I Didn’t Love It | A Birth Story

Written By Lynnae

Trigger Warning: Suicide
If you feel as though you are at risk of harming yourself, please visit The National Suicide Prevention Hotline or call 1-800-273-8255.

Have you ever seen a woman hold her baby as if it was the most precious being in existence? Yeah, that wasn’t me. Much of my time was spent rationalizing to myself to not shake my baby. I still feel the guilt from that impulse almost three years later.

The Story

My mother had me at a very young age; we grew up together. I always knew I wanted to have children, to have that irreplaceable bond between mother and child. My husband and I talked and decided we wanted one or two children. I never had any inclination that things could get as grim as what I experienced. Why didn’t someone warn me?

Shortly after our son was born we both said, “not doing that again.” I laugh about it now but we were not laughing then. I did not feel well the following day. I was at the point of rocking back and forth in my chair. When the lactation consultant came to see me, I think she knew. It was as if she could feel me. I felt the same even as we left the hospital. I was crying on the car ride home, and I didn’t know why. I told my husband that I “just didn’t want him to die.” Which is true, but I think I did not know what was going on at all. I kept saying to myself “I don’t know, I don’t know, I just don’t know.”

Labor was fine up until I received Pitocin to speed up progress. At that point, things turned south. Contractions were so close and painful, there was no break, my entire body started shaking, and so I got an epidural. The epidural was wonderful. It allowed my body to relax and I did not get too much of the numbing effects. I was able to feel my contractions, move my legs, and push my son out myself. I do not regret my epidural but I do regret the Pitocin, as I believe it contributed to the postpartum challenges that I had (or still have).

Once home, I did not leave my room for three entire days. I stayed in my bed partially naked for breastfeeding. Standing to take a shower made me weak and out of breath. My son nursed almost 24/7. I am not exaggerating. I spent long hours in our rocking chair nursing him, the record being five hours! Five hours, with me crying. My nipples were bleeding, my son was crying all the time, puking all the time, and I rarely slept. This whole concoction of things, no sleep, my crying, the baby crying, the breastfeeding issues, colic issues, googling issues all the time, full-blown anxiety, just swarmed me and took over. My mom mentioned to me that I may have postpartum depression and I angrily snapped that this was all normal. It took me a year, an entire year, to realize that things were not normal. I saw the headline of an article that said “The postpartum no one talks about, Rage” and a light bulb went off.

People tell you to “go outside,” “take a break,” or “get a babysitter,” and this all sounds nice but for me, nothing relieved how I felt. Being away from my son also created anxiety. If I did take a break I almost immediately wanted to get home to nurse him and there was always this background feeling (that is still there today) to get back to him, even though early on I wasn’t “in love” with him. My bond with my son was more evolutionary. One of feeding him and taking care of him to keep him alive. It took some time for our bond to really set in. I remember when it did. I had the same feeling when you date someone new, when all you want to do is be with that person and hangout with them. I do not feel too guilty over this because I was aware that sometimes it does take time for this bond to set in. I was at least forewarned of this.

I forced myself to get out of the house, but I was always met with anxiety that would have me rushing home. I was in a constant fight-or-flight state. I have never had any serious mental health issues so these feelings took me by surprise. Sure, I’ve had mild depression spells, but nothing that was debilitating. This will be graphic but I would imagine shooting myself, not because I wanted my life to end per se, but because I wanted all the chaos to end.

I did things during this time that I try to not even think about now because the guilt is scary and sad. I squeezed my son, more than once out of frustration, and immediately felt so terrible about it. I had to tell myself not to shake him and would scream and cry quite often. Typing this now has me crying. I hate to think about it. I’m trying to forgive myself.

Guilt is a driving force. I feel it almost every day. Guilt for not liking it. Guilt for feeling all of this in the first place and talking about it. What about the women who can’t give birth, who can’t get pregnant, the women who have had countless miscarriages and would give up anything to hold a baby of their own? I am sorry. I am sorry I hated it. I am sorry you would love it and I am complaining about it. I am so sorry. I don’t want it to be this way.

I worry that things I did in that first year are making my son not be able to emotionally handle things. Did I do something wrong that has long term repercussions? What is just natural for toddlers to be going through and what part is from me showing him how to behave when things are too tough to handle? Did my screaming and angry behavior show him how to act? Could this even be possible in the first year? I hope not. I will never forgive myself.

I feel resentful of other women who give birth, breastfeed, and love it. Not resentful… jealous. I’m sad I missed out of that beautiful time and I will not get the chance again. I am 36 and I am too scared to do it all again. I am too scared that I won’t be able to handle it, too scared that I will ruin people’s lives because I do not have the patience for more children. I barely had/have the patience for one. What if the postpartum is worse next time, what if I do shake my baby, what if I kill him or her? I can’t do it.

I wish I could have trusted my mother and sought help. I could have learned how to deal with things I could not handle. For now, all I can do is be truthful about my experience to anyone who will listen. I want women and men to know that it happens, that it can happen to you. I also want them to know that postpartum depression doesn’t always look like a woman sad and not taking care of her baby. It’s too broad to even discuss here.

Why didn’t anyone tell me this?

I guess no one really talks about this because well, how do you? Without reliving it; or without such feelings of shame? How do you not scare other women or worry them about something that may not even happen to them? And maybe we don’t talk about it as much because we eventually forget most of the hard parts, or because we want to forget. I hope that we can forgive ourselves and not spend our days beating ourselves up or criticizing what we did. I hope that we can overcome this taboo topic and pass this from woman to woman as wisdom.

I am learning how to be patient, learning how to take care of myself, and enjoying my time with my son. My husband and I both agree that one is perfect for us. We have had many fun adventures as a family already, and many more planned.

Ready for that fun bit after all that?

After my epidural, things calmed down. We were resting and relaxing and waiting for things to progress. My mother-in-law had brought in burgers from Krystal earlier for everyone not in labor. I’m still not sure how that happened, who even eats Krystal anymore?! Anyway, my husband hadn’t eaten all day and decided to have some cold, gross, hours old burgers. I had been leaking amniotic fluid the entire day, a part of labor I hated very much, and apparently it has a scent but I did not notice but was very apparent to my husband. Upon delivery of our son, the nurse told my husband to come look “down there,” which he never wanted to do. But she encouraged him and he reluctantly came down. He took one look and came back immediately to sit in the chair next to my bed. He was white as a ghost. His mother checked on him and the nurse put an oxygen mask on his face. All the while he was burping up Krystal burgers, smelling amniotic fluid, and then had to see my son’s jet black hair and head emerging from my vagina. I pushed my son out with my husband by my side with an oxygen mask on his face. Best part.

Through this time I’ve learned that things get better with time. All we need is time. Time for our baby to mature, time for our bodies to regulate, time for learning, and time to adjust. It all gets better. I repeat, it will get better. Seek help, don’t be afraid, and we will figure out this journey together.

Love,

Lynnae

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