Hello lovely people,
It has been a pleasure to read each and every one of your contributions during these last couple of weeks of the ease-in to motherhood event (rounded up in Jodi’s and Erin’s blogs). Reading your experiences has made me think about how most of us go through similar experiences as we learn to become mothers.
This is my story:
We had the fortune of becoming parents on an afternoon mid-May 2016 to beautiful and healthy Emilia. She was born via an emergency C-section after 30h of induced labour and her voice was the best most beautiful thing I had heard in my life along with her, a few tears of joy were shed by David. This is how our journey began.
A few hours after the delivery I was already anxious to see my baby again to see if we would be able to establish breastfeeding. Turns out that her instinct and anatomy were perfect for it and although the first few weeks were somewhat uncomfortable and painful, Emilia and I were successfuly able to breastfeed.
I really can’t imagine how life would have been without the help, love and support of my partner. David took the best care for both of us, and if I was exhausted, he was twice as much, but he never once complained.
Living in Montreal, I have no other family here, so my aunt Nina came over from Mexico to help us. There are things money can’t pay for. There are things that people do only because of their infinite love for us. Her presence during this time was one of them. She stayed with us for the first 3 months. She cooked for us every meal, she helped me become a loving mom, she invited me to sit and sew so I could finish sewing my very needed nursing bras while she took care of Emilia, she used to take care of Emilia while she slept and to call me so I could come nurse her during the night. She was my angel. I’m ever so thankful to have had the chance to have her in my life during those last months of her life (but that’s a story for another post).
Emilia and I were released from the hospital after a few days and on our one week appointment, the doctors diagnosed a wound infection in my C-section. David, Emilia and I were sent to the ER and were admitted that day for a couple more nights at the hospital. Once released, nurses from the local community services centre (CLSC) came to treat my wound for the following 100 days until it was totally healed. During those first 3 months+, I was unable to shower because the wound was being treated and our outings were limited to whether the nurses had come that day early or not. Once a week I used to just tilt my head on the bathtub to wash my hair, armpits and feet. I was so thankful to be living in Canada and have a great health system. Going to the CLSC every day would have been very, very expensive for us.
Every birth comes with their struggles, for either mother or baby, whether it’s emotional or physical.
While having a new little person in my life was a dream come true in many ways, it was really hard for me in many other ways. While I had great support at home and I was thankful for us all being in good health for the most part and I loved my little Emilia to bits, I found it really hard to meet my own expectations to fullfill my baby’s every need. I left myself quite far behind many times. I mourned having left my past life behind, I cried many days because I felt disconnected from my baby, I breastfed for hours and hours on end, I rushed through breakfast, lunch and dinner so I could go back to my baby and fulfil her needs. I wanted to be there for her, THAT was my priority. Add to that the sleep deprivation, LIFE WAS JUST EXHAUSTING!!
Everyone around me seemed to be telling me: “enjoy this time, it passes by too fast!”.
I tried, I really did, but even when I tried my best to be happy and thankful for the life and the support I had, I was sad many days, especially the first few months when there were many sleepless nights.
-“Don’t feel guilty about seating your baby into her bouncy chair for short periods during the day so you can have some time to take care of yourself. In addition, accept that babies cry — and don’t take it as a sign of your failure as a parent if you can’t immediately soothe your little one”.-
I kind of wish someone would have told me that life was going to be really hard at the beginning of the journey, but as Erin described it, I also think there is nothing that can prepare you for what comes with your first baby. It was just the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. I will hopefully feel more prepared if there is a next time.
Slowly life started to change and Emilia’s sleep quickly became more tolerable for my mind state. My mood and energy improved. I realized I needed to ask for more help from David. I realized he would be happy to help. He knew I was going through a rough time. Lucky for me, he had a month of parental leave before he went back to work. Nina was still with us. Slowly, I started to feel more supported. Emilia was thriving. We were doing well. I started to open my heart to let my baby in.
When I think about it now, the extreme hormonal and body changes, the sleep deprivation, the new schedules and responsibilities and what we think are the expectations of us can very quickly drain us. No wonder that 60–80% of all new mothers suffer from the post partum blues .
-“Trying to be perfect will drain you. Aim to be a “good-enough mother.” This means providing a safe and loving environment for your baby but accepting that you’ll make mistakes — and you and your house will be messy”.-
The day Nina left, I took my carrier, my baby and my umbrella to protect her from the sun and off we went for a walk. I cried and cried and cried. Life had to go on.
As in other instances of my life, I found the support I was looking for by looking for groups with like-minded people, socializing and meeting other moms who were or had been in a similar situation. I looked for empathy. I am very lucky to live in an area of Montreal where there are lots of comunities and activities for mothers with small children. I found a very special shelter at the Groupe d’entraide maternelle de la Petite Patrie. There, I’ve met wonderful people and we have together participated and shared in wonderful and exciting things and experiences. Some of those people are now my good friends.
If you live far away from your family, break the isolation. Look for the resources available around you; family community organizations and groups that can welcome, enrich and enhance your parenting experience.
We all go through some kind of struggle when we are learning to become mothers/parents. Let go of your controlling self, just embrace it in all its imperfection and its uncertainty. Life will slowly get better. Open your heart to the best love and the most intense experience of your life.
Thanks for reading,
 Beck CT. Postpartum depression predictors inventory-revised. Adv Neonatal Care. 2003;3:47–8. [PubMed]