Pregnancy is hard on most women’s bodies, but for some reason, my body and pregnancy do not mix. With my first pregnancy, which was with Lilly Belle, I began having symptoms of PSD (Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction) at around 27 weeks. It was incredibly painful, but I continued to teach dance 20 hours a week at my studio that I owned in the Seattle area. I danced and taught almost all the way through 38 weeks when she was born. It hurt and it was hard, but it was manageable. I walked almost 3 miles the weekend before she was born and power walked all morning on the morning of her birth – because I could.
My second pregnancy ended at around 8 weeks. That was not hard on me physically other than it having to end in surgery, but it was incredibly difficult for me mentally. I did not cope well at all.
Only two months after my surgery we discovered we were pregnant for the third time, this time with Lucy. We were completely surprised that it happened so quickly and we were thrilled, but I was still healing mentally from our miscarriage. I had so much guilt because I felt like I wasn’t fully allowing myself to be excited and soak in the fact that there was a perfect little baby growing inside of me. Pregnancy after miscarriage is hard.
At 10 weeks I started bleeding. A lot. We thought we were losing our baby again. I called my friend immediately telling her what was happening and we rushed to the ER with Lilly Belle in tow. Our friend met us at the hospital to pick up Lilly Belle. I was numb with fear. We were there forever. They did an ultrasound and had me hooked up to an IV. It was determined that I was hemorrhaging and needed to be on low activity until the bleeding subsided and the hemorrhaging went away. So I basically walked around on egg shells for weeks just terrified that I would lose this baby, too.
At 14 weeks we went in for a 3D ultrasound and found out we were having another girl! The excitement then began to kick in, but so did the pain. We went to Seattle for a long trip to visit our family. While we were there we stayed in the guest room which is downstairs. I remember even during that trip, which is when I turned 15 weeks, that just going up and down the stairs was painful. My PSD was back. And this time it was awful from the beginning.
For the next 5 weeks I dealt with the pain hoping it would not get worse. Except it did. At the time, I still owned our FIT4MOM franchise and was teaching Stroller Strides, Body Back and Fit4Baby classes. I was also teaching dance classes at a local preschool. I was active because I had to be. With every week that passed, the pain became more excruciating. The less I was able to do. It hurt to walk. I got a walker. Then I got a wheelchair. I taught class from my wheelchair. I watched other pregnant moms working out and I would come home just crying that I only wished I could just walk. I couldn’t do as much with Lilly Belle. I had more and more “mommy guilt” with every day that passed.
I sold our FIT4MOM franchise. Matt pushed me around Walt Disney World in a wheelchair. I stopped teaching dance classes. I stopped sleeping. For 5 months I couldn’t sleep in our bed because it was too painful. I had to sleep sitting up. I slept on the couch when I could sleep at all. Towards the end, probably the last 6-8 weeks of pregnancy, I only slept 2-4 hours/night. It was crazy. I was in too much pain to sleep. Matt had to lift me in and out of the shower. I took baths every single night so that just for a short time I could forget about how much pain I was in. I would just sit in there for as long as the water was hot and I would just sit and feel Lucy’s sweet kicks and rolls. I would talk to her and dream. I would dream about me holding her and about being able to hold Lilly Belle again.
I didn’t hold Lilly Belle for a few months unless I was sitting down. I missed picking her up. She missed me picking her up.
On Halloween I was 38 weeks and I needed to be done being pregnant. I will write out Lucy’s birth story soon because I haven’t yet (oops) but that afternoon, I went into labor and 17 hours later she was born. I didn’t realize it at the time because I didn’t have the energy or right mind to be able to, but I was already suffering from depression.
On the morning of November 1st our beautiful Lucy Catherine was born. Our sweet Lulu. She was perfect. We named her Lucy for a few reasons, but the one that always stuck with me throughout my pregnancy was that Lucy means “light”. I always said that when she was born, she would be our light. Everything would be better. Everything would be easier. All the pain would be gone and things would go back to normal.
And then she was born and that day I knew something wasn’t right. Something was off. I could feel it. She cried whenever I would put her down. She could not lie flat on her back without crying. She only wanted to be held. Even though it is impossible to know in the hospital room or that early on, I looked at Matt that morning and said, “I think she is going to have colic.”
And she did. Bad. The worst. It was terrible. And I had postpartum depression. The combination was basically the worst thing to come together. She would cry and scream. I would cry and scream. One minute I was sad. The next minute I was screaming in rage about something so small. My anxiety was at an all time high. I kept crying and asking Matt why she wasn’t the “light”. I would cry and cry to God asking him why he would do this to me. Why would he take a baby from me, then put me through a horrible pregnancy, put my body through so much pain, and then give our baby colic? Why was this happening?!
We tried everything for her colic and her reflux. We gave her gripe water, colic drops and gas drops, we held her 24/7 (literally), I took her to a pediatric chiropractor, and I completely cut dairy out of my diet. Nothing seemed to help. Things got worse if we didn’t do those things, but nothing made it go away. Colic is colic. Colic is the worst. I don’t wish it on anyone. It was hard on me. It was hard on our marriage. It was hard. Everyone kept saying that by 12 weeks it would be gone. They kept telling me that it would just disappear. Matt and I would laugh and laugh thinking, “yeah okay, you don’t know Lucy then…”. She was 11 1/2 weeks old and it was still happening. And then I remember a few days after she turned 12 weeks old I realized she hadn’t had a bad day in a while. I realized she was 12 weeks but I didn’t want to say because I was terrified of jinxing it.
But it never came back. At 12 weeks her colic went away. And just before then, I had one of the worst moments in my motherhood journey yet. Lucy was just about 12 weeks old and she was screaming. She wouldn’t stop. I was sitting in our glider holding her. She was screaming and crying and I was staring at the wall. I could hear Matt talking to me. He was standing in front of me gently asking me to feed her. He talked to me as if I were a bomb that he didn’t want to go off. He moved towards me so slowly reaching for Lucy. He was asking me if I wanted him to give her formula. He was almost whispering. I just kept staring. I was wishing I was anywhere but where I was. I was wishing that this was happening. I wanted it all to stop. I screamed. At the top of my lungs. I just screamed. I screamed at him for even asking to give her formula. I acted as if he just asked me to do something so horrendous. And then I fed her. She stopped. She was hungry. I was numb.
The next morning Matt went to work and I went to the doctor. I knew I wasn’t right. I knew I needed help. I knew what I needed to do. I was just really scared. I felt like I was failing. I felt like I was a bad mom. I felt like I was a bad wife. I just all around felt like a terrible human being. I felt damaged. I felt so little. I felt so broken. So broken. I cried to my midwife telling her the story from the night before. I cried to my midwife telling her of the times I held Lucy out practically throwing her to Matt screaming that I didn’t want her. I cried feeling terrible and so confused. How could I want this baby so incredibly much yet feel so disconnected to her once she was here. Why was I not connecting with her? Why didn’t I feel attached to her? What was wrong with me?!
She told me a story about when she was a young mom with her 2nd baby. She told me how she went through the same exact thing and how one night when her husband came home from work she literally threw her baby across the room at him. Thanking God that her husband caught her sweet baby. She was done. I suddenly felt a weight off my shoulders. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t a bad mom. I wasn’t a terrible human being. I was sick. She explained that the only thing wrong with me was that my brain just wasn’t connecting the way it is suppose to. She told me she was going to give me medicine and that I could start it the next day. She told me it wouldn’t hurt Lucy. I left feeling better already. Feeling a tiny bit of hope.
I started to take the medicine and only just a few short days after, I felt better. A lot better. Within a few weeks I felt back to myself. The best part was that I loved on that sweet baby more than I ever imagined possible. My eyes were opened. She was my light. I felt like my light was finally there. It always was, my eyes were just foggy and I wasn’t able to see it. I stopped yelling. I stopped swearing. Lilly Belle stopped swearing (oops). Our home became so peaceful. We started doing school together again. My eyes were open.
I took a big step back and looked at my life. I looked at all parts of it. I decided it was time for a reset. I stopped going on Facebook. I stopped going to Stroller Strides. I decided to take time to find myself. I needed time to reconnect with my family. I needed time to make up for all the lost time. There was so much time that I was in a dark place. I didn’t even realize how dark of a place I was in until it was light again.
It has been 2 months now and life is good. I am happier than I have ever been before. Our family is in the best place it has ever been before. My anxiety is gone. Little things are just that; little things. Now when Lucy cries I hold her squishy little body against mine and just love her. I tell her over and over how loved she is. I sing to her. Seeing her smile and hearing her laugh now bring all of us a joy that is a little overwhelming. I cry when I think about it all. She is the most amazing baby. We have been through so much together.
This whole experience has made me see my whole world differently. I have a whole new perspective on life. I appreciate every moment with my sweet girls. Tonight all 4 of us were together in the girls room. Matt, Lilly Belle and I were telling knock knock jokes. Lucy was smiling along with us as if she knew what we were all saying. Lilly Belle’s laughs were so full of life and joy. Matt and I were laughing just as hard. In that moment I looked at each of them and felt so incredibly lucky. They are my whole world. We made it. We made it through the hardest time. We did it together.
I would do it all over again knowing the end result. Now that I know we can make it through that, we can make it through anything. It is all over now. I will continue to stay on my medicine for a long time. I know it is helping me and as a result is helping our family. I am so thankful for the morning I went into the doctor. That morning saved our family. That morning saved me.
There is only light ahead. I sing “You are my Sunshine” to Lucy every night while I am nursing her before bed and that song has never held so much weight… Our sweet Lucy. Our light.