Three months ago I had my first baby, and I have never been more judged in my life than I am now, as a mother – especially by conservative Christian parents – because I am not breastfeeding.
People would tell me how blessed I am but I was struggling to feel it right after my son’s birth. I don’t want to be told I’m blessed. I want to be told it’s okay to sob all day because you’re just so tired you don’t want to do it anymore. I want to be comforted and encouraged when I don’t know what my baby wants and he won’t stop crying. When I look at my beautiful little boy I feel lucky, and I love him, but I also wonder what I was thinking becoming a mother.
Caring for a newborn is the hardest damn thing I’ve ever done.
No one told me how crazy the hormones would make me feel. No other mother shared what postpartum would do to my emotions. I’m on anti-depressants because of it.
I tried breastfeeding. My baby would scream or fall asleep because my let-down and flow wasn’t fast enough. Also, I didn’t produce enough milk. I felt rejected by my son, the tiny human I had carried for nine months. I’ve never experienced heartbreak quite like it. I was physically pained. One night after attempting to breastfeed for nearly an hour, my baby incessantly screamed while at the breast until I finally passed him to my husband to tube feed. I walked downstairs, sat on the couch in the dark and pumped while I sobbed.
A Christian mother I know told me, ”Women that tell you it’s okay to formula feed say that because they feel guilty about not breastfeeding.” She offered no empathy while I sat with tears welled up in my eyes, once again pumping instead of breastfeeding my baby.
Christians were already the most judgmental group of people I’ve interacted with, but I didn’t expect this level of elitism. She is very passionate about how she and her husband raise their kids and the choices they make; she believes their way is the only way and didn’t shy away from saying so.
I already feel ridiculous saying my baby rejected me.
He doesn’t know rejection – he doesn’t know much of anything except how to sleep, cry and poop – and I certainly don’t blame him for making me feel like a failure. I don’t want you to think I don’t know my baby is a blessing. He is. I love him. He is the single most amazing thing I’ve ever done in my life. I just don’t think people share enough about how hard it is the first few months. Christian moms don’t talk about it because we aren’t supposed to complain about our little blessings.
A good friend had a baby a year before me and she mentioned experiencing “postpartum blues” but I didn’t get the dirty details. Women don’t talk about it unless you have experienced it and even then, it’s like pulling teeth getting the truth. You have to decide to be the bravest one to share.
When discussing postpartum depression with my doctor she explained that women who have organized brains, careers we love and comfortable lifestyles are the faces of postpartum depression.
I wouldn’t have a child if my husband didn’t want to be a father.
I remember the day it changed for me. I was driving to work and couldn’t see myself doing just that for the rest of my life. I knew I had a greater purpose; there was another calling for me, to be a mother. And now living through postpartum, I don’t know what I would do without my husband. He doesn’t make me feel crazy. He validates my feelings in a way some of the Christian moms I have confided in don’t. My husband and I have been married six years and as a strong, independent woman, it wasn’t until becoming parents that I learned how much I need my husband. I’ve heard many marriages struggle once parenthood takes over but our relationship is the strongest it’s ever been. I feel more connected to my husband.
After 33 years of being a person without a child and then having a baby, I wonder, “If I was younger would it have been as hard?” You get so set in your life as you get older and it’s harder to change things. Nothing can prepare you for the change a baby brings. I liked my life before our baby. I liked the freedom we had, the spontaneous nights out or the weekends we’d spend lounging around the house watching movies. Now, our lives are all about the baby.
I’m tired. I’m happy. I don’t always feel blessed, but I love my child and I’m more grateful for my husband. I’m not a bad mother for switching to formula and the anti-depressants leveled out my hormones so I can manage. In fact, now, when my baby is crying and I don’t know what to do I just hold him and bounce him and laugh through the tears because I’m doing the best I can and the best I can is good enough.
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