You know when you miss a turn and your mobile map program stalls with rerouting dancing on your screen? That’s about where my life is right now. I’m deep in the trenches of rerouting my frame of mind after things didn’t go quite how I planned.
I gave birth to my third child in February, after a ten-year hiatus from the last delivery. I went into the entire situation being over-confident and naïve to the fact that every pregnancy is different. This was obvious when my belly grew at a much more rapid rate and I gained more weight than I did with twins. My thirty-year-old body handled the morning sickness and aches differently than twenty-year-old me. But after a significantly “easy” labor and delivery the first time, I assumed it would be the same during this go-around.
Let’s just say my prediction was a bit off.
I was induced with my twins, so when my water broke this time, I was a bit shocked. I thought I had just peed my pants (this is a real issue y’all), and went into a bit of denial that labor might be actually happening. So instead of being alarmed, I took my daughter to softball practice, in the opposite direction of the hospital. Again, overly confident and extremely naïve. I sat through two hours of practice while a steady leak caused me to frequent the bathroom. Afterward, I drove home a little faster and shocked my husband by announcing “its go time” when I walked in the door.
Fifteen hours later, the anticipation was over and we found out the little human was another beautiful girl. We chose to not find out the gender during pregnancy, so the moment my husband announced in the delivery room will be one I’ll never forget. After soaking up those first moments of skin-to-skin with her, the nurses frantically started running around the room and moved her to the heater. Never once did I think about myself and what I had just endured, I was only worried about the baby. Turns out, she was healthy as could be but I was hemorrhaging and they couldn’t figure out why. Thus begins the rerouting of every preconceived notion I had regarding this labor and delivery.
The next three hours were the most traumatizing and overwhelming of my life. I had doubled the expected blood loss amount and they didn’t have answers. This led to confusion on my daughter’s charts (being weighed, initial eye treatments, etc.) and Pitocin back in my IV because my uterus was not reacting like it should. The blood loss continued to rise and my bed railings went up because I was getting dizzy and nauseous.
It felt like a scene from a movie where things just kept going wrong. All I could think was, “This is it. This is how I’m going to die.”
I’m not sure how things finally calmed down, but I did have a full meltdown that resulted in the room clearing out for approximately thirty minutes. There were shots, IV medications, and an abundance of diaper-sized disposable pads. I quadrupled the normal blood loss but went home two days later with prescriptions for pain pills and iron supplements.
Since that day, over three months ago now, I’ve been in survival mode. I never gave myself the chance to heal, resulting in total burn out, a horrible self-image, and resenting almost everyone around me. I refused to let anyone see my weakness and was angry that no one cared to check in and see how things were going. We forget to check on the mental health of a new mother, and how excruciating the process of pregnancy and delivery really is.
When you go home from the hospital, everyone just expects you to be okay.
I swallowed my pride at 9 weeks postpartum and made an appointment with a therapist. Things were quickly getting worse and it wasn’t fair to my family who had to be around me every day. What I’ve learned is that it’s okay and completely necessary to ask for help. We cannot continue to drown in our pain and expect to take care of those around us at the same time. It’s simply not possible, and should never be expected.
I’ve been off course for a few months now, but am rerouting as I can to live a life of fulfillment and happiness. The exhaustion is a very real thing, and the bags under my eyes have expanded their property lines. But I’m finding things that help and not setting unrealistic expectations for myself.
If you are a struggling mama who’s on the postpartum roller coaster, give yourself grace and allow others in. If you have a friend or family member who’s a mother to little humans, reach out and remind her that you’re still around. We all need our village when it comes to raising kids, some of us just need it a bit more than others
If you or someone you know is struggling, you are not alone!
- Adjusting to Motherhood – Anxiety & Postpartum Support Group: (319) 369-7580
- Anxiety and Depression Coping Skills Group: (319) 398-6575
- Foundation II Crisis Hotline: (319) 362-2174
- Healthy Families Line: 1-800-369-2229
- Iowa Concerns Hotline: 1-800-447-1985
- MY NURSE 1-800-IA-HEALTH 1-800-424-3258
- Postpartum Support International (PSI) Warm line 1-800-944-4773 or www.postpartum.net
- Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (800-273-8255)
- University of Iowa Women’s Wellness & Counseling Service (319) 353-1898
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