I have been thinking for the past couple months about how I wanted to write a post on my experience in motherhood for Mother's Day -- and in true motherhood fashion this post is coming late. My new pace is slower, but the reason is extra cute and chunky and totally deserving of my time.
My first experience in motherhood quickly ended in loss. Followed by months of heartache and depression. Leading to another pregnancy that again ended in loss. For 15 months we tried for and lost babies, and it pained me in a way I know I could never describe if I truly tried. It was all consuming, up every night with fear if I would ever be a mother racing through my head, to crying in my car after baby showers & pregnancy announcements. It was the hardest time of my life. Doctor appointments on top of doctor appointments, blood draws and diagnoses. And then the worlds most incredible miracle made it's way into our lives... Porter. We found out we were pregnant for the third time February 16, 2017 and it was the best (and most terrifying) day of my life. Fast forward through an anxiety ridden pregnancy with testing, follow up's, more worry than you could imagine, and just plain old faith and hope getting me through the day to day. Pregnancy after repeated loss is the hardest thing I've ever done. Every day was an emotional battle to believe it was truly our time. I went off of my blood thinners at 37 weeks (to reduce risk of hemorrhaging at birth, although that failed) and literally every single day panicked that Porter was going to get a placental blood clot. Gosh those last two weeks were soooooo hard. I really had to dig deep every single day, hour by hour just to get by emotionally. I scared myself so much I barely rested those last two weeks, I was constantly moving in an effort to keep my blood flowing smoothly and not taking any chances on Porter's health. In short, I was a total wreck. Two years of so much fear and anxiety. My first two years experiencing motherhood were overflowing with worry.
I wrote a post about our birth when Porter was two weeks old... And looking back at that post just now made me physically ill. Reading it was sweet, innocent, naïve, and brought back a ton of feelings of fear. How at the time I had no idea how bad both mine and Porter's conditions were. Rereading the things that happened during our labor and delivery, talking about it casually because I didn't know at the time that what we had been through was out of the norm. Rereading that story brings back the fear of those moments. I am slowly making peace with the fact that Porter's birth will never be something I think of without a rush of horribly frightening thoughts accompanying the good ones. The entire experience was just completely terrifying. An induction, our baby in horrible distress, amnio infusion, 15 doctors/nurses rushing in, having my body in every position imaginable, seeing our sons heart rate drop below 30 multiple times, being on oxygen my full labor, over an hour of heart rate declarations, an internal heart rate monitor, a shot to stop contractions, an hour and a half of pushing, forceps, nuchal cord, shoulder dystocia, Porter silent after delivery, Nicu team, extreme tearing, moments after birth being rushed to surgery, 2 hours of surgery while awake, hemorrhaging, 5 IV's, looking my husband in the eyes asking him if I was going to die, high risk room at the hospital post delivery, extended stay, Porter's brachial plexus injury, Porter's daily physical therapy, 4 months of my recovery with continued daily pain, another surgery, another 8 week recovery, and now seven months post birth I think we can say... We made it out. And sometimes I look back and wonder how? And then I remember -- because I'm a mama and you rise to the occasion for your babies. This is what we do.
In a lot of ways, I feel like my delivery completely robbed me of my first 6 months of motherhood. In all honesty, I have serious resentment/anger/anxiety/frustration/generally negative feelings towards so many aspects of my birth and of motherhood in the beginning. Thankfully, time heals. Now that I am physically myself again, the emotional part gets stronger and stronger every single day. I breastfed Porter for 4 months. And in those 4 months I cannot tell you how many times I cried, cried because of the physical pain my body was in. He refused to nurse laying down, and sitting was near impossible for me to do without pain. I remember a day even 6 weeks post sobbing because I was still in so much physical pain from my birth and all of its complications. I had trouble walking for the first two weeks (remove the fact that I had a gazillion stitches) from the severe side effects of hemorrhaging. The lightheadedness/weakness was life altering. I didn't hold Porter while standing for a solid week. I didn't trust myself to carry him down the stairs for two. Every day my body got stronger and I could do more and more for him. But I beat myself up mentally because of all that I couldn't do physically. Although every day I did get slightly better, I knew my healing was not right. Have you ever just felt like something was horribly wrong in your body? Even though your doctor almost refused to acknowledge it? My first Thanksgiving with Porter was spent sobbing with my mother, grandmother, and sister because my pain/pressure was so unbearable I broke down. It wasn't until 12 weeks post delivery that I finally said, you know what, this is not right. I cannot go on like this. I sought out a second opinion and I truly feel like this doctor saved me. I had unbearable chronic pain for months and had convinced myself that I would literally never have my life back. I feared if I would ever be able to shoot weddings again without pain, have more children, be able to be physically active, be the fun mama I knew Porter deserved. It was such a hard time. More anxiety. More stress. More pain. All while adjusting to life as a new mom. My new doctor recommended surgery, and that combined with physical therapy, and honestly, just more time - I can finally say seven months post that I have made a full physical recovery. I am finally ME again. Well, I'll never be the "old me" again -- but glimpses of her pop in from time to time just when I need it most. And that Porter's brachial plexus nerve injury is 99.9% healed. This all feels like a miracle.
As mother's, we are faced with constant decisions... Every single day, is it nap time? Is he hungry? Is this organic baby food really organic? Why is he crying? Sleep train? Pacifier? Go out in the world or stay home? What if he melts down? Maybe if I buy this $200 pillow he will finally sleep more than 2 hours so I can rest. When should he go in his crib? Is the car too hot? Should I get childcare? Did I pack the diaper bag? What did I forget? Can I really feed my baby formula? Literally, constant decisions, constant questioning everything you are doing in the new world you've found yourself in. And then beating yourself up for the decision you finally do make. Porter has been formula fed for three months and at least 4 times a day I have some negative awful dehumanizing thought towards myself for the decision I made to stop breastfeeding. I'm not sure I will ever be at peace with that decision. I try to constantly remind myself of all of the obstacles I faced and give myself some grace... Some days that works, others I just cry in my car.
I wanted to share all of this because ...
1. We're too hard on ourselves. Being a parent is so challenging and new and we have to extend some love and understanding towards ourselves. If a girlfriend came to you and said "I think I have to stop breastfeeding because of all the complications from my birth and my upcoming surgery/recovery" would you respond to her by saying "you can't feed your baby formula, you're an awful mother, how could you be so selfish." No. You wouldn't. So why would you ever say that to yourself? (Trying to take my own advice).
2. No matter the challenge you faced when becoming a mother know that you are strong and loved and totally ENOUGH. Maybe you struggle with postpartum depression, body image issues, physical complications, anxiety... Whatever that challenge may be - I think its totally okay to say "This has been really HARD." I have always felt so apprehensive to say any of its been hard -- because at the end of the day I got my one and only wish, a beautiful healthy thriving baby boy. I never, EVER wanted to appear ungrateful. But I've found for me, in my life, the more I cover up and mask my issues, the less they get resolved, and the less authentic I feel. I've found community has helped me through some of the darkest times in my life. If all of my posts were beautiful and happy, they honestly just wouldn't be truthful, and being transparent through it all has made me relate to so many women along the way and certainly feel less alone. I hope if you had a hard day parenting today, or this week, that you read this post and went "whew, I'm not the only hot mess. I'm totally enough."
3. Perspective is everything. That is all.
So my experience in motherhood so far? Completely unpredictable. So incredibly hard. But, like they all say, the most amazing thing you will ever do in your life. The day I met Porter I loved him more than I ever thought possible. And somehow today, I love him even more. I have never in my life felt so eager for the future, and wanted to stop time simultaneously. I want to watch him grow and learn, but I want to freeze these moments while he's got that gummy smile and adorable baby giggle as long as I can. I love love love this phase we're in. He's so happy, he's so chubby, he sits up and coos and talks, but isn't crawling yet. He's sturdy but totally still needs me and can't get away from me yet. His thigh rolls just kill me. I've never found so much joy in sitting back and observing in my life. I am completely obsessed with him and every little thing he does. Day to day brings on new experiences for Porter, and seeing life through his eyes is such a beautiful gift. Although most of our first months together were total survival mode, I hope Porter can forgive me, and I can forgive myself for those struggles, and that time will heal these wounds and it will soon be a fuzzy memory and crazy story of how our miracle rainbow baby came to be. The first 6 months were HARD. But I am SO excited for the next six months. I never knew how truly important your health was to your quality of life, and I am just so grateful to have mine back. So many things in life aren't what we expect, and I am constantly working on managing my expectations vs. reality and knowing that whatever will be will be. If I see it one way in my head, and it goes another, that that is totally okay. Parenting has taught me so much about expectations. Kinda like, don't have them? Haha.
I really want to re-write this post after Porter's first birthday (howwwwww is that even a thing!?) and hope that I can make time to do that. I am so for sharing the good the bad and the ugly -- and really looking forward to some good ole fashioned good headed our way. I am so hopeful that post will come with some different content. More talk about how healthy we are, how rested we are (Porter just started sleeping through the night *most* of the time!), all about PG's milestones, and his first birthday party. There are definitely things that happened to us both that I could totally do without, but honestly, (as cliche as it may sound) it really did make us who we are. I avoided getting my wisdom teeth pulled for 15 years (finally got those suckers out in 2016) and I have since had two miscarriages, two surgeries, given birth, and survived some pretty hard stuff. I never ever knew I was capable of these things. It has brought on a confidence and toughness I just honestly didn't know I had. Sometimes we have to look at our obstacles in life, flip them upside-down and make them good. And all of this has just made me have an unbelievable appreciation for Porter and what it takes to make and grow a baby.
Bottom line is -- I am grateful.
Motherhood for me the first six months was a little crazy. But I have a feeling its always going to be crazy in its own way, huh?! I have never had so much purpose and felt so much love in my entire life. It's truly just made everything better. Porter makes everything Nick and I do so much more incredible. Watching him take in every new life experience brings us so much joy. Every morning starts out with his gummy smiles, and every night ends with cuddles. His presence has totally shifted my priorities in the best way possible. He reminds me to slow down, breathe, and just life in your moments. I absolutely adore this new title of "mom" and I am just so glad Porter chose us.
I wanted to write this post in early May and wish all the amazing mama's out there a Happy Mother's Day -- and remind you that you're incredible. Because Mom's are unreal. Give yourself a little love for all your hard work. So, Happy Mothers Day a few weeks late. I love you all.