Friday, December 18, 2015

The Supporters Who Showed Up to Give Me Strength

I wrote this story as a follow up to "I Hate My Baby:A Postpartum Story" which was featured on Mamalode. This is how I survived it and turned the tables in my favor.

I breathe a huge sigh of relief as I lay my sleeping newborn down. He is finally asleep, so I figure I should try to wash last night's dishes. My husband has been doing all the cleaning,cooking, and shopping since we came home from the hospital, so it is the least I can do. I feel pretty much worthless. I begin to run the water and I have so many thoughts going through my head. I have zero energy, I have low iron, I am recovering from a broken tailbone from the delivery. To make matters worse, my child still will not nurse, and I am still not producing milk. I am a failure in every way. I feel as if I have been hit by a truck, causing an injury to which I will never recover. Will I feel this way forever. What have I done to my life? I wanted this child so much, so why do I hate him? I really do, no love in sight.

The sink is full so I shut off the water and begin washing the dishes. 5 dishes in I hear him crying. “Already?” I think. Why doesn’t this child sleep more than 30 minutes alone, but will sleep for hours in my arms. He is suffocating me. I do not move, I freeze. I cry. Just when I have no idea what to do next, the phone rings. I pick up. “How are you doing?” my sister asks. I begin to bawl louder than my baby and can not speak in any coherent way. My sister comes right over.

My sister rocks, sings to, and walks my baby around while I nap. He cries the entire time and I can’t drown out the noise. I am exhausted and frustrated. I want to make it stop. After what seems like an eternity, but what was probably a short time, I give up on my nap and go take my son from her and attempt a feeding, failing as usual. My sister hugs me, talks to me, encourages me, and supports me. She stays a few hours and makes sure I will be okay before she leaves. Over the next few weeks she visits often and calls even more frequently. I know she is there for me.

My milk finally comes in, so I have a glimmer of hope there, but still I can not get my son to nurse. I syringe feed him every feeding which I obtain by pumping. I get a visit from my public health nurse. I am agitated by the thought of a visitor because I feel like it will be a waste of time, it’s a lost cause, but she gets my son to nurse actively for the first time. She teaches me techniques and tricks and makes sure I know them before she leaves. What was supposed to be a one hour visit turns into a 3 hour one. She is a saint! We practice at every feeding, my son and I, and it gets better and better every feeding. My public health nurse calls every day for a week to be sure I am feeling confident in my abilities. I thank her and tell her we are doing fine and that I won’t need any more calls. I doubt I would ever have nursed had it not been for her help.

My husband is my rock throughout these early weeks. He expects nothing from me, except for me to get back to my old self, if that is even a possibility. While I heal he takes over everything. When he is home my husband does all the baby care unless he needs to nurse. I spend all of my days on the couch with my son, and my nights in my bed. I am really starting to feel my energy returning. I am stronger every day! When I look at my son now, I feel pure unadulterated love, which I never thought possible.

Two weeks have passed. I look back and wonder how I survived. Things look so much brighter. My baby is thriving and I am healing. There is light at the end of this tunnel. I am going to come out on the other side, I just know it!

My supporters-sister, husband and nurse, held me together and gave me the strength to get through it all. I persevered because of them. I made it. Time passed, I healed, my boy grew, and grew and grew. He is now almost thirteen and was joined by 4 siblings over the next 6 years following his birth. Motherhood is the greatest, hardest blessing of my life!

Did you have a great support system when you brought home your first child? How did it change your life?