Real Pregnancy Talk ~ Struggling Through the Fourth Trimester

Let’s talk about how hard the “fourth trimester” really is.

I have to start out by apologizing for the fact that I haven’t done any writing on this blog for around the last three months. As you probably know if you’re a regular reader (thank you, THANK YOU, from the bottom of my green heart!), my baby boy, Dorian Lee, was born on October 1st, 2019. The circumstances surrounding his birth weren’t exactly favourable or easy, and it most likely won’t come as any surprise when I say that my first three months as a mother were incredibly difficult. Perhaps this was to be expected, given my ongoing struggle with intense anxiety throughout my pregnancy (and indeed, throughout my life), but I hadn’t quite prepared myself for just how hard it would be in those initial weeks and months. 

My difficulties, surprisingly, had nothing at all to do with my newfound identity of mother. I did experience a few moments of insecurity, most definitely, but I was overcome by this profound love for my son that eclipsed most other feelings. At this moment in time, I can confidently say that being a mother is the most incredible role I have ever possessed, and I cannot even fathom how I could’ve considered myself happy before Dorian was born. I love him like I have loved nothing else in my life and I am so very proud to be his mother. I think this is a role I will have no problem defining myself by as long as I live.

My struggles mainly presented themselves in the days after my C-section, when I experienced some serious complications. My psychiatrist and I both believe my weakened mental state resulted from side effects caused by the number of medications I was put on during my C-section (far more than is customary during that sort of procedure). Without going into too much detail, because I admit, it makes me nervous just thinking about those first days, I had to be rushed to the hospital by my husband and parents on two separate occasions, and I honestly did not believe I would come out of things in one piece. I have never felt so terrible, both physically and mentally, and I had no idea what to do. I just couldn’t find the strength to get through what I was feeling, and I felt lost, desperate and dejected. All I could think about was giving up, even though I had this amazing family all around me. I was not myself in the slightest and I felt like I was in a black hole that I would never climb out of.

Despite the fact that I felt this intense and all-encompassing love for my son, I couldn’t see far enough past the darkness to know how to take care of him. These feelings only lasted for around a week, but I had to rely heavily on my husband and family to look after Dorian while I put myself back together. I didn’t feel strong or proud whatsoever, and it still hurts to look back on that time…but now, at least, I have enough distance from the events to know that I was strong enough to ask for help and to dig myself out of a very hard spot. I hope that, in time, I can properly reflect on those days and feel more proud of how I handled myself and less saddened by them.

It is still hard for me to look at this photo of me and Dorian during my darkest times.

The main thing that I discovered during this time is that I needed extra help…I needed to lean on my family, but I also needed support from my psychiatrist as well as medication to get my post-partum anxiety under control. Deciding to take medication meant that I also had to make the difficult choice to stop breastfeeding, and although my son is thriving and loving life now, it was so hard on me to make that decision. I know that everyone says “fed is best” and that is undeniably true (my son’s pediatrician has no concerns whatsoever about me formula feeding), but it still felt like a huge failure on my part. I really had to struggle hard to come to terms with the fact that my mental health is crucial to my ability to take care of my son, and what he needs is a healthy mother, moreso than a specific type of food. There was so much guilt associated with this decision, but again, I am coming out the other side with a much more optimistic attitude.

A very happy first Christmas!

I am pleased to say that now, over three months post-partum, I am feeling so great! I am settled in my home with my beautiful baby, and I am happier than I have ever been. But, this doesn’t mean that my anxiety doesn’t come racing in at certain times. This doesn’t mean that every day is easy breezy. It just means that, I know how much darker things can be and I am trying my hardest, every single day, to see the bright side. My initial experience of motherhood wasn’t rosy, and I would absolutely say 2019 was the hardest year of my life…but when I look into Dorian’s eyes now, after scraping through that darkness, I have never felt more light in my heart.

“The truest love that ever heart / Felt at its kindled core…”

All this to say, if you are a new mother and are struggling, just know, you are not alone and it is never too late to ask for help! You are a courageous, fierce woman for even having a child, so believe in yourself and rely on those around you as much as you need! You’ve got this, Mama! xox

Janille N G

Mummy with a Green Heart

8 Comments

  1. Brenda (your Maman) says:

    The most beautiful, heartfelt post. I love the wonderful mother that you are to baby Dorian! xoxo

    1. JanilleNG says:

      Love you! 💚💚💚

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