I tried so hard to blissfully enjoy the pregnancy, but ended up overdue and begging for an induction. I endured a painful labor and an even more painful recovery. There were bleeding complications afterwards, an injured tailbone, and severe postpartum depression. It's only now, that baby Grace is three months old, that I can share these details.
On social media I posted photos of my brand new baby with lovely captions such as, "The baby I didn't know I needed." But the truth is, I was only able to share such precious words when she was finally asleep in my arms after crying for hours. Only after I asked God for forgiveness for yelling at my other kids, as I was suddenly a stressed out, unkind version of myself.
|My REALITY versus what I SHARED.|
So for two months I did everything I knew to do to be the best momma to this little "blessing" screaming back at me. I breastfed, obviously. I swaddled. I made eye contact. I took a safe dosage of Zoloft and hoped for the best. But there were moments when she'd scream bloody murder, even after all her needs had been met - she was fed, in a clean diaper, not too hot, not too cold. So I'd just hold her and watch her tiny face crying in misery, unsure of what to do next. The reality was - she was miserable, I was miserable, and something had to change.
I distinctly remember walking by one of my favorite nurse practitioners when I brought Grace in for an appointment. Her face lit up as she got closer to the carseat to take her first look at our newest addition. I told her this was our "surprise" baby and she said, "Oh, what a blessing!" I sarcastically responded, "Is it?" instead of the expected, "It is!" My comment got a few laughs from nearby doctors, but as I walked away I couldn't shake the feeling that I had become one of those moms. One who is more annoyed by her child, than grateful. One who feels her children are a burden, instead of a blessing. As a momma who had to bury a child, I never thought I'd be in that category. I was absolutely disgusted by myself.
And what I'm about to say next is the reason I'm writing this blog. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by loving family and compassionate friends. They were brave enough to share their concerns, and took the time to check in on me. So I really consider it a joint decision that I started giving baby Grace formula, in order to be able to take care of myself first. It's the same theory behind the airline reminding you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping anyone else put on theirs. I needed to quit breastfeeding to regain myself, my body, and my sanity. This momma clearly needed way more wine, and a little more Zoloft. As my sweet doctor advised, "It's better for baby to have a happy momma feeding her a bottle, than to be on the boob of a distraught, overwhelmed, stressed out momma" - a phrase, although a little long, I believe should replace the popular "Breast is Best."
And it was only after this decision that we quickly discovered baby Grace had the same milk protein allergy as her older sister. After a few more difficult days of trying various formulas, we landed on soy and haven't looked back. Well, until now.
It is only now, three months later, that I am really able reflect on how difficult those first few months were. The turbulent combination of sleep loss, postpartum depression, increasing anxiety, caring for a colicky baby, and being an overwhelmed momma who was still getting used to caring for four little ones. I now understand that I wasn't in a place where I could really appreciate the gift I'd been given. It's only now that I'm able to really enjoy those smiles, cherish those cuddles, and deeply inhale her sweet baby smell. And for that, I am so very grateful.
I felt convicted to share this very personal matter in the hopes that it may help someone feel understood, and not alone. I also wanted to share where God has been in all of this. After talking with our Pastor about how tough the last few months have been, he helped my husband and I to see God's grace (how appropriate) in the midst of our very chaotic life right now. He urged us to see that in life there are some things that are within our control, and some things that are outside of our control - and the key is to trust God's sovereignty to meet us in those moments. To call out to Him, to rely on Him, to remember that God is still good, and forever by our side, even when we're in the midst of storm - whether that storm is the tragedy of a significant loss or the chaos of everyday life...