I am truly blessed to have two biological daughters. I had my first 5 years ago, and now I have a 3-month-old sleeping on me as I type this. When we had our first daughter, my husband and I had been together for fourteen years and were very happy since we created a wonderful life together, travelling the world at least every second year, building our home and in 2015, feeling ready for children. We couldn’t conceive and still, to this day, have unexplained infertility. Going through this has been one of the hardest things in my life. We were lucky to be successful from one cycle and four transfers (sadly two losses) of IVF for both of our girls (so they could technically be twins born 5 years apart from each other).
With our first child and becoming parents, not long after she was born, the significant emotional events started to pile on top of each other such as; the infertility journey,
going through IVF,
the negligence of my OB, finding out I had post preeclampsia (PP) which is life-threatening to both mum and bub, being told by my (turns out misogynistic) OB it was my fault I got PP which is entirely unsubstantiated (not supported or proven by evidence),
having to be monitored with a more extended hospital stay,
…it was a lot!
We didn’t see it this way at the time because we were living it, and this was the beginning of our marriage changing drastically. It went off path, but today is our tenth wedding anniversary, five years on, and we are very happy again, so this dark tunnel did end well.
In that first year of our child’s life, she was so loved whilst her mummy was going through a deep, dark battle inside herself. I would leave the house, drive ten minutes away and sit in my car for hours with my dark thoughts of feeling so much anger and lack of trust in the world. Particularly after something tragic happened to my family, I found myself on A Current Affair fighting for my grandparent’s health. The postpartum rage and depression stayed, and it had become me for too long. Part of me knew I was in postpartum depression, but the other part kept moving forward because the world didn’t stop, and my daughter needed me. My husband needed me, and I wanted us back again. It took me closer to 3 years to be clear of that dark cloud.
With our second daughter, I have had some similar challenges come up but have felt completely different about it. I feel the happiest possibly in my life so far. We struggled again with infertility and needed to do the crummy process of IVF again, crushing my hope it could happen by lovemaking this time. Amongst huge family loss and grief, my pregnancy being physically challenging, and with the C word happening all around the world, plus…I got post eclampsia again, which meant the birth of my child made me very sick again but thankfully, this time not affecting bubs. It still does mean my cardiovascular health has been lifelong affected, and I will need to pay due diligence to my heart health for the rest of my life (who doesn’t, right?). If you sadly also experience preeclampsia or post-preeclampsia as I did (pre-seizure postpartum), I recommend you follow the preeclampsia foundation at https://www.preeclampsia.org/ since not many doctors know much about it (luckily not all doctors blame the mother though!) and there is some helpful information coming out thanks to this organisation’s research. Please tell anyone else who gets it, too, because it’s crucial information women need to know and are not told. I was lucky to come across them.
With all of this plus everyday life’s challenges and big emotional things still happening, I have still been the happiest and most present for my family for the last 13 weeks of our second daughter’s life.
Here is what I have felt the differences have been that have made all the difference:
1. Support!!! There is support, and you may need to fight harder for yourself, which can be tough when you feel you have nothing left, but I would say to keep asking for it. Keep asking until you get what you need to make sure you are not playing negative stories in your head! Please know there is more support than you realise – always! There are community nurses; just go to: www.health.nsw.gov.au/child-family-health-services if in NSW or google community nurses or ask your local General Practitioner (GP). Asking can be uncomfortable, and you will most likely feel it is not necessary and that you will be okay, BUT please ask for it for yourself. You do matter, and you can get so much beautiful help.
I did ask for help from the OB who ended up delivering my child, but he kept saying he wouldn’t see me because I was under the care of my OB and he was just filling in for him, and I was his patient – even when my husband and I said we would never go back to him, he still refused. This is what I mean by sometimes needing to fight for yourself. I didn’t get postpartum care because of these doctors. When we are so fragile and vulnerable, we can feel it doesn’t matter and are dismissed, so I should have gone to another doctor for my follow-up, and I didn’t. The second time around, I can see and have experienced getting support from good professionals who care. Keep looking and asking if you need to.
From professionals. From family. From friends. From neighbours. Ask, and you will receive! Most people want to help others and feel good in doing so! Let them help you!
2. Perspective...letting hard moments pass and be willing to approach the new moment afresh. You will be in deep survival mode for weeks in parenting, so you will lose patience with your partner and family, learn, apologise, and move on. Set up a frame with your partner around both partners, not taking certain behaviours seriously and personally and work out how you will let each other know if offended vs just being able to let a hard moment go. Forgive and forget in these harder times.
3. Surrender..in order to have perspective, surrender to what is, needs to happen. Just surrender to your tiredness. Surrender to your emotions and allow them to flow through you so you can move on afresh.
4. Self Belief!!! – it is so much easier to have this the second time around as a parent, so what I would say to a new parent is to quiet outside advice so you can listen to your intuition, who knows your baby best. Intuition comes from knowledge and emotions, so listen to others just for information and then trust your feelings and your intuition will shine through. Your baby will most likely only need from you cuddles and love, to be fed, to be cleaned with regular fresh bottoms, to be comfortable and sleep. You will learn their queues for each of these things and yes, it really is that monotonous to feed, clean, nurture and put baby to sleep, and repeat. You will find your patterns. Don’t expect a routine but patterns instead. Eat, burp, change, eat, burp, clean, sleep, repeat.
5. Trust in the big picture to remember we are in process. This is a phase, and the baby, your partner, your loved ones, and you are learning. Allow your process of learning to be. Learn and let go. Forgive yourself.
6. Gratitude!!! If you can feel the gratitude for it all or even just a snippet of gratitude, the love and light and ease will shine through.
7. Love! Love yourself throughout the journey as you are giving so much love outward. You’ve got this, mama!
I hope this can help you enjoy your miracle blessing. Lots of love from Lauren xxx