Saturday, March 28, 2009

Expect the Unexpected

Being pregnant for the first time is quite the learning experience. During my pregnancy I scoured many books and spent countless hours searching the Internet. I wanted to know everything that was happening to my body and the little person growing inside. But as well prepared as I thought I was, nothing could have prepared me for what was to follow.

I was certain that I was going to breastfeed my daughter. In my mind that's what a mother does and I didn't want to miss out on any part of being a new mom. Though I had been told that some women struggle with nursing, I didn't think I would. My mom said that I would be able to feed my baby just fine and mom knows everything, right? However, after an exhausting but relatively smooth labor we brought our bundle home, and I eventually went from exhausted to down right miserable.

It was about a week before the hell began. We spent the first week like most new parents delirious, joyful and doubting nearly every decision we made. But before Stella and I could really get the breastfeeding thing down I started to feel sick. Trying to diagnose what was happening to me was extremely frustrating. Every time I tried to feed my baby I became very nauseous. I was prescribed some medication that was supposed to help but the sickness got much, much worse. Did I have a mastitis? The flu? No answers. I remember the night I gave up on nursing Stella. I was totally defeated and very sad. I felt like such a failure though the relief that came with that decision was almost as strong as the sense of defeat. At this point the smell of my own baby was making me nauseous and I just couldn't do it anymore. Unfortunately my illness was caused by something more than nursing and I spent the next four days in bed. My husband was doing everything. My mom and niece came over a lot to help as well. I felt useless as a mother and sicker than I'd ever been in my life. Not exactly how I had envisioned my first weeks home with my brand new baby.

To make things worse, as if they could've been, it was almost two months before I started feeling the special bond that a mother feels to her child. Talk about depressing. I wasn't able to nurse and my illness had sucked all the life out of me. I didn't even feel like a person, let alone a mother. It was a devastating but thankfully short-lived experience.

The first weeks with Stella were nothing like I'd imagined. The wonderful part though is that there are no time limits on bonding with your baby, no deadlines to be met. I just need to love my daughter, because she definitely loves me. Seeing us today you would never know we started out the way we did. We adore each other, just like a mother and child should.

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