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MAMA; Janelle

I got married during covid and always knew I wanted to have babies. My husband and I got pregnant when we weren't really trying- whoops- and I had a ton of anxiety because I wanted a spring/summer baby. I'm a planner and I was already thinking of maternity leave (I wanted to take the rest of the school year out) and birthday parties. I was not planning a winter baby- but there we were.

Everything started out great and then I got super sick and hated being pregnant. Throwing up at school, nausea.. you name it. I stopped taking my depression/anxiety meds because I was guaranteed to throw up when I took them. Time went on and I kept waiting to "feel" pregnant- even with ultrasounds and listening to our baby's heartbeat I never "felt" pregnant.

I had a really healthy pregnancy physically, but mentally I struggled for 2/3 of it. When we found out it was a boy, I had real gender disappointment. We only planned on one baby and I had my girl name picked out years ago. Mourning the loss of a girl I'd never have was difficult and it wasn't something I could openly be sad about- a healthy baby is all that should matter. Coming to terms with the fact I was having a boy was hard- and I wasn't excited. After that, I never felt any connection to my baby. I started to hate being pregnant. And about 6months in, I had a meltdown and spiraled into a depression. I didn't want to get out of bed or wake up or go to work. I would have rather gotten into a car accident on my way to work than go in. I knew these thoughts weren’t normal or healthy so I opened up to my husband and saw my dr; I found a therapist and went back on my meds and things got a little better- manageable at least.

During my pregnancy we also bought a house and needed to do some major renovations before baby came. It was SO stressful- I do not recommend it! Zero out of 10 stars. The nursery was done 5 days before the baby came, and I was so frustrated with everything having to do with our house plans and the timeline we were on. Cue the marital bliss.

When I was just about 38 weeks I had a drs apt and my BP was super high. So I was sent to the ER and ended up getting induced on Tuesday Jan 4th. And I was covid +... as was my husband so we were stuck in a room together where he couldn't even go into the hall. On Wed they stopped the induction because of lack of labor rooms, then started again Wed night. Labor didn't really start for me until early Thursday morning. Once my water broke at 10am Thursday everything was a blur. I went from 2 to 5cm by 10am, but couldn't move to a labor room- because again, none available. Which meant no epidural. The pain was so intense I was throwing up and I swear I blacked out. Things moved SO fast. At 1pm they moved me downstairs to a labor room. I got an epidural at 130. At 2 they checked me and I was 10cm and Rowan was here after 20 min of pushing on January 6th. It was quick but scary because his HR dropped and the cord was so tight around his neck. Thankfully he was healthy. It wasn't love at first sight but within an hour I was OBSESSED with my new baby and couldn't imagine life without him. And I couldn't imagine anything but a baby boy. It's crazy how things happen.

After delivery, my BP spiked again; I was diagnosed with preeclampsia when I was induced and it didn't clear after birth. We ended up staying in the hospital for another 4 days and it was scary for me. And also, being stuck in a room with your partner for 6 days is hard! When we went home I felt terrible still and was on 2 meds twice a day, felt weak and like something was still wrong.. Managing my preeclampsia took 6 weeks until it cleared and writing this, I'm 3mo postpartum and still have to check my BP daily/have drs visits.

I was trying to navigate motherhood and my hormones, unsuccessful breastfeeding, and drs apts for Rowan for feeding issues. In the first month- 30 days- between both of us we had 15 appointments- bloodwork, GI specialists, ultrasounds, weight checks etc. This was not how I imagined my maternity leave or bonding with my new baby. Rowan started therapy for feeding and had a frenectomy. But after 10 weeks of trying, I made the decision to stop breastfeeding. I had a lot of mom guilt over it but we were both so frustrated and it wasn't happening. I pump around the clock now which is draining but I wanted him to reap the benefits of breast milk, so I feel better about not breastfeeding. My goal is to make it to 6 months pumping, and because I don’t produce enough I still supplement ½ BM and ½ formula bottles each day. We love our therapists though and they have helped so much with his feeding issues along with OT that he sees weekly.

Because I struggle with depression I was really afraid of PPD. I knew nothing about postpartum anxiety but that is what I'm currently struggling with. In the first few weeks I could not put the baby down or be away from him. I realized my anxiety was out of control and like nothing I had ever experienced. I didn't want to miss out on any time with the baby and I feel like the days are long but go SO FAST. I remember trying to go to stop and shop one night after the baby was asleep, safe, fed and in his crib.. and I had a panic attack- I could not force myself to get outside to my car.. I tried again to go to Target another day, and the same thing happened. I mentioned all of this to my OB, was referred to the women's day hospital… and after the intake appointment, turned away because they thought my anxiety wasn't intense enough and I wouldn't benefit. Luckily, my sister has been a huge support for me and I reached out to my therapist and started seeing her weekly. I also decided to take the remainder of the school year out (even though my maternity leave technically ended in March after 8 weeks). That decision alone has given me some peace in dealing with my anxiety because I get to soak up all of this time with Rowan. I have been working on leaving the baby with my husband when I go to yoga or run a quick errand on my own... and it's getting easier. But, because my husband is more of a cry it out guy, I have had a hard time leaving him with the baby. In the beginning it physically hurt to see him with the baby when he was crying and I wanted to jump out of my skin to soothe him. I still cannot fathom the cry it out method, and because we have different parenting styles, it has caused a lot of fear and anxiety for me. I’m working on communicating this to my husband- I just want to know if I leave, he will interact with Rowan and soothe him when needed.

The shift in my marriage is the hardest hurdle. I was so irritated with my husband when he was home in the beginning for no good reason- I thought I would want him to be home all the time but I honestly couldn't wait for him to go back to work when we got home from the hospital. We stopped communicating our feelings towards one another. I feel more and more like myself everyday and Rowie and I are getting into the swing of things. But, sometimes I feel like I do it all by myself anyway- keep up with cooking, cleaning, dishes, laundry and keeping a tiny human alive and happy and engaged. My marriage is something that has suffered and I'm trying to put in effort to save it, but it is hard work- and draining. My husband has said multiple times he just wants things back to the way they were, he wants his wife back, etc. But, motherhood has turned me into a different/ new person, and Rowan has changed me for the better. So this new life is just something we are all still navigating and adjusting to.

I am so thankful for therapy and the new moms support group to have a place to work through my feelings and be able to vent to other moms going through similar experiences. I'm learning how to cope with my anxiety in motherhood and therapy is helping me with communication in my relationship. As the days go by, it gets easier and my hope is it can only get better from here. Either way, I cannot remember life before this tiny human made his appearance and I am SO lucky to be his mama.



Hiccups & Sunshine New Mom Support Group

Hiccups & Sunshine is a New Mom Support Group that meets weekly to provide social interaction, support, and practical information in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere. Bring your baby and meet other new moms as you learn from their experiences, share your thoughts, and gather helpful information to assist you in parenting. This group is for new moms and their babies up to 6 months old.

Postpartum Support International

Groups are conducted using a peer-to-peer support model and are not intended for those experiencing a mental health crisis.

**Please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) if you are in need of crisis support.

La Leche League of MA/RI/VT

La Leche League of Massachusetts/Rhode Island/Vermont is part of La Leche League International, a worldwide educational, non–sectarian, not-for-profit, volunteer- based organization. We provide breastfeeding information and support to those who want to breastfeed.

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