Dec 032013

prgAna Begins - Baby




ANA BEGINS…..Reflections

The ability to reflect on the grace, beauty and love the journey as a mother has provided has been a gift.  Up until now I have shared beautiful reflections from my entrance into motherhood.  The story, however, cannot be complete without the realities of my journey, some devastating and painful.  They say time heals all wounds.  I truly believe it does not only heal, but it captures the blessings we are unable to see in the present, wraps them in security and reveals them when the mind is able to embrace those blessings with gratitude and purpose.

I was not prepared for a Cesarean. If it was not for the Epidural and the fact that I was experiencing something new I would have gone into shock. By the 23rd hour of my water breaking I had to be wheeled into surgery. I remember watching the ceiling tiles whizz by as if I was watching a rerun of Grey’s Anatomy.  At this point I began to cry hysterically. I could not breathe as the congestion clouded every part of my face.  When my daughter arrived I was unable to hold her as she was rushed to the ICU.  The remaining 24 hours were a blur of drugs, visitors and infant care instructions that I could barely recognize, let alone remember.  I focused the small amount of energy I had into my new baby.  Breastfeeding was awkward and painful and would soon become the most devastating disappointment as a mother of an infant.

For the first three weeks I felt a lot of physical pain. The healing incision coupled with breastfeeding and mental anguish had me in a zombie like state.  How was it possible, I kept thinking, that this world had a population of over 1 billion human beings?  How did women go through this multiple times?  The pain I felt, emotional and physical expanded my already growing doubt that I was doing this ALL WRONG.

A few days after her arrival I called the lactation consultant. After ten minutes I felt three things 1) If I gave my baby formula she would die 2) I was purposefully compromising my ability to produce milk 3) the pain would never end. I could not feed my child.  I never made enough milk, and the small amount I could produce over six weeks was wreaking havoc in my baby’s body.  No matter the change of diet the acidity from my milk was tearing up her stomach, causing her tiny body painful reflux and burning the skin on her bottom enough to send us to the ER.  Every feeding I cried.  Every diaper change I was plagued with guilt knowing I caused her pain.

I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I was slowly crumbling from the exhaustion and mental anguish created from my doubts. I wanted at times to walk to a window and jump, but I was too exhausted to get there.  I was in a puddle of over looked post-partum and overwhelming responsibility.  I felt alone. I felt shame. What was wrong with me?  Why didn’t I know how to do this? Why did my body not work the way it was supposed to?  I felt trapped, alone.

Slowly I have healed, but I vowed never to forget the pain, guilt and loneliness of those first three months. I have carefully stored these reflections in hopes that my honesty will help a new mother, and she will help another and then, another.  It gets better. There’s a beautiful light at the end of the tunnel. If you feel alone, know there is at least one mother who understands your pain. You will heal. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t break you, makes you stronger”.



  • Stacy

    I went through a very serious post-partum depression that lasted 16 months, resulted in hospitalization, stigma, multiple medications, and even though it was almost 8 years ago, I still grieve for those months that I wished I could have really felt the enjoyment of having a baby, because with my second, I was fine and I worry that we have a different relationship because of it, today. I felt guilt about it, but came to realize the only thing to be embarrassed about PPD is that other people don’t seem to support mothers to get them into their doctor. The well-meaning advice that we’ve all heard (it’s just the blues and it will pass, you just need more time for yourself, once the baby sleeps through the night you will be fine, if you were breastfeeding, none of this would happen, how can you think or feel those things about a baby-you’re a bad mother and you’d better keep your feelings to yourself if you don’t want your baby taken away, and the ever-popular, go on a girl’s night out-that’s all you need, to get away from your _____ husband (insert whatever word comes to mind.)). Motherhood brings on crazy hormones, takes away your sleep, and gives you the most stress at a time when you are not just physically, but emotionally drained. If men had to do it (for the most part, of course), the human race would die.
    That being said, anyone who feels guilty, or has guilt thrown at them by some know-it-all medical professional, about not breastfeeding (by choice or by way of medical problem) should think twice about that. Yes, we all have been told that mothers’ milk is best (wonder if you thought about your nutritional content when you were eating pickles and ice cream during the third trimester…I didn’t) but sometimes, it just isn’t.
    In my case, I couldn’t breastfeed because I was on medication. I also had severe PPD and had to sleep at night so I wouldn’t become worse (luckily had family that could help). While I was in the hospital, after making it known in my file, and to my doctor, that I didn’t want anyone to even approach me with the subject (I had enough stress), a nurse came in my room in the middle of the night, while I was trying to sleep with medications, and was on an IV (for pain, but she had no idea, I guess), in addition to taking other medications during the day. Just came stomping in my room, no knock, with my baby, screaming, with a flashlight…“it’s time to feed your baby. I’ve been doing it for you for a few hours now, but you have to stop being lazy and take care of this. It’s not my job. Think of your baby (who was perfectly fine, just hungry) and the harm you are causing! You need to breastfeed now, and if you have been having troubles I will help you right now, because that’s what is going to happen from now on.”
    I felt bad enough. This was the worst experience I had in regards to that issue, but there were others also, in hospital and out.
    I was raised on formula, as were most babies in the late 60’s and through the seventies, when moms were told formula was even healthier than mom’s milk. It seemed so medically sound at the time, and the modern, proper thing to do.
    For all you reading this, if you have experienced it, don’t feel guilty, because THEY are the ones who need to mind their own business about how you and your doctor choose to feed your baby. Millions of babies have been raised just fine on breast milk.
    For all of you who have done this to someone, have some compassion.

  • kristen visser

    so sorry to read you had to go through this 🙁
    thank you so much for sharing your story!! its a lot to go through and then relive it to write about it. but it is something that us woman do go through and can relate to

  • Jo-Anne Pfoh

    I am sorry you had to go through that thanks for sharing such a painful subject