The minute I saw her I knew that my whole life had changed. I knew that I would never love anyone or anything as much as her. I knew that my priorities had changed and that everything I did from this day on would be to help her succeed.
She was perfect.
Somewhere in the next few days, this intense love took an unexpected turn. I remember my midwife saying, “Have I told you about the crying when your milk comes in?” But at the time I didn’t believe that anything could ruin this perfection.
And then, my milk came in. The excitement slowly wore off and two hours later the tears and overwhelming sense of anxiety came. Breastfeeding did not come easily to me. My daughter wouldn’t latch properly, she fell asleep every two minutes, I had incredibly painful blisters on my nipples, and she just didn’t seem interested in food. On top of this, I was experiencing the severe sleep deprivation of a new mom.
“Breastfeeding is a natural, beautiful process,” I kept hearing. But I didn’t feel very beautiful. Milk was leaking everywhere, EVERYTHING hurt, and I was walking around in an old men’s t-shirt with cut outs around my breasts because fabric hurt too much when it rubbed against them. Beautiful. Did I mention my brother-in-law was there? I had my first baby weigh-in with my midwife and the gain was very small. The tears kept coming and I was overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy. I felt I was not doing enough; I was terrified I would not be able to provide for my child. I actually remember thinking that my daughter was going to be 7lbs forever. I knew it didn’t logically make sense, but I couldn’t escape the fear. I loved her too much and didn’t want to fail her.
It felt like I was in a long dark tunnel and I couldn’t get out.
The weigh-ins kept coming and I started to dread them. The gains were always minimal and I became obsessed with taking her to the scale. I would panic if she hadn’t eaten in two hours, or wouldn’t wake up, and had to time and write down everything. I timed how long she ate on each breast and I counted the diapers full of pee. My internal clock woke me up every two hours in the middle of the night to feed her. I was stuck.
My family and friends were amazing through this whole experience. They supported me, motivated me, and continuously told me I was doing a good job. But I couldn’t hear it.
The anxiety and depression were too big.
Finally, after a tear-soaked Baby Talk session with a public health nurse, I was encouraged to go and see a Lactation Consultant. I booked the appointment, terrified they were going to tell me I was doing it all wrong. When I arrived they asked me to show them a typical feed, so ahead I went. She asked me some questions about my background, and listened to my concerns. We had a great talk and at the end of the appointment she said something I will never forget: “Everything looks good to me. I think she’s just a small baby.”
For the first time in a long time, I could breathe. I felt validated and proud of myself as a mom. The tunnel was still dark but I could see a bit of light shining through. I continued to see her for a few months until I felt confident enough in my ability as a mother. She probably doesn’t know it but her encouragement helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life.
From this process, I have learned my new motto as a mother: “This, too, shall pass.” Although the anxiety sometimes still rears its ugly head, I know how to breathe through it and talk it out so it doesn’t consume me. I know I am a good mother and I am doing the best I can for my child.
I know that I am enough.
So please, when you have a hard day, or when things just aren’t going the way you planned it, remember:
You are a great mom.
You are enough.
And this, too, shall pass.
Andri Trirogoff is a 33-year-old mama who lives in beautiful Victoria, BC. She is mama to a wonderful and spirited little girl (who is turning three next month) and is the wife of an amazingly supportive husband (and has been for the last 4.5 years)! She works for GT Hiring Solutions, helping unemployed Canadians look for work and improve their work search skills. Andri writes for this project so that other moms going through similar experiences or other hard times will know they are not alone.
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