It’s only taken 9 years to feel like me again. My firstborn, Smith, just turned 9. When I was pregnant with him (not planned), I had an insanely stressful job. I woke up at 4:30am to run before leaving for my commute. I stayed late and had dinner around 8pm every night and fell asleep on the couch reading books on everything but baby stuff.
I put on 70lbs because I literally thought I was supposed to double my intake… and my co-workers brought me baked goods. It was like an eating competition every day except I was the only participant and I won every time. They may having been hazing me. Except Joni. She was real with me. I love my Witty Wiccan Joni. She was the only one who said, as I ate my 100th cupcake of the day, “you don’t lose it all during breastfeeding, they’re lying to you.”
I read at least 10 novels during my pregnancy and none of them were about having children. Because. Lame. The only slightly typical thing I did was decorate Smith’s room with Muppet Pop Art.
I found a nanny who was hella expensive (due to my posh zip code) and I planned on returning to work after my maternity leave. I took hypnobirthing classes with Joe because I’m a huge hippie. I listened to monks singing before I fell asleep… Plans. Best laid.
My water broke at 8pm on January 27th, 2009. I called Joe and then my OB. I started timing contractions… I timed them all night instead of sleeping. Brilliant! Writing them down giddily all night. I was so excited to meet Smith the kicker. After not sleeping at all, I braided my hair and put on my viking helmet.
At 7am on Jan 28th, we checked into the hospital because my contractions were close enough and I was an impatient patient. I assumed Smith was going to gently slip out as I hypnotized myself. Maybe some warm olive oil to help things… No drugs. Just me and my subconscious with Joe rubbing my back.
24 hours later, on January 28th, I edited my “birthing plan” and screamed at Joe to find me an epidural because Smith’s head was stuck and I had back labor. Every contraction felt like someone was trying to kill me with an ax to my back… every 45 seconds. I said something about eating the paint of all the walls. I threw my birthing ball at the edible wall. I had been awake for days without sleeping. FINALLY, they gave me an epidural and I fell asleep for a few hours during contractions while Joe watched LOST.
Around 5am, Smith’s head moved from it’s stuck place and he was ready to come out. 34 hours of contractions and 3 hours of sleep and I was going to push a huge baby out of my hoo boy anyway. I told them to dial down the pain meds and put back on my helmet because I’m not a hypnobirther, I’m a Viking, you know.
I pushed one last time on an empty tank. I remember thinking, “I have nothing left.” I reached down into the recesses of my body and pushed out a huge baby at 6am on Jan. 29th. Cone-headed Smith. Oh hello. My sister in law heard him crying in the lobby. He was pissed about being stuck in that tunnel for so long. Joe cried too but not as loudly. I was just like… put him on my chest so he can rest also WILL SOMEONE GET ME A BURGER AND A MILKSHAKE NOW THAT I JUST MADE A BABY AND PUSHED HIM OUT OF MY BODY? It was the best Counter burger I’ve ever eaten. With a chocolate shake. So good. They then brought me a hospital meal. I ate that too.
Motherhood began in a hospital. I listened. I watched. I breastfed. I saw them cut Smith’s foreskin off… Um. Then we went home with a baby and no clues. I attended mommy classes which is so so so not me.
Life was insane as it is for every new parent. I started to go to sleep with him at 7pm. I know it’s weird but he was always nursing and cried a lot and I was out of ideas. My Mother In Law said, “maybe he’s colicky, Joe’s sister was…” I wanted to scratch her for saying that. But she was right. He was. He cried loudly and always. I stopped sleeping one night. I’ll never forget it. I just. Stopped sleeping. I stared at his face when he finally rested and then I just stared for hours with my eyes wide open. I would start to fall asleep and then a shock would fill my body and I would stay awake in a cold sweat. I’m hyper but I’d never been a nervous person so I was wholly unaware of what anxiety felt like. And then it began. I started having multiple panic attacks every day. I called my Dad during the first one when I was driving Smith. I pulled over and Dad promised me I wasn’t going to die. I only slept 2-3 hours total on a nightly basis. Some nights no hours. I would watch everyone else sleep and try not to wake them when I was shaking in what I remember to be intense fear.
I was barely functioning but, against all odds, an amazing Mom to Smith. I was happy and he was (is) such a sweet little boy who just loves life. We went somewhere fun every day. I never once felt depressed because depression isn’t my bag so it didn’t fit the postpartum depression bill. I became Smith’s mom and nothing else existed. For extra credit, I got bangs and was heftier than I’ve been in my whole life.
My OB tried to put me on antidepressants and I said no because I wasn’t sad and I don’t like taking a pill that messes with me mentally and physically (just my opinion. You guys do you.) I hadn’t had any issues until I had a baby. So I wanted to get to the root of the problem and not throw meds at it. I couldn’t sleep. Ever. I was so tired but wide awake and Smith cried about everything. No one could soothe him but me.
Suddenly, my maternity leave was up. 6 weeks. And I was supposed to go back to work and leave him. I was supposed to leave my colicky baby with a nice lady. We have no relatives out here, so I left for work on Monday in a haze and cried all the way there. I came home that night and told Joe that I was was dying inside as I shakily clung to Smith. Joe said I should stay at home with Smith if that’s what would make me happy. Joe lives to make me happy and I love him so much for that. That night, since I was awake anyway, I decided not to return to work. At one time I was the breadwinner. And now. Lost in a new title. Mother.
On his request, I flew to see my Dad in Alabama. He is a Internal Medicine MD but he practices more Naturopathic medicine these days. He ran my blood work and it turned out my hormones were far from normal. Thyroid. Progesterone… He started me on natural hormones and it worked. No more panic attacks but fear they would return was high. I had forgotten how to sleep. I still struggle with night but now I know it will not result in rolling panic attacks and the feeling that I’m dying. I just get up and read recipes or send offensive gifs to my insomniac friends.
I breastfed Smith for 2 years. Yeah. He was so fat he got a yeast infection in his neck folds and the pediatrician made me “lower his food intake.” I have since changed Peds. I tried to get pregnant again but it didn’t work. What’s better is that I stay chunk when I breastfeed. Vikings do that?
Smith and I spent all day together. Erry. Day. We got passes at Disneyland and went all the time. I find it fantastic that I went to Disneyland to escape fear. But here was this place where my child laughed, pinched the noses of giant mice, and rode every ride. We laughed like nothing could touch us. Plus churros.
Back in the not happiest place on earth, I was afraid to leave him for even one night. I was afraid to stay out past 8pm, because what if it all came back. It would take me hours to fall asleep and I would wake up many times during the night. I was terrified it would all come back. Terrified. People thought I was crazy for not staying out late. People thought I was lame for not leaving Smith. Peoples is peoples (Muppet quote).
I tried for years to get pregnant with a second child. Everything. They put me on some fertility pills that turned me into Michelle with the rage problem. I went to specialists. We did tests. I injected myself in the abdomen with things. I found out I was allergic to wheat after my hands swelled up and peeled consistently. Happy times. Sigh.
Smith came with me to my appointments and saw ultrasounds of many an empty uterus. He held my hand during blood tests and told me I was brave. My compadre. We read a lot. He could read by age 3. Life was hard but still joyful because Smith and I had each other.
We moved into a new house and I started going to an acupuncturist. We finally (yay) got pregnant with Wallace after a few months. Another boy. Exactly what I wanted. Joe and I took our first vacation away from Smith and I saw glimpses of myself and also my husband who had been patiently waiting for me to reappear.
Wallace’s labor was not horrible because I walked into the hospital and asked for an epidural. Duh. I put on my Viking helmet and played Danzig and hard core rap. Joe caught Wallace after I sprayed him in the face with amniotic fluid (as gross as its sounds). It was only 4 hours of labor so we checked out of the hospital that night.
Because life: Wallace was also colicky and hard. His nervous system was immature and he has asthma. Because also life: His asthma, at 5, is finally improving and his nervous system is almost up to speed. But many a night has been spent with me not sleeping, putting my head on his chest to listen for wheezing and rubbing oils on his feet… what did I do wrong? Up again but with worry not panic. Worrying Wallace would have this forever, Smith’s ADD, calls from teachers, parents judging my parenting, my own health, and finally quitting sales because the stress was too high from travel, rejection, etc… So much worrying these 9 years. So much of it senseless. I used to dive off cliffs head first with just a rope attached. Find that girl.
With all that has happened, I have been in here. In this body. Not fully myself but raising my hand “present” nonetheless. People who know me waited and I love them all the more for that. After 9 years (Jesus) my hormones are finally regulating. I’m spending more time in my mecca, Montana. I’m done with sales and in school to practice medically and naturopathically. The classes I’m taking now are all pre-med and hard. I love it. I wanted to be a doctor a long time ago and my dad convinced me to do something artistic because I’m artistic. But medicine is my art and I read his anatomy books when I was 6. I’m back to being myself and because of all this, I’m back to my path. Healer. Wife. Mother. Viking. Pancake addict. And I will save people from ever having to lose themselves.
Love this post. ❤️
Thanks, Melissa. I felt like I needed to write it. I almost didn’t share but what if someone is experiencing the same thing so. Tadaaaa 😘
Total warrior. I am happy that you are finding yourself again. I guess I got another 4 years left. 😉
Nah. The lingering stuff was all from the first years trauma and then fertility meds. You got this!!