Friday, August 16, 2013

The truth

I wrote the following post over a period of days a couple of weeks ago. I've tried blogging several times over the past month and just wasn't able to finish "adequately". I'm happy to say that a couple of weeks in Asher's development (and some meds for me) have made a bunch of difference, so the below is a reflection of where I have been...not where I am now (thank God!). Still, in the interest of honesty, I thought it relevant to publish, so here it is. I'll work on a more up-to-date entry (with photos of my little man!) soon.


I have had posts rattling around in my brain for weeks, but no energy, time or presence of mind to actually write them down. I decided to put Asher back down to sleep after our 4 am feeding session so I could pump, and then thought, Hell, sleep would be nice, but I'm making myself crazy with the lack of blog posting. What stays in my brain causes me stress and strife, sort of like the feng shui adage, a cluttered house is a cluttered mind.

The last six weeks have been a blur, of course. I wish I could say a blissful blur, but that would be a lie.

I know what I'm about to write is normal - and I say this because I recently was given a booklet filled with essays written by moms, and could relate to nearly all of them - but life as a new mother is painfully difficult, stressful, self-doubt-filled, and not at all the dream I always imagined.

I guess that's part of the issue; as I read on another blog recently (forgive me for being unable to remember whose, but know your words are important to me!), all these years of infertility (it would be six in October), the loss of our twins and all the heartache associated with the two led me to focus so much on getting and staying pregnant that I really wasn't prepared for what comes after (when disaster doesn't strike). The last six weeks have been filled with mind blowing exhaustion, frustration of not understanding what this crying baby needs when all the obvious issues have been addressed, the emotional and physical pain of breastfeeding problems, the complete lack of time for myself, fear that I'm doing things wrong, feeling that I - who used to be so organized and on top of things - can't manage my time to save my life, wondering if I was cut out for this at all, thinking that perhaps that's why my twins died, because I couldn't have handled them, etc.

Layered over top of all of this - and probably behind a lot of it - is postpartum depression again, with a healthy side of its bitchy sibling, postpartum anxiety. Yep, despite my best efforts (as if we have control over these things) and the frantic consumption of my dehydrated placenta capsules as per label, PPD again has clouded my mind. I thought I was ok, but I will fully admit that the feeding issues with Asher really brought me to my knees, so that one day I was ok, and the next I was telling my counselor that I was concerned about myself. She told me I have "moderate to severe"PPD/PPA, had the talk with me about intrusive thoughts (bad thoughts that aren't things I'd come up with on my own but that are pervasive and overwhelming), and encouraged me to see my naturopath (today) for drug-free support options (if there are any). I've mentioned before my history of major depression; this obviously isn't my first rodeo. What I can say with conviction is that while there are times I have no interest in things and feel completely overwhelmingly depressed, most of the time I am very functional, 100% able to care for and bond with my son (who I am so in love with!), able to (and desiring) a shower and clean clothes, etc. I have little to no appetite (a symptom), I have a hard time seeing things with a positive eye, and am glad I still have 5.5 more weeks left of my leave so that hopefully, by the time I go back to work, I will have dug myself out of this with help and can go back feeling confident in my abilities to manage my life. Right now, a lot of the time, not so much. I've found myself cursing this town I live in for being so far away from my family and friends (because, damn it, it does take a village to raise a child, but moreso for the support of the mother, I think). I do have a dear friend who lives 45 minutes away from me and is also a mom of a little (Asher's best friend!), and we spent a few hours just talking and walking in the mall yesterday, something I really needed and wouldn't have done by myself. (Wouldn't you know, this child of mine, who lately is fighting every nap during the day and is therefore prone to major, epic, turning-purple/not-making-vocal-sounds/full-body-sweat meltdowns once or twice a day - to the point where he can only be interrupted by blowing in his face - fell asleep and slept almost the entire time in his stroller.)

One thing that has had frightening and disappointing familiarity is the speed at which people - mostly other mothers - discount the feelings and experiences of those of us dealing with troubles in what should be a blissful time. From having people tell me 10,000 times that at least my child can eat (don't say this to a babyloss mom...we know all to well what the alternative could be, and it probably isn't the one these ignorant women who say things like that would even think of), that it doesn't matter whether baby is fed from the breast or bottle (believe me, for someone like me, whose body has failed in this becoming-a-parent job so many times in so many awful, terrible ways, it DOES matter!), I am reminded  (and revisited by that sick feeling in my stomach) of all the unintentionally hurtful things people (mostly women!) said to me after we lost the twins. Why is acknowledging someone's feelings and experience so difficult, so that instead we have to discount or one-up or minimize another?

Asher is wonderful, beautiful, perfect and still, unbelievably, mine. He has started smiling and cooing this week, and it's divine (and couldn't come at a better time for me emotionally). He knows I am his mama. My heart melts when his little hand grabs my arm in the middle of the night as I burp him after a feeding, when I'm the one who can ease his crying. I know I can meet his needs, maybe not the way I want to, but in a way that satisfies him (minus the over-tired meltdowns...still trying to figure that part out, and CIO sleep training is not something that Paul and I are comfortable with, thank you). We did end up taking him to a Portland ENT on July 8th after having a private Facebook conversation with the doctor late on the evening of July 6th (a Saturday!), where Asher was diagnosed with a stage 4 upper lip tie (ULT) and stage 4 posterior tongue tie (PTT), the most restrictive kinds. Mother's intuition is alive and well. We are thrilled we pursued this so aggressively. Even if Asher and I never have a full time breastfeeding relationship when it's all said and done (we're still trying, and making some headway), Paul and I know that by having his ties laser corrected, we will avoid the awful tooth decay, speech problems and head and neck issues usually associated with ties like these. (Turns out I'm tongue tied, too, and never knew it...and I am plagued with head and neck tensions, TMJ issues, etc.) The procedure was very quick, relatively painless, and probably easier on Asher than the stretches we had to 4 times daily for the subsequent three weeks were. (He and I both cried the first time, but it got easier, and now we're done.) I took him back to Portland two Fridays ago to visit with a highly recommended lactation consultant/herbalist/craniosacral therapist, and that was super helpful. Thanks to her, we are now breastfeeding at least once a day using a nipple shield for a deeper latch (he still hurts me without a shield). I am having supply problems despite a tincture she blended for me, so I may have a drug in my future to help with that...if I decide to continue with this. It has been terribly disappointing and frustrating, and the supply issues make it really hard to not internalize this experience and beat myself with it (even though Asher's anatomical issues caused it all to begin with, and I would certainly never chastise HIM for it!).


  1. *hugs* I'm glad that you are feeling somewhat better. It really helps when they can smile and make you feel loved back!

  2. I can't say I desire those newborn days again.

    While so thankful as babyloss moms and so in love, it was definitely a challenging time emotionally and physically. Emotionally because your brain finally has a chance to hash through the part of grief and PTSD that you never experienced before in having a living child. I loved what you said (well, not love, but understand) about wanting so desperately to be pregnant and get to that point of a healthy and live child that your mind never let you understand what it would be beyond that.

    I still struggle some days with meeting Benjamin's needs (at nearly 18 months!) and being frustrated and stuck as a mom that I should know or should have intuition about things. It's a definite battle I'm not sure would be the same if Andrew didn't die.

    It's a road, isn't it? Happy to hear Asher was treated and things are going better with breastfeeding-- I agree that it's not a "big deal" whether a child is breastfed or bottle fed, but as a loss mom, it's another blow to the gut that we cannot sustain them on our own and our bodies do something right. Hoping things continue to ease.

    Love to you.

  3. Sending love and support to you! Be kind to yourself. xoxo

  4. Oh, Amy. I read this and want to smack myself for my last two cheery little breastfeeding posts (if you haven't read them, don't--they're obnoxious). I can empathize with what you're going through because I know PPD can be scary business (a close friend of mine had a very severe case) and because I know I would have been devastated and full of self-blame and guilt if breastfeeding had not come easily. The crying and sleeplessness are SO stressful and it's crazy how something like that can go on for a day or two and feel like it always has been and will forever be your reality, when logically we KNOW that last week was different and a week from now will be another set of challenges, but not likely the same ones.

    I'm so glad that you feel you're in a better place now than when you originally wrote the post. I'm sending big hugs your way.

  5. I'm not a "baby loss" mama in the traditional sense, but as a woman who spent over four years trying to become a mom and, in the process, lost one child in an adoption attempt that failed 10 days before we were to bring that baby home, I can tell you I totally GET the pressure to be over-the-moon-elated and blissed out with motherhood once you are there. It can sometimes feel like EVERYONE else feels complete satisfaction and happiness...except for you.

    I wanted it for myself, everyone wanted it for me and even though I now have an adorable, smart, healthy kid, it's really freakin' hard. I too, struggled with depression afterwards, and I also think the years of heartache and loss took a bigger toll than I realized.

    Like you, I also struggle with the loss of myself and my free time--where I once gardened and took photographs and wrote to delight and soothe myself, I am now faced with days where getting in a shower for three minutes or dropping my kid off at the gym daycare for an hour is the only break I have. And it sure is hard to whine about this stuff, when I wanted to be a mom so badly for so long--I feel guilty about it and I think the people I whine to, don't get it. You're finally a mom; what's your problem," is what I imagine they are thinking.

    I wish I had some advice other than doing exactly what you're doing: support groups, meds if needed, and writing about it to get the experience out there for yourself (if not for others who are in the same boat). I agree with one of the posters above that "It is a road," and maybe not the yellow brick road we imagined, but a road you find yourself on, and will find your way through.

  6. Oh yes. This is completely true.

    I still feel overwhelmed from time to time with Grace. The newborn days were especially fraught with fear and anxiety.

    I'm glad you got help. This mom stuff is so stressful. Being an incredibly grateful BLM doesn't preclude oneself from the stressors.

    xox. And if you ever need to talk/vent/anything.

    Your boy is very handsome.

  7. You are an awesome Mom! It takes an awesome Mom to have been where you have and cope with all the stresses and strains of being a new parent and still do such a great job with your baby. Asher is doing well, he is healthy, growing, adorable and most importantly LOVED. Thirty years from now, you won't remember all the details of these early days but he will remember that his mom was there for him and loved him beyond measure.

    It is tough with all the media nowadays, everything always looks easier, better, etc. Trust yourself, you are an amazing strong and wonderful mother and woman!

  8. I want to tell you I went through SO many of the same things!! I didn't suffer from PPD but feeling like my body failed *one more time* with not being able to successfully breastfeed my daughter (after losing my twins) was just beyond demoralizing and, more importantly for me, de-WOMAN-izing. it took me years to feel worthy of thinking of myself as a "real" woman again, and that seems like maybe it was its own kind of depression. I think you have my email but it's rebaalice at gmail dot com, feel free to message me anytime if you ever need to "talk!" You are doing a fantastic job, continue to enjoy your little man and new mamahood. :)

  9. The first six months of my (very wanted, very loved) son's life were the darkest, scariest time in my life, and it hurts to admit that. He cried for 8, 10, sometimes 12 hours a day. Until I thought I was going mad. Until I thought I would literally die on my feet. It got better. It became wonderful. Today is his second birthday. Parenting is hard but it has made me a better, more compassionate human. Still, when I think back to those early days, my toes curl. You are doing great.

  10. I had major breastfeeding issues with my daughter. I tried every natural supplement known to man to no avail. After 4mos, I was down to pumping 1/2 ounce a session and so desperate. I caved and tried domperidone (motillium) from In House Pharmacy. I know international pharmacies sound sketch, but Reglan is associated with PPD so I didn't want to go there. Within two weeks, I was pumping 6oz! I continued to breastfeed until my DD was 12mos! :) Just thought I'd let you know bc Motillium was a real miracle for us!

  11. I've been checking in to see how you're doing. I'm glad you're feeling somewhat better and all of your steps to help yourself and Asher are so good. You're going good. Give yourself lots of grace. We are too hard on ourselves.

  12. Dear Amy,

    I am glad to hear things are better. Bit I just wanted to tell you that from VERY similar personal experience, you are not alone. I had Theodore on april 23rd, and experienced troubles w feeding att the beginning all the way to 10 weeks of age. It was hell. Sleep is still completely messed up in our house, but feeding figured itself out (w a lot of help professionally!!) around 2.5-3 months old. Sleep with theo is still an exhausting act, and we are hoping that w age will come a more independent and efficient sleeper... But sleep depravation is real, and it makes you into a person you really ARE NOT otherwise.

    And throw PPD in the mix, and "new" found motherhood seems like a hell that you did not order. Theodore is 5 months old today, and I still cry and am pushed to the edge of my frustrations because I just didn't know it was going to feel this hard. And would it feel this hard if I weren't a Blm? It's an endless, ongoing struggle.

    Everyone tells me, "it will get will get better..." be it after solids, or the first few teeth, or whatever. But for me, it still feels hard. The only thing that makes it easier is that I'm getting used to how hard it is...but I don't feel it has yet gotten any easier when it comes to Theo's temperament or sleep.

    I hope you're doing well, and that things are in fact getting easier as your little man gets older. But if it feels some days like it isn't, or never will.. I'm there in that space. You're not alone.

    Your new son is beautiful. Just so yummy looking.

    If you ever want to email or connect with someone who is on a similar timeline with having a new babe at home, please feel free. I am looking more and more for connections as I have trouble relating to moms I the "real world" who have raised babies, sans loss. Online, here in the blog world is often all I feel I have.

    Sending love xox

  13. I'm about a year and a half behind, but if you ever just need someone to chat with in the middle of the night, or the day, I'm around. will find you email or access to Facebook.


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