I was feeling so miserable, and wasn't pleasant to be around. I think it hit me when Pawel said that the way I was feeling was also affecting him. I wasn't affectionate anymore, I was always sad, I was always mad. Sometimes I didn't want to be around my son or Pawel. It made me feel so horrible inside, because deep down, I wanted to feel the opposite and I just couldn't.
I had enough of feeling the way I was feeling, so I decided to seek help, and go speak to a therapist. After a session with her, the advice and tips she gave me to get through it didn't happen over night, but in steps. It was a process, but eventually with time it got better. She asked me how I was feeling, and what was making me feel the way I was. If you read my previous blog "The Meaning of Unconditional Love", I explained that I had a pretty traumatic childbirth, so I think that set the tone for my PPD. With my therapist's help, I was able to pinpoint the root cause of my PPD:
1) I was feeling angry, sad, disappointed, guilty, desperate, and mentally exhausted. I think the expectation of really wanting to do a vaginal delivery, and ending up with a c-section really got to me. Because I was so angry with myself, I wasn't pleasant at all to my partner or with my baby, and that in turn made me feel really sad, guilty and in despair. With all of that stress, add on sleep deprived... and there you have it... one really cranky mom.
2) I hadn't slept since I was pregnant. Having to pee multiple times a night, and rolling around in bed witha huge belly, trying to get comfortable, kept me up during most nights my entire pregnancy. Then motherhood hit, I woke up every two hours to breastfeed my baby, and trying to bare the pain of the incision of my c-section that was still fresh. I was in so much discomfort. And having a baby crying, and getting to know their cues was another thing... especially when they won't stop crying.
4) I had anxiety about major surgery already. The fact that post-surgery I had some breathing problems, to the point where I felt like I wasn't going to make it, scared the life out of me.
5) I hadn't felt like myself in over a year. From feeling sick my first two trimesters of pregnancy, and developing Eczema two months after my delivery, I felt like my body was compltely out of wack. I developed hives that lasted two months, which got me scratching myself from head to toe. I was on Atarax to make me stop scratching and cortisone cream to help ease the Eczema. The medication depleted my milk supply, and ever since it was hard for me to gain back my flow. My son had to drink more formula, because I wasn't producing enough milk for his appetite. Shortly after I got Eczema, my son got it too. Being a parent of a child wih Eczema is a whole other blog, which I wrote on The Anchors Life, "Baby Life: Living with Eczema".
Life was hard for me, but I tried to implement the healing process as soon as I started to heal from the Eczema, and my son was healing too. It is so hard to focus on yourself when your little one really needs you.
The Healing Process
So how did I come out of PPD? I was lucky that my PPD wasn't as severe as some extreme cases where some moms actually hurt their babies, or even (I don't even want to say this), kill them or kill themselves. I watched a documentary on PPD when I had it, where mothers drowned their kids. I was in such disbelief and wonder "how could they even do that?" I really made me realize how severe it can get, so I really made it my preiority to give my son all the love and care from me that he deserves. By doing that, I really had to take care of myself.
1) I talked to a professional. Don't be afraid to talk to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist about how you are feeling. It is really worth it to talk about feelings without being judged, and finding tools to help you cope. Without my psychotherapist, I think I wouldn't have gotten through it as quickly.
2) I started eating healthier. Because I had Eczema, my Naturopathic Doctor put me on the Elimination Diet, which cut out all inflammatory foods, including allergens, refined sugars, certain types of meats, veggies and fruits, caffeine, dairy, eggs, and gluten. In turn, it also helped me with brain fog, and feeling lethargic. Kai and I were also put on probiotics. After a month I started to feel a huge difference. I wasn't itching anymore, my mind started to feel more alert, and I was in a better mood. For the first few months, I tended to just order out, or grab whatever I could to fuel my energy to take care of Kai... and yes lots of coffee. Until this day, I still keep up as much as I can with the Elimination diet, however I've reintroduced some foods. Still though, I am lactose intolerant, and gluten gives me itchiness. That will be another blog post!
3) I started working out. Although I wasn't in a regular workout routine yet, I slowly started getting back to Yoga, jogging, brisk walking, Zumba. This really made me feel more energized and alert.
3) I started doing the things I loved again. My fiancé made it a point for us to keep going on dates at least once a month. I loved going out to good restaurants and having delicious cocktails. Working out and eating healthy was also a part of me, since I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when I was 15. Feeling put together also made me feel nice... having the time to blow-dry my hair and put on make-up. Really, little things that make a woman feel good. I also love writing, hence the reason I started this blog. Although I have no time to record or write music right now, listening to music and going to concerts are still things I love to do. Pawel and I went to a Metal concert a few months ago (not a metal fan at all), BUT I really enjoyed seeing that type of scene and seeing Pawel mosh! We also had the privilege to travel when Kai was 4 months old. I constantly need to visit new places, and move around, so it really felt good to change scenery, and be on the beach in Fort Lauderdale, and relax (although at first, the trip was stressul, traveling with a baby - another future blog post on The Anchors Life).
4) I started hanging out more with my friends. Most of the time, my girl friends came over to visit me, but seeing them felt great. Sometimes we'd go out to eat too, or hang out at the mall. Most important though, was to socialize outside of the walls of my house, and to get some away time from Kai. It was nice to talk about other things than Eczema, poops, pee, feedings and other baby related stuff. It really keeps you sane.
"Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations, or love without conditions. This term is sometimes associated with other terms such as true altruism or complete love. Each area of expertise has a certain way of describing unconditional love, but most will agree that it is that type of love which has no bounds and is unchanging."
Nothing could have prepared me enough for motherhood. I always knew I wanted a baby, and wanted to be a mother, but I could not have imagined it to be like this. I could not have imagined how much you have to suffer in order to bring a life into this world. Motherhood though, is a unique type of suffering; one that does not necessarily mean it is negative, but is essential in this phase of life.
I dreamt that I was pregnant on the night of April 28, 2017, so at seven o'clock in the morning of the 29th, I rushed into the bathroom to take a pregnancy test. Half-asleep, I tinkled on the stick, and waited... Anxious, I'm thinking "is this another negative? If it is, don't get discouraged, just try again". After months of trying, and getting a negative test, I was feeling hopeless and feeling reluctant to even take tests anymore. I tried everything in the book - got on a really healthy diet, worked out, cut out certain foods, meditated, used ovulations apps and sticks... but with all of that stress I was forgetting one thing: to have fun. That was my mother's advice... "don't worry about it so much and it will happen"...
My fiancé and I had went to Cabane à Sucre (Sugar Shack) twice, a week before we traveled to New York City. The entire trip we suffered from gastro (thanks to all of those maple syrup sticks, and super glutenous food), so during that period I thought, "I probably won't get pregnant this month". Low and behold, a few weeks after we got back from New York, I found out I was pregnant on April 29, 2017.
The test was positive! I ran out of the bathroom in our little studio condo in Old Montreal, and woke Pawel up and told him he was going to be a dad. I remember how much I wanted this baby, and just could not believe it was happening. Our first visit to the OBGYN, we heard the baby's heart beat, and we both cried tears of joy. It was such a surreal moment. This was it... there was a life inside of me, and it was depending on me for the rest of its life.
For nine months, I grew my little human inside of me, being so cautious to make sure it was a healthy baby. I had pretty bad morning sickness my first two trimesters, and had carpal tunnel, and tendonitis during the last two trimesters. Honestly, I felt like shit (excuse my language - I'm just being compltely real). Although I was in a lot of pain and discomfort during my pregnancy, I forgot about the suffering I was going through when the baby started to move and kick, and I was able to see and feel it. Every morning I'd wake up, we'd bond over those little kicks and punches to my tummy, and I'd talk to baby. I had never felt so much love before this moment.
Pawel and I truly thought I was having a girl, until I had another dream a few weeks before my 20 week ultrasound, that I gave birth via c-section to a boy. Sure enough, on August 20, 2017, when I was watching the baby on the screen, I saw a little something between his legs... my dream came true - we were having a boy. Pawel's whole thought process flipped, from thinking about raising a little girl, to actually having to raise a boy. They were going to be best buddies, in my mind. The thought of him having a son and seeing them bond meant the world to me. I couldn't wait to see that, because I knew Pawel would be a great dad.
I was induced at 38 weeks and 5 days into my pregnancy on December 18, 2017. If I had gone full-term, Kai would have been almost ten pounds, and I would have had no chance to push him out, so I wanted to try and do it vaginally earlier on. I was in labour for 26 hours... He ended up going to 9cm dilated, but ended up getting stuck there. You guessed it... to the operating room I went. I cried so much, so disappointed I couldn't deliver him vaginally. I dreaded a c-section, and was really hoping my dream wasn't come tru...e but it did. The whole time during surgery, I was praying to God I'd survive. Pawel was holding my hand, keeping me calm, and when they finally got Kai out, I could hear the doctor say "Wow, that's a lot of baby!". I heard him start to cry, and relief set into my heart... "phew... he's okay!"
Kai Maddox was born on December 19, 2017 at 6:47pm, a healthy baby boy with an apgar score of 9.95, 8lbs 1 oz, and 51 cm long, via c-section.
The nurses took Kai, cleaned him up, and called Pawel to go and cut the umbilical cord. Apparently Pawel took a quick glance at me at the operating table and reluctantly saw all of my insides. They gave Kai to Pawel to bring to me, they put him on my chest, as I held him, and kissed him. Just a few seconds though, I told Pawel to take him. Confused, Pawel thought I didn't want to hold him. I told him, "no, I can't feel my arms, I'm going to drop him". Pawel took him, and the attending staff tried to figure out what was wrong with me. Scared, Pawel went with Kai to our room, as I went to the recovery room. I was terrrified.
They had given me way too much anesthesia, to the point where my arms went numb and I lost my swallowing reflex. I felt like I was choking to death in the recovery room, until I grabbed the anesthesioligist and begged for her to do something. She ended up giving me another medication, not sure what it was, but it helped the numbness go down. Ater an hour, I was able to breathe properly and swallow again. Even through all of that distress and pain I was in after being cut open, my only thought was, "I need to be strong for my son, and I need to get to him now". I was in the recovery room for two hours, and I asked the nurse when I was going to see my son, because I had to start breastfeeding him. Finally, they let me go... they wheeled me to the Pavillion where my son was waiting with Pawel. I could see a look of relief on Pawel's face - that I was okay, and that he didn't know what to do with a baby by himself (although our parents were there too). Half-awake, and out of it, they put Kai in my arms. I kissed him, pulled down my robe and started to breastfeed him... Mommy was finally here.
Being a mother means that suffering and sacrifice are inevitable. It is a choice you have to make, and be conscious about. For the first year at least, almost all of your time is dedicated to your baby. It means that there will be moments of despair when you don't know what they want when they are crying, to the point where it can break you down because you are so exhausted. It means that sleep won't be a priority for you, because every couple of hours your baby will wake up to feed. It means lots of poop, pee, and vomit. It means your house won't be clean for awhile. It means you will eat whatever is around, because you just don't have time to cook. It means you won't be able to shower, or go to the bathroom when you want to. It means, your life has completely changed... but what the real meaning is of all this, is that the suffering you go through is because the love for your child is so strong...it is unconditional.
Today, while my fiancé was looking after our son, I told him, "I decided to get rid of my music page, and turn it into a lifestyle blog..." He looked at me, and asked me "how do you feel about that?". As my eyes watered , I walked downstairs, and found myself bursting into tears.
I thought to myself, "Did motherhood deprive me of everything I once loved? Did my identiy disappear? Am I really saying goodbye to being an artist?"As I wiped my tears away, I sat down at the computer, and started to make the changes. Then I thought to myself... "no, motherhood has only made me evolve, it has changed me, but I am still allowed to do the things I love, be who I was, and more. This is why I'm going to write about trying to balance motherhood, my identity and my life".
I think a lot of mothers out there, especially new moms in their first year of motherhood insitinctively sacrifice their bodies, their souls and their sanity to birth a pure little human. During that time, we undoubtedly lose a part of our former selves. When that does happen, it is heartbreaking to some, and others like myself, go through Post Partum Depression.
My PPD lasted only three months, because I told myself, there is no way I'm going to let myself lose out on the things I love, and there's no way I'm going to stop taking care of myself. I've done it once before, in relationships, and I always made it a value of mine not to do that again. Honestly, that mantra kept my spirits up and made me a better mom and partner, but that's a whole other journal. I've also let myself know that it is okay to feel the way I feel, and to not harbour my emotions inside. Acceptance, of all that has come to me gave me a sense of peace.
As I embark on a new journey, that of motherhood, and soon to be wife, I embrace all of the changes, and am grateful for my blessings.
I want my journal entries to be as real as possible, and not romanticized, or sugar-coated. I've always been real about my feelings, and experiences, so that's what you can expect.
And yes, it is completely okay to not be a perfect mother, or a perfect person. Social Media tends to deceive us of all real life... never forget that.