When I first created this site I didn't know if I would ever talk about my difficult journey postpartum. It's always much easier to tell other peoples stories than it is to tell your own. And while I have talked a little about my ups and downs postpartum on Instagram and in blog posts, I've never told this part of the story. Mostly because it's really personal and also because my family sometimes reads this stuff and I'm about to get real intimate with yall. (I'm bout to talk s.e.x.) So if you're my mom or dad or brother you should probably stop reading now. Seriously.
Tonight is the eve of my first baby's eighth birthday. Eight. Eight years ago my life flipped upside down and right side up in all the best ways. Eight years ago I learned what it meant to love. Eight years ago I started a journey that would lead me to start this blog and share these stories and connect women around the globe through our triumphs and our struggles and our unwavering, unbreakable bond that we share in motherhood. This is my story.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a mother. I think I stopped playing with dolls when I was like, 13. So when I got pregnant at 20 I wasn’t scared. Sure I was young, and sure I didn’t have my shit together (I'm 28 now and still waiting for that shit to get itself together) But taking care of a tiny life, becoming a mom, that was exciting.
I remember after Peyton was born my husband kept saying ‘Im supposed to be looking for signs of postpartum depression’ like aversions from the baby or maybe not ever wanting to let her leave my side. I was fine. I loved her, and being her mom felt every bit as natural as I had always expected. I didn’t care when other people held her or fed her. I didn’t freak out when I had to go back to school full time when she was only two months old. There were no compulsive thoughts or feelings of inadequacy. I was fine.
But I wasn't fine. Not completely.
Reading the birth boards I was on there was always that woman, the one who couldn't wait the 6 weeks to have sex. Are you actually crazy? Sex was so far from my mind it was in like, Pluto. Like, back when Pluto was a planet, far away. Far. Far away. I tore terribly with my first. I ripped upwards and every day tasks such as peeing, were torturous. I literally had to fill up the tub and sit in it every time I went pee for the first two weeks postpartum. So yeah, no sex for me please and thank you.
And that’s normal right? I mean I wasn’t even technically allowed to have sex for 6 weeks anyway, and most of the other women on the boards all thought those 2 weekers were crazy too. So I’m still normal.
And then 6 weeks came and I reluctantly had to tell my husband that I was ‘good to go.’ He was thrilled, me, not so much. We tried. It hurt. Like a mother fucker (no pun intended). Awful. And that was normal too, right? I was still healing from a bad tear, I had still just given birth (to a 9 lb baby might I add) It would probably take some time. But how long? Every time it hurt and even worse than it hurting was the fact that I still didn’t want to do it. The thought of being touched made me cringe. Every night we would climb in bed and I would pray that he would just go to sleep. And when he stared kissing me, I would cry. I would silently cry while we attempted to have sex. I say attempted because every position still hurt. I was broken.
So here I am, in pain, with zero sexual desires, and all I could do was feel awful for my husband. I loved him, I was so very attracted to him, I wanted to want to have sex with him. I just couldn’t. I constantly said ‘it's’ not you, it’s me’ and I’m not sure he believed me because how shitty does it feel when your partner feels repulsed by the thought of being intimate with you? It must feel really really shitty.
I thought it may have been because of my postpartum body. I was fat and jiggly. I had stretch marks. My boobs were massive and much much lower than they once were. I was unhappy with how I felt and looked. And as much as he would assure me that I was beautiful, I didn’t believe it. So that must have been it.
But it had to be something more than that because not only did I not want to be touched, I didn’t want to touch him. I didn't know what to do. I was so scared that it would never go away. That I would never want to be intimate with my partner ever again.
This wasn't just a lack of interest in sex. It wasn't because I was wiped out at the end of the day from parenting and being a full time student and would rather sleep. The thought of being touched made me cry. The fear that he would try something would debilitate me. Going to bed was the worst part of my day. And then it just got to the point where he wouldn't even try anymore. And I was thankful. I was thankful that my partner didn't want to have sex with me. That he gave up on me. These are not normal feelings. This was not normal.
After about 9 months I graduated and moved home. I began to take care of myself. I started exercising and eating non poor college kid (with a kid) food. I started feeling like myself again. I took long walks with my daughter, I went out with friends, I got into a really great place both physically and mentally. And somewhere along that road, it all went away. I can’t remember if it was a gradual thing or if all of a sudden one day I was like ‘maybe we should have sex?’ and it was all just fine. All I know is that I was finally ok. And that was the best feeling ever.
When I got pregnant with our second I was terrified that it would happen again. I couldn't go through that. We were in such a good place and we were happy and I loved him and I never wanted to feel like that ever again. Thankfully it never came back with either of my next two pregnancies.
I learned to love my body in all of its stages. I learned to appreciate motherhood and what it’s done to me. I joined The Fourth Trimester Bodies Project to help encourage other women to love themselves and their bodies. I've tried to maintain a healthy balance of eating crap and eating carrots, and binge watching netflix and going for runs. I spend most of my time with my kids but I make time for myself. I found my dream job and in between the drama of life I'm mostly really very happy. Taking care of you is the most important thing you can do. Because if you're tired, or unhappy, or broken, then what use are you going to be to those who depend on you? And that's what this whole thing taught me.
I don’t have an official name for what I went though. I don’t know if it was postpartum depression, or anxiety. I don't know if I was touched out or if it was sexual aversion disorder (Whos initials are SAD... how appropriate) I never talked to anyone about it and I never got help. I can tell you that it’s not something that just happens after you have a baby. It’s not something that you should ignore and hope it goes away. So if you are going through this, reach out and get help because no one should ever have to just ride that out on their own. Postpartum is hard. It’s really hard. It’s normal to be tired and to be sad sometimes. It’s normal to take time to get back to how you felt before. But it’s not normal to be miserable. In any aspects. Never be afraid to speak up and reach out because I can guarantee that there is some else out there who has felt what you're feeling. Don't postpartum alone.
My name is Ashley and I'm the face behind the blog. I'm an almost 30 (esh, still haven't come to terms with that) mom of three living outside Washington DC.
I went to school for fashion design, but after having a baby my senior year, my high fashion dreams took a hiatus and that's OK! Because it lead me to where I am today, and that is a mother and a Doula (for the amazing team at Doulas of Capitol Hill). And that lead me to create this space that has become so important to me!
I speak sarcasm fluently, drink coffee through an IV, and I have a deep and possibly borderline obsessive love towards all things Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I truly believe that kids should spend their time being kids and adults should spend more time learning from them. I never take anything too seriously and I try to live life with my cup half full (of wine) My playlist is a perfect mix of 90's pop and Taylor Swift and I'm imaginary best friends with Blake Lively (girl get at me). In my free time (of which I have SO much) I can be found grammin over at @thepeanutgallery
Sometimes you have a really easy pregnancy and labor. Sometimes you have a rough pregnancy and a difficult labor. Sometimes one thing goes wrong, sometimes a few things go wrong, and sometimes, like with Alex, pregnancy and birth can't quit throwing you curve balls.
I'm Alex I'm a 28 year old first time Mom to my wonderful 11 month old daughter Fawn. I got very lucky with her, she is insanely sweet and mellow, and although she is a wonderful baby, we definitely have had our share of curve balls, starting very early in my pregnancy...
All I ever have wanted in my life was to have a family. All throughout college I was working toward a degree in Fashion Merchandising and in the back of my head I was like "yeah yeah, I just want babies". Everyone that has known me for a while, or even not that long, knows this about me. I have loved pregnancy, babies, birth and all things related to these subjects since long before I was becoming a Mom. My cousin recently told me "you know so much about babies it's almost weird". Which I take as a major compliment! I was a nanny for a number of years and absolutely adored working with those kids, I loved my job so much! I also am a trained postpartum doula, which I became over a year before getting pregnant myself. So needless to say, I've always surrounded myself with babies, because that's my idea of fun!
So fast forward, I get married to a wonderful man, I get pregnant the first month trying. Crazy lucky. I was on, the, ball with figuring out everything that needed to happen, hired a doula, looked in to birth techniques (I decided on Hypnobabies, and I cannot say enough positive things about it!), started researching home birth and birth centers. I was basking in the glory of finally being a Mother! I did a half marathon rollerblade race at 4 weeks pregnant, I felt great. I was thinking I was going to be one of those super annoying pregnant women that's "never felt better" and "forgets she's pregnant". Oh how wrong I was! I had a little nausea and woozy feeling but nothing that isn't to be expected. Then, at 5 weeks pregnant I started throwing up about 10 times a day and couldn't sit up without puking. Good times. I tried evvvvvvveryyyythiiiing! I swear if I heard another person say "have you tried ginger?!" I was going to hulk out on everyone. What I had was called Hypermesis Gravidarum, or persistent vomiting due to pregnancy, it effects 1-3% of pregnant women. Lucky me! So I was basically bed ridden, was throwing up blood because my esophagus was so torn up, I had lost 8 pounds that I couldn't afford to lose. I couldn't even sit up to read, I had to be flat on my back. I'm not one to watch much TV but that's basically all I did, and listened to books on tape while staring at the ceiling, thrilling stuff. I was desperate and REALLY didn't want to take medication, I just kept thinking of Thalidomide babies. So, I decided to try acupuncture (which, during the 15 minute drive to my first appointment I had to pull my car over twice to puke) and that day, I felt human, for the first time in weeks. I was still throwing up but not nearly as much, so I was able to go out and do things again, albeit everywhere I went I had to scan the room and see what I could throw up in, if need be, because when the feeling hit, I had about 5 seconds to find a vessel to contain it. There is kind of a loneliness to pregnancy already, you can't do everything you want, your body is changing every 5 minutes, hormones galore! But the fact that I spent the vast majority of my first few months pregnant actually alone, constantly puking, I've never felt more isolated in my life. I remember thinking, "WHAT THE EFF?!?! What did I do to deserve this?! I recycle, I don't swear much, I rescued 2 dogs, I give good hugs, whatever happened to karma?!" Also, thinking that this wasn't the greatest way to start off something I've been looking forward most of my life. I finally stopped throwing up at 18 weeks and felt so great after that! I never had a single token pregnant woman meltdown (I credit Hypnobabies and my stellar prenatal chiropractor). I remained very active after I gained my weight back (which wasn't a problem for me because I looooove food, and I had to make up for lost time!)
Then at 37 weeks I go to my midwife and baby had developed an irregular heartbeat. Super. I leave the appointment in tears, naturally. So I schedule an appointment for a late pregnancy ultrasound 2 weeks from then to get her heart checked out. In the meantime I went to another midwife appointment the following week and hear "we are concerned because baby isn't growing". Fantastic. I never measured past 36 weeks. At this point I remember saying to my husband "maybe I've had it all wrong this whole time and I'm not meant to be a Mother. These things don't happen during 'regular' pregnancies". I was feeling rather defeated. Wondering if these problems happened because I don't eat meat so I wasn't giving her enough protein, if I was eating too much sugar so her heart got all wacky. Of course you blame yourself, because you are the only one with any semblance of control over what happens to a baking baby. But in fact, I likely could have done everything completely different and everything would have turned out the same.
We go in for the ultrasound and the doctor says "well your baby is just packed in really efficiently" so size wasn't a worry anymore (she was 8 pounds at birth, so booya!) but her heartbeat was still a bit of concern so we had to realize that we may have ended up in the hospital (I gave birth at a birth center) to have her heart checked out, and she may need a "simple procedure" to fix it. No thanks to that! But it turns out that the vast majority of babies that have an irregular heartbeat in utero have them go away during birth, and that's exactly what happened, huzzah!
During all this stuff I had 3 family members that were pregnant at the same time as me, 2 sister in laws and my cousin. All three of them threw up during the beginning, not as much as I did, but they were still sick, which sucks. But that's it, everything else went just as planned for all three of them. So knowing that everything was hunky dory for them and I was having all this stuff come up, made me pretty confused and wonder why. I never got an answer to why, some of us just have more complicated pregnancies than others for no reason at all.
Now fast forward to me at 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant. Everyone constantly asking "haven't you had that baby yet?!" I just wanted to say, "yes I have, can't you see, she's right here and I am now clearly no longer pregnant you FOOL!". I start having contractions (in Hypnobabies we called them "waves"). When they started I thought they were gas pains, because that's exactly what they felt like. They were very irregular and my midwife said they were just "practice", and I was having "prodromal labor" which means they are labor contractions, but you aren't technically IN labor yet. That evening I thought my water had broke while I was on a walk, it turned out it was a "high leak", whatever the hell that is. My midwife said "there is lots of fluid involved, this isn't amniotic fluid and that's what we are looking for". Cool, not I'm having fake out contractions and had a fake out water breaking. Why not?! Turns out I'd have prodromal crobtractions for 3 days straight, yikes. Some were short and barely felt like anything, some felt like my entire body was being squeezed. They weren't painful, but after a while they became quite uncomfortable, because my body was so sore from so many of them. I went to the chiropractor, which helped an INSANE amount with my discomfort, I trotted out of that appointment like I've never felt better. (Seriously, get adjusted while you are pregnant! It helps with the baby's positioning too!) Then my water broke. But I wasn't technically in labor, still. Yeah, that happens. But now I was on the clock. They give you 48 hours after your water breaks to have the baby naturally and after that you get induced because you start being at risk for infection. Nope, not happening, I did NOT want to have her in a hospital! I did more acupuncture, then my doula came over to try and get things moving, and did they ever! I went from having irregular contractions to involuntarily pushing in my living room (spinning babies FTW)! We pack up lighting fast. I try as hard as I possibly can to not have the baby in the car for the 20 minute drive, because once she decided it was time, she was coming out FAST. We called my Mom on the way and she didn't answer the first time so we called her again and she picked up and my husband says "The baby is coming" and she responds "well I know but what is going on" and he responds "no, she is coming RIGHT NOW". Meanwhile I'm having a conversation with my unborn child to stay in for another half an hour, which she listened to, good baby!
At last, we get to the birth center, when we got there the tub wasn't filled and I said "WHY isn't the tub full?!" And they said it fills up in about 2 minutes and they had to check us both out. When they said they wanted to see if I was dilated enough I laughed and thought, "you've got to be kidding me, of course I am!" Then I hear "fill the tub, baby is crowning", I get in the tub, I pushed on my own terms (with no pain, none, I'm still shocked, hooray for Hypnobabies) for 40 minutes and my baby was in my arms. So I was technically only in "real" labor, for 2 hours. Ta da! I had my baby, everything is perfect and lovely and now we can cuddle and have the loaf of bread the midwives bake you. NOPE! I hemorrhaged. So I have to get out of the tub, get in the bed and be given medication to stop the bleeding, which it did. I deliver the placenta. Then I try to nurse for the first time, perfect latch, we decided to name her Fawn, everything is now good, bring on the bread! NOPE! I had adhered placenta and had a 4th degree tear, so would be transferred to the hospital to get my tear fixed, the midwife said "I could fix it here but you'll be more comfortable and they will do a better job at the hospital", yeah, I don't want to mess around with that area, I want the "better job". I was going to need a procedure to get the placenta removed, but it ended up coming out on its own. Fawn was put in her car seat just over 2 hours after being born. Pretty wild. Luckily the hospital was right across the street so we didn't have far to go. I was in that post birth blissful haze. So I went in to get my tear fixed, separated from my daughter just hours after meeting her. They gave me an epidural since I was supposed to get a d and c for the placenta, but didn't, so I didn't need the epidural. They said the epidural would make me numb from the waist down and last 2 hours. I was numb from the neck down for 7 hours and my arms were convulsing the entire time because my nerves were so messed up. Thank God I didn't have one of those when I was pushing Fawn out! That would have been horrible! I go in to recovery and my husband comes in with my midwife and Fawn and they tell me that she needs to be monitored overnight for a slow resting heart rate and we will have to be separated for 12 hours while she is in the SCU and I am in recovery. So her irregular heartbeat went away, but now it's slow... really?! Give this kid a break! I nursed again, they gave her her vitamin k shot, and she didn't even flinch. The midwife checked her heartbeat afterward because she said in all her years she has never seen a single baby not react to that shot. I'm telling you, my kid was born chill. Her heart ended up being totally fine, just very efficient.
I healed really well. I took 2 full weeks of doing VERY limited activity, just focusing on bonding with Fawn, figuring out breastfeeding, taking 40,000 sitz baths and resting. Which I am very very lucky to have had the ability to do. My husband and our family and friends could not have been more stellar. I was nervous about postpartum depression because I had 2 risk factors working against me, I had PMDD (really bad PMS) years ago and Fawn's birth was considered traumatic, well, her post birth was I suppose. I didn't end up having any sings of PPD or PMAD, I credit my amazing husband and all the help we received, and Fawn for being an amazing sleeper right away. But it took me a very long time to not start sobbing when I thought about that first night with her being hooked up to all those wires in a room completely alone, she slept for the vast majority of it luckily, I would go in to try and nurse her every 3 hours and she wouldn't even wake up for that. Every time I look over our birth pictures and I see the images of Fawn being held by my parents and my Mother-in-law for the first time, getting her first diaper changed, being weighed and measured, and knowing I wasn't there, I burst in to tears, still. I was SO worried she wouldn't bond well with me. Well she loves nothing more than being carried around in my arms and is a very affectionate and cuddly baby, so my worry was all for not. I still am processing the whole thing, I probably will be for a long time, maybe forever. But talking about it helps, especially to people that have had a similar experience. That's why I'm so glad to be a part of this blog. Since becoming a Mother I have found how incredibly important it is to be connected with other Mothers, swap stories and advice. I had so many things happen during my pregnancy that weren't "supposed to happen" but isn't that Motherhood? Being thrown stuff from every direction and learning to adapt and catch it all while also making dinner, nursing, wearing your baby and doing calf raises LIKE A DAMN BOSS! Being a Mom makes me feel so strong it's unbelievable, I've never felt more sure of myself. I'm definitely in the part where I feel like, yep, this is what I'm meant to do.
P.S... I never did get my loaf of bread.
Alex lives with her husband, daughter and 2 mutts in Minneapolis, MN. She works part time on a podcast with her parents and brother, and the rest of the time she is Momming it up, working out, eating or talking to herself. She is a baking and cooking enthusiast and tree hugger.
Michelle is a beautiful artist, a loving mom, a vital member of her community and one of the founders of The Bravery Board , and she's really funny (did I mention that she just won and Emmy? yeah) She's essentially everything I look for in a friend, so when I asked her about writing a blog I was pretty excited when she said 'yes!' Michelle is on baby number two and her body isn't being easy on her. The reality of pregnancy isn't always glowing faces and tiny kicks so thank you Michelle for giving us a peek into what growing a human often looks like for women.
Last night I posted on Facebook something that for a while made me feel like I might be a bad person. I posted it anyway out of desperation toward my own inner-self. It read, “To all you women out there who just loved being pregnant - I don't know if I envy you or want to stab you in the eye.” Funny, yes, but sadly, I don’t feel like it was much of an over-exaggeration. It's kind of the truth these days.
Before you judge me, know I am a nice person. I am normal. I have lots of friends and rarely hold grudges. I give to charities and take care of children’s emotional needs for a living. I just am REALLY not enjoying being pregnant right now, and recently I actually felt the pains of wanting to say something terribly rude to a woman who, upon finding out I was pregnant said, “Oh don’t you just LOVE being pregnant? What a beautiful blessing.”
I won’t repeat what I wanted to say when she asked that. I will just leave it at the answer being, “No.”
This is my second pregnancy. My first son is four-years-old, and I do have to admit, the first time around pregnancy was a bit magical despite the physical trials I endured. I was 5 years younger for one thing. I had wanted to be a mom for as long as I could remember, so every little twitch and pregnancy milestone I hit was a source of pride. First ultrasound. First kick. Shoot, even the bad stuff like hemorrhoids and him kicking me in the ribs to the point I lost my breath and the awful PUPS rash I got 2 weeks before I delivered felt more like bragging rights as to how hard my body was working. I marveled at what we women are capable of as I went through it. It was hard, but I reveled in God’s miracle and all that.
But now I’m older, more prone to gaining weight, feel more exhausted and brain-dead, and within two weeks of finding out I was pregnant, I have been consistently sick. Not just slightly nauseated in the mornings as the term “morning sickness” would fool you into believing. I’ve been flu-like-sick morning, noon, and night. Gone is any sort of “glow” that pregnant women describe feeling. I feel an utter distaste for all of it. I don’t feel pride for any of the trials my body has to endure while being pregnant. I don’t feel like they are another notch on my belt. I’m just sick and tired. And tired of being sick and tired. And I was scared to admit it until I wrote that Facebook post.
One of the things I have a hard time with is admitting to is that motherhood in this stage is just difficult. I’ve been afraid to say out loud how much I really dislike being pregnant this go around because it feels like blasphemy. What about all those moms out there who can’t have children? I also have some weird feeling that if I verbalize my distaste for being sick 24/7 and not being able to catch my breath and all that, that I am somehow damaging my unborn child. It seems like a ridiculous thought now that I am typing it, but we often times put ourselves in “this or that” mindsets forgetting that there is space for both.
What’s true is this: I can be excited about the outcome of this child and at the same time be dismayed by the journey to get there. That doesn’t mean I’m a bad person or a bad mom. It means I am real. It means I don’t like being sick all the time. It means I like the vibrant energy-filled person I tend to be when I’m not carrying a child in my womb. That’s okay. That’s normal.
My confession, or rather my encouragement, to all those moms going through a tough pregnancy (or shoot, this could just as easily apply to those first few weeks of having a baby- don’t even get me started about that) is this: The mantra “It's hard, but worth it” is an okay phrase to adopt, and it's actually comforting to think of it that way rather than force yourself into feeling like it's all some sort of giant blessing. I know in the end, this will all be worth it and it will be a blessing. I know that I’ll love my son (yes, it's a boy!) like crazy and won’t be able to imagine a world without him once he gets here. But I also know it's okay to be authentic with how I am feeling in the here and now and not brush aside the hard parts because I don’t want to be ungrateful. We can feel two things at the same time- joy and pain- and that is the blessing and wonder of giving life and living life in the first place- its sacrifice, tears, pain, and joy all rolled into one.
Michelle Houghton is a counselor, painter, performer, speaker, and mother. She is the co-founder of The Bravery Board, a podcast and community-minded organization which hosts monthly gatherings related to wellness, thriving, and taking brave steps toward big goals. She is also an Emmy-winning writer and performer for The Mystery Hour, a comedic late night talk show based out of Springfield, MO, where she and her husband, (and host of the show), are raising their son and baby-on-the-way. Michelle is a connector, do-er, creative-thinker, and visionary. She strives to connect individuals to their overall potential and creativity, and applies her unique blend of self expression, vulnerability, and empathy to assist others in thriving
Allison sent me the story of her ectopic pregnancy via email and right away I could tell she was a writer. Her story, though heart breaking, it beautifully written. Her visualizations are so strong that she really gives you a deep look into what she was going through. Here is part 1 of her 2 part story.
Like a haze, the memories of that day come into focus. Their edges are fuzzy, like the stuffed bear the little girl gave me to ease my pain. The lines morph into a center where the clarity is astonishing. It is like that for me when I turn out the lights at night. I am a mixture of dust and polish, ash and sunlight, summer and the harshest winter storm. My husband turns over and is snoring within a minute, but I lay awake facing the onslaught of unrecognizable feelings and vivid images.
My thoughts turn to the day of our first sonogram. It was supposed to be an exciting morning. We were going to see the baby for the first time. The doctor had told us the week before that everything seemed normal, but I woke up with sharp pains in my abdomen. I thought about staying home but my husband and I agreed I should suck it up and go to the doctor’s appointment. After all, it was just bad morning sickness. At the doctor’s office I was too weak to leave my vehicle. I knew something was wrong and asked my husband to get help.
I remained in the vehicle while he went in to the office to ask for a wheelchair. He returned to inform me that the office did not have a wheelchair and the nurses told him to just come inside. He drove the Jeep closer to the building and we waited for ten minutes while I tried to gather strength to stand up. He went in a second time and asked if they could have a bed ready for me. Later he told me they were reluctant to do that even after he told them that I was in pain. It seemed we were on our own.
While he was in the office for the second time that’s when it started. Everything was tanning-bed-bulb bright. The pain receded behind an avalanche of joy-filled dreams. For the life of me I cannot recall a single dream, but I know I did not want to wake up. The short-lived relief lingered like a rose petal balancing on a still pool of water. The water surged and overtook the petal as a reminder that my body was in agony.
My husband came to the car door right as I woke up. A cold chill swept over me and the sweat fell. It had no resemblance to the tears that would come later. It dripped off me like a hundred leaking faucets. Drip. Drip. Drip. The next day my husband told me that was when he knew it was serious. I was as pale as the sand on our favorite beach.
As he helped me from the Jeep and onto the sidewalk, he later told me I fainted again. All I remember are the same wonderful dreams and the cessation of my pain. I woke up to the stares from curious faces. It took me a moment to realize that I was sprawled out on the sidewalk in front of the doctor’s office and that my shirt was up to my bra-line. No dignity. Only pain.
After the nurses called 911, they lead me stumbling and weak, to the nearest room. I don’t remember the color of the room, but I do remember the white coat the doctor wore as he stood in the doorway and the white paper underneath me that crinkled while I was being moved.
The first time I heard the words “ectopic pregnancy” was in this room while the medics were unsuccessfully trying to get a blood pressure reading. Until this moment, I didn’t entertain the thought that my baby was going to die.
Allison Graber is a Nashville writer and lover of Jesus. She is 13-years married to Lynn, a mix engineer with quiet ways and a loyal spirit. Her two little girls, Ellis and Adeleine, daily coax delight out of her heart. The paradigm through which she sees the world has been built brick-by-brick from her experiences with her Jesus, her love of people, through loss, curiosity, Holy words, and through the surprising joy of motherhood. She writes about these things at AllisonGraber.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
Jessie and I went to high school together and thanks to social media we have been able to keep in touch even though she's taken her roots across country. We both got pregnant with our first babies at the same time (due 1 day apart) and it's been so fun watching them grow up though pictures and videos. She has been pretty open about the struggles she faced postpartum after having her twins so I was really grateful when she reached out to me about telling her story for the blog. So why don't we let her take it from here.
Everyone who brings a new child into their home knows how overwhelming it can be. You have an insane mixture of emotions. Your hormones are all over the place if you have just given birth. You are now the most important person to this human being. I remember crying out of the unknown with my first - I had the "baby blues" as they say. It lasted only the first three days and then it was gone.
Then I had my twins. Long story short- I had my first ambulance ride since I was only 33 weeks gestation. They tried to stop my labor for 3 days. I was exhausted and done. I finally had my boys via csection At 4:25 and 4:28 PM on July 16, 2012.
Then the day I was discharged came and holy emotions. I was wheeled out to the waiting area for my husband to come get me and of course they wheeled me next to a new mom with her newborn baby going home. I lost it. I started bawling and I thought here come "the baby blues". I'm one of the lucky ones though, my boys only spent two weeks in the nicu before I brought them home. Many other nicu families can't say the same.
Home, right, I forgot to mention my husband just graduated with his masters in teaching and was looking for a job. We were blessed with a job opportunity the day after the boys were born and we took it. Only problem? It would take us three hours away from our family and friends and what was familiar. Oh and help. We were moving away from all help.
As you can see- this is a LOT to go through in such a short period of time. Add on the raging hormone change from being pregnant to having newborns- I can now see why I had such a hard time after birth. I remember posting on my family blog if any of my friends had experience with PPD and you can bet a lot of my friends posted the same things "get out of the house, go for a walk, try to make new friends, exercise, it's just baby blues" and the worst yet came from family (who I love dearly! Don't get me wrong) when they said "i hope you don't have to get on any kind of medication".
Fast forward 5 months postpartum. I go to my OBGYN for check up on my IUD. I ask my doctor if it was possible to have PPD 5 months postpartum. He said absolutely and pulled me into his office. There I sat crying to this man "I'm not myself anymore. My husband has asked me where has his wife gone. I sometimes think my family would be better off if I wasn't there because I can't seem to get a hang of this. Sometimes I wish I never got pregnant"
Here comes the ugly truth. I did not love myself. I would get so angry I would pull my hair out. I had bald spots. I would sit in the bathroom and cry counting down the hours till my husband came home. I would get so upset with myself I would hit my legs resulting in bruises. It was then I realized why some people who are depressed would cut themselves - it would bring some sort of relief to the pain you felt inside. Luckily I never got that far and I thank God every day that I didn't. I was a dead ringer for postpartum depression and I was put on medication right away.
They said it could take up to 6 weeks to kick in. I remember a week after i started I felt So much better. I wasn't angry. I wasn't lashing out and most importantly I was able to bond with my children. Why was I terrified to seek help? Because of the stigma that comes with it. I wish I would've heard stories from others about their experiences to feel better about what I was going through.
Currently I'm 4 years 8 months postpartum and I still battle depression but I'm not afraid to say I need help. Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness. I believe it takes someone strong to admit they need help! Now I know that I am a strong mom, a strong wife and a strong woman who happens to battle depression.
Jessie is a 29 year old mom of three. She has a 7 year old daughter and 4 year old twin boys. She been married for 9 years and her family is currently residing in Independence, Oregon
If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression please reach out and get help
or call 1.800.944.4773
the story behind the site
During the birth of my third child, there was a moment when I knew she was ready to be born, but my nurse was telling me that I wasn't allowed to push. That moment was followed by several more moments of internal physical, mental, and emotional struggle doing everything I could to hold her in. Twenty minutes passed in what felt like twenty hours, and after two quick pushes, my daughter was earth side. I left that birth knowing that I never wanted anyone else to ever feel so out of control and unheard in their labors. I quickly took the steps needed to become a labor doula and I haven't look backed since.
In becoming a doula, I've realized through clients, personal experiences, and relationships through social media, that there are a lot of taboo subjects when it comes to pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. I've also realized that solidarity and comfort in knowing that you're not alone is one of the best 'medicines' in coping with these feelings. Whenever I have a client dealing with one of these many issues (gender disappointment, postpartum anxiety, pre and postpartum body image struggles, IVF, loss) my immediate reaction is to find a blog post or story to send them that they can relate to. But in doing so, it has come to my attention that these posts and stories are not always that easy to find and access.
What if I were to create a blog where all women and mothers could come to share their stories on the taboo subjects of motherhood? A place that could be easily accessible to posts covering all of the topics that we are often afraid to talk about. A place where others who are going through those same feelings can come to know that they are not alone. I want to normalize all of these subjects and I want for us to be able to speak up about them in a safe and judgement free environment.
Our mission is to create a safe and judgement free space for women and mothers to share their stories of the taboo subjects that surround motherhood.
It is with this space, that we hope to help normalize these subjects.
It is with this space, that we hope to offer comfort and solidarity among those who are hurting.
It is with this space, that we hope to encourage those struggling, to speak up and reach out.
We realize that motherhood is beautiful, and amazing, and fulfilling. But we also know that it is ugly, and dark, and difficult.
And so, it is with this space, that we hope to wrap our arms and our hearts around you, for a virtual hug, so that even in the ugliest, and darkest, and most difficult of times, you will find solace in knowing that you are not alone.
It is my greatest hope that this website will become a well used resource for all of you in your time of need. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. And if you wish to become a contributor I would love to speak with you. Thank you for visiting and supporting my vision.