Side note: Clearly I jumped the gun on my announcement to go private. I am still debating. I don't really post that many pictures anyways, and there are plenty of bloggers with WAAAAY more readers than I have that post pictures of their little ones. What to do, what to do...
Back to the post. Having a baby isn't the blissful experience I had expected. I thought I would connect instantly with my baby, but it's been more of a journey to feel that love and bond with her. I have constantly doubted myself and compared myself to the many friends that have seemed to be head over heels for the babies from day one. I've thought about the pictures and captions I've seen talking about how happy they are and everything seems so perfect and wonderful in their lives. I felt like the worst mother on the planet. At times I have felt emotionless and empty. Other times I have felt beyond frustrated and helpless.
Ellie hasn't been the greatest eater. The first time I tried to nurse right after she was born, she just screamed and shook her head. They had to use all sorts of tools to try and get her to eat. They tried a drip thing that had formula dripping into her mouth to try and encourage her to suck. That kind of worked. Then they added a shield to the mix. That helped a little more. The last tool was a syringe filled with formula. I would wear the shield while someone would squirt formula into the side of her mouth. She needed the instant gratification. She was not interested in having to work for the food. I felt completely defective (and still do sometimes since I am still using the shield). It also broke my heart to see her struggling so much to eat. She was so hungry and my body wasn't making it easy for her to eat. That first week home was so hard for me. I was so angry because every feeding was like a war. It took an additional person to get her to latch because of the syringe and even when she did latch, it wasn't for long. Then we ran out of formula and I panicked about what we would squirt her with. I started to pump to replace the formula, which did make me feel better, knowing she was now only getting breast milk. But I still couldn't see an end to the difficulties and worried I would never be able to feed her by myself. Luckily, after much determination, I finally broke her of the syringe. I keep trying to break her of the shield but she's not quite ready. I really hope I can break her eventually, the shield is becoming really obnoxious.
My point in telling about the eating problems, is to help explain why my ability to bond and connect with her was hindered. I was told many times that breastfeeding is extra frustrating because it's supposed to be natural but it takes practice. I believed that, but I still thought I would be able to get the hang of it with her without so many tools. In fact, I didn't even know that those tools existed. I thought if I couldn't breastfeed right away, I would have to turn to pumping exclusively or using formula. Even though it hasn't been perfect, I am extremely grateful that those tools exist so that she can get the breast milk, without having to go through the hassle of pumping and warming bottles and storing milk.
Anyways, I haven't wanted to blog because I like to be honest in my posts, and I didn't feel like I could honestly say that I was loving life with my baby; I couldn't say that I felt so lucky and couldn't imagine life without her, all of which I have read many times on other blogs. I'm sure that sounds terrible, but it's the truth. The baby blues are real, and I have been worried I was going to have postpartum depression. I kept a lot of my feelings in, because I didn't want to be told to go talk to a doctor and get medication. I so badly didn't want to be on medication and feared that I was going to have to be.
One night about a week ago, I lost it. I handed Ellie off to Mathew and shut myself in the closet and just cried and prayed. Mathew got her to sleep and came in to talk to me. Our conversation is very personal, but he asked if I wanted a blessing, which he then gave to me. I don't think I have ever felt such a dramatic change after a blessing as I did after that one. It makes me cry just thinking about it. Things have been completely different since that blessing. I feel so much more joy and happiness when I'm with Ellie. There are still moments of frustration but they don't bring me down like they did. I can honestly say now that I love my daughter and can't imagine not having her. I have been able to bond with her so much more and am looking forward to all of our time together as I watch her grow and develop.
I hope that whoever reads this can try to be understanding. If I would have read this before I had Ellie, I would have been horrified and judgmental. I have a new perspective now, though. Having a baby is hard and no matter how many people said that to me, I didn't fully comprehend the reality of that. For some mothers, the love for their child comes instantly and without a doubt. For others, like myself, it takes time. I wish it would have been easier for me, but then it wouldn't be worth it right? I'm grateful to be a mom and have a little one to take care of. I know things can only get better. I'm incredibly grateful for Mathew and his unconditional love for both Ellie and me. He has had faith and confidence in me since the beginning, which has contributed greatly to my ability to get through the struggles. Now that things are so much better, I hope to be able to blog more and talk about all the exciting and happy times we are having with Ellie! We love our baby girl, for real! :)