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This is Motherhood: Chrissy

This post contain subjects which you may find triggering; if you have been affected by any of these issues, please do seek help. Resources for support can be found here.

Hi there! My name is Chrissy. I’m 31 years old and I live in the US. I grew up in Cortland, New York (a small country town that is no where near “the city”). Now, I live in Pennsylvania with my husband Chris, our two-year-old daughter Celeste, and our Australian Shephard named Bauer.

I am a working momma. My career has been in both marketing and project management. I accepted a promotion two weeks after returning from maternity leave! I head a marketing operations team for a fintech company. I also manage and curate the blog, BlushedLiving. I love finding the delightful things in life and sharing them.

Becoming a Mama has felt like a dream come true. I had dreams of spending time together laughing and finding ways to enjoy life. In my head, I had this vision of the four of us (Chris, myself, Celeste, and Bauer) going on a walk in the Spring. I remember everything about how it felt the first time to go on a walk as a family. I also knew that motherhood would come with challenges but that’s OK!

Finding out that I was pregnant felt unreal, because I thought it wasn’t possible. Before I conceived Celeste, I had a miscarriage. It sent me into a terrible dark place. I felt betrayed by my body. There were so many people that would say hurtful things (even though that wasn’t their intent). After a few months went by, we started seeing a specialist. I was told that I ovulated too late and it made my chances lower. The day before a treatment plan was going to begin, they required a pregnancy test at home. This day happened to be Mother’s Day in the US. I felt so depressed that I had to take a pregnancy test on Mother’s Day of ALL DAYS. Lo and behold, there was a positive result. Then another. Then another. I just screamed for my husband. Sure enough, my strong baby girl stuck. She truly is my rainbow miracle baby.

Despite being head over heels knowing I finally had a viable pregnancy, I did NOT enjoy being pregnant. I ended up so sick that I lost weight and went on a script to help ease the morning all day sickness. After about 24 weeks, I started to feel less sick and move around normally. I ended up with back pain so I would wear a brace that helped tremendously. One of the things that got me through the pregnancy was feeling my little girl kicking and moving around. It is the best feeling in the world.

In one word, Celeste’s birth was traumatic for me. I had no trust in the medical system in the United States. My feelings had been discounted when I had a miscarriage and I was very concerned I would continue to not be heard during my pregnancy and birth. I hired a doula to have extra support during this process. I spoke with my doula frequently about physical and emotional aspects of the pregnancy and birth. I had a one-page outline that gave some preferences and choices regardless of what happened during Celeste’s birth. My doctor’s appointments seemed to be going well. Not once was it mentioned to me by my doctor that Celeste could potentially be breech. The chiropractor suspected Celeste was breech but since the doctor never mentioned it, I didn’t think she was.

I went into labor at home and everything went SO well. I had my therapy ball, I was watching a funny show on Netflix, my husband was by my side. I called the hospital to let them know I was in labor. The on-call doctor’s response was, “You don’t sound like you’re in labor”. This was the first flag. I was DEFINITELY in labor and I was happy because I was proud of how I was handling the waves of contractions. My water broke at home and we immediately met my doula at the hospital. I was checked (5 cm dialated), put on monitors, and received an epidural. Then it felt like it was few and far between that anyone was checking on me. It seemed strange because my friends had told me how often they had nursing staff in the room.

Twelve hours went by and I asked a nurse to check me because I felt just some pressure. She did a quick check and then walked out of the room in silence. One minute later, she walked back in with the doctor and an ultrasound machine. After a quick look, they told me that Celeste was breech and needed an emergency c-section. Let me be clear that I was NOT upset I was having a c-section, I was upset for the neglect and how I had been treated. HOW could these professionals not notice this weeks, days, even hours prior when I was checked over and over again? My water had broke at home so we walked into the hospital with a breech baby. This was unacceptable and unbelievable traumatic for me to handle.

Within 5 minutes I was on the operating table. The anaesthesiologist was a God-send. Before my husband was allowed in the room, he help my hand and talked me through the process. It felt like forever until they allowed my husband in the room and I needed his support. Twenty minutes later they announced that Celeste was born. Hearing her cry was the most amazing feeling in the entire world. The nurse brought her over for Chris and I to see. Our eyes met and I had an overwhelming feeling of “that is my baby and I love her”. I still feel like this when I look at her to this day.

Right after Celeste was born, I was in rough physical shape. The epidural was wearing off and I was in serious pain from labouring for 24 hours then having a c-section. Emotionally, I was not in a healthy state. I had specifically told family members that I wanted family time between the three of us after Celeste was born. This was written on my birth outline and I had discussed it with my husband. This was not honoured by all family members. As I was being transitioned to my hospital bed there was family standing at the door. I had been through hell and back to get my baby girl here and I hadn’t been allowed to hold her. Extended family members intruding on this private time and asking to see and hold her at the door was not respectful of the wishes I had made clear. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled everyone was excited, but this was a difficult family time and my boundaries were not respected.

Celeste was also born during the height of a bad flu season. I asked family members not to kiss her and wear gloves. I learned that this was mocked behind my back. This CRUSHED me. The pattern of boundary crossing occurred for months after Celeste was born. I was suspected that my boundaries were being crossed so rigidly because potential drug abuse was a cause. When I brought this up, I was met with disregard. Regardless of how painful it was, I stuck to my boundaries for the sake of my daughter’s health and my mental health. This put unnecessary pressure on my new family of three during a time where our new family bonding should have been paramount and respected. This caused me to have amplified feelings of loneliness and anxiety for months after Celeste’s birth.

At four months post-partum, I broke down in my OBGYN’s office. He was incredibly caring and understanding. He gave me anxiety meds and more importantly, I felt heard. (Note that this was a different OBGYN at the same practice, I can report that the OB that delivered Celeste is no longer at this practice). I also had 6 months maternity leave almost fully paid through my employer. I don’t know how things would have ended up if I also had to work during this time. A maternity leave at that length is unheard of in the United States and it’s a shame! This time is so delicate and precious. I will forever be grateful for the time I got to spend with my baby girl!

I had severe anxiety for a year and a half after Celeste was born. In the US, you must fill out a PPD questionnaire that tells you that after two weeks you should be fine- this is BS. I also had a nurse tell me that if I am still talking about my traumatic birth a week later, this is not a healthy thing. That is also BS. I believe there is no time limit or rule book on how to deal with a traumatic birth experience. Like grief, everyone recovers from a traumatic birth in their own way and timeline.

There were so many things that helped me feel better. Biologically my anxiety medication was helpful. It did not change one thing about who I was or what I was going through but it gave my mind the ability to think things through. Emotionally, my mother was my rock during this time. I talked with her about everything and I never felt judged. I also had a few close friends I leaned on and always were there to listen. My dog was a great companion during this time, as well. Physically, once I was a few weeks into recovery I went for daily walks. After 6-8 weeks I resumed my Pilates practice. I also started mindful meditation and positive affirmation thinking around this time. The combination of all of these things were critical in my recovery.

My OB was very much there for me. I also spoke to a therapist. It took a few tries to find one that was right for me but once I did it was fantastic! He helped me understand myself and find my confidence. There were so many things at play between what I went through physically, lack of trust in the medical field, drug abuse from extended family members that led to boundary crossing issues, and general post-partum feelings. He helped me talk through all those items in a healthy and productive way.

I have come out on the other side of those hard times. I feel incredibly grateful everyday for everything life has given me. My husband and I were able to work through the difficulties around Celeste’s birth and become an even stronger team. After going through something so difficult, I feel I have a greater appreciation for all the beautiful things around me. I have started my own blog (blushedliving.com) that showcases the light-hearted moments in life that I am incredibly grateful for.

I have heard that many women lose their sense of self after having a baby and I can completely empathise with how this occurs. My personal experience was never losing “me” but losing the strength and confidence in my voice. I have held true to the characteristics that make me who I am and the behaviors that define me. Celeste’s birth put who I was to the test, but I would do anything for that girl and my family. This situation was an opportunity to do just that!

The most surprising thing about being a Mama is how your little human amplifies the best and worst of your personality. They force you to work on yourself in order to be the best mama possible for your baby.

Do I think that social media affects me as a woman, and as a Mum? I feel this is all about perspective. Social media connected me with other mamas at a time when I needed it the most. It’s my personal “why” for starting my blog. Sure, you see the women who seem like they have it altogether and I’m sure that just like everyone else they have super-woman days and hot-mess-express days! I hope that others allow me to be me and I allow the same for them. I adore the privilege of sharing online and seeing other mama’s perspectives and lifestyles in return.

My advice to a new Mama is... Be nice to yourself! This time comes with incredible change. Never discount your own feelings. Let them come over you fully and welcome them.

You’ve got this 😊

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