end of normal.
Depression is serious business. Mastitis is serious business. Mommyhood is serious business. Seriously.
Weeks later, after my PICC line was removed, I had ten days of oral antibiotics. Seven days into that antibiotic, I had an allergic reaction and was told to discontinue the medicine.
Whew! That brings me to about two weeks ago, I think. I currently have no concept of time…
I am feeling like a new person by now, with more energy than I have had in a long time. I am feeling more positive than I have felt in a long time.
I am actually truly enjoying this Mommyhood for (sadly, but honestly) the first time. For the first time, I do not despise the idea of ever having a second child. For the first time, I cannot stop smiling and laughing with my baby, and I look forward to our playtime.
I recently decided to take the rest of the school year off to enjoy more of these precious moments. And to be sure I get back to 100% healthy!!
That person who I mentioned earlier, who did not want to exist, was not me. I look back, and I truly dislike that person. But it happened.
I look at Jacyn now and I feel God. I absolutely believe in miracles, and I am certain she is one. I have so much love for her, and for my new family, and for every Mommy out there, especially my own.
You can call me a Mommy Cheerleader. I seriously want to give love, support, and encouragement to all Mommies out there – new, experienced, or expectant. It truly is the hardest job ever.
I remember my therapist telling me as I sobbed, “Ann, I know it is horrible now, but one day soon, you will be a happy Mommy. You will look back and you will hate yourself for feeling this way, and you will feel like you wasted precious time with your baby.”
She was exactly right.
I am starting a Facebook page for Mommies and Mommy Cheerleaders!!
Mommy Mojo is a simple support page for all Mommies — new, experienced, expectant, and those who are considering eventually becoming a Mommy!!! We can share tips and secrets, ask questions, and love, support, and encourage each other through this crazy miracle of Mommyhood!!
I hope that if you fit the category, or even if you don’t, you will join Mommy Mojo. Maybe you are not a Mommy, but you just want to be a supporter! Even better!! Believe it or not, I am constantly trying not to post too many Mommy questions, pictures, or tips – but this is a place to let it all out.
PS: The definition of mojo: (N) a power that may seem magical and that allows someone to be very effective, successful, etc.
(More) Love, Ann