My Post Partum Journey # 2 (The Innate Mama)
At 41 weeks + 2 days I was done, I was overdue and well and truly over being pregnant!
I just wanted my body back & I couldn't wait any longer to meet baby #2!
I was really struggling to have the energy to look after my 2.5 year old. The pressure I felt below from my baby's head was so intense, it felt like I was walking with a balloon between my legs! My tummy had no more room left and felt like it was ready to burst!
I decided to go with the hospital's advice and be induced something I didn’t really want to do but felt like it was the right decision at the time. The hospital had also told me that my placenta was starting to slow down and I didn’t want to take any risks with the health of our baby.
On Saturday 11th August I arrived at hospital a little anxious but knew I could do this as I've done it before. The Midwives broke my waters at 8:30am and gave me 1hr (which isn't long) for my body to progress into labour. My body did not respond as much as they would've liked so they decided as per hospital policy to give me the syntocinon (fake oxytocin) drip.
I was in for the ride of my life and did not know it! I coped fairly well with the syntocinon drip and was able to march on the spot and move through my contraction to help me cope. My Hubby 'Joe' was an amazing support as I had trained him up on what to do to help me cope through-out labour.
It really was an 'out of body' experience. 4.5hrs later I was ready to give birth to my baby but I almost fell off the bed trying to get comfortable in a position to birth him.
Within 10mins I gave birth to our baby boy and couldn't wait to hold him but as my body was in so much shock, I couldn’t hold him.
My husband was the first to have skin on skin with our baby boy. What a beautiful birthday present for Joe as it was his birthday that day also!(I could never top that birthday present!)
After a long, very hot shower I was able to come back to earth and meet our little baby boy we named ‘Rocco’. Rocco wasn’t as pink as our daughter when he was born, he was very pale and looked to be in shock just as much as I was!
Little did I know at the time that his birth would have so much to do with my Post Natal journey.
From day 1 our little boy “Rocco” did not settle well to life outside of his Mumma’s body, I'm pretty sure if he had the choice he would've never came out. Rocco had unfortunately spiked a temperature in hospital due to the syntocinon & I guess that’s when the anxiety began for me. The nurse took his temp and drew blood from his feet (sad to watch as he was screaming each time) to check if an infection was present.
Thankfully there wasn’t, I wasn’t about to give my newborn antibiotics unless it was absolutely necessary. I then told the doctors unless his temp doesn’t go down in the next 12hrs then no drugs or antibiotics for him. Thankfully Mumma’s intuition was right and his temperature slowly went down with lots of skin on skin and breastfeeds.
I couldn’t wait to get home and start life as a family of four! I thought getting him home would help him settle but unfortunately it didn’t and a few weeks later he was diagnosed with silent reflux. I tried many different natural & pharmaceutical things to help the silent reflux including going on a dairy free diet so I could continue breastfeeding but unfortunately nothing helped.
The days were long, Rocco had short sleeps of 20mins and I was constantly in his room trying to resettle him. It was a real struggle, both mentally and physically. I was totally exhausted and barley coping. After each feed he would scream in pain but on the occasional day he would be okay, and I would rattle my brain to think what did I do differently today that helped him settle? After his witching hour at 5:30pm, the first 3 months Rocco would sleep from 7pm-11:30pm at night. This was my only savior (hello sleep!!) And the time to help his brain rest & develop.
After seeing the pediatrician at about 6-8 weeks old, he asked If I wanted to try a specialized formula along with the 'losec' he was already taking to see if it helped him. I agreed to give it a go, but Rocco would not take the bottle, he had expressed breastmilk in the bottle occasionally, but had now he decided that he didn't want to take the bottle.
So I was back to square one, trying everything I could to settle him and make him feel comfortable. One week it was trying the baby carrier (which he didn't like) and the next week trying white noise like the washing machine, vacuum cleaner etc. which worked for a little while but not long enough. I didn't want to fall back into the same habits of rocking him to sleep like my daughter and was very hard on myself about this. I looked on as other Mothers would effortlessly put their babies to sleep in a capsule or cot and here was I not able to help my baby settle & sleep.
I felt like a failure at times. I knew this was mainly due to the reflux but my anxiety was growing, I remember getting grumpy at healthcare professionals as they just didn't understand & thought we needed to go to sleep school. This made me more upset/angry as their were really no answers I just had to go on coping with the way things were. I did my best at hiding my PND (Post Natal Depression) as I knew what questions to answer in the right way so they wouldn't suspect anything was wrong with me as I didn't want to admit to anyone that I was not coping and possibly had Post Natal depression.
At the time I didn't believe I was depressed (even though I spend many hours obsessing over resettling my baby and breaking down crying at the same time) I thought I was just having a hard time with my baby but you see because of the way I was feeling, things actually got worse.
The pain & guilt was very real, I felt for my poor daughter 'Sofia' had to see me go through this many days. (Thankfully she doesn't remember) I played my part trying to be a good wife, Mother and keeping it all 'happy & together' but deep down inside I was broken.
Thank goodness for the support of my Mum who would often take my daughter, my husband who would do all he could to support me (although I don't think he understood what was happening to me) and my closest friend 'Elisa' who listened, supported & comforted me.
My Chiropractor was also an amazing support through this time.
Looking back on it now I honestly do not know how I survived. I can still feel the pain and tears roll down my face as I write this.
Just to add to the stress, we were building a house, trying to sell the unit that we lived in. I was also soon to start doing a few hours of bookwork at home (as we needed the income to keep coming in) I spent many days feeling guilty, guilty because I couldn't be the Mum I wanted to be to my 2.5 year old that yearned for my attention, guilty that I couldn't help my newborn feel and sleep better (20mins days sleeps wasn't ideal!) Guilty that I wasn't the person and the wife I wanted to be.
Most of all I felt like a failure that I could not cope & all the mothers around me looked like they had it all together & somehow made it look easy. How blind was I? No one ever tells you that they are suffering and how hard it is.
I missed weekly family dinners/outings and at night time was the only time Rocco would sleep and I needed to stay home. I also didn't want to be judge or told again "If your breastmilk isn't good for him why don't you try the bottle" or any other negative comments as at that point I just couldn't deal with it anymore.
No one got the best of me as much as I tried and I didn't even know who I was anymore (total loss of identity!) This went on for at least the 5 months off and on. One other thing that helped me get through was that Rocco was totally exhausted at least 2 times a week so he would sleep for a solid 3 hours which meant I could be with my little girl. That definitely did bring joy to both of us.
One day at 5 months old (after many attempts) Rocco finally took the bottle of specialized formula. At that point I literally had nothing left to give him and I think he knew he had no other option. I remember being so happy I called my Mum straight away, knowing that finally he took the bottle and I could begin to nourish my body (I was like a stick at that point & I was barely functioning ) That was the turning point for Rocco's reflux he was finally able to sleep a bit better and not be so upset every time he had Milk.
That was also the turning point for me and my mental health too, as the obsessiveness diminished and I started to feel human again.
Looking back at it now I wish I had've been kinder to myself, be more relaxed, found a baby carrier that suited him as all he wanted to do was be with his Mumma to feel better. I wish I saw that at the time but I didn't see it. I saw only what I could see at the place I was in at that time in my life.
Now I know so much more and how that time could've been different. I could've helped his reflux with a specialized probiotic and addressed my stress/anxiety issues which would've made the world of difference.
Thank goodness I was never actually suicidal as I loved my baby boy and still tried to do some of the fun 'mother baby connection' things with him. I have had to do lots of healing work over the years to treat this Post Natal depression/anxiety as it never just goes away on it's own. (It can last for many, many years if left untreated.)
So my message to you Beautiful Mumma's.....
Please, please be kind to yourself, plan your Post Partum journey, ask for help when you need it, ask for support if you are struggling mentally, join Mum support groups, ask for meals to be cooked & help with the housework. They are the' best gifts' you can receive at this challenging time.
If you do this Mumma's you are not a failure, you'll be failing yourself and your baby if you don't get the support you need. I promise you that the 4th trimester journey will be much kinder to you & your baby. You'll enjoy the experience more and you'll become the expert on your baby.
Please feel free to get in contact with me if you'd like any Post Natal Support or if you'd like to share your Post Natal journey.
by Marisa Sinopoli