My Home Birth and the Baby Blues

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My Home Birth and the Baby Blues

August 5, 2013

I had an astounding pregnancy. I felt amazing except for some minor nausea early on and some SI Joint dysfunction. I exercised almost daily at the gym, lifting weights, doing cardio and feeling downright awesome. I loved the attention friends, family and strangers paid me. Doors were held open, people were always checking in with me to see how I felt. I was on cloud nine.

preg pic

I was more excited than nervous to go into labour. I had planned a quiet home birth with only my husband and our doula and midwives present. I worked tirelessly throughout my pregnancy to ensure that everything would go according to plan. I did everything I could to ensure my baby would be anterior facing and head down: I saw my chiropractor weekly, went for massages often, I never slouched on the couch or in a chair. I read every Ina May Gaskin book I could and hired an amazing doula. Mentally and physically I was ready.

I was 40 weeks and 5 days when my labour finally began. We were out shopping for a new duvet cover that I insisted we needed. During our drive all over the city for the perfect duvet cover (which I returned when our daughter was a few weeks old) I started feeling some cramping, comparable to menstrual cramps. I barely noticed it and we continued shopping. It was late January of 2012 and the weather was beautiful so I insisted that we walk as much as possible, not even realizing that this was likely helping speed along my labour. We then went for dinner to one of our favourite Indian restaurants, again not realizing that the spicy food would likely help my labour along.

About 3/4 of the way through our dinner I rushed to the bathroom and lost my mucus plug. My cramps were no longer cramps, but increasingly intense contractions. I ordered my husband to take his Naan bread to go and we rushed home.

My contractions went from zero to sixty in a matter of hours and at first I did not think I could manage it. However I quickly found my groove and remained in control of my labour and birth magnificently. I gave birth to our beautiful daughter at 1:02 am on January 30th a mere 10 hours after feeling those first cramps. It was picturesque, me in the pool holding our newborn daughter, covered in darkness, save for the light cast by scattered candles across the room, soft jazz music playing in the background, my husband watching in awe from our bed.

The birth could not have gone better. I felt glorious and empowered.  I had a snack waiting for me, my daughter in my arms, help breastfeeding and our warm bed to relax in.

baby z

 

Everything was perfect. And yet for nearly two weeks, I did not feel like myself. I could not understand why I would feel so anxious and upset and unable to eat when I had had the perfect pregnancy, the perfect birth, the perfect family. I admit that it was several days before I finally got out of bed.

No one really talks about how difficult those first few nights, weeks and months can be. How utterly alone and helpless a new mother can feel. We often forget how much healing our bodies require, even when our birth goes according to “plan”. How completely exhausted you can feel, waking every hour or half hour each night, desperately clutching your baby to your breast, willing her to latch on just this once. How much a huge drop in hormones can affect you.

Perhaps no one talks about it because it is downright scary. But we need to start talking about it.

I’m still not sure if it was the baby blues or a form of depression or something else entirely. I remember feeling so angry at myself for feeling the way I felt, for not having the energy to go for walks every day, to feed myself, to have visitors.

I am so incredibly grateful for my family, doula, midwife and a few awesome mommy friends who calmly helped me through those first weeks.

Once I started feeling like myself again I started getting out of the house as much as I could. I joined my local Mommy Connections Mom & Baby class and later the Birthing into Motherhood Program with Mother Haven. It was so important for me to surround myself with women who understood what I was going through and who I knew wouldn’t judge me.

So many women suffer alone with postpartum depression, afraid and ashamed to admit to others how they are feeling. We need to change this. And it needs to change now.  We need to talk about how amazing, difficult, breathtaking and utterly miserable motherhood can be. We need not be ashamed of our feelings – our exhaustion, our anger, our fear, or our anxiety.

z and i 5 days

 

There is immense cultural pressure for mothers to do it all. But I am telling you, you do not need to do it alone. You may feel like the world is on your shoulders, but it doesn’t have to be.

We mothers are the solution. We must band together and support one another. Share our feelings and experiences. Listen.

We cannot lose another mother to postpartum depression.

Please share your story. Please tell someone how you feel. Please ask for help. You are strong and incredible and brave.

Never forget that.

~chelsey

 

Postpartum Depression Awareness (PPDA) has a Virtual Perinatal Mood Support Group, a place where mothers can seek support from their peers.The Edmonton Postpartum Depression Awareness Chapter is another great place to start.

 

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