Giving birth to Liv was the most amazing and happiest thing I’ve ever done. Yeah, there was some pain involved (and crazy animal sounds) but I’d do it again at this very moment to have her here. You could take all the hard parts, bottle them up, ask me to drink it, and I’d do it in a second. This past year was a whirlwind of memories: baby giggles, fresh wet hair from the bath, tiny fingers wrapped in my hand, little perfect legs out of diapers, and big gummy smiles, later with some teeth poking through. Milestones, learning, evolving… on all of our parts. With all of the beauty, there was also a lot of anxiety, which was condensed into the first few months of Liv’s life.
For the first few months after Liv was born, I had an elevated heart rate throughout the day and pretty much always felt like I was on the verge of a panic attack. I remember one time when she was only about 4 days old when my mom and nana came over. They knew it had been an all-nighter, and told me they’d watch Liv so I could take a nap. I went upstairs, crawled into bed, and felt like my heart was about to explode from my chest. That feeling remained with me, and I was always worried about Liv’s wellbeing, that I was doing everything I could to take care of her. Was she warm? Was her belly full? Was she happy?
I told myself that I’d wait to write about the anxiety until I knew it was gone, because I’m not the type of person to put up a “woe is me” post in the moment, when emotions are too fresh. I’d rather write about it after the fact, when I’ve made it through the experience, and remain mindful of the tips and strategies that helped me so that I’m able to share them. And here we are, a year later. I had no idea that life could be this good and after all of the anxiety, which slowly started to melt away, I can easily say that it’s gone. Of course, I still worry about her and want to do my very best to take care of her, but it’s a mindfulness instead of a panic now. And, a year later, I can 100% say that I’m myself again.
Often, I’ll wonder if it would have been helpful to write about what I was experiencing on the blog. I feel like I did a disservice to all of you by failing to document it, but then again, some emotions are too raw, too intense, and too confusing to adequately express to the masses. So for that, my dear reader friends, I am truly sorry.
Also, I feel like there would be no point in trying to explain what I went though, why it happened, and what could have helped me even more, because I never went to get help.
I was in a place in my life where I was surrounded by intense negativity. It seems silly now, because I was so fortunate to be surrounded by many people that love us, but I sought it through an outside source. At first, it was a way for me to receive helpful feedback, but in a fragile state, the personal and hateful nitpicking finally started to get to me. Being a first-time mom is challenging, but even more so when there are people watching to jump on a potential learning opportunity. Top that with serious sleep deprivation and a hormone dump, and it’s a pretty awful combo. I started to guard my blogging, my life, and my writing in hopes that they wouldn’t find anything to talk about.. but they always did, even if it was a salad from 2008.
When you have a semi-public life, you’re subject to criticism from others. I’m aware of that, appreciate it, and understand that it’s part of the package. At the same time, I felt like if I went to talk to somebody about what I was feeling, I was letting the hateful critics win. I realize now, that by failing to get help when I needed it, that’s indeed what I did.
While I don’t think I had postpartum depression (I’ll never know if I did or not), my struggle with breastfeeding intensified everything I was feeling. I was devastated with my low supply, even with all of the steps I took to boost it. (I even took placenta pills- something else I haven’t written about.) Pumping was miserable and I hated the fact that I spent so much time pumping when I could have been snuggling my baby. I am happy I was able to give her 6 months of breast milk, but for the next child, I’m not going to be so hard on myself.
That’s the main purpose of this post:
I can look back now at the mistakes I’ve made and things that helped me along the way.
If you’re experiencing what I went through, my heart goes out to you. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it and get help. Don’t let potential judgment from others prevent you from doing what you need to do to take care of yourself. Also, please don’t be afraid to email me.A few new moms have, and while I obviously can’t give medical advice, I’m pretty good at virtual hugs and pep talks.
There is enough negativity in the world- why seek it out? Now, I don’t allow the words of people, who have never met me, make me feel badly if that’s their only intention. Chances are that they have something else going on in their life causing them to share their toxic energy with the world. The aforementioned negativity has been out of my life for quite a long time- I’m much happier without it.
The night before Liv’s birthday, she woke up with teething pains a couple of hours after she had fallen asleep. I quickly went upstairs to hold her and give her a teething strip, and as usual, she fell asleep in my arms as we laid on the couch together. It was surreal to think that exactly one year before, it had been the most primal night of my life and here I was now, in the most serene. My eyes pricked with tears, and as I looked at the stars illuminating the ceiling from her Twilight Turtle (which I had turned back on), I half-expected to have some sort of cliche epiphany. But, everything I felt in my mind and heart were cementing the truths I already knew. “You’re going to do everything possible, for the rest of your life to be the most loving mom and take the best care of this little girl.” I felt her legs draped over the the side of my body, when a year before, she easily fit in the crook of my arm. I thought about how tiny she still is and yet how much she’s grown and changed, how proud I am of all of us for being a team through the peaks and valleys, and how grateful I am for my little family.
Even with my struggles this past year, it’s been, by far, the most blessed. During the depths of my anxiety, I was always thankful to be Liv’s mama and that we were so fortunate to have a healthy, happy baby. It’s always felt too good to be true, but now that the fogginess is gone, I can confidently say that it is.