The Reality Show After You Leave the Hospital as a New Mom

The Reality Show After You Leave the Hospital as a New Mom

Brooklyn arrived into the world on February 22nd at 6:27am. By 7:30am I had a lactation nurse in my room bringing my baby to me for my first dose of mom reality. I wasn’t even given time to longingly stare at my baby where before I knew it, she propped me up with pillows, grabbed my boob, smashed it like a burger, and shoved half of it into Brooklyn’s mouth. I want to take time to thank Kristen Bell for this analogy (and laugh). She latched perfectly as I sat there in a daze and just stared at her. OK, not so bad. So far so good and if we hit any bumps along the way, I assumed I’d figure it out somehow and cross that bridge if I came to it. The nurse popped in often to remind me to feed her, just in case I forgot as I frantically tried to recreate the smash and shove method. These women obviously were there to help me, but I felt suffocated as they stalked and stared at my boobs while I fed her.

Two weeks later, the shit show began. Not only was she up all night, but she was up all night screaming non-stop. She would latch but then about a minute into it, she would fly off my boob screaming. Clueless, I would head to my computer with her screaming in my arms and ask Dr. Google anything I could based on what was going on. I’d tell my husband she was cluster feeding based on that night’s research. That’s what it sounded like online at least. I’d then return to the computer and read one article, then another, and then another. I’d open a book and frantically search as if a bomb was going off and I was trying to find the code to deactivate it. All my resources would have twenty different possibilities that only made me feel more lost. I didn’t know how long this would last but thankfully we had an appointment with her pediatrician that week. I was desperate for answers that actually worked. Luckily the Nurse Practitioner was a Lactation Consultant and she immediately told me it was overproduction. Basically, I was drowning my baby as if my boob was a hose that was turned on full blast in her mouth. Awesome, I was already failing at the mom gig. Even though she gave me a sigh of relief with some amazing tips that worked, I got back on Dr. Google just making sure there wasn’t anything else out there that was missed. I was going crazy researching and getting even more confused as a result. Why didn’t I just continue with what she told me and trust the advice, along with myself?

Why don’t I know what to do? I’m so confused!

Let’s cut to the good news first. Most of the time you DO know what to do. That knowledge is in there, but it’s just hidden by our huge fears of failure, looking stupid, screwing up our baby, others knowing all this, and too much information being thrown at us. We’ll cut to the “what others think” and smash that right now: You don’t have to tell jack squat to anyone. Lighten the load worrying about what others will think by just keeping it within the four walls of your home. The analysis paralysis and confusion we have is due to the overload of contradictory information out there. I’ve survived the battles to tell this. One website says this, your doctor poo-poos it with, “Oh that’s just internet garbage!” Your friend tells you that never worked for her, perhaps with a judgmental tone. A book you read then swears by it. Next time you see  your MIL, she tells you “Oh, that’s just a bunch of that hippie dippie crap”, and you’re left wondering what the fuck is going on and what to do. No wonder we are so confused and full of anxiety as new parents, or parents with children at any stage for that matter.

With each situation that blows up in our face, we feel there is this one magic solution out there for all babies. We keep searching for it. This is massive pressure and totally unrealistic. In reality, there could be quite a few solutions that could help you get through something. One day it may not work. Another week it does. One child may respond to it, your second one may not. It’s kind of a crap shoot at times. Trusting your mom compass, taking risks, being open to making mistakes, and seeing them as learning opportunities (versus failures), will lighten your mental load and anxiety. Allow yourself to open the doors a bit, connect with what speaks to you, and be confident in the decision you make at that time for your unique life.

Sharing my Postpartum Feelings with my Husband

Sharing my Postpartum Feelings with my Husband

What’s more awkward? Sitting on the couch at your parents’ house on Easter Sunday as a converted Jew or your pastor brother asking about the book you’re writing about your postpartum depression experience? Where everyone around you turns their heads and widens their eyes to a record screeching? Or is it all just really fucking awkward?

My husband turned his head to me the most, with a look of confusion going beyond asking where the butter is in the fridge. Right in front of you bro. Just like my postpartum depression, can’t you tell? I stumbled with my words as my mother asked me, “Why didn’t you tell me?” Where I tell her even my best of friends didn’t know. My husband didn’t know. I’m not sure if he felt betrayed that he was in the dark but as I back-peddled to explain to him that it wasn’t just him, I don’t think it mattered. He was in the dark and six years later he was finding out about it just as everyone else was.

I’m the woman who feels she can conquer the world and fix things on her own to justify her existence. My husband is the one that wants to take charge and fix things on his own to justify his importance. Those two personalities don’t work very well when it comes to postpartum depression. It doesn’t help that the two of us are horrible at communicating. Speaking for myself in this marriage, I push things under the rug until they disappear. He does the same, and the times he has expressed his frustrations is usually when the fuse just blows from dealing with the annoying behavior for too long. So my feelings of boredom, sadness, regret, loneliness, and resentment (just to name five) were hidden. Pushed under the rug. I decided to wait and see if it was just the baby blues. I’d find help if I needed it. Trouble is, I didn’t.

Next thing you know, six years have passed and I’m writing a book about all I went through. When he reads the book, he will have many surprises of the many feelings I had as a new mom. He will be saying, “Was she really feeling this way?” and going back in time to try to remember how he could have missed all this. There may be some anger that brews that I wasn’t honest with him so he could help me. Or feelings of insecurity about what he could have done to help if he only knew.

Exactly why I didn’t tell him. I was overwhelmed as it was, so insecure that these feelings defined the mother I was and that it was going to be forever. Ashamed that I wasn’t happy with being a mom and I had regrets. No offense to my husband but if I couldn’t admit these things to my closest friends, who I told just about everything to, then how was I going to tell him?

For now, I’m going to keep editing the book and eventually have him read it. I have to prepare for his reactions and how I can explain to him why I kept these feelings a secret. Why I chose to take the postpartum journey alone with all of them.

How did you share your feelings with your partner? I’d love to hear what helped you.

Sincerely,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

Get off the new mom deserted island!

Get off the new mom deserted island!

No matter what label and story you’re telling yourself, the fact is that as human beings we need human interaction to survive. As moms, we crave connection beyond baby. We desire face-to-face over staring at our computer screens. We are wired to interact with other humans beyond our baby. So if you’re telling the story, “I’m an introvert” or “I have never related to women” then it’s time to change your story. I recently listened to a killer podcast episode from Mom After Hours about “Overcoming Isolation in Motherhood” with Allyson Pitre, M.A., LPC, The Mommy Therapist. First, love Allyson’s voice and her entire message throughout the episode. Even though I’m seven years postpartum, my head was nodding the entire time and I only WISH I could have had this episode within the first six months of being a mom. If you are curious, here’s the link to the show: Mom After Hours: Isolation in Motherhood

I got into mommy isolation a bit more on my own where you can take a listen and look at what I have to say about it: New Mom, New Story!

One thing that host Brandi says that rang a big bell for me was not being comfortable with nursing in public. People that know me well may say, “REALLY?!!” I’m an open book and they would think I would have NO issues showing my boobs in public. Those that knew me in college would agree. I had no issues showing my boobs to the patrons at an Iowa City bar or spring break trip but for some reason nursing in public made me SUPER uncomfortable and contributed to my isolation. Who knew boobs had so much power?

I’d love to hear how you’re dealing with socializing in motherhood and as Allyson Pitre describes it as exercising your “social muscles”. What has worked for you? What hasn’t? Do you still need help with this? Comment below and let’s send that boat over to the deserted island you’re on!

Sincerely,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

Best Friends Forever? Not After Motherhood!

I was prompted to write today based on an Instagram post by the Blue Dot Project (if you don’t follow them, PLEASE do or travel to their website, www.thebluedotproject.org). It goes a little something like this,

“You are allowed to outgrow people.” The caption under it explains, “Just as the seasons change, so do people. Growth is going to happen, don’t hold yourself back by fighting it, take the time you need to move up and move on.”

Chapter 9 of my upcoming book is alllll about the subject of changing and evolving friendships after you become a mom. Honestly, I have had the “best friends forever” stamp on certain women in my life where things just aren’t in sync. Chemistry is totally off with one. A few make zero effort to maintain the friendship. One I just feel isn’t what I crave with friendships at this time in my life.

I’m not mad at anyone. Disappointed in some, yes. Forgiving, of course. The more signs I get, the more I think, and then I talk to those around me that I trust and understand this need of letting go. This is hard for me as I not only have a hard time with change, but of abandoning things. Especially people. I have a lot of guilt but also hope that things will change and be back to where they were. Problem is, that’s not happening. I’ve been waiting a long time on top of it.

No one told me that this could happen in my life. The friends I have grown up with were going to be my friends for life. I thought that unless we had some huge fight or they slept with my husband, that there weren’t any reasons to end a friendship. Turns out, I need someone to reach out to me to say hello… and not be silent for six months. I crave someone else making the plans and not always being me. I’m desperate for someone to be relatable and real about their life, and to not be a perfectionist. Time is only getting more strained but I need a friend that values our relationship enough to carve out just one hour a month to catch up face-to-face.

What’s sad is I believe that if I let some of the friendships go, I don’t think they’ll be begging for them to fixed. Another thing I have to come to terms with and face. What I also need to focus on are the incredible friends right in front of me that are just as busy as others and make time to say hello, plan a dinner, try to get a couples’ night going, organize a girls’ weekend, and simply send a card to say they’re thinking of me. I need to align my life and energy towards these women. As a mom, and someone that has a hard time with this mom gig, I need friendships that fertilize me to grow. Not have me stuck overanalyzing, questioning, and living in the past. As a mom, I need a community of women that bring me excitement and electricity. Not a feeling inside that I’m being fitted in or they are too distracted where I feel it’s a courtesy date. No thanks. I’m not bitter, just need to move forward and make motherhood, and life in general, the best possible.

I hope you can as well mom. You deserve it.

Michelle Mansfield Blog

No Postpartum Diagnosis? You STILL Have a Voice!

No Postpartum Diagnosis? You STILL Have a Voice!

The circle of women surrounding me had some pretty heavy stories circulating about their postpartum experiences. I had been attending a breastfeeding support group where throughout the hour we could share any stories or ask any questions about breastfeeding, or anything else that we needed to let out as a new mom. The more visits I had, and the more comfortable I became, there were some questions I had inside of me. Not necessarily about breastfeeding, although that was sucking big time. More like how hard this adjustment to motherhood was for me.

I knew I had a hard time adjusting to change. Moving was hard and I felt myself always sad about letting go of a home, graduating college was very challenging for me and I was very depressed about letting go and fearful of the future, and leaving the city for the suburbs took me five years to get used to. So it didn’t surprise me that the biggest change in my life, becoming a mother, was extremely difficult. I look to the past a lot, which I believe was the main contributor to my postpartum depression.

Now let me say one thing first, I was never diagnosed with postpartum depression nor am I a doctor myself. But I’m finally honest with myself that I definitely had it. But it was different than other moms’ stories. I was functioning, eating, and I even went back to school with goals to be a health coach. I’d listen to other’s stories at my breastfeeding support group (breastfeeding was a main source of my depression) and there were some pretty heavy stories. Mine didn’t seem to compare to theirs. Who was I to complain about having a really hard time adjusting to my new role, letting go of my career, resentment towards my husband, loneliness, boredom, sadness, regret, and a slew of other emotions that may just be me adjusting to being a mom. I’ve never been good with change, so maybe this is just another situation that I have to deal with on my own and it will eventually get better?

I would keep my mouth shut and just talk about my boobs and ask questions about breastfeeding. I was passing the postpartum depression tests at my pediatrician’s office so I thought I was making a big deal out of something that really wasn’t. I didn’t have the “Postpartum Depression”, “Postpartum Anxiety”, “Postpartum OCD”, or “Postpartum Psychosis” stamps so I didn’t feel what I was going through was worth bringing up. But I was so wrong.

Even if you don’t have a formal diagnosis, or if a doctor brushes you off as “fine” because you don’t exhibit enough symptoms (note: just because you’re showing up for work doesn’t mean you’re functioning and mentally healthy while you’re there), you still have a REASON to talk about your feelings. Your feelings are valid, true, and need to be acknowledged. And even if you’re still not diagnosed after talking about your feelings, you’re still having a HARD time adjusting to motherhood and deserve to heal like anyone else. If you don’t acknowledge, talk, and work through what you’re going through… you could be like me where it took a good four years to enjoy being a mom. Don’t wait. Find the courage and know what you’re going through isn’t how motherhood has to be. Break through the bricks to find the help and solutions in order to find happiness and enjoy the mother you’re meant to be.

Love,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

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