Tuesday, July 26, 2011

{welcome to motherhood...part 1}

Do you all mind if I get a bit serious with you today?

I try to keep things light-hearted on This Girl's Life but over the past week or so I have felt moved to share the story of the birth of my boys, and the first few weeks and months after they arrived. I realized that I never really did this, other than little updates here and there, and I feel that my story might hopefully provide comfort for other moms who went through a similar experience. Until now I think I was to embarrased or ashamed to talk about the emotional struggle adjusting to motherhood was for me.

I've had quite a few friends become moms over the past month, two of them to twins. The announcement of new motherhood sends my head spinning. It brings up all sorts of anxieties, and in my mind, some failures, that I experienced during the early days of my new life as a mother. To be honest, becoming a mother was the most difficult, and dare I say, darkest, point of my life.

Yes, I know darkest is a really strong word. And I feel guilty and judged just for typing it. But it is the truth. It was a struggle of proportions that I had never imagined. Today I want to share a bit about my pregnancy, and the story of the boys' birth, which was by far the smoothest part of the road we have been on.

I went into motherhood with a lot of naivety. In a way I'm glad I did, but sometimes I wish so much that I had been more prepared mentally for what was to come. I had only babysat once in my life, which was an epic fail, I had never changed a diaper...you get the picture.

{And a little background information.. I've battled with anxiety for over half of my life. It started at age 13 and has come and gone in waves over the past twenty years.}

When I found out I was pregnant I was on an anxiety medication, which I had to stop taking for the health of the babies. Much to my surprise, I went through the pregnancy feeling great and didn't have any issues being off of the meds. Of course I had the normal anxiety surrounding pregnancy and giving birth, multiplied by the fact that I was having multiple babies.

My pregnancy was almost perfect with very few complications. Our biggest scare came at 12 weeks when I experienced some heavy bleeding. We were sent to the hospital for an ultrasound, praying for the best but preparing ourselves for the worst. The ultrasound tech started the exam and found a strong heartbeat. We were so relieved! Then she said..."well that's interesting"..."there are two!"...

Twins run in my family, so we shouldn't have been surprised, but it just never occurred to me that I might continue the trend. Once the twin dust settled, the pregnancy continued smoothly. I coerced the hubby into taking the obligitory monthly belly shots...

 20 weeks

I started having a lot of discomfort walking at the start of the 2nd trimester {which lasted until the end...oy}, but other than that I felt great. Near the 30 week mark I started having contractions quite often, and we made three separate trips to L&D to stop them and keep the boys baking a bit longer.

My crazy big 30 week pregnant belly...someone told me I looked like a toothpick that had swallowed an olive!

Finally, at 39 1/2 weeks, I was induced {funny, after all of those early contractions}. They broke my water around 7 am and I had the boys, naturally, at 3:49 {Landon} and 3:52 {Ben} pm on the same day. {By naturally, I mean without a c-section, not without drugs...I may have anxiety issues but I'm not crazy.}

The doctor said it was the easiest twin birth he had ever experienced. I remember actually saying "That's it? That was easy!" once Ben had made his arrival into the world. I actually feel guilty when I talk about how easy the birth was. I was totally numb and pushed two babies out in a matter of five minutes. Insanity I tell you.

Landon on the left and Ben on the right

I remember being handed Landon and joking about how wrinkly his forehead was. I could tell already that he looked like his daddy...

Me just seconds after giving birth is a tad scary. So swollen!

I remember Dan trying to make sure he knew which one was which...we were both anxious about getting them mixed up. Thankfully their size and hair color made that easy for us.

I remember the first time the nurse brought them both in to try breastfeeding for the first time.

My two baby burritos

I don't even know what word to use to describe that moment. Surreal....awkward. She taught me how to feed both of them at once. It seemed  manageable with her there to help me.

I remember Dan looking like a natural from the first second he held one of them. And the support I felt from him was immeasurable.

I remember so many family members coming to visit and feeling so much love.

My parents were just a little bit excited.

I remember the nurses letting us sleep until 10 am on our last day in the hospital. I'm sure they knew it was the last time we would get to sleep in for a long, long time.

And then we went home. And I still looked 40 weeks pregnant. {but I felt oddly skinny...I had lost 14 lbs of baby!}

I remember us walking into the house and sitting them down on the living room floor in their carseats.

I remember feeling panicked. And anxious. And not sure what to do next.

I think God blessed me with such an easy birth experience to prepare me for what was to come.

{read part 2 here}

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Thrifty Crafty Girl said...

You won't hear any judgement from me. Most people think that mothering comes naturally and that it all just falls into place, but that's not always the case. You certainly aren't alone!

Erin said...

You are an amazing mother and person, Mandy. I don't know why some mothers have to walk thru post-partum anxiety and/or depression and others are spared. It seems terribly unfair. I do know that God never left you for a second, but he was obviously refining you for the years to follow because you are His and worth the effort. I know your words will help and bless other mothers who read them. Hugs!

Mandy @ This Girl's Life said...

Thank you Erin - gosh you have me in tears...such lovely words. I do know that God was with me, even in the darkest hours. I know that he paired me with a husband who could take control when I couldn't. Refining...what a wonderful word. Yes...I definitely feel that the past three years have been a refining process. Thanks again sweet friend. :)

This Farm Family's Life said...

No judgement here. I went through terrible postpartum with our oldest. I should have been put on medication, but was in denial.

Jill said...

Love it! What a cute pregnant mama!

Thank you showing your true colors! We all love and support you.

Susanna said...

No judgement Mandy. In fact, thanks for having the guts to share your experience. I too had a hard time after coming home from the hospital the first time. No one can prepare you for how your life is about to change and on some days I remember it being totally overwhelming. Between new expectations and breastfeeding I felt completely out of my element. I thought because I was a woman I was supposed to just KNOW how to do all these things and LOVE it. But I didn't.

Your story will help someone else through a difficult time.

erin / dfm said...

Am headed to part two, but I had to say - your pregnancy story sounds oddly similar to mine! I, too, had to go off meds when I found out I was pregnant. I didn't have any problems during pregnancy, but after? WOWZA. Anxiety central.

You did good, Mama. Thanks for sharing this. :)


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