Find part 1 of my story here, where I talk about labor and delivery. Continue reading this post for post delivery.
When we were in the surgery room and Neil had brought her over to me, I forced tears. That’s what good moms do right? Cry at the sight of their first born? I wanted to cry, to be happy she was here. It’s what I saw in every movie scene and what I had expected to do…But at that time I was just so relieved it was over, I couldn’t see past that moment. So I forced tears out and pretend to be happy.
It was finally over. They asked Neil to leave the room with Zoe and stitched me up. They wheeled me in my bed to a waiting area where Neil was and I got to hold her. My body was numb from the drugs and I was still shaking. But as I held her God placed a joy in my heart that hasn’t left since that day. I was finally a Mom.
*You are a Mother as soon as you get pregnant. Just to clarify. But I hadn’t felt that way yet.*
We were put into a room with 4 other couples, 4 other babies, 4 other beds going up and down. I was exhausted and couldn’t stand up or move without severe pain. I didn’t expect this. I had a catheter in (ew), I wasn’t able to get comfortable (ugh), Neil and I weren’t cuddling together with our brand new baby (sigh)… this is not how I imagined our first days as a family. We had visitors, friends, and family came to meet our little miracle. And that helped take my mind off the pain. We slept as much as we could, and we stared at our daughter in awe. She was ours. God had entrusted her to us, and we were now her parents. But I felt disgusting and worthless. How was I supposed to be this little girl’s Mom if my body wasn’t good enough to even birth her properly?
When we were leaving the hospital a few days later, I asked the nurses “Do you need to check that she’s in the car seat correctly?” To which they laughed and said no. But I made them check anyway. HELLO, NEW PARENT HERE. I’M TERRIFIED AND DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING.
They wheeled me down the halls in my wheelchair, we got ourselves into the car and drove home as a family. I instantly regretted not sitting in the back with her, her tears broke my heart. But we made it home all in 1 piece.
I was instructed to not do stairs, not walk too much, not to lift anything heavier than her, don’t drive, etc. The norm for a c-section Mama. The living room became my bedroom, sleeping on the couch, her bassinette beside me.
This is not what I had envisioned. I wanted to be upstairs in OUR bed, learning together with my husband how to take care of this little human and doing all the things a new mom is supposed to do (I don’t know what ‘those things’ would be, but I felt I was doing a terrible job and failing fast at motherhood).
That first night I couldn’t put Zoe down. I didn’t have the strength to pick her back up, her bassinette was too low, It took all of my energy to go from laying to sitting on our deep couches (while holding Zoe and not breaking her). She came to the bathroom with me, I fed her as best I could, we both cried all night and didn’t sleep at all. Neil started the night with us in the living room, but I told him to leave so at least one of us was rested in the morning. Looking back, I don’t know if that was the right call. Yes, it was good one of us was rested, but I needed support and help. And I was too stubborn to ask for it. I wanted to be a ‘good Mom’. I just didn’t understand what that meant yet.
Breastfeeding was a struggle. They tell you it shouldn’t hurt but I cried every time she fed, from the pain. We had lactation consultants come a few times and try to help us. We figured out Zoe’s bottom lip needed some adjustment and that helped a little, but I still cried and was very uncomfortable. My nipples were cracked, bleeding, dry, and I understood why women give up. You’ll receive no judgment from me if you decide(d) not to breastfeed. We were trying to use a cover, which she pulled and screamed at. We both hated it, I couldn’t see her face to make sure her lip was in the correct position, she hated the feeling of the cloth touching her, it made it 10x harder. If you’ve seen me feed her, you know we don’t use a cover and some people hate that. But it’s what works for us.
Emotionally I was stuck. I wanted to feel a certain way, but I couldn’t get there. People would ask how it was going and I just wanted to cry. I could tell them it was wonderful, but honestly? It wasn’t. I loved Zoe with all of my heart but being a Mom was hard. Not sleeping in the same bed as my husband was hard. Not being able to cook, clean, walk up stairs, drive… it was hard. I felt sorry for myself. My body was beaten and broken and fat and scarred.
I saw my c-section as a failure. My body wasn’t women enough to have a baby. I was a failure because I couldn’t bring my daughter into the world the way I was supposed to. I wasn’t strong enough. I couldn’t give her what she needed. I couldn’t feed her the way I was supposed to. I didn’t have the energy I needed. I hadn’t decorated her room yet. I didn’t make freezer meals before hand. We had too many visitors we couldn’t rest, we didn’t have enough visitors to distract me from being sad. You name it, I felt guilty about it. I felt depressed, I had anxiety, I was a wreck. A wreck with a pretty smile and tea waiting for whoever walked through the door.
I’m really good at hiding how I feel sometimes.
I was honest with Neil and my Mom about how I was feeling, I took a test at the doctor’s office and they gave me tips and group meetings and phone numbers to reach out to. None of which I used. “I can handle it”, I would tell myself (I couldn’t. I still can’t. But that’s another post 😉 )
Once I got upstairs and could drive, move around more and started feeling more in control, my mood improved. I still had crazy emotional swings but I enjoyed the little things more and felt like part of me was coming back.
I still have days where I feel that “mom guilt” pretty strong, but now I know that’s normal. Some days I have to put Zoe in her crib and let her scream by herself because If I get scratched or yelled at or pooped on one more time I’m going to lose it. And that’s okay. It’s hard not to lose yourself when you become a Mom, and believe me. I’m still working on it. But I’m a lot healthier now than I was at the beginning.
We spend a lot of time preparing for pregnancy, Labor, and Delivery. We read books or apps of the week to week process and what to expect. We make birth plans and think about the first moments holding our babies and what it’s going to look like. But no one prepared me for the rollercoaster of the first months of motherhood. No one said “Hey just so you know, once you have this kid you will be an emotional rollercoaster and might hate your life…but it gets better”, “Breastfeeding is going to be scary and hard”, “Your delivery doesn’t matter, it just matters that the baby is safe”, “It’s okay to put your kid in a crib and walk away from the crying for a few minutes to gain some sanity!”.
All I heard was “Make your birth plan so you know what YOU want before it happens!”, “Make sure you ask for the best room in the hospital AS SOON as you get there, otherwise you’re stuck with sharing a room”, “Do you have a doula? A Midwife?”, “Enjoy your sleep while you can, cause once that baby comes…”.
Yes, the process of having a child is important. But learning how to raise that child is MORE important. We need to create a culture where it’s normal to talk about how hard things are. We need to post on Instagram the moment of feeling like a failure, so others know they aren’t alone when they feel that way. We need to be a community that loves not just the perfection but the flaws, we need to help each other, grow together, encourage one another, be honest to our friends and to ourselves.
My name is Julia and I find being a Mom really hard. Most days I go to bed thinking of all the things I did wrong or completely forgot to do (as I write this I just remembered I have 3-day old laundry sitting in the dryer…ugh). I don’t have it all together and I don’t have many answers. But I sure have a lot of questions and am determined to find the answers. I am committed to loving my baby girl with everything I’ve got and I know that my strength comes from my Savior. I try my best, and that makes me a GREAT Mama.
Stick around for Part 3 of my story where I share what God has taught me through the 68 hours of labor, needing a c-section, feeling helpless and unworthy. Don’t miss a beat and follow the blog. 🙂