Thursday, July 28, 2011

{welcome to motherhood...part 2}

{You can read part 1 of welcome to motherhood here}

I'm wondering what I got myself into right now as I try to begin this part of my story. The truth can be very scary and isn't always pretty, as my good friend Laura reminded me. So here we go...


I wish I could go back and enjoy it more.

I wish I could re-live some of those newborn days and take in all of their sounds and smells...really take it in.

I wish I could remember exactly how they felt in my arms, the way their little fingers felt in my hands.

I honestly wish I could remember.

Those first few days and weeks of motherhood are in so many ways a blur in my memory. Everything all smushed into one big pile of anxiety, depression and thoughts of "what the hell was I thinking having these babies?" I remember at one point my Mom asking me if I was having second thoughts about motherhood. I don't know if I answered her, or how I answered her. But I was. Of course there is no turning back. And I knew that.

I prayed for relief. But I didn't know what form that relief could come in. I truly felt that my life was over. I was forever going to have these two foreign beings attached to my chest for hours upon hours. I wasn't ever going to enjoy a full night of uninterrupted sleep again. I would never look in the mirror and be happy with the body I see again. I wasn't prepared for this shock to my system.

I didn't see an end in sight.

I looked at my precious boys and all I felt was fear. I didn't want to hold them. I didn't feel attached to them in any way. How was it that I could feel more in love for them when they were inside my womb than now that they are staring back at me with those beautiful blue eyes? The love just wasn't there, not matter how hard I wished for it to appear.

I dreaded when they woke up because it meant they would start crying. Which meant I had to feed them. Which meant over an hour of breastfeeding that was painful and not giving them what they needed. It felt like they were always hungry. And I felt like a complete failure.

For the first month we slept with the boys downstairs {their room and ours were both upstairs}. Dan on the sofa. Me in the recliner. The boys in the pack-n-play.

I know that probably sounds really odd, but we were so overwhelmed and it worked at the time. The PNP was a huge PITA to move upstairs and we wanted the boys in our room with us. Their crib wouldn't fit through our bedroom door. You get the idea. So downstairs we stayed. For a whole month.

No wonder we looked like this...

I can't believe I just shared this photo, but it is a fitting illustration for sure.

I don't know what I would have done without Dan. Bless his heart he not only had to deal with two new babies but a depressed wife as well. He had his moments too. But he was so good with the boys from day 1...

And thank goodness for all of the women in our family...our moms, Dan's sister, and his Grandma. They stayed the night...they cooked...they cleaned. They had quite a few wet shoulders from my tears.

I don't remember how old the boys were, probably somewhere between 1-2 weeks, when with the help of Dan, my Mom and my mother-in-law, we decided I had to get some help. I owed it to my boys to get some help.

So I called my OB's office and while choking back tears explained how I was feeling and told the nurse about my past experience with anxiety. Without having to go in for a visit, the doctor prescribed me an anxiety medication and some emergency xanax to help bring me out of the black hole I had fallen into.

I also stopped breastfeeding. This was all at once the biggest relief and greatest guilt I have ever felt. But I couldn't breastfeed on the medication. And without the medication I couldn't handle breastfeeding. So there you go...formula it was.

The boys were sucking down bottles like there was no tomorrow...and they were full....and happier!

And after a few days so was I...

Don't get me was still hard. Like really hard. But manageable. I didn't feel hopeless anymore. And with each passing day..minute even...I started to feel a connection forming between us.

And then all of a sudden they were a month old!

And we finally got up the courage to let them sleep in their crib {they shared for a few weeks}...

And we slept in our bed. Life was getting back to normal. Well...a new normal anyway.

And I started having fun with them. Like posing Ben in his Papa's childhood rocker...

Poor thing was so cross eyed that first month.

And taking our first trip to the park...

Those are my first real memories of motherhood. 

Motherhood as I know it now. The way it is supposed to be. The good stuff.  The good stuff that makes the hard stuff bearable, and even desired in a strange way. Because we know the hard stuff is making us stronger.

So there it is. And I managed to only shed a few tears. I actually think I smiled more than I cried while writing this. And that seems about right. The smiles and laughter we experience as parents always overshadow even the darkest moments. I am so thankful for that, and for my boys.

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Anonymous said...

Well, that was incredibly inspiring, heartfelt, and brave. You are not alone and you never will be. Thanks for sharing this- as a therapist you know I love talking about feelings!! Love you girl. - Laura

Anonymous said...

Mandy, I'm one mommy whose heart so deeply resonates with your experience and I know I'm not the only one! Thank you for sharing in truth and being real! I remember holding Levi when he was three weeks old, staring out the window, so numb I was scared to the core. I couldn't smile or cry, I was just numb and so, so sad.

Thank God for husbands of rock!! That's when I too, with Andy's encouragement, quit breast feeding. We were a happier, healthier family after that. Can't deny it!

Love you! And oh those pictures are so precious :)

BobbieGarner said...

I love that you can openly share your feelings. It's hard as a mom to admit when we don't connect to our babies - but it's so true! I was so out of it during my daughters first month - I can't remember taking he time to really snuggle and enjoy her. Wish I had now. Thanks for sharing. makes me want to go find those old baby pics.

Thrifty Crafty Girl said...

You should never feel guilt about not being able to breastfeed. I think every mother should try it and see if it works for them... but if it doesn't, there's no shame in it.

I'm so glad you posted your story!

Anonymous said...

Hi-I live in Vancouver, Canada and have been reading your blog for over a year. I appreciate the diversity, life with boys, and your design tips. Thank you for your efforts in keeping up the blog!

faith said...

Mandy, I was around before you had these two amazing lil boys and I feel so blessed that i could be apart of their growing up and lives. I know you had a rocky start but you did very well and kept a brave outlook on things. thankfully i have been around babies all my life so the transition was totally different but in your case i think you came through that valley with courage, strength and two boys who adore every minute with you. Love you guys~ Faith

Laura said...


You're so not alone. I, too, struggled to bond with my son in those early weeks. I felt many of the same things you did, but I only had to handle one newborn, not two! I wished I would have gotten help much sooner than I did.

Thanks for sharing your story. I think many new moms can benefit from hearing that it's not all blissful and beautiful at the beginning and that's okay.

Kelly said...

I am so proud of you for being an encouragement to so many mothers out there who have and will feel the same way you did. You are a great mother, and one small thing I take from your story is to do things the way they are working for YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. Not someone else's "ideal," but your ideal. I can't tell you the opinions I heard from friends (not to mention random people) when I opted not to breastfeed my third child, after doing so with the first two. I was very afraid of the overwhelmed feeling I knew I would get during feeding times, and my husband and I decided that formula would be best for this child...and you know what, it is and was the right decision for us. All your decisions were right for your family, because you made them with your best interests in mind. I am so thankful to call such a strong woman my friend. :)

Susanna said...

Mandy, thank you for being brave enough to share this experience. Your story, minus twins (I only had one at a time) resonates with me and how I felt. You hit the nail on the head when you said that you established a "new norm". I think that's what it takes, along with doing what your gut tells you and not what you "think" you're supposed to be doing.

allenaim photography and design said...

oh I am late to the party and just reading this, but I thank Beth (Unskinny Boppy) for sending you my way...(A Nest for All Seasons)

I have SO much in common with you girl...I felt MUCH of this as well, but I had my babies one at a time. I too leaned heavily on my husband (still do!) when everything seemed like the world was ending and there was no end in sight during that horrible fog. ...AND I just read your bop... crafts, interior design, coffee or dark chocolate. UM YEAH. We could so be friends :)

Freckles Chick said...

As I sat here, reading this post (how did I miss this originally?!), tears welled up. Because I could empathize w/ EVERY SINGLE SENTENCE you wrote. B/c those similar emotions still feel as fresh to me as if they happened yesterday. When I reflect on those early days, for me I can't remember the "good" parts.....just those horrible, overwhelming, sad feelings. And like you, I wish I could remember how tiny Quinn felt in my arms, her newborn smell, revel in her newborn whimpers.

And I only had ONE newborn to get to know!! You, my dear, have been thru the wringer. You're also proof that things can/do get SO MUCH better. Doesn't matter how you get there, as long as you get there. Your boys are so lucky to have you. =]

Thanks for your email, it was so kind. Half the battle is not feeling alone in all this & you helped me w/ that. I heart you to the moon & back!!!!



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