The Dark Days after Having a Baby

I am not a psychologist nor a doctor. I do not have any experience with diagnosing or dealing with mental illness with anyone. However, my expertise comes from a different source, being a mother. I have had 3 children. My children are amazing and they inspire me every day. I love them to bits and I would do anything to protect them and keep them safe. Sometimes, I feel like a failure in more ways than one. Some days are dark, very dark. And I’ve come to realise that I am coming out of the dark days and into a new chapter.

Having my last baby, my beautiful baby girl has been the most testing time of my life. Ever. I love love love her and I can’t get that across enough but I have had a hard time in the last year and it’s now that I’ve decided to put “pen to paper” or “words to blog”. I want to share and hopefully help others to realise that they are not alone in the way that they are feeling. There’s always help out there and it’s OK not to feel OK all of the time.

The Labour Didn’t Go to Plan

I was well aware after having 2 children previously that labour doesn’t go to plan sometimes. My first baby was born bang on his due date. I had 2 epidurals and it was a long haul I have to say. My second was induced and a hell of a fast labour compared to my first. I had a gap of almost 5 years before we decided (he finally agreed) to trying for another baby. The amount of information online was overwhelming this time around. It’s amazing how fast we have come along in a few short years with technology and social media. Anyway, I only live 5 minutes from the maternity hospital and I wanted to labour at home as long as possible this time around. I didn’t want to be walking up and down the halls in the hospital, I wanted my comfort. That didn’t happen. My little girl decided that she didn’t want to come on time and she was 11 days overdue. They had to induce me. I wanted to walk through the pain and everything but that didn’t happen either. I had pethidine and I found the pain excruciating, worse than the previous 2. However, she arrived safely and perfect so I didn’t dwell on it until afterwards. It was then I even thought about having another so I could have the perfect birth. Now I realise that nobody has the perfect birth, it’s all a myth and believe it or not, most of it is out of your control. Baby will come when ready and the staff just want to keep that baby safe and mother safe. I think we all need to learn to accept this fact before having our babies.

The Battle Against the Breast

I desperately wanted to breastfeed my daughter successfully. I failed previously and I felt educated enough to get it right this time. She fed great in the hospital the first night. The next night she fed a LOT and I was in agony. I met with the lactation consultant and she said that it was normal. I actually gave her a bottle. Maybe I should have been tougher and cried through the pain. I am not sure if it was actually normal, but if it was then I salute any mothers that go through that pain because I found it worse than labour, honestly. It was horrific. I attempted to breast feed and bottle feed but the pain was far too bad. I asked the health nurse if she had thrush and she said no but there was a white coating on her tongue. She said that it would be yellow if it was thrush. I put it down to me being weak, not being able to breastfeed. She was on formula full time from 3 days old. I felt like a massive failure. I still think to this day that I didn’t reach out for help enough to friends, lactation consultants or La Leche League.

The Lips tell the Truth

At her 6 week check-up which was ridiculously rushed, which I also blame myself for. It was almost lunch time and they were obviously in a hurry to get fed but I should have insisted more time. However, I did mention her tongue and the doctor sent her to paediatrics. It was there that she was diagnosed with thrush after all this time. I was fuming. I felt like I should have went to the GP and not just accepted the health nurse saying that it wasn’t thrush. I blamed that thrush on not being able to feed her and then subsequently blamed myself for not getting it resolved. My daughter still struggled on her bottle. She made funny noises when feeding which I thought was the thrush and then I thought that it was because of the thrush that she adjusted the way she fed.

I asked the GP about it and she was diagnosed with silent reflux. I changed formula umpteen times and reverted back to the one she was on and then had a never ending cycle of blaming myself because if I had been successful with breastfeeding, she wouldn’t have reflux. I brought her to chiropractors, paediatricians, searched online, tried all the formulas, nothing helped her until she started crawling really. Then she seemed to be OK. When she was teething, my husband noticed something funny with her lip, her top lip. The piece of tissue that connects her lip to her gum was down to the very end of her gum. She had lip tie. My daughter had f*cking lip tie and she was 10 months old now.

The Reason for Everything

I cried. I cried so much. It was relief, it was guilt, and it was not being able to turn back time. I went to the GP and she confirmed that she had lip tie. I cried again. After all this time, it was why I was so sore feeding, it was potentially the reason for her endless crying and fussiness with reflux. It was the cause of it all in my eyes and it should have been picked up. The GP referred her to Crumlin Hospital but at this stage, they said that they will not operate. It doesn’t cause her any issues now at this point in her life but it should have been caught straight away. Again, I felt the guilt of not noticing it. I never knew anything about lip tie to be honest, I knew all about tongue tie. I was furious at everything, mostly myself.

Accepting the “Failures”

It’s only now that I have stopped pointing the finger at myself. I am and I have done the best I can with raising my beautiful daughter and she is the happiest, funniest little thing now at 13 months old. I adore her. The struggle to get to this point has been hard. I was not diagnosed with PND but I knew I had it. I was so down some days and the struggle with her was so tough that I was thinking, why did we have a third child? Why did we decide this? Imagine how easy it would have been if we didn’t? How awful is it to think those words when I love her so much?

You’re not Alone

If you have had the same thoughts as me, I am telling you now, you are not alone. Everyone has these doubts, “failures”, guilt, obsessing. It goes along with being a mother. Having a high need baby is especially difficult but please reach out. Ask for help and don’t accept one person’s answer if you know the truth. If you think that there is something wrong with your baby or feeding, ask a second person. No matter what, you will blame yourself for everything but at the end of the day, you are doing a fantastic job. Never forget it. I am trying, still but I know I’m in a better place now than I was 2 months ago. We will get there together.

Take Care x

Reality Mammy

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