That mom life really does define the struggle is real saying. I was never the type of kid that sat around playing bride/dress up or dreaming big dreams about what my future family would look like. And then I met Mike, we got married and the dreams of having babies that were ours was a sweet dream. Again I was not sitting around dreaming about it all of the time but the thoughts were there. The conversations began to pick up a bit about 6 years into married life. Also, side note marriage really defines the struggle is real saying too, but that's for another post or five. A couple of years ago we were in Paris and then about 38 weeks later we had our little boy - Dash. TMI I know, but that's our story and this is the Tompkins Life! When dreaming sweet dreams of our future family, my hubby and I pictured two children, definitely at separate times. Twins run deep on his side and that was my very first question when we had our first ultrasound way back. We now have this beautiful little boy, but with my labor not going to my plan, having a couple what I think are traumatic events and then having to stay in the hospital for a few days waiting for our bright yellow jaundice boy to turn pink and healthy enough to go home was enough to stir some unhealthy thoughts in this new mama.
Many years prior to having my sweet boy I saw a therapist for my anxiety and I have been working on my mental health everyday since. When I got pregnant the doctor said with all the crazy swirling hormones that happen throughout pregnancy, breast feeding and the new role as mom be on the look out for some signs of swinging back into anxiety and depression. There's this thing called Post Partum Depression (PPD) and it has a terrible stigma attached to it. The most likely stigma is if you think you have PPD you're probably wanting to hurt yourself and quite possibly your baby. Well that stigma sucks cause that is not true for almost every case of PPD. I wish there were more conversations happening, more support for me in discussing what PPD could look like. For me it came almost immediately probably because of the lead up to my labor, how my labor went and the way he decided to enter the world. On day 2 of his life there is a hormone crash that felt like a smack in the face so freaking hard and I had no idea about it. I was alone in the hospital recovery room, my baby was in the hospital nursery under a bright neon light to support his jaundice and my husband stepped out to take care of our dog and a few things at home. Our family lives far away and Dash came early so there I was alone and it felt like waves were crashing down on me and I was unable to resurface. The tears were hard and the pain was hitting me emotionally and physically. A doctor came in to the room and wanted to speak to me about our little boys numbers and what they might have to do since he was still so bright yellow. All I heard (which wasn't true) was your baby is sick and he might have brain damage and it's all your fault. Here is where the spiral of anxiety began to take control. Over the next several days our teeny tiny little boy turned a sweet pink color and we were sent home.
I turned quiet, I felt it but didn't recognize it fully in those first few weeks. I had an awful time breastfeeding and pumping was the worst thing, it made me mad thinking about it. I would look at my boy and love was there, but the expectations of what it would all feel and look like we're totally not there. Expectations are tricky and sometimes set you up to let you down. These first few months let me down because of my expectations. Even now that he's a toddler and the questions are stirring of whether or not we will try and have one more like we expected to do, I'm feeling let down by my expectations. Those first 10 months of my sons life were the most difficult days of my life. We also made a few transitions in other areas that were drastic (I would not recommend this), the sleep was non existent and the feeling of being a food factory was kind of true, so I started to recognize that the signs for PPD were strong. I met with my doctor explained the feelings I had and she was kind and understanding towards it all. My feelings were of sadness, anxiety, I couldn't sleep even though I was exhausted, I wasn't eating well and I was withdrawing from my husband. My doctor told me so many mothers experience similar things and to not feel alone. We made a plan that would help me cope with my PPD. So I encourage you if you are a new mom or about to be a new mom reading this take some time to understand PPD so you can be aware of all the different signs.
We have decided at this time that it is too much to discuss expanding our family (remember twins), but also for the love of my marriage, my son and myself. I mentally, emotionally and physically am not wanting to go through it all again and test the PPD waters (at least not now). Our son is a trophy for us, we won, he is my greatest joy, but the expectation of having more then one child will always be a grieving process for me and possibly a let down. Even though expectations are tricky I feel peace about my one brilliant and sweet boy at this time. He is my constant joy the one great decision that will never let me down (even during all the tantrums). Motherhood is the hardest, strangest, best part of my life, it has wrecked me and changed me, and I'm grateful for it all. Some days I don't know who I am and the haunting thoughts and feelings of PPD flood in, I am healthy enough now to step back and take a minute for myself to be refreshed and restored because I'm still me, just a different version then I expected and that my friends is ok with me.
If you do have any signs of PPD talk to your doctor right away, do not feel guilty, or shameful, or alone my friend. You are so strong and you are an incredible mom!
Thanks for reading!