Sunday, July 27, 2008

Singing the Mommy Blues

Since I'd never been around many babies and knew practically nothing about raising one, I decided that I was going to read as much as possible to prepare myself. I was pretty hard core during my pregnancy. I read books on breastfeeding, putting babies to sleep, delivery, post delivery, anything I could get my hands on. I even took the all day birthing class at the hospital. By the end, I was pretty confident that I was PREPARED! Oh, how wrong I was...

Nothing would prepare me for what was to come. After spending two more nights in the hospital, I was reluctant to leave. The nurses had taken such good care of me, bringing my meds every 3 hours so I wouldn't have to feel my va-jay-jay throbbing in pain and helping me with the baby when I couldn't handle the crying. I WANTED a few more days there, but alas, they were kicking me out to fend for myself and I couldn't take the nurses home with me (trust me, I asked).

I decided I was going to breastfeed since all the literature I read said that it was the best thing for my baby and of course I would do anything for her. After reading several books on breastfeeding and watching numerous videos, I thought, "yeah, I got this". Grab hold of breast, insert into baby's mouth, baby will then proceed with sucking. During my hospital stay, the lactation nurses would come in and help me with the feedings. Taylor latched on wonderfully. I thought to myself that all the preparation and reading I did was paying off. Until I spent the first night home with Taylor.

By this time, my milk had come in with full force. My breasts were GYNORMOUS! And I thought labor was bad! My breasts were so sore, they felt like balloons ready to pop any minute. Why the HELL didn't the books mention how painful my boobs were going to be? Now Fred is a boob man, but even he was freaked out by how MUCH boobage I had. I thought the discomfort I had dealt with during pregnancy would go away once I gave birth! Who knew this was just the beginning of a whole new chapter of AFTER pregnancy HELL!

I spent the next few nights struggling to get Taylor to nurse. What happened to the wonderful little baby that latched on so easily at the hospital? She wasn't having any of it. Fred would wake up with me during the night feedings and while I held Taylor in one arm and trying to smoosh my boob to get into her mouth with the other, Fred was by my side watching for the opportunity to shove my breast in her mouth. She would scream the entire time while tossing her head side to side as if saying, "no, no, no". These feeding sessions often left me in tears and upset that I couldn't do what was supposed to be the most natural thing in the world. I felt like a failure and a horrible mother.

By the time we went to our first doctor visit, Taylor had lost an entire pound. Now, it's normal for newborns to lose weight after they leave the hospital, but the doctor was worried that Taylor was losing too much. It turned out that she was severely jaundice which was effecting her ability to feed. So the pediatrician ordered Taylor an ultraviolet blanket and sent me back to the hospital to meet with the lactation consultant. The consultant had us start finger feeding every two hours so Taylor could get food in her body while avoiding nipple confusion (because I was still determined to breastfeed). Finger feeding is basically a syringe filled with breastmilk attached to a tube that goes into the baby's mouth.

Finger feeding syringe:

Fred finger feeding Taylor (notice how orange she looks):

I learned that apparently breastfeeding wasn't the most natural thing in the world and that both mother and baby had to LEARN how to do it. I was now to pump while Fred finger fed the baby and then try to breastfeed after she was calm and had some food in her belly.

Turned out, Taylor preferred Fred's finger over my breast. I was determined not to give up, so I kept trying even though both Taylor and I were frustrated, exhausted and bawling our eyes out after each breastfeeding session.

One night sticks out in my mind clear as day. I had been up with Taylor since 11pm trying to feed her. Fred was exhausted by then and had laid down for a quick nap. I felt guilty for sucking (no pun intended) at feeding my own child and having him wake up everytime to help me, so I decided to let him sleep for a while.

After hours of trying to breastfeed, Taylor was still screaming her head off. I rocked her, swung her, sang to her, but nothing seemed to work. Finally, tired and frustrated, I put her down and just stared at her. There we were, mother and daughter, crying like crazy. I cried while my daughter screamed her head off. I was miserable and overwhelmingly sad. I felt as if a wave was crashing down on me. So many different emotions were running thru me, I felt like I was drowning in them. My chest hurt and my heart ached. What the HELL was I thinking having a kid? I couldn't do THIS! This job was waaaayyy too hard. I wanted my old life back. I felt like I wasn't bonding with my baby and she obviously wasn't bonding with me. I was failing as a mother and worse, I was regretting ever having become one. This of course, made me feel horribly guilty. I was a shitty mom for even thinking this way. We saw the sun come up that morning, both exhausted and numb from crying all night.

By this point, I felt like a robot on auto pilot. The food I ate didn't taste like anything. I didn't enjoy the company of friends and family who were kind enough to visit and bring us dinner. I didn't care what I looked like and only showered b/c I didn't want to offend Fred with my stench.

Standing in my bathroom the next morning, I looked at myself in the mirror while brushing my hair. I stood there staring at myself and proceeded to sob unrelentlessly. I wanted to stop, but couldn't. It was uncontrollable. I cried so hard my shoulders were shaking and I had a hard time catching my breath. Fred came rushing in and asked me what was wrong. Thru the hiccups of tears, I replied, "I don't know". All I DID know was that an overwhelming saddness had hit me like a tidal wave. I had a bad case of the MOMMY BLUES.

The pediatrician agreed that I was suffering from Postpartum Depression. The flood of hormones in my body, combined with struggling to breastfeed and worrying about Taylor's jaundice was taking its toll. My doctor put me on anti-depressants and sent me to see a shrink. I had read about postpartum depression. I knew that it was typical for many new mothers to suffer from it, some more then others. Regardless of how many books I read, nothing prepared me for the roller coaster of emotions that I felt.

Funny how when I tell people about my postpartum, they tell me they went thru the same thing. But when I tell them I'm on anti-depressants, it's usually proceeded with silence, like they don't quite know how to respond. I've actually had some women pretend they didn't hear me when I tell them I needed to be put on meds because of my postpartum depression. I'm not ashamed that I had to be put on medication and feel angry about some of the reactions I was getting.

A few days after starting my meds, I started to feel less out of control. Slowly, the crippling wave of emotions became smaller and smaller. And I finally was starting to feel like I was connecting to my baby and actually ENJOYED being with her. Because of the meds, I had to bottlefeed Taylor and put her on formula. I struggled with not being able to offer my baby breastmilk, but realized that I needed to be healthy and take care of myself in order to be able to take care of her.

Don't get me wrong, I would have many more emotional breakdowns afterwards, but each day that passes, I feel stronger and more like myself.

I guess no matter how much you prepare, no matter how many books you read or advice people give you, you never REALLY KNOW until you get there and experience it firsthand. And the only way to survive and make it thru to another day is to know when to ask for help, actually accepting help and most importantly, be prepared to be UNPREPARED!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Delivering Taylor

I still can't believe I'm a mommy! Taylor Thi-Muon arrived on June 6, 2008 at 9:24pm, weighing in at 7 lbs. 11 oz.

She wasn't due until June 16th, so I was at work the day she was born. I had been cramping for a few days, but thought they were simply my braxton-hicks contractions acting up. I was feeling extremely crampy that day, but didn't think anything of it because they were pretty steady and not increasing pain wise. Finally after lunch, I called Fred and told him I was going to call the OB just to see what they were going to say. When I went in for my appointment after lunch, I thought they were simply going to send me home and tell me to rest.

When the doctor told me I was 6 cm and was in labor, I was totally dazed and asked "What does that mean?" She responded, "You're going to the hospital!" I asked her if I could drive myself to the hospital and she looked at me like I was crazy. My frazzled girlfriend, Tina, came to pick me up at the doctor's office and we met Fred at the hospital.

Giving birth was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my entire life! It was exhausting work. No wonder they call it LABOR. The OB pumped pitosin into me and my contractions came in waves. Stronger and faster. By 8 centimeters, I couldn't take it any more and opted for an epidural. The epidural had to be administered twice and it still didn't take full effect b/c I felt everything! After 2.5 hours of pushing, I had my baby girl and I was officially a mommy! Life was about to change!

Taylor 5 minutes old.
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