Thursday, February 16, 2012
Please don't judge...
I have a secret. I didn't even want to believe it myself. But here it is...sometimes, I've resented my baby. The past 8 months of motherhood have been...interesting. I got off to a very shaky start, not because I didn't love her, but because every day was a struggle to meet her needs.
Most new moms worry about whether they will feel sexy or if they will get their pre-baby body back soon enough. I thought that would be the extent of my issues. Instead, I was dealt a hand of really shitty cards that included post-partum depression, breastfeeding issues (putting it mildly), health problems, and resentfulness towards, well, everyone.
I was asked on many occasions if I felt any symptoms of post-partum depression, but I always said "a little..." I was kind of lying, to myself included. I felt like crap every single day. I had a lot of post-partum bleeding, so I went on antibiotics. When Olive couldn't latch properly, I got thrush, which was worsened by the antibiotics. Trust me when I say, that shit is really freaking hard to get rid of. Then came the mastitis, which can only be described as sheer hellacious torture. I swear, every time I let down, it felt like a swarm of bees were hiding inside of my boobs, stinging me on the inside, trying to get out.
I wasn't able to nurse her properly, and I had no clue why. Every time she got hungry, I started crying. I was so scared to breastfeed her because I knew it would hurt like hell. I bled, I bruised, and we both ended up in tears. I would get so angry with my husband, as if it was his fault or because he wasn't feeling what I was feeling. This is the point when most mothers decide to bottle feed. I probably would have too, but I just knew there was some underlying issue that needed to be addressed. I clung so hard to the idea of having that picture-perfect breastfeeding experience that all of my friends were having, I wouldn't give it up. I ended up using a 'nipple shield', which I don't really recommend. While it was probably the only thing that got me through that period of agony, it was also incredibly hard to stop using. I went to a few different experts (lactation consultants, pediatric ENT doctor, etc) and I finally got my answer: she had a tongue-tie and a lip-tie. After it was corrected by a dentist who specializes in frenectomies, thanks to Joy at The Joy of This who recommended him, I was finally able to nurse her with zero pain! I thought it would transform her completely, but it didn't. I soon discovered that the needy, clingy, sensitive little baby was just who she was. I'm so thankful that I finally got the wonderful nursing relationship with my child, but at the same time I have to wonder...at what cost? I often wonder if she would be a happier baby if I had just let my milk dry up and gave her formula. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret sticking it out and getting her tongue-tie fixed, but I wish I had done it sooner, and I wish I hadn't let it get so bad before finding a solution. That's why I feel so compelled to help other new moms solve their breastfeeding issues before they reach that breaking point.
Some days, she is a sweet, happy little angel and we have the best time together. When we are around other people, she is actually pretty easy going, like she is putting on a show. But most days, even at 8 months old, our time together can be kind of a hair-pulling nightmare. I learned pretty quickly that Olive is the kind of baby that NEEDS a routine. She takes 2 and a half naps a day, in four hour cycles. If she skips a nap, it's the end of the world. She cries and cries because she's tired. Trust me, Olive can cry REALLY loud. I think she has the loudest cry I've ever heard. I know, I know, baby cries are always worse to their mother, but seriously...just ask my friends or family. She doesn't give any warning cry, it's just a blood curdling "WAAAAHHHHH!" The girl knows how to get my attention. She cries like this when she is hungry, when she is tired, when she is teething, when she is gassy, when she is constipated, if a noise is too loud, and so pretty much all the time. I've learned to deal, since she is kind of a high-needs baby and cries very easily. But sometimes, it really grates me down to a shell of a person.
I'm sorry to anyone I have stood up or cancelled plans with, but I can't make commitments. I'm sorry that I can't give my husband the clean house at the end of the day, like he deserves, because I can't guarantee that anything will get done. I have no idea what kind of day we will have even as it is happening. About 50% of the time, things go smoothly and I love my time with her as she is an absolute joy. But when I have to stay home and skip the fun outing I had planned with a friend, or I end up carrying her around the house literally ALL DAY, I feel kind of resentful. Then I hate myself for feeling that way, and it's just a spiral of sadness.
Luckily, I have the most supportive husband and the best friends a stressed out mother could ask for. They are always there to cheer me up with a "this too shall pass" or reassure me that I'm doing a great job. My family is also a great help for the times when I just need to escape. My brave mother has gladly watched her when my husband and I want time to ourselves, even when she is a teething mess. My mother-in-law has done this for us, too, and I'm incredibly grateful to have her in my life. When they say "It takes a village to raise a child," they aren't kidding.
So, there you have it. While I totally love being a mother and I absolutely love my "spirited" little Olive, I owe it to all future mothers to be totally honest in saying it can be true misery at the same time. I hope you don't think I'm terrible for saying that...