This is part of Kate's writing on becoming a mother and midwife. May is Postpartum Depression Awareness Month in Texas and Tandem Midwifery will feature information on resources and help for women experiencing postpartum depression and mood disorders. Kate's journey into motherhood and her experiences with postpartum depression shaped how she practices as a midwife. This writing provides a glimpse into the early months of motherhood for her...... For more information and resources, see the Pregnancy and Postpartum Health Alliance of Texas' website....
I wanted help but didn’t know who to ask.
Part of my journey into midwifery began when I was looking for help, support, guidance and didn’t know who to turn too. Motherhood was so much more than I expected and certainly nothing like anyone had described. No one told me how I would feel or look or how much help I would need. I quickly realized I wasn’t going to be able to sail through early motherhood by myself, without help and it wouldn’t always be easy.
The need developed quickly – birth trauma, breastfeeding issues, a colicky baby, sleep deprivation, my husband loosing his job with an eight week old baby, and sheer loneliness. Friends scoffed when I asked for advice on oversupply and breastfeeding – how could too much milk be an issue? The pediatrician dismissed my concerns of a lip tie and latch problems, despite my nipples being blanched and flattened after nursing (http://www.kiddsteeth.com/articles.html). The obstetrician brushed me aside when I asked questions about my son's birth. Books began to pile high next to the rocking chair – promises of everything easier through tanking up the baby during the day, wearing the baby, continuous nursing, different positions, dietary changes and so on. Family said we were spoiling the baby, stop nursing, stop picking him up when he cried, don’t sleep with him nearby. The books said I should give up milk, eggs, nuts, cruciferous veggies, & virtually other food to solve the colic and the green frothy poops.
Very few people asked me how I was doing or were available to offer real help. I was alone in my house and felt trapped to leave with a newborn who wailed in the car, making it impossible for me to drive safely to friends homes. My sweet husband knew everything wasn’t okay but didn’t know how to help. I said I was fine and forged forward determined to not show that I was falling and failing. In the early summer mornings I would head to the greenbelt with my child in the sling and walk amongst the trees. He’d sweatily sleep against my body and I would recharge my soul in the outdoors. One day on the way home I stopped in front of the fire station, looked at the Safe Baby Place sign and considered leaving him so I could go home and sleep – just for a few hours. I knew then it wasn’t all okay and I wasn’t keeping it together. But who would I turn to for help?
Days after that, a dear wise friend with a midwives soul came over. She brought me lunch and homemade cookies, set up chairs in my backyard facing the greenbelt in the sunshine and sat me down. She took my crying baby and held him dearly and expertly jostled him to sleep. She talked about her own daughters as newborns and the reality of being a mother. She let me talk about the good and bad of motherhood and my journey. I napped in the sunshine. I felt taken care of and loved.
In the end, his colic stopped magically at 9 weeks, at that wise friends birthday party on the San Marcos River. After 3 months my oversupply regulated itself and I learned that sleeping with my baby despite relatives protests helped me rest & that even if Dr. Sears said it was evil, a pacifier helped my son sleep more than 30 minutes stretches as well made trips in the car possible. I found an online community of local moms and learned the importance of getting out each day. I made new friends with babies the same age and life took on a new normal.
And I was different, changed by motherhood and wanting to share the wisdom I was gaining and keep others from hurting as I had in those first months and to aid them to float above the water in that first year. I nurtured my baby and my heart began to ache to nurture others as well.