I started this blog in February to help me get thoughts out of my head and find people similar to me. I don’t know if I suffered from postpartum depression after having my daughter, but I definitely struggled emotionally and physically. I didn’t have a huge support group. I thought I would. I thought people would flock to my home yearning to see my new daughter. They would sit and talk to me for hours about life and challenges. Someone would randomly provide a hot meal, so my husband and I didn’t always have to cook (in hindsight, we should have meal prepped). I painted this perfect Normal Rockwell portrait of the first few months of motherhood. Reality cruelly destroyed my vision.
No one came over, besides the visits from my in-laws. My husband and I were on our own 24/7. The only difference: he could steal away for a night to hang out with his buddies and relax. He did this often as he needed breaks from the stress and pressure of having a newborn and balancing life. I resented him every time he would ask to go out. I would rarely say no since I knew he needed that break, but I would often sit and cry alone. I was confined to the apartment feeding my daughter. I was a food truck with 24-hour service. The minute I put the ‘BE BACK IN FIVE’ sign up, Little Miss Fussbuckets would appear to complain about the horrible service.
Even now, after work, I don’t leave the apartment very often. It is partially my fault for not making connections with people when I first moved down here. I was an unattached woman in my late twenties. All my friends back home were either single like me or just newly married. All the women I met in Texas were already well into their marriages with children. I felt a little out of the club from the start.
I also started to resent my in-laws. I did not want them to have a relationship with my daughter and experience her adorableness before my own parents were able to meet her. I took every comment my mother-in-law made to heart. ‘I bet your parents wish they could be here’—YES THEY DO! I was envious for my mom, since she couldn’t hold her grandchild until she was almost two months old; she had to make do with pictures, videos, and FaceTime. I missed my mom terribly and often wanted her by my side to tell me everything was normal and that I was doing a great job.
Breastfeeding is one of the hardest jobs I have ever done. My body was no longer my own and was at the mercy of an infant. I couldn’t reason with her. She didn’t understand how much it hurt or uncomfortable I was. She didn’t seem bothered the countless times I fell asleep while she ate. People did not seem to understand how determined I was to develop a good latch and help her gain weight. If I missed a feeding because someone wanted to feed her a bottle, guess what— I still had to pump. The answer to everything was either give her a bottle or switch to formula. My own husband would often relay these words to me whenever his parents were over. The milk you pump is GOLD; it is reserved for a late-night feed or when the baby is clustering and you need a minute.
After a month of our daughter struggling to gain weight, double mastitis, and constant visits to the lactation specialists, we finally discovered her tongue and lip ties. We scheduled the procedure to have the doctor laser her ties the following week at a local dentist. Immediately I exhaled a HUGE sigh of relief. My gut instinct was correct that my daughter had been unable to feed successfully because of a fixable issue. I remember crying the whole way home, relieved she would be getting help. Once the procedure was done, she gained a pound the next week and that ‘BE BACK IN FIVE’ sign changed to ‘OPEN EVERY THREE HOURS’. Side note to new mommies: once you’ve had mastitis, you never want to have it again!
I am beyond glad I stuck with it and was adamant on following my rules. The reward has been a beautiful, happy, healthy, and strong little girl. I am sad that our breastfeeding journey is now starting to come to an end after 12 months, but it is time to start that first stage of independence from Mommy. That cord will never be completely severed, though, even after I am gone, because she will always need her mommy just like I need mine. We carry our moms’ teachings and traditions alive in our hearts and share them with our own children.
This past year has tested me more than anything else I have done in my life. Through writing this blog, I discovered that I am not alone in the world. There are many other mothers out there who are struggling with similar feelings and life events. I feel more emotionally stable and have started resenting my husband, friends, and family members less, thank God. I still have to remind myself that in order to ensure that my daughter’s health and happiness come before anything else in the world, I have to be healthy and happy, too. I need to stop crying over what I don’t have and shed tears of gratitude over the things I do have. I have an amazing husband who has stood by my side through everything and patiently dealt with my emotional craziness. I have a beautiful and amazing daughter who continues to surprise me every day with her tenacity and love of life. I have an amazing support system, as unconventional as it is. I have an amazing life, and though it may not be perfect or exactly Norman Rockwell, it is mine. Perhaps the greatest Renaissance artists or the world’s greatest authors could have painted a better picture or written a better story, but this is MY LIFE and MY STORY, and I cannot wait for the next chapter to be published. All I know: it will be epic!