If you know me at all, you know that I’m shy for a lot of things, but I’m not shy about sharing my life experiences. My life has been transformed inside and out by pregnancy, labor, and motherhood. In all honesty, pregnancy and labor were traumatizing for me. We tried on and off for nearly a decade to have children, and suffered miscarriage after miscarriage … death after death … disappointment and heartache after disappointment and heartache. When we became pregnant with my son, we celebrated as we celebrated every pregnancy. But I lived in fear for 9 months. Each and every day I had with my son in the womb was incredible. Every day I woke up grateful that he was holding on, and knowing that my womb must not be the toxic wasteland that I thought it was. I was at high-risk, so I had to be poked and prodded nearly every week. And I experienced a lot of pain all throughout. It was terrifying … but it was beautiful at the same time.
To say that my labor was difficult does not really do the experience justice, but I’m not sure how to describe it in a way that someone who hasn’t been through labor would understand. I had to be induced, and it didn’t work. My water eventually had to be broken and the pain that followed was extreme and shocking. I asked for an epidural, and it didn’t work … it helped, but my pain was still extreme. If you’ve ever been through labor, you know that it feels like being placed in a meat grinder. Thirty six hours later and my son was born. The experience, going through that much pain, being so close to an emergency c-section, and having to have the assistance of a doctor and a suction procedure to get my son out of my body … it was life transforming. I am not the same person I was before. I now understand that the saying “Get some balls!” makes no sense. My husband has told me on many occasions that balls are sensitive and delicate. I’ve actually started telling my friends: “Find your inner vagina.” Vaginas can take a beating. Women can take a beating and come out the other end of the journey being stronger human beings for it.
Then came the first 18 months of my child’s life … there was SO much crying. Everyone in my house was crying, every day. Taking care of a small child is incredibly difficult and exhausting. I felt very frustrated by my loss of independence. My son clung to me every day, for hours at a time. When I say that I held him for 18 months, I LITERALLY MEAN THAT I HELD HIM FOR 18 MONTHS. I could not set him down in his bassinet or crib or hand him off to someone else so that I could take a break. He would just cry and cry until he threw up, and I couldn’t stand to do that to him. I kept trying to adjust him to other people, and it never worked. So at some point or another, I gave up. And I wish I hadn’t pushed it or tried at all. I spent eighteen months listening to my son and letting him tell me what he needed and it always worked out. I was exhausted because of it, but HE got what HE needed, and that is the most important thing to me. Eighteen months later, he suddenly decided he was not quite so attached to me and he is now a VERY independent little child.
I’m pretty sure now that I went through some form of postpartum depression. I should have gotten help, I didn’t, I was too exhausted to even think about seeing a therapist. But I should have. And if this sounds like you, don’t hesitate to go talk to someone like I hesitated, because that was a big mistake. I’ve been to therapy in the past, and it SAVED MY LIFE.
All of the crying, and the heartache, and the exhaustion, and the frustration … I’ve almost forgotten it all now. I can’t explain it. I wish I’d started writing about this sooner, while I was in the middle of the worst of it. I know I would have felt better knowing there was someone else out there who understood my struggle with motherhood. And writing about it would give someone else the opportunity to feel that. Things are still hard. There is still a lot of crying. There are still days when I am counting down the minutes and the seconds until my husband gets home so that I can go lock myself in the closet and cry for a while. But I can now honestly say that it gets better … every day, my kid gains more and more independence, which means that I can lean back and take a break every once in a while. And I can now say that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the word “Mama” for the first time. My son called me “Mama” and gave me a big hug, and then said, “Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama” … seriously, that one little word, that one little special moment has made it all worth while. :D!