Giving birth is such a majestically terrifying thing. And essentially something we have absolutely no control over. When I was pregnant with my first, I did everything by the book. I dreamed of the day my water would break and I would call my husband saying “It’s time!!”I would jump in a cab and meet him at the hospital, where I would have an all natural birth, which I knew would hurt like hell, but bringing my baby into the world purely would be worth it. Then I would take him to chest and he would latch. We would bond and I would breast feed until he was at least three, but maybe longer.
Well, not a single one of those things happened. Not. A. One. After being about two weeks late with no signs of prelabor, my husband and I took the subway uptown for a scheduled induction. After eighteen hours of labor, my water having to be manually broken with what looked like a giant knitting needle, and having an epidural (which I didn’t want at all), the baby got stuck and we both when into stress. I had to be rushed to the OR for an emergency c-section. When he was safely delivered and monitored, he was handed to my husband, not me, and given a bottle of formula because his glucose was low. Needless to say, he never latched and I watched in one day all my dreams crumble. However, this magical little human came in and changed my life completely.
While I went through a bit of postpartum with my first son, it hasn’t been anything like this. Which is even more confusing for me, since I had little to no expectations on having control of anything for the birth or after for my second. I didn’t want to get my hopes up like I did with my first. However, life has a funny way of still throwing you for a loop when you are trying to go with the flow.
The first few weeks were easier than expected. My husband also took two and a half weeks off to be home with the baby and help us all get in a routine of a family of four. My main worry throughout pregnancy was how my relationship would change with my first. I was terrified. I didn’t want anything to come between us. For the past five years, we have done EVERYTHING together. At the same time, he felt like the sole reason I was having a second. He was so involved coming to sonograms and preparing the bedroom and apartment. He counted the months, weeks, then days down. So when he automatically became the most compassionate, protective, and amazing big brother, we were not surprised at all. I have watched their relathionship over the past two months grow into something unimaginable.
But that’s when I started to notice it. That feeling. Like I’m watching my family from the sidelines. I was there for all these special moments, watching and vigorously taking photos of them all. But I didn’t feel like I was there. I wasn’t as happy as them. But why?
Well, while I started to worry about this feeling, I wasn’t even ready for what I was about to get hit with. In early September, my mother in law had a stroke. Miraculously she has made a full recovery. We are beyond thankful for that. But I started to worry about my husband’s health. While worrying about him, I end up getting sick. I got mastitis. I struggled since day one to breastfeed a baby that has little to no latch. I pumped every two hours day and night since coming home from the hospital. And I still had to supplement. Now with mastitis, my supply was even less. I could feel the disappointment I had after my first creeping in. With all of this, my first baby started kindergarten and got left on the bus and brought back to school on his first day riding it. We all cried that night.
And with all of that, I still wasn’t prepared for the blow we were about to get.
The day before my MIL was to come home from the hospital, I found myself at the ER with my six week old with viral meningitis. I still can’t write about it really. I still cry. I have never felt so vulnerable in my life. I also have never felt so guilty. It’s my fault. I failed. I couldn’t protect him. I still cannot shake that blame.
After we got home from the hospital, we found out our first was being bullied on the bus. I am failing! Why can’t I protect my babies?! Again, I am feeling so defeated. Then he got fever, and I got mastitis again.
At this point, I have lost my entire milk supply. I said I was going to go with the flow with this one. I said I wasn’t going to stress myself out with breastfeeding. Well, I lied. I have failed again and I’m broken over it.
After having what felt like a few normal days, the next thing to happen broke me completely. We noticed Vedder had a few bug bites. First we thought they were just mosquito bites, then we found bugs in the bed. Thankfully they were not bed bugs, but we did have an infestation of carpet beetles.
I lost it. Completely. I went into a paralyzing panic mode. I was having panic attacks walking down the street. I felt broken and paranoid. And no one knew.
Ok, family knew. And my husband and sons. Boy, did they know. I had to look at my sons while they watched mama cry. And not just a normal cry. I was physically and mentally paralyzed. I don’t know how else to explain it. I felt broken. Like I would never be myself again. I took the boys and ran away to my sister’s for a few days to try and recover myself. It worked only a little.
Tomorrow begins something new. I will start to get help to get back to normal. I will be starting therapy sessions to deal with PPD/PPA. I will also be taking the baby with me to work on our relationship. It’s needed. I am not sad or anxious all the time, but enough that I know I’m not me. And I need to get back to me for my boys and for myself.
So tomorrow it begins. The hike back up to the top.