I guess my story begins like everyone else. I was a first time mom and had everything planned out for when my son was born. We read all the books, had the cutest nursery (owl theme) and everything was meticulously organized. We took baby CPR classes, newborn care classes and a breastfeeding class. I was ready, I was prepared, I had no idea what I was about to happen and nothing prepared my husband or myself for that. I was counting down the days till I had him and couldn’t wait to feel that love everyone talked about. However, on February 19, 2014, my life changed and it didn’t go as I thought it would or “should”.
The things I can tell you about the day I delivered, my water broke while at my weekly doctor’s appointment, I was 39 weeks, and I walked myself to the labor and delivery floor. My doctor’s office connects to the hospital. I was starving, but was so excited to get there and have my baby boy; I couldn’t possibly stop for food. I walked into the birthing room and from that point on, everything is pretty blurred. I told my therapist once “I feel like I walked in, but some stranger walked out. I don’t know who or where she came from, but that wasn’t me”. I can recall them placing my son on my chest after he was born. I remember thinking “this is where I’m supposed to love him right?
Cry Ani… cry. You have to have tears of joy”, but all I remember feeling was … what did I just do to my life..?
He was also born with a ton of hair; I remember thinking about how much hair he had!
We got home and I was completely overwhelmed. How did people do this?! How do you watch TV, cook, shower, brush your teeth...anything with a new born?!?! Leaving my house was NOT an option. I was never leaving again! How do people leave with a baby? It’s a good think I love my house because I was going to be here for the next 5 years. Looking back now I was really blessed, he was such a good baby. He loved to sleep and loved to sit in the swing. He didn’t need to be held 24/7 and really never cried.
I cried anytime I knew that no one was looking at me. This was not what was supposed to happen, I was supposed to love him and be able to stare at him all day…. “It’s the baby blues”, I kept telling myself. A month later, I was still daily apologizing to my husband for ruining our lives. I was having crippling panic attacks anytime I was going to be alone with my son or if guests were coming over. It wasn’t uncommon to find me crying in a room sitting on the floor. It got to the point where for the first few weeks of my sons life, I was not alone for more than 10 minutes. I had convinced myself that I did not deserve him. I could not love him like I should and he deserved more than me.
Breastfeeding didn’t work out for use either. I couldn’t even produce enough milk for him and he was losing weight instead of gaining. I started exclusively pumping so we could monitor his intake and we had to supplement with formula until I could build a supply. I was producing about 1 oz. total every 3 hours. Needless to say, he wasn’t gaining weight and his pediatrician was concerned so he became a formula baby and I hated myself even more for that.
The pivotal moment for me was around week 6, my son and I were alone for a little while and I wanted to shower. He was sleeping, so peacefully, so I put him in his bouncy chair and placed him on one side of the bathroom and I stood on the other staring at him. He was beautiful and perfect, and it was there I decided that I tortured him enough. He needed more than me and I was a poor excuse for a mom. I knew my mom would be here any minute and there was a bottle of pain pills from the hospital that I could just take and end it all. I was tired of crying, burdening my family and feeling so useless. My husband would find a new woman who would be an amazing mom to our son and they’d be just fine. Then, my mom walked into the bathroom asking if I was okay. I turned around and looked at her, crying my eyes, out and told her that something wasn’t right. She made me go lay down and get some sleep and she called my husband and he came straight home from work. By the time I woke up, they had called my doctor and had medicine called in and an appointment to go see a therapist the next day. Took a few weeks, but slowly I started to feel like the old me. My daily panic attacks were less and less. Instead of dreading getting up for the day, I was excited to spend time with my son…we were bonding! The best thing was enjoying my new family and the time we spend together...just the 3 of us.
While I’d never want to live through that experience again, I don’t think I’d change it. Through it all I learned so much. I am a great mom and I love my son (who is now almost 2) more than anything. I also learned that my husband is an amazing man and my family and friends will always be there for me. Without them, I don’t know where I’d be but I’m happy now and that’s all that matters. I still have my “moments” of anxiety and I’m still on my medicine but I know that even in my darkest days the light will shine the next.
Ani Willis | Lafayette, LA | Mama to Henry, 19 months