woman considers resigning after having a baby
Postpartum Stories, Stay at Home Mom

Resigning From Your Job After Baby

Amy’s Story About Work After Baby

The decision whether to maintain employment after having a baby or resigning from the workplace is a deeply personal one, guided by all manner of individual circumstances. I firmly believe there is no singular right answer for everyone; however, I spent a year after the birth of my son agonizing over what was right for me. My son is likely to be our first and only child and while I have mostly made peace with that, I struggled with a secret desire to leave the workforce and spend some time being “just” a mom to my only baby. 

Changes You May Experience After Having a Baby

How you relate to paid labor may change with the addition of a baby, as you consider:

  • personal and family values
  • expenses
  • sense of identity
  • balance

New motherhood has a way of shifting your sense of self in both anticipated and unexpected ways. Though I had never once considered resigning from a job and leaving paid labor before my son’s arrival, I was not prepared for the identity crisis that motherhood thrust upon me. It took a year of soul searching, job changes, counseling, and frank conversations with my husband to come to terms with the idea that I wanted to stay home. Because I was struggling with my identity, I feared my support system would also have trouble accepting the new me.

Related: How to find a therapist

woman considers resigning after having a baby
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Strategies for Clarity Around Resigning Or Continuing to Work After Baby

I’d like to share with you a couple of the strategies I used to achieve some clarity about what I wanted. I hope that they can help you drag your feelings into the light, whether the issue is the conflict you may feel between work and motherhood or some other aspect of your journey that has you feeling stuck. And, I like to think that the takeaways I share below apply to so many facets of new motherhood regardless of your family’s work arrangements.

Holding Space for ALL The Feelings

Because I was feeling completely ambivalent about resigning from my job to stay at home, I felt this gnawing sense of unease and tension loom ever larger as time went on and I still had not made any progress toward a decision.

Firstly, I had to acknowledge the complicated feelings I had about work and my sense of self. Childhood trauma left me with a dogged determination to never be in the position to “depend” on anyone else. Having a career I enjoyed was secondary to my need for financial independence. But after the birth of our son, when I started contemplating opportunities that would give me better work-life balance, I also felt overwhelming guilt and shame.

Would my husband think I pulled a bait and switch?
Would people think less of me?
How would I measure personal growth and success?
Without work, who would I be?



I felt so torn between who I had been before childbirth, who I thought I was supposed to be, and the nagging feeling that I might be wrong about it all.

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No Room for Self-Judgement

Holding space for all the feelings means feeling WITHOUT SELF-JUDGEMENT. In my case there were lingering issues related to an unstable childhood that I needed to work through.  I achieved clarity about what was really most important to me, by interrogating these thoughts and feelings that were rooted in trauma and which I had worked really hard to bury for decades. Digging deeper cleared out some of the stuck-ness. Working through those emotional roadblocks led me to deeper healing and peace within myself and with my life circumstances, irrespective of my ultimate decision about work.

Explore Your Foundations

dreamy black student with diary in urban park
Photo by Charlotte May on Pexels.com

What are your fundamental truths? How have your life experiences molded what you think about motherhood, your sense of who you are, and your work? You may be similarly ambivalent for a number of reasons. Maybe you’re afraid of losing something that gives you a sense of purpose. Maybe you crave the stability that a particular choice provides. Or perhaps you or your spouse have really rigid ideas about your roles in and out of the home. It could be that you just can’t picture what a given scenario will look like. Accepting and exploring all feelings can help uncover self-limiting ideas that no longer serve your purpose, as well as help you affirm those that do.

Related: Marriage and communication after baby

Let go of 100%

I am an analyst by trade and an anxious person by nature, so I like to try to quantify, well, everything, but especially risk and uncertainty. I felt torn completely down the middle, so I came up with a compromise: I’d look for part-time or remote work in search of that elusive balance. At six weeks postpartum, I launched a job search; then at 12 weeks postpartum, I returned to my job from maternity leave; at 19 weeks postpartum, I started a new job; and by 25 weeks postpartum, I still couldn’t kick the feeling that I wanted something else. 

So every few weeks, I’d draw up a list of the pros and cons of working versus resigning and staying home and I would always end up with a perfect balance of just as many reasons to stay as to go. At the time, I didn’t think it was fair to ask for what I wanted unless I was absolutely certain; I didn’t want to face what my husband would think of me or let my colleagues down. In short, I didn’t want to fail anyone; but in so doing, I was failing to honor myself.

Resigning or Not: There is No Perfect Answer

With hindsight, I can say that it was absolutely the right decision for us; however,  when I finally settled on resigning from my job, I was only about 80% sure that it was the “right” decision. But I had spent so long being afraid of making a mistake that I had spent a lot of time really unhappy about NOT making a decision. And truly, I regret the year I spent sitting on the fence waiting for the clarity-fairy to sprinkle decisive dust on my ass. 

Are there any areas in your life where you use certainty to avoid having to make a decision at all? I sometimes think that the requirement for certainty, especially among moms, is emblematic of women trying to minimize impact to their families at expense to ourselves. Letting go of 100% is about giving yourself permission to be wrong. In my case, I thought absolute certainty would prevent me from making a mistake.

But how often do we find ourselves working on an incomplete model or with faulty data? I don’t know about you, but I have been 100% wrong about things that maybe seemed 100% right in a given moment. And I’m not sure what this all or nothing mentality accomplishes except anguish for being human. Demanding 0% uncertainty isn’t a compassionate or realistic thing to expect from anyone, but most of all, ourselves. 

Addressing the Underlying Shame

I felt so much shame around failing to prove that motherhood wouldn’t change me, but it did. To acknowledge that motherhood reconfigures your relationships, your work, your identity, and even your brain isn’t a personal or moral failure. In the end, I decided to give notice after six months at my new job and stay home, right when the pandemic blew up in our faces. There are moments where I do worry about what the job market will be like when I go back to work. And, I am incredibly concerned about the mass exodus of largely working mothers who are leaving the workforce in the face of all the competing demands on their time. 

I recognize the layers of privilege that made even being able to consider this decision a possibility. In September 2020, four times as many women left the workforce compared to men (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020). This is a lot of women resigning due to pandemic circumstances. I had the ability to make a choice. But, the current reality leaves many women feeling burnt out after months of pandemic life. Women continue to bear the brunt of childrearing and do a disproportionate amount of rearranging their lives to accommodate this role. Until parents in general and mothers specifically have more social support in place, women will continue to make hard decisions for the sake of their families. It doesn’t have to be this way. 

Related: More than a mom

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About the Guest Author, Amy:

I found the online postpartum community through my struggles with breastfeeding and I stayed for the radical self-love and support I desperately needed during that first year new mama drama. My participation in Postpartum Together has inspired me to speak openly and honestly about motherhood, to pour some of my soul back into the community that was there for me when I had no idea where else to turn.

My background in sociology, where I studied marriage and families, provides context to my lived postpartum experiences. Motherhood brought me to a crossroads, where I chose to put my career on pause, and re-evaluate my professional goals.  My time as a stay-at-home mom of one has brought me closer to redefining my life and purpose. 

For additional resources and to meet other women on their postpartum journey join our FREE Facebook group or check out Postpartum Together coaching!

woman holds baby before the choice to stop breastfeeding
Postpartum, Postpartum Stories, Pumping & Breastfeeding

Why I Need to Stop Breastfeeding to be a Better Mom: Jenn’s Story

Ending Our Breastfeeding Journey: How It Actually Brought Us Closer During A Time That My Postpartum Anxiety And Depression Was Trying To Pull Us Apart

Who would have known that the night before I admitted myself to the hospital at 4.5 months postpartum would have been my very last time nursing my baby girl?  When I think back to that night, it makes me so emotional.  I can’t help but to think that I may have savored that moment differently if I had known that it would have been our very last time and that I would stop breastfeeding her.

woman holds baby before the choice to stop breastfeeding

I felt robbed.  Robbed of something that I was so extremely passionate about. Something that I loved so much and something that I had great success with this time around.  So much success that I had plans to donate my large stash of frozen milk to a mom in need.  

Breastfeeding Became A Trigger For My Anxiety 

The day I was discharged from the hospital and returned home, I quickly realized that nursing my baby was now a trigger for my anxiety.  And once my anxiety kicked in, the scary intrusive thoughts I had been experiencing followed.  I felt trapped while nursing her.  Trapped in the sense that I couldn’t do anything if I started to feel anxious.  These intrusive thoughts haunted me. I wanted to try and avoid them at all costs, even if it meant making a decision to temporarily stop breastfeeding my baby.

I temporarily made the decision to bottle feed her using my frozen supply of breastmilk. The breastmilk I was so grateful I had been procrastinating on donating.  I was an emotional rollercoaster at this time. I went back and forth between being ok with this temporary decision and then feeling like the worst mom ever. It was guilt for not sucking it up and continuing. I had “believed” in my heart breastmilk was the best for my baby.  But you see, that’s the thing. Society makes us moms feel as though breastfeeding is the ONLY way to feed our baby. That if you don’t, then you must be a bad mom.  This is so far from the truth. Mamas – please know that you are the absolute BEST mom for your baby regardless of your decision.  

happy mom who stopped breastfeeding

I Began To Fall In Love With Bottle Feeding

Bottle feeding my baby was a whole new experience for me since I had not bottle-fed either of my girls.  My emotions would sometimes get the best of me. The guilt I felt overpowered any positive feelings I may have felt.  But you know what, as time passed, bottle feeding my baby was something I grew to really enjoy.  Not only did I find comfort in it, but I loved how close I could hold her to my body and face. 

When her eyes looked up at mine, my heart melted in a way that I didn’t always experience while breastfeeding.  I loved rubbing my face on her soft, fuzzy head.  It was a new way of bonding and one that I actually began to fall in love with.  I thanked God because having to make this difficult decision actually brought us closer during a time that my postpartum anxiety and depression was trying to pull us apart.

At this time, I had hopes of continuing our breastfeeding journey once I was healed.  If I am being completely honest, it wasn’t for any reason other than “believing” that my breast milk would help get my baby through the winter without getting sick.  Whether this breastmilk belief is true or not, I’m not sure. But, when you have more than one child and that child goes to daycare, you quickly realize that no breast milk is mighty powerful enough to prevent ALL germs from spreading within a household.

The Permission I Needed To Stop Breastfeeding

I had been pumping and storing my milk this entire time. I did this to keep my supply up to prepare for the day that I returned to breastfeeding my baby.  The pumping sessions added a huge amount of stress to my life. Something I didn’t need any more of while I was healing.  I went back and forth between the decision to exclusively pump or switch to formula after my frozen stash was out.  I was so torn and was looking for help in making this decision.  Of course, I wanted to do what was best for my baby. But also for me and my own mental health because I mattered too. 

Every day, I am so thankful that my nurse practitioner and my therapist could see how stressed I was. This was such a difficult decision and that what I really needed at the time was for someone to help me make this decision.  And just when I needed to hear this the most, my therapist said, “If you want someone to give you permission to stop breastfeeding, then I am giving you permission and it’s perfectly ok.”  It was in that moment that I felt so much lighter. All of those mixed emotions I had been experiencing began to subside.  

The End Of Our Breastfeeding Journey

Once I had made the decision, I never once looked back.  I SLOWLY started to wean myself from pumping.  With each pump session that I dropped, I began to feel stronger and stronger in my decision.  I slowly started to introduce formula to my baby which to my surprise, I was ok with.  Eventually my frozen stash had come to an end along with my pumping journey and we were strictly formula feeding.

So while ending our breastfeeding journey wasn’t completely my choice or what I had intended, I’ve come to learn through my experience that I actually really love formula feeding.  I most likely would never have gotten to experience it if it weren’t for my suffering. But, I am actually thankful that I did.  Formula feeding opened my eyes to a whole different way of bonding with my baby.  It made me better in asking and accepting help since others were now able to help feed my baby.  It is so much less demanding. And, it made life with an infant and a toddler a bit more easier and less stressful on me.   

My Biggest Takeaway from The Choice to Stop Breastfeeding

As I sit here writing this while watching my baby girl play with her big sister, I can’t help but to feel proud of myself for making such a difficult decision and realizing that my mental health mattered way more than the milk that my baby got.  My baby is thriving. She is hitting her milestones. She is happy, healthy, content, is well taken care of. My baby girl feels safe, loved and guess what – she was formula fed for almost 8 months!  I will never regret making this difficult decision and I am a much stronger mom for having done so.  Fed is best!  Don’t ever for a second think you’re any less of a mom because you chose not to breastfeed or stopped breastfeeding.   

About Me

Jenn Wirth is a wife and mom to her 2 girls and her Angel baby in Heaven.  She is a former first grade teacher from New Jersey and a postpartum anxiety and depression survivor.  Her struggles with postpartum has led her in founding Mom’s Maternal Health. MMH is a safe, judgement-free community that focuses on normalizing the hardships of motherhood; the stuff no one really talks about.  She offers tips, takeaways, resources, and support to help you on your journey from trying to conceive to pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond.  She invites moms to share their story; the good, the messy & the emotional rollercoaster of mom life in hopes of helping moms feel seen, heard and less alone as they navigate motherhood. 

IG: @momsmaternalhealth

Website: www.momsmaternalhealth.com  

E-mail: hello@momsmaternalhealth.com

Postpartum Stories

Postpartum After Infant Loss: One Mom’s Story of Changes

A Mother is Still Postpartum After Loss

Trigger warning: In this post, our contributor, Erin, talks about unexpected infant loss. Some details may be difficult to read. While we at Postpartum Together believe it’s important to enter other women’s stories, even when uncomfortable, we also recognize the need to protect your heart and mind.

unexpected infant loss and postpartum for mom

Please introduce yourself and your partner and some background to your story. (Including where you are living and what that is like!)

Hi! I’m Erin, and I live in Uganda with my husband, Francis, who is Ugandan. Uganda is quite diverse and has everything from bustling cities to national parks where the elephants roam free. Francis and I live in a small, rural town in northern Uganda, about 35 kilometers from the city where he grew up, where most of our friends and family live, and where we attend church. Our town recently got tap water (woohoo!) so we live in a home with no running water inside, relying on solar power to meet our needs. Francis is an English and Literature teacher in a nearby secondary school (high school) and I work as a graphic designer serving US-based clients remotely.

My side of the family lives in the US, and from our door to theirs it’s about a two-day journey. I spent my childhood in Pennsylvania and my adult life in Ohio before moving to Uganda in 2015. Francis and I got married in 2018. I love life in Uganda and have imagined living here long term since my second visit in 2010. Meeting and marrying Francis has solidified that dream for me.

What did you know about postpartum prior to your own experience?

I’m a bit of a knowledge-gatherer, so felt like I did a moderately good job of preparing for postpartum, primarily through internet research. Being that this was my first pregnancy, I wanted as few surprises as possible (though obviously there are ALWAYS surprises even if you do tons of research). We read articles about what to potentially expect physically and emotionally, saved so many resources to refer back to later, and started following some great accounts on Instagram.

Additionally, I have limited access to American conveniences, so I wanted to plan in advance to make sure I had some products to make the healing process more comfortable. I actually felt well prepared to help heal my own body and knew I would figure out all things baby with time. My closest friend also gave birth last year, so hearing about some of her experience was also so helpful!

I didn’t know that losing my child was a possibility. No one mentioned that. Babies die far too often, be it from miscarriage, still-birth, infant death, or death at an older age. Should parents be told that it could happen? Should we be prepared for that horrible possibility? I don’t know the answer to that.

How did being away from your family and birthplace impact your TTC- postpartum experience?

We got lucky and became pregnant the first month we tried, one month after our wedding. It felt almost too easy. Once pregnant, we heard the question a lot from people wondering if we would have the baby in Uganda or in America. Many expats choose to go to their home countries to give birth, whether it’s because they want to give birth in a familiar setting, to be close to family, to make it easier to get their country’s citizenship for their children, or another reason.

My pregnancy was low-risk and it made sense to deliver here in Uganda — babies are delivered here all the time! My husband was denied a visa to travel to the US (we had hoped to go for Christmas 2019 after Silas was born) and I couldn’t imagine delivering our son without Francis or being in a different country for so many months. I have known some women that have to deliver in the US health reasons, away from their partner, and I felt so fortunate that we didn’t have to do that.

We found a great birth center about 40 minutes from our home. A few of our friends delivered with their midwives and they have wonderful rates of infant and maternal health. We received great antenatal care there. Everything was going so well and we were confident about what was to come.

Both Francis and his mom, Florence, were present for Silas’s birth and I felt so taken care of by them and our midwives. It’s typical here to have a helper with you when you go to deliver your child. Hospitals and birth centers don’t provide the same amenities as many US facilities, so Florence helped with washing linens, boiling me hot water for bathing, and more. Also, many men here do not attend their wife’s births, and even less are active in the labor and delivery process (much like in the US a few decades ago). Francis was so amazing and supportive throughout the whole process, I really don’t know how I could have done it without him!

It was a bit strange not having my parents nearby, but we kept them updated via WhatsApp. I’ve always been independent so it felt pretty normal to be honest. When my niece and nephew were born, my parents and I were able to meet each of them within hours of their births, so knowing my parents wouldn’t meet Silas until he was a few months old was something new to wrap my head around.

All that being said, things don’t always go to plan. Silas was born healthy and strong. I had a beautiful and empowering birth experience. Silas was delivered vaginally and unmedicated (which is normal in this part of Uganda and what I had hoped for) with almost no tearing. After delivering him into this world I felt like I could do anything! We had a blissful day together napping, learning how to feed, cleaning diapers, and getting to know each other. Silas was so amazing.

At around 20 hours after birth, Silas starting having some breathing issues and, to make a long story short, our sweet boy devastatingly passed away in a hospital at around 24 hours old. I would say it was my greatest fear coming to life, but I never feared losing a child because, in all honesty, the thought never crossed my mind. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening for a while, and once it sunk in I kept waiting to wake up from the nightmare we were living. When I held his lifeless body, I kept waiting for him to suddenly return to life, to start breathing again, to start moving again. But he never did.

After we held him and said our goodbyes, I followed Francis, carrying Silas’s body to the mortuary with my midwife’s arm around my shoulder. We left the hospital without our son. My womb empty, my arms empty.

The next few days were a blur. Neighbors came to our home within hours of our return, children eagerly shouting, “Auntie, where is your baby? We want to see him.” I had to learn how to say, “My baby died,” in Acholi, the local language. I curled up on our couch weeping, a wet spot of tears on the purple pillow case appearing all too quickly. Our pastors and friends from church came that same day to sit with us and talk about Silas’s funeral. Florence, with help from Francis’s siblings, made all of the preparations for the burial.

Here, you don’t hire a funeral home to take care of all of the details for you. No, you have to hire a neighbor to dig your son’s grave; a mason to come build the headstone; a carpenter to build a small casket. Caskets that size shouldn’t need to be built. You have to pick up your son’s body from the morgue the morning of his burial; take him to your family’s home; watch your husband’s mother gently clean his lifeless body as aunties watch in reverence, clothing him in the outfit you planned to bring him home in. Blue and white striped pajamas with an elephant on the chest. It’s all too much. And it’s all so tender and messy and beautiful and holy. The veil between heaven and earth is so, so thin.

It was difficult not having my parents here to mourn with us. We also didn’t have things like meal trains. My parents’ friends brought them food for a week or two and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t envious. Some friends bought food and neighbors occasionally shared meals. We don’t have a fridge or freezer so we couldn’t keep anything for long. Friends let us stay at their home in the city for so many nights, feeding us and loving us and letting us rest. Acquaintances offered free meals at their restaurant. We felt taken care of the best our situation allowed for. Friends still check on us to see how we’re doing. One friend sends me a message every month on the 12th because Silas was born on October 12th.

Friends and family showed up at Florence’s home for weeks after the burial, sometimes unannounced, to pay respects to Silas and our family. That is one time I have felt thankful to live far away from our family. I don’t know how I could have hosted people in the weeks that followed Silas’s birth and death. And yet it is expected.

Can you share more about what parts of postpartum you still experienced after the loss of Silas? 

Like all mothers who have gone through labor, my body ached for days. Weeks? My muscles were sore, everything hurt. Silas’s funeral happened just two days after he died, and that morning my milk was ready to go. My goodness, I thought my breasts were going to explode – and all of the hugs did not help! Thankfully, we found some Sudafed to help dry up the milk within a week. I wish I could have pumped the milk and donated it, but without proper refrigeration that’s not an option and it’s just not common where we live.

The emotional pain added to the physical. I had a lot of strange symptoms after Silas died, like chest pain and dizziness. I did so many tests at the hospital to rule out a lot of things, but looking back I think it was likely postpartum anxiety combined with grief. I honestly didn’t know where to go for help locally, though maybe it exists. A friend here who had a baby earlier in the year offered to take me to a facility where she went for a lot of postpartum follow up appointments which was so kind of her.

I was able to still take three months off of work, so I spent a lot of time resting, journaling, listening to podcasts, connecting with other grieving mommas, praying, and moving which thankfully helped. I had to train my brain to rewrite my dreams for the future. I’m still doing that.

RELATED: PPD and PPA stories from Real Moms

What do you wish more people realized about postpartum after loss?

Just because my child died does not mean my postpartum experience also died. I still need postpartum care in addition to grief care. My midwife did a great job at reminding my husband and I of this before we left (and when we went for our checkups). Francis was my greatest support in recovering and took care of me so well, asking for help when we needed it.

What are some of the things that people said/did that were hurtful? (Even if well-intentioned?)

There are so many.

“Don’t worry, I know God will give you another son.”

“Your pain will go away when your next child is born.”

“You just need to be strong.”

“I know exactly what you’re going through, my sister also lost her baby.”

Also, with some Christians (I identify as a Christian/follower of Jesus – I don’t love all of negative excess that comes with the word “Christian,” but that’s another topic) I was made to feel like my grief showed a lack of faith. People would tell me not to cry because Silas is in a better place. While I do believe that Silas is healed and whole and in the arms of our loving Savior and I take great joy in that, I still miss him. Grief and faith can live side-by-side. I could go on and on about this.

What are the things people said/did that were most helpful in a difficult time?

One of my closest friends would often tell me, “I don’t know what to say,” and that was SO refreshing to me.

With another friend, the first time I mentioned Silas to her after he died, said, “I never wanted to talk to you about him because I don’t want to make you sad.” I appreciate her honesty.

Here’s the thing: there is no helpful thing to say when someone dies, especially someone’s child. You can’t take away the pain, you can’t make them forget. You won’t make people sad by talking about the one they lost. Some people seem caught off guard when I talk about Silas or being pregnant with him in normal conversation. But I can’t act as if Silas never existed. Silas is real, he grew inside of me for 9 months, I held him in my arms and kissed his sweet newborn head, smelling his yummy newborn smell.

Silas is and forever will be my son. I love to talk about him. There is always the thought of him just beneath the surface, he’s on my mind basically all of the time. I’d rather someone talk about him and make me cry than never talk about him.

Also, if someone is going through a loss or hard time and you want to help, offer very tangible help. This goes for postpartum parents with living children, too! Instead of saying, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” say things like, “I would love to bring you dinner from (this restaurant) on (this day), what would you like?” or “Can I come over this weekend to help with laundry and vacuuming?And then follow through. The world seems so big after loss and I didn’t know how to ask for help most of the time. Offering specific things is so very helpful.

Anything else you would like to share about Postpartum After Loss?

If you’ve gone through loss or are figuring out life in a culture that’s not your own, I’d love to hear your story and connect! Feel free to message me on Instagram @erin.nyero 

Do you know someone who has suffered stillbirth, miscarriage, loss or another tragic birth event? Check out this Psychology Today article from Margaret M. Quinland, Ph.D., and Bethany Johnson MPhil, M.A. on Tips for Supporting Parents and Caregivers in Crisis.

This series, Postpartum Narratives, aims to bring awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same, and as a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be. By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc. if you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.


RELATED: Infertility and Wishing for a Baby

Postpartum Stories, Pumping & Breastfeeding

Inducing Lactation and Being Postpartum as the Non-Birthing Mom

Inducing Lactation but Not Giving Birth

In a transgender relationship, both Chris and Amy carried babies for their families. Amy shares her journey of inducing lactation and the experience of motherhood both as the birthing and non-birthing partner.Inducing lactation as the non birthing parent in transgender birth

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR PARTNER: TTC TO PRESENT

My name is Amy and my husband’s name is Chris. We met while working together about 10 years ago. We got engaged about 2 years after we started dating and moved to start our life together from Kentucky to Ohio.

Chris and I struggled with infertility and after about 5 failed IUIs decided to switch to Chris and see if he had better luck (Chris was born female ). After 5 more failed IUIs and a miscarriage, Chris became pregnant with our first child, Hayden. I induced lactation in order to share in the nursing bonds with Hayden.

When Hayden was about a year old we decided we should start trying for a second because we knew it could be a long road. I desperately wanted to carry a baby so I was going to give it another try. We got pregnant with Milo on our first IUI.

Hayden is now almost 5 and Milo is 3. We feel like our family is complete and feel so blessed to have been given these two little amazing beings.

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM PRIOR TO YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE?

I didn’t know much about postpartum before Hayden was born. I had heard of it but mostly in the negative ways we all hear about postpartum.

Our experience was unique in that I experienced postpartum from a non-carrying and carrying parents perspective. We don’t talk much about the non-carrying parents perspective but it’s definitely one to consider. 

Back then, I was one of those “We will never…” pre-parents that everyone knows and loves. You know the person who thinks that getting pregnant, birthing a baby, raising a child will be like a scene from a picture-perfect movie?

Due to this fact, I really didn’t prepare or give postpartum much thought because everything was going to be rosy!

Quote about non birthing parent experience

FOR YOUR FIRST CHILD, YOUR PARTNER BIRTHED- HOW WAS HE REGARDED BY OTHERS THROUGH THE CONCEPTION THROUGH POSTPARTUM TIME?

It was tricky for Chris because he struggled with a lot of issues with his own body and he was pre-transition at this point (so not always presenting as male and he wasn’t on any hormones at the time).

Navigating the fertility clinic was rough. There are not currently a lot of doctors who understand trans men giving birth.

We were lucky enough to pair up with some amazing midwives who while they were not well versed in the trans community. They were amazing and super willing to learn. Between them and the help of a doula, we were really treated amazingly.

The hospital we birthed at was incredible and they followed our directives in the birth plan explicitly (pronouns, how he wanted to be addressed, assuring the desired level of privacy he requested during checks).

Chris has always taken a male role in things so I do know that through our first pregnancy people often forgot he was pregnant.

FOR YOUR FIRST CHILD, YOU INDUCED LACTATION TO BREASTFEED. DID YOU NOTICE HORMONAL CHANGES AND EXPERIENCE ANY POSTPARTUM SYMPTOMS IN THAT WAY?

Yes! Part of the inducing lactation process is tricking your body into thinking it is pregnant (through the use of medication). This can definitely affect your hormones and then when you start pumping that kicks up hormones in your body as well.

There are so many emotions that you experience through infertility and then the massive emotions and responsibility that comes with preparing for a baby and parenthood. You add those things on top of the medical process of inducing lactation and it’s very difficult (but amazing at the same time).

When Hayden was born I had so many emotions that just come with being new parents. Navigating it was much harder than I imagined. I think this was because of the hormonal changes.

Related: Online Pumping Course (This can help you to induce lactation)

WHAT SURPRISED THE BOTH OF YOU THROUGH YOUR DIFFERENT POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCES?

We had very different birthing experiences and pregnancies. For Chris, there was a lot of emotions surrounding his own body and transformation when Hay was born. He has always said when she was born he knew he had to continue his transition because he couldn’t ask her to be who she was as a person and to stand up for what she believes in without him being true to who he was.

Because of this his postpartum, while hard, was empowering but also isolating. Being treated like a mom when you are a trans male can be very emotional.

For me, I never expected to be a non-carrying parent so experiencing this side first made my second postpartum experience just slightly different as I had experienced it from both sides.

WHAT DO YOU WISH MORE PEOPLE REALIZED ABOUT CONCEPTION THROUGH POSTPARTUM WITH A GENDER TRANSITION?

Oh so many things! Not just with assigned gender transition but also with each parent their needs, fears, and anxieties are not cookie cutter.

There are so many things that can trigger a person and preparing for a baby can really magnify emotions. When your emotions are also tied to your assigned gender at birth this can be really damaging.

If I had to choose *one* wish, it would be that medical professionals, friends, family, birth workers, everyone really, asked questions in a respectful way. If you don’t know, just ask! It really can go a long way. 

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE HURTFUL? (EVEN IF WELL INTENTIONED?)

We were really lucky to have a super supportive family, birth experience, the community surrounding us during Hayden’s birth. Although there was a lot of learning, people worked very hard to stay respectful.

Where we really felt hurt was when I was pregnant with Milo and after. People seemed to be astonished that I hadn’t birthed Hayden (because we ALL know there is only one was to have children…cue sarcasm). We were often having to explain over and over our family.

WHAT ARE THE THINGS PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE MOST HELPFUL IN A DIFFICULT TIME?

Actual honest to goodness help. Having a community that is there for the parents and not just the cute babes (even though they are the best) is incredible. Making meals, folding laundry when they visited and making Hayden feel special was huge.

I think the biggest thing was when people would just listen. Not offer advice, just listen.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE? 

A persons family makeup is different no matter what it might seem. It’s so important that we don’t ASSUME anything.

From conception to parenting methods every family takes a slightly different path so if you don’t know…just ask!

There are so many ways to be a family, none of them wrong and all of them amazing.

If you’d like to talk more, are going through a similar experience or just have more questions you can contact Amy here.

Thank you to Amy for sharing her journey of inducing lactation and the experience of motherhood both as the birthing and non-birthing partner.

Related: Postpartum with Chronic Illness

Blog about inducing lactation and transgender birth

This series, Postpartum Narratives, aims to bring awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same, and as a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be. By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc. if you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.

Postpartum Stories

Being Postpartum After Delivering a Stillbirth Baby

HOW TO SUPPORT A MOM AFTER STILLBIRTH

When Taylor experienced a stillbirth, so much was unexpected and after all of it, her body was still postpartum as if there was a baby. Thank you, Taylor, for sharing your story.

WHAT IS YOUR STORY FROM TTC THROUGH PREGNANCY?

I am Taylor, I am 26 and married to my High School sweetheart. A SAHM and we currently reside in Minnesota. We have three kids: Kane, Macy, and Jagger. I was almost 22 at the time we lost our son Kane, so we’re pretty young.

So A tiny back story- I was engaged to my now-husband at the time, just turned 21, and completed my first semester of nursing school. I was the .0001% of women that got pregnant on the pill. We found out I was pregnant two days before my finals for the fall semester. It was definitely not planned, but we decided to go through with it. I quit nursing school after that semester.

My son who we named Kane, died from a placental abruption that summer. We don’t know why or what caused my placenta to detach from my uterus. I was 36 weeks along when my water broke and blood gushed all over. Who would’ve thought his birth would be the worst AND best day of our lives. He wasn’t planned but we were SO ready to be parents and bring him home. Kane was also our first pregnancy, and first born.

Being a Postpartum Woman After a Term Stillbirth

I have Kane’s whole birth story linked from a blog post I did. It goes into more depth about the exact day and what happened.

I just want to say, these are all of my experiences with postpartum after a term stillbirth. His death gave me PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), PPD (postpartum depression) , PPA (postpartum anxiety) , and certain things you may not think are triggering, are for myself. Nothing I experienced was “normal,” but I don’t know how anything is normal after losing a baby.

RELATED: PPD and PPA stories from Real Moms

when parents lose their child

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM PRIOR TO YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE?

I truly knew absolutely nothing about postpartum when I was expecting him, and after I had him. All I knew is my vagina will hurt for a while, there will be blood, and my milk will come in a few days later. I didn’t know what was normal and what wasn’t. No one explained anything to me really. And as a naive 22-year-old, I thought I’d be happy all the time. They warned me of baby blues turning into something more.  That was it! All I knew was to watch for huge blood clots, no sex,  and I’ll be good by the 6 weeks check-up

DID YOUR BODY STILL ACT “POSTPARTUM” AFTER YOUR STILLBIRTH DELIVERY?

I bled, a lot. I know that’s common especially after vaginal birth, but it was so traumatic for me. My mom and aunt went to my apartment before I was released from the hospital to clean up all of the blood in my bathroom. Every time I went to change the pad and pee, I cried. It physically hurt to pee, but mentally and emotionally hurt more when I had to see the blood. My milk came in full force about two days after I was home. I had HUGE boobs before pregnancy, like size H cup- no joke, so I used lots of frozen peas and tight sports bras.

Milk, Hormones, Recovery

My milk went away generally fast, all thanks to my mom. She told me what to do to get rid of it. Otherwise, I would’ve been extremely lost and suffering from swollen boobs for who knows how long. My hormones were jacked, I was a complete mess. I felt like all I did was cry and feel extreme sadness. The first week home was probably the worst. I almost threw up at the funeral home signing papers for his cremation. I barely ate, felt sick, and just didn’t know what to do with myself. Things would be okay one minute and I would be angry the next. Something would make me laugh, then I felt guilty for being happy for a split second and would burst into tears. Half the time I was surprised I still had actual tears running down my cheeks because I wasn’t sure how my body could constantly produce them after crying for a week straight.

HOW DID OTHERS RESPOND TO YOUR LOSS AND POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE?

We got a lot of sympathy cards in the mail. Many sent us money, which was extremely nice because I didn’t feel like cooking until 2 months postpartum. My husband’s job sent us flowers, a card, and some other things. Everyone was very sympathetic, which is a very common response to death. My mom was my rock, I don’t think I would’ve made it out alive without her. She was strong for me, took care of the hard things so I could grieve.

My husband’s coworkers constantly asked how he and I were doing, checking in. Family responses were mixed. They wanted to help us and take away the pain but didn’t know how. They didn’t know what they could say or do, they didn’t want to upset us or make it uncomfortable. Of course, they were devastated too, he was the first grandchild on both sides. Our two really close friends were very supportive and both lived further away and almost flew/drove to be with us the day I delivered him. I went out for drinks and dinner with my best friend 3ish weeks postpartum and it was the first time I went out in public, laughed, cried, and actually enjoyed myself. With strangers, even today I get the sympathy looks and the “I’m so sorry,” then they feel super uncomfortable.

HOW DID YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE, AFTER STILLBIRTH, IMPACT YOUR DAY TO DAY LIFE?

It was so hard to feel like I could relate to moms because my baby wasn’t with me physically. I went through all of that and can’t compare anything besides how sore my vagina was. Emotionally, and mentally I was lost. It physically hurt to look at other moms with babies. I was angry and jealous every single time someone on Facebook announced that they’re pregnant. We didn’t have answers as to why he died, so I was pitying myself and was extremely bitter. After I gave birth to him I felt like a piece was missing, I felt like a mom but was baby-less. I never expected to feel that way about motherhood.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE HURTFUL? (EVEN IF WELL-INTENTIONED)?

Share his pictures without our consent. It’s been four years and I still can’t hang his picture up. Talking about him in front of our kids. They’re too young to understand and we want to tell them on our own terms on our own time!

Some things people have said:

He’s in a better place.

God needed another angel.

It’s in God’s hands.

Everything happens for a reason.

The list is so long! It was all with good intentions but the last thing I personally wanted to hear.

WHAT CAN PEOPLE SAY/DO TO BE HELPFUL TO A FAMILY AFTER STILLBIRTH?

Bringing us food was a huge one! I had zero drive to cook for a long time. My aunt donated a brick with his name on it in our town. His name is with a whole bunch of other children that have passed away. It meant more than she’ll ever know. When people would empathize vs sympathize with us. There is no “but” or silver lining when losing a child. Telling us something like “I know you’re hurting, if there is anything I can do to help let me know, I’m here for you.” I don’t want your pity. Bad things happen, things we can’t control and no amount of your pity will change anything.

When you lose a child, there is no normal. Nothing about you and your story will ever be normal.

WHAT WAS YOUR MEDICAL CARE DURING POSTPARTUM?

My 6-week checkup was complete bs. I was cleared for Postpartum Depression (PPD) because I didn’t mark that I wanted to harm myself. Because I checked off every box besides suicidal thoughts, they told me I was just grieving. It wasn’t baby blues, it was PPD. I truly believe if someone stopped to tell me I wasn’t okay and feeling this way wasn’t the normal grieving process, I wouldn’t have had as bad PPD. They never made me go to counseling or therapy, it wasn’t ever brought up. Our postpartum culture (or whatever you want to call it) already needs to change because it’s failing mothers. It’s even worse for those who’ve lost a baby(s). There should be mandated therapy, and even more check-ins. Child loss is still a taboo topic, yet so many babies are dying, and the system is failing mothers after birth. 

Experiencing stillbirth and need someone to talk to? Find Taylor here:

mom shares story of stillbirth son

Do you know someone who has suffered stillbirth, miscarriage or another tragic birth event? Check out this Psychology Today article from Margaret M. Quinland, Ph.D., and Bethany Johnson MPhil, M.A. on Tips for Supporting Parents and Caregivers in Crisis.

This series, Postpartum Narratives, aims to bring awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same, and as a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be. By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc. if you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.

RELATED: Infertility and Wishing for a Baby

Postpartum Stories

Being on in an Infertility Story With Chronic Illness

Fertility Journey, Crohn’s Disease and Motherhood

Amanda joins us to talk about her infertility story, how Crohn’s Disease impacts that, and being a new mom dealing with chronic illness.

Mom getting Crohn’s Disease treatment

WHAT IS IT LIKE TRYING TO CONCEIVE WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS?

Hi, I’m Amanda! If you know me in person or follow me on social media ( @heartfeltbeginnings), you know a few things about my life, in no particular order. I openly share my infertility story and the journey to my daughter.

  • I have a 6-month-old daughter.
  • My partner and I struggled with infertility and went through IVF to conceive her.
  • Have a snuggly pup named Ollie (after Oliver Queen on the TV show Green Arrow).
  • I am a fierce advocate for mental health.
  • Have Depression and Anxiety and Crohn’s disease.
  • Believe in compassion.
  • I am an Enneagram 2.
  • My favorite book is is “If You Feel Too Much” by Jamie Tworkowski.
  • And most importantly, I find myself sitting with a lot of feelings and emotions on the regular.

Let me share more about the reason I’m here.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I was born to be a mother. I started babysitting at age 11 and immediately was drawn to the art of caring for others. Also, I love children. I always have.

Our Dreams of Parenthood and the Entrance of Infertility Story

From the time my now husband and I started dating, we talk openly and extensively about our hopes and dreams with regards to our future and growing a family. Because I have Crohn’s disease, I did not exactly know what the journey to motherhood might look like for me. The more I was open about this, and the way it made me feel, the easier it was to talk to my partner about it. We talked specifically about how if I couldn’t get pregnant, or if I couldn’t stay pregnant due to my complicated health history, our hearts were open to both surrogacy and adoption.

After our engagement, our conversations began shifting from faraway dreams to close up action steps. With each passing day, my heart got louder and louder. I realized that I could not deny what I was feeling. I was adamant about trying any way possible in order to carry my first child.

The entrance of Maternal and Fetal Medicine in our Infertility Story

Being proactive (call it slightly neurotic, careful, worried, or just an experienced patient), we scheduled a meeting with a highly recommended Maternal and Fetal Medicine (MFM) physician. During our two hour appointment, we reviewed the most recent years of medical records, my prescription history, and my current medications and supplements. The MFM suggested a couple of small changes, and then we were sent on our way with “official” approval to start trying to conceive. We were ecstatic and so grateful. Truthfully, as a Crohn’s patient, it’s rare that I walk out of any doctor’s appointment feeling optimistic. This felt like a sign that my body might let us move in the right direction.

READY TO INTENTIONALLY TRY TO GET PREGNANT

I went out and bought two different ovulation testing kits, and found an app for my phone to keep track of everything. Along with that, I even made my husband download it so he could see in advance what days would be most important for being intimate.


@amanda.osowski

@amanda.osowski

This was all well and good, except 8 months passed without any success. My Crohn’s disease was managed better than it had ever been, and yet, I still wasn’t pregnant. Every time my period came, my heart sunk a little more. I became concerned that maybe Crohn’s disease was standing in my way of conceiving. I also noticed some inconsistencies in the length of my cycles, so I scheduled an OB/GYN appointment with my regular doctor. Then, she recommended that my husband go for a semen analysis, and said that she would follow up with us after she got the results.

Infertility Story: It’s Not Just From Crohn’s Disease

Her insight that Crohn’s alone shouldn’t be preventing us from getting pregnant was correct. My husband’s analysis was deemed “poor” – indicating a lower number of sperm, reduced sperm motility and abnormal sperm shape/size. It was then that my OB/GYN let us know that we would not likely be able to get pregnant without the help of technology.

I feel horrible to admit that this provided me a sense of relief. My husband is as healthy as a horse. Besides a running injury and kidney stones, he has only seen a doctor for a few colds or sinus infections in the 5.5 years I have known him. To hear outright that my non-chronically ill spouse was also experiencing problems impacting fertility helped me realize that our challenges in conceiving may not be because I have Crohn’s.

The Transition to Infertility Specialists

After nearly a year of trying to conceive naturally, our fertility journey transitioned from something we talked about only inside the walls of our apartment to something we spoke about often, and in public. Next, with the help of a Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist (REI), my husband and I both went through a series of tests, hopeful we would obtain a diagnosis or a reason for our infertility story.

Unexplained Infertility

The positive was that his analysis results improved, and all of my tests came back completely normal. The negative was that this meant our challenges with conceiving fell under “unexplained infertility.” This new diagnosis felt cold and hard and frustrating. Much like my Crohn’s disease, there wasn’t one specific thing that caused our struggles with our infertility story, and there wasn’t one certain route to fixing them either. Emotionally, I was transported to the years before my Crohn’s disease diagnosis. I felt vulnerable, frustrated, and discouraged. 

RELATED: Infertility Story and Vanishing Twin

@amanda.osowski

@amanda.osowski

INTRAUTERINE INSEMINATION (IUI)

Our REI recommended we start with Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), and if we were still not pregnant after at least three successive cycles, we would move on to In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Although the intended outcomes differed (better health vs. carrying a child), the feelings were so similar to me. Both IBD and infertility were filled with the same set of emotions: Hope. Fear. Heartache. Cautious Optimism. Patience. Preparedness.

Compared to the medical tests, procedures, and treatments I have experienced in relation to my Crohn’s disease, the IUI experience was gentle and uneventful, and the actual procedure itself was fairly anticlimactic.

The Waiting Between Treatments

To be honest, the hardest part of the process for me was what came next. After the procedure, you cannot take a pregnancy test for two weeks. The waiting was incredibly anxiety-provoking. It felt like every time I had waited for the pathology reports from a scope, or the results from labs or the doctor to call me back. I couldn’t do anything but be patient.

Our first IUI was not successful. When my period arrived, I felt such deep and significant heartache. We had done everything right, and yet, we were still unlucky. What I realized though was that I had been in this place before. This place always only had to do with me and my health, and not my husband or the child we were trying to create, but it was still a familiar place.
Devastation.
Disappointment.
Frustration.
Fear.
I had already cultivated coping mechanisms during trials and tribulations with my Crohn’s disease, and I felt relieved knowing I didn’t have to pave an entirely new path in these moments.

Two Failed IUIs

Our second IUI also failed. As a somewhat professional patient by this point in my life, I reflected on the idea that completing the third cycle in exactly the same way felt repetitive and was unlikely to succeed. Based on my history, our REI (Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist) instituted an autoimmune protocol, adding a low dose of prednisone during the first half of my cycle, and a combination of antihistamines from the day of the IUI through test day. We did not get lucky with our third or fourth IUI either.

Let me tell you that the waiting period – it does not get any easier with time or repetition. And the disappointment, while no longer a surprise, still burned. 

My husband and I then moved forward with IVF.

IN VITRO FERTILIZATION

@amanda.osowski

@amanda.osowski

The IVF process was more time-consuming, more invasive, and more emotional than the IUI’s we walked through, but knowing the chances of success were higher we marched forward as best as we could. Twice-daily injections, daily monitoring visits (including bloodwork and a transvaginal ultrasound) and the high dose of hormones affected me so much, but the dream of being a mother gave me the courage to continue on.

After 13 days of stimulating my ovaries, I had my egg retrieval procedure, where they removed 12 eggs, of which 8 fertilized, and 4 matured into embryos. 5 days later, I went through a fresh embryo transfer. The 8 days that followed between the procedure and being able to test for pregnancy were torture, and the negative tests that followed really affected my husband and I. We were so disappointed.

Embryo Genetic Testing

At that point, we chose to have the 3 embryos we froze genetically tested to ensure they were chromosomally normal before they were transferred back to my uterus. This made me feel a lot more confident about our second cycle, which ended in a successful frozen embryo transfer.

@amanda.osowski

@amanda.osowski

I took a positive pregnancy test at the end of September 2018, and outside of “normal” pregnancy challenges: morning sickness, exhaustion, aches and pains, heartburn, and frequent urination, my health, and my IBD remained relatively consistent during my pregnancy. This can be attributed this to two things: I continued the exact treatment plan I was on when I found stability and entered remission, AND, I was incredibly lucky.

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM PRIOR TO YOUR OWN INFERTILITY STORY?

This answer will, unfortunately, be much shorter! I didn’t know very much at all about the postpartum experience. My labor and delivery doula had encouraged me to get some pads before I had the baby, and some nursing bras, but that was probably the extent of my preparation/knowledge.

RELATED: Where Do We Learn About Postpartum?

WHAT SURPRISED YOU ABOUT YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE?

I didn’t know I was going to bleed for what felt like forever! (Okay, 4 weeks, but still) I had NO idea about pumping, hands-free pumping bras, or exclusive pumping, and that was learning and trial by fire. Also, I didn’t know that my hormones would fluctuate and change for so long after delivery – I thought by the time the fourth trimester ended I would be back to “normal.”

HOW DID OTHERS RESPOND TO YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE? – WORKPLACE, CLOSE FRIENDS AND FAMILY, STRANGERS?

Honestly, I controlled a lot of the narrative, which I’m really grateful for (mostly because I chose to share both the great and the hard). I had been laid off from my job during my pregnancy. I wasn’t working when I gave birth and I didn’t start looking for a new job until a few months postpartum. There was no workplace/colleague response for me. My close friends that are moms did a lot of “me too” and “yes girl” encouragement to things I shared. Thankfully, they were available for questions/conversation, but to be honest I felt surprised (and a little sting) that they hadn’t shared more/warned me during my pregnancy of what was to come.

@amanda.osowski

@amanda.osowski

WHAT DO YOU WISH MORE PEOPLE REALIZED ABOUT POSTPARTUM AFTER INFERTILITY AND IN THE MIDST OF ONGOING ILLNESS?

For me, my postpartum experience has been much harder as a chronic illness patient. Not only have I had to manage my postpartum body, physical mental, and emotional changes, and my baby, and the whole breastfeeding/pumping situation. I had to watch my Crohn’s disease like a hawk. Making time for infusions and medication, and doctors appointments and routine labs, and to maintain vigilance too in case my symptoms started flaring.

I wish people realized how hard it was for me to manage everything. Think about everything. Have to feel in control of so much. To still be expected to entertain visitors and write thank you notes. I wish people realize that sleep is critical for my Crohn’s disease. And while the new parent badge of honor is running on fumes, that was actually a danger to my health. etc.

RELATED: The Postpartum Cookbook

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE HURTFUL RE: ILLNESS OR FERTILITY?
(EVEN IF WELL-INTENTIONED?)

I didn’t know about it until I began walking through it, but like IBD, conversations about fertility come with an associated stigma.

As many IBD patients have probably experienced at one point or another, being open about the intimate details of Crohn’s disease with family and friends is challenging. I remember when I first became symptomatic, I tried to remain as vague as possible.

Private Life in Secret

Even though it was one of my main frustrations, I completely avoided the word diarrhea. I used to feel like it was too embarrassing to say out loud! Without being comfortable talking about how I was feeling, I became a much quieter, more introverted person during the first few years I was sick. I t felt like my private life had to hold all of my secrets, and it became easier to put less and less out into the world.

How Little Fertility/Infertility is Discussed

In the time my husband and I tried to conceive, we realized how little fertility is discussed. Everyone celebrates pregnancy announcements and births. But in many circles, things like timed intercourse and tracking ovulation are not talked about. However, in my experience, when we were unable to conceive naturally, this divide in conversation became increasingly pronounced. Within a few months of our wedding, family and friends started asking when we were going to grow our family.

@amanda.osowski

@amanda.osowski

Amanda’s Infertility Story Quotes

I found myself saying open-ended and non-specific things like “we want to” or “it’s something we are hoping for.”
It felt completely off-limits to tell them that we were trying everything we could to conceive.

I started to wonder why I was prohibiting myself from being honest, and I realized that I felt ashamed about failing to get pregnant on my own.

Feeling At Fault

Similar to when I first began struggling with IBD, I felt like maybe our challenges with infertility could somehow be my fault. Although this is of course not the case for either situation, I realized I was feeling parallel emotions – embarrassment, frustration, fear. By not talking to my friends and family, I was re-creating the conditions that led me to fold up around myself years ago.

WHAT ARE THE THINGS PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WAS MOST HELPFUL IN A DIFFICULT TIME OF YOUR INFERTILITY STORY?

People who asked “What do you need?” instead of “Ask if you need help” opened the door with more concrete and honest feeling invitations to jump in with support. Also, more than the average bear, I wanted emotional support both during illness/infertility and postpartum.

RELATED: How to Start Exclusively Pumping (Online Course)

Postpartum Narratives

This series, Postpartum Narratives, brings awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same. As a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be. By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc.

If you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.

Motherhood and Crohn’s Disease

We provide free content as a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

Postpartum Stories

Infertility Journey: Wishing to be Postpartum

OUR INFERTILITY JOURNEY CONTINUES

Infertility Journey Acronyms:
2WW, AMH, BBT, BFN, BFP, B/W, CM, CD, DPO, ENDO, FET, FP, FSH, HSG, IUI, IVF, LAP, LH, LMP, OPK, PCO, RE, SA, TTC

Each acronym serves a purpose in our fertility journey. Owner and operator of Fertility Warrior Podcast, Robyn Birkin, once said on her podcast, “Not everyone tries to get pregnant. If you don’t know these acronyms (she listed a long list like the one above), then pregnancy happened to you. If you know these acronyms, you too have tried to conceive.” This quote has stuck with me for the 464 days that we have been TTC.

A question many people ask married couples is, “When will you start trying to have kids?” I too have asked people this question in the past. Now that I have been TTC, my perspective has shifted, I don’t ask this question anymore. The word “trying” implies if you aren’t pregnant then you’re not trying or not trying hard enough. Trying gets to my core. I am trying more at conceiving a child than I have at anything in my entire life; school, work, career. Without the end result of a pregnancy to show for, people assume that we aren’t trying…that word.

dealing with infertility but i’ve dreamt of being a mom for a long time

MY LIFELONG DREAM OF BEING A MOM

Since I was a little girl, I imagined being a mom, mommy, momma. Little did I realize, that dream wasn’t as easily attainable as I had always imagined. Being the oldest of 5, I was always a helper with my siblings, a babysitter, and naturally grew up with motherly-like tendencies. From a young age, family, friends, and strangers would comment on how natural motherhood would come to me.

Those comments are now gut-wrenching. It’s so difficult to hear how good you’ll be at something that you want more than anything else you’ve ever wanted before. Something that you are going through emotional, physical, and spiritual roller coasters to figure out the steps to achieve a positive pregnancy test. Deep down I know that people- family and friends- people aware of our fertility difficulties and people not aware, mean well and it is their perspective. However, I wish society didn’t put the filters and ideas into people’s minds to comment about such personal instances.

I wish society didn’t put the filters and ideas into people’s minds to comment about such personal instances.

RELATED: Infertility and Vanishing Twin

WHAT IS THE INFERTILITY JOURNEY TO ME?

The infertility journey is:

  • Hard

  • Sad

  • Test after test, month after month…BFN (big fat negative)

  • Knowing your cervical mucus

  • Timed intercourse

  • Smiling through the silent pain

  • Hearing about oops pregnancy announcements and cringing

  • Attending a baby shower for another person that isn’t yourself

  • Facing your fear of needles for acupuncture

  • Addressing your fear of needles for weekly B/W (blood work)

  • Facing your fear of needles for ovulation-inducing injections

  • Changing your diet to decrease the possible internal inflammation

  • Reading blog after blog about other woman’s fertility stories

  • Journaling about gratitude, seeking the positives, when each day you are hurting inside more than the yesterday

  • Seeing a naturopath while working with a fertility clinic (whole-body wellness and approaches)

  • Taking vitamins upon vitamins to fill any possible gaps

  • Crying at any given moment

  • Mood swings

  • Talking to insurance on a weekly basis to ensure appointments and medications will be covered

  • Paying out of pocket for specialty drugs

  • Excluding yourself from social gatherings to avoid the talk of babies

  • Excluding yourself from family members who continue to say “just relax and it’ll happen”

  • Listening to pregnant women complain about how long 40 weeks of being pregnant is (we’re at 464 days TTC)

  • Being bloated from the hormones; looking pregnant but not actually pregnant

  • Intensely irritable

  • Situationally depressing

  • Sitting in silence with your partner

  • Long embraces

  • Hand holding

  • Pictures throughout the journey with staged smiles

  • Not fair

    RELATED: Infertility and Postpartum with Chronic Illness

getting infertility treatment shots

WAITING THROUGH INFERTILITY: NOT YET POSTPARTUM

I’m not yet postpartum. When I listen to women sharing about their postpartum experience, I connect with them on various levels. Although I have not carried a child in my body, I have various symptoms that women going through postpartum have. I often wonder what my emotional and physical self will do when we do become pregnant, initially and during pregnancy. Will my emotional stance be elated because I finally have a pregnancy, or will I continue on this struggling journey as we embark on a whole new path; pregnancy and motherhood?

Until then we will continue TTC through our Infertility Journey .

story of infertility pinterest

Supporting Someone Through Birth Tragedy

Do you know someone who has suffered stillbirth, miscarriage or another tragic birth event? Check out this Psychology Today article from Margaret M. Quinland, Ph.D., and Bethany Johnson MPhil, M.A. on Tips for Supporting Parents and Caregivers in Crisis.

RELATED: Preventing Postpartum Depression (Ecourse)
Women who struggle with conception and/or pregnancy and birth complications have preexisting factors that can contribute to postpartum depression. If this is you, you can be proactive with this course.

Postpartum Stories

Infertility, Vanishing Twin and Postpartum

POSTPARTUM AFTER INFERTILITY AND VANISHING TWIN LOSS

Emily shares her experience being pregnant with twins, having a vanishing twin, and then birth and postpartum all following her struggle with infertility.

newborn baby after vanishing twin syndrome

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND TELL US SOME BACKGROUND TO YOUR STORY- TTC (TRYING TO CONCEIVE) TO NOW.

Hello! I’m Emily. I’m a 33-year-old graphic designer and live in California with my husband, our two dogs, and our baby boy who is about to turn one. My journey through infertility to becoming a mom is not typical, and for that reason, I get nervous sharing it publicly. I know so many “born mothers” who fight the infertility battle for years, losing babies and hope. That’s not me. But I did experience infertility. My story is real and I’m honored to have the chance to share it.

My husband and I spent 12 years together without children. Some of those years, the childfree life was a willful choice (I got married when I was practically a baby myself) and some of those years, it wasn’t. There were seasons of trying and seasons, like during graduate school, when having a child was the furthest thing from my mind. After grad school, I settled into my career and got ready for the next chapter of my life…and it never came. I was pretty embarrassed, ashamed, and disappointed. All I could think about was all those times I had flaunted my carefree life in front of my friends who had children. Karma…she is a bitch.

Seeking Infertility  Help

After trying consistently for two years, my husband and I decided to seek some help. We went through fertility testing and got the diagnosis that nobody with infertility wants to hear….”unexplained.” We had a wonderful fertility doctor who created a protocol with increasing intervention. I’m incredibly lucky that just three months after starting fertility treatments, on St. Patrick’s Day 2018, a doctor got me pregnant (seriously, that’s my favorite infertility joke).

I conceived twins, the biggest shock of my life. Unfortunately, a twin pregnancy can often make women incredibly sick and I was one of those lucky few. I did not experience the dreaded hyperemesis gravidarum that some women suffer from, but I did end up in the hospital once and spent many of those early days sicker than I ever thought possible. Sadly, around the time I was released from the fertility clinic and put under the care of my OB/GYN, I found out that “Baby B” hadn’t survived. They call it “vanishing twin syndrome.” I’m a very practical person and took heart in the fact that my doctor seemed concerned about my ability to successfully carry twins. “Baby A”, my son Finn, was healthy and strong in utero and stayed that way when he came into the world on December 4, after a 48 hour labor that included 6 hours of pushing 🙂

RELATED: Postpartum after Stillbirth

HOW DO YOU BELIEVE YOUR YEARS WITH FERTILITY TREATMENTS CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR PREGNANCY EXPERIENCE?

Infertility Grief

Infertility robbed me of that “moment” of finding out I was pregnant. When I took the test, my first thought was “No, that’s just the hormones from the shots still in my system.” I didn’t believe I was expecting until I got the results back from my doctor nearly a week later.

Vanishing Twin Grief

Then, because of the vanishing twin, I was left with some unpleasant side effects – extreme nausea and vomiting for the duration of my pregnancy and a higher than average down-syndrome risk, just for example. So practically speaking, fertility treatments gave me twins, which caused me to have some atypical experiences.

Postpartum and Lack of Space for Grief

Because of all it took for me to conceive my son, I felt like I should avoid feeling sorry for myself, never complain, and soldier on, which I did. This proved to be both good and bad. It was good, in that I do believe in “mind over matter” and I think a positive attitude is important. But it was also bad because people around me had no idea what I actually needed, how sick I really was, and seemed to have high expectations of me and my abilities. I thought if I talked about my symptoms, people close to me would remind me that at least I had gotten pregnant and I didn’t want that reminder. I knew how lucky I was, but I also knew that I felt like shit for nearly nine months.

RELATED: Emotions of Postpartum

Mixed feelings getting pregnant after infertility

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM PRIOR TO YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE?

Women, at least in my circles, love to share their horror stories about the wasteland their bodies became postpartum, so that is basically all I knew. I knew about the endless weeks of bleeding, the tearing, and stitches, the raw nipples, etc. I did not, however, know about the night sweats…would have been nice if someone had told me about THAT, haha!

WHAT SURPRISED YOU ABOUT YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE?

So many things surprised me! I was surprised by how good I felt right away. My nausea ended as soon my son was out and food tasted good again! Additionally, I had retained pounds and pounds of water and that started disappearing immediately. And in the days following his delivery, I realized that I didn’t like being pregnant, even though I was so grateful to have been able to conceive and so in awe and respectful of my body for being able to do what it did.

Maternal Instinct

I was also surprised at how much love and maternal instinct I felt immediately. Many women don’t talk about that part, but taking care of a newborn was straight-up magic for me. I had an aversion to the idea of breastfeeding before my baby was born, but after, it felt like the most natural thing in the world to want to feed him.

Breastfeeding

And on that note, I was surprised at how difficult breastfeeding turned out to be. I did not go into it naively – I had family and friends who dumped ALL the dirty secrets on me – but I thought that, in time, my son and I would figure it out. We weren’t able to, despite having amazing support, and I started exclusively pumping for him. Now, almost a year postpartum, I’m surprised at myself that I’m still pumping.

Postpartum Anxiety

I was surprised when I had postpartum anxiety more than four months after having my son. I thought postpartum mental health issues happened within the first few weeks, and I thought they happened to women who had spouses who went back to work (mine stayed at home for the first 9 months of our son’s life). But when I returned to work, my anxiety became almost crippling. I still battle that demon now at 11 months postpartum.

Postpartum Community

Lastly, I wasn’t prepared for how much I would need other women. I’ve never had a large circle of friends, nor felt like I needed much more human interaction than my experiences with my coworkers and my husband. But after having my baby, I sought out the company of other mothers and, in turn, women I had never considered befriending welcomed me into their lives with dinners, gifts, support, advice, and love.

RELATED: Relationships After Baby (Ecourse)

WHAT DO YOU WISH MORE PEOPLE REALIZED ABOUT POSTPARTUM AFTER INFERTILITY TREATMENTS?

Just because a woman has success with fertility treatments, doesn’t erase the experience she went through. Nothing will ever take away the memories of sticking myself with needles and crying over negative pregnancy tests. My identity as “infertile” didn’t end when my son was born. Many times when I’m rocking my son, I think of my fellow infertile sisters whose arms are empty and my heart breaks for them.

HOW DID OTHERS RESPOND TO YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE?

I felt very lucky to have a solid local support system who responded favorably. My husband was an unrivaled supporter (no joke, he did EVERY night time feeding while I pumped) and my friends showed up with food and love.

My workplace was wonderful, allowing me to flex my leave, and, when I returned to work, outfitting my office so I could pump there. They even supported me when I had to bring my son into the office from time to time.

I come from a very large family and, unfortunately, I didn’t feel support from them. My mother has nine children (of which I’m the youngest) and my sisters and sisters-in-law have collectively birthed nearly 50 babies. I felt like their attitude was “We’ve been there, done that, survived it, and you will too.” Definitely not what a new mom needs.

RELATED: Postpartum Resources for Moms

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE HURTFUL? (EVEN IF WELL INTENTIONED)

Someone very close to me said “After all the work you did to get him here, you’re going to leave him and go back to work?” That comment hurt.

I also don’t appreciate when people ask me when my son is going to get a sibling. Besides it being none of yo damn business, I’m also not sure I can actually have any more children. I may not even want to go through that experience again.

I WISH FOLKS WOULD STOP COMMENTING ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE’S REPRODUCTION.

WHAT ARE THE THINGS PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE MOST HELPFUL IN A DIFFICULT TIME?

A few months after my son was born, after I went back to work and when my postpartum anxiety was at its worst, my sister-in-law had Door Dash delivered to me dinner one night. Another night, a friend randomly brought me take-out. Their gestures were more than having a hot meal to eat. It meant somebody could see me, knew I was having a hard season, and cared enough about me to lighten my burden for a minute.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?

I know it’s easy for me to say now, but I wish I hadn’t felt so much shame surrounding my infertility diagnosis and subsequent treatments. If I could go back, I’d tell myself how brave I was to seek answers and help, how fearless I was to stick myself with needles full of hormones, and how strong I was when I walked back into my doctor’s office to start again after failures. I think infertility needs to be destigmatized. It’s not a woman crying and clutching her bum ovaries in the baby section at Target. Infertility is a fighter, getting knocked down over and over again, but getting back up every single time.

IN CASE YOU’RE FIGHTING THAT FIGHT AND NOBODY HAS SAID IT TO YOU, LET ME: YOU ARE BRAVE, FEARLESS, AND STRONG. HOLD ONTO YOUR HOPE, SISTER.

pinterest vanishing twin

This series, Postpartum Narratives, aims to bring awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same, and as a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be.

By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc. if you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.

Do you know someone who has suffered stillbirth, miscarriage or another tragic birth event? Check out this Psychology Today article from Margaret M. Quinland, Ph.D., and Bethany Johnson MPhil, M.A. on Tips for Supporting Parents and Caregivers in Crisis.

Postpartum Stories

Postpartum Anxiety: 8 Things Everyone Needs to Know

Life as a New Mom with Postpartum Anxiety

Celeste shares her journey with postpartum anxiety with us at Postpartum Together. Postpartum anxiety affects approximately 10% of postpartum women. 

only 15% of moms with maternal mental health disorders are diagnosed and therefore received proper treatment

Image credit: www.motherhood-understood.com

8 THINGS I WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM MOOD DISORDERS (PMADS)- CELESTE’S STORY

I had my baby eight weeks ago and I have Postpartum Anxiety (PPA). Here are eight things that I would like you to know about PMDs and being a new mother:

1) THE TRANSITION INTO MOTHERHOOD IS BLOODY HARD AND THIS ISN’T ACKNOWLEDGED.

For me, becoming a mother is a right of passage and far more challenging and daunting than I had imagined. I have lived, volunteered, and worked in ten countries, as a teacher, janitor, and an organic farmer- and having a baby and recovering from PPA (postpartum anxiety) was one of the hardest things I have done.

It took every ounce of my strength and courage and the learning curve was steep, Now, just two months postpartum, I am more confident in my ability as a mother. I know that every sleep regression and struggle of motherhood has a season- and it will pass. I learned through reaching out for help that I had a community of people who would support me- even if I felt like I was failing as a new mom. Although I am still in recovery, I have grown mightily during the past eight weeks. My experience has felt like becoming a phoenix- I had to walk through the fire to be transformed and remade.

The Early Days of New Motherhood

 When I first became a mom, I felt isolated and was in survival mode. I was not prepared to feel dark and complex emotions. Frequently when I tried to express them, I was met with judgment, shame, and silenced even by people meaning well. I learned to put on a brave smile to family and friends- even for my husband. There began my journey into emotional isolation and the immediate feelings of my inadequacy as a mother.

 Although a new mom may be eager and happy to be a mother, there is nothing to prepare her for all that she will lose. We have no cultural narratives, stories, or rituals to prepare her for this journey. We are a society that largely ignores the pain and challenges of motherhood, and instead, share images of smiling babies who are easy to nurse and rock to sleep in an oh-so-cute nursery. Oppression is achieved by silencing the experiences of a group of people, making them feel isolated, inadequate, or even crazy for what they are feeling.

Failure to Acknowledge New Mother’s Needs

I think our society has silenced the pain and suffering of new mothers because women have historically been seen as emotional and hysterical (in fact, hysteria comes from the Greek root hysteria, meaning ‘uterus.’)l. Women have been labeled as such, so that our pain could be overlooked. The burden and pain of motherhood is not deemed worthy of our attention or resources as a country. The lack of maternal support paid parental leave, and healthcare for moms postpartum are a testimony to this. Moreover, the power of being a woman, someone who births life, could be minimalized and forgotten, pushing the collective power and wisdom of women and mothers to the margins.

 However, we are doing some of the world’s most important and challenging work- cultivating the next generation! I have learned that it is incredibly important for new moms to ask for what she needs, without apology. We need to support and advocate for each other- the road of motherhood is far too burdensome and challenging to walk alone.

RELATED: PMAD Stories From Moms

 2) WE HAVE A LOT TO LEARN ABOUT PMADS.

 I’m grateful to the public awareness campaigns and women who have gone public about their experience with postpartum depression. This lead me to know that it is a real condition that can affect any new mother. We have come a long way, but we’re only beginning to understand PMADs and how to best treat them.

I was not aware, however, that there could be a wide variety of postpartum mood and postpartum anxiety disorders with an even wider variety of symptoms. Understanding the symptoms is important so that signs can be understood and recovery can happen sooner.

Most new moms get the ‘Baby Blues’ in the first two weeks. Baby Blues include restlessness, anxiety, and crying- caused by the hormonal shift post-birth, and arguably the incredible life transition of a new baby and sleepless nights. Baby Blues is a mild and temporary form of depression that evaporates when a mother’s hormones become regulated. PMADs can be more severe and last longer or even start during pregnancy. PMADs include postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum bipolar, postpartum OCD, postpartum psychosis.

3) IT IS HARD FOR A NEW MOTHER TO ACCEPT SHE HAS A PMAD.

 It took me until I was literally on my knees and unable to cope before I could accept I had PPA (postpartum anxiety). I considered myself a strong, independent, educated, healthy and emotionally intelligent woman.  I had prepared for the journey of motherhood physically, mentally and even spiritually. Surely I would not be a victim of a PMAD!  And yet, I did. I don’t think I could have done anything differently to prevent postpartum anxiety.  It is important for mothers to know that developing a PMAD is never their fault, but they are able to be proactive to overcome it.

Acknowledging the Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety

I had no idea before giving birth that insomnia and anxiety are classic symptoms of postpartum anxiety. In desperation, I messaged a close friend who is a midwife and she told me that insomnia and anxiety were quintessential PPA symptoms. The realization that I had PPA paralyzed me. I had no idea how or why I had developed postpartum anxiety and I didn’t think I would recover.

I felt completely overwhelmed.
How could I adequately care for my baby?
What did this mean about me as a mother?

My identity and confidence were shattered. Thankfully, I had understanding family and friends, and access to affordable and high-quality health care. Often, it’s the knowledge and support of a new mother’s community- from family to pediatricians- that help a new mother learn and accept that she has a PMAD and access the treatment she needs.

1 in 5 women experience mental health disorder like postpartum depression

Image credit: www.motherhood-understood.com

4) ALL NEW MOTHERS ARE VULNERABLE AND NEED SUPPORT.

I have ridden on the roofs of buses in the mountains of Nepal and slept in huts with spiders the size of my hand, but being a new mom was one of the scariest experiences of my life. Being a new mom and then developing PPA tops the list, second only to burying my mother.

In addition to grappling with a massive life transition and the vulnerability of deeply loving your baby who is so fragile and needy, a PMAD turns your life inside out. Who you used to be, your sense of security and sense of self are utterly transformed. I felt weak and scared, nothing like my usual courageous self. Recovery from PPA has felt like learning how to walk again. I had to gradually rebuild myself from the ground up.

The Support Needed in Postpartum Recovery

Recovering while being so vulnerable and afraid requires a network of support. Support can be created for moms by whoever shows up for them. For me, it was people who could support me without judgment. Friends I rarely ever talked to started reaching out, and this was key. Befriending a mother who had PPA and hearing her story of recovery was extremely helpful and made me feel less isolated, which is fundamental to my healing.

RELATED: Postpartum Resources for Any Mom

5) IT’S HARD FOR A NEW MOTHER TO SPEAK UP AND SHARE HER EXPERIENCE.

As a society, we have come far in our acceptance of mental illness; but society will often blame the victim and our sense of shame can be crippling. It certainly was for me.

Sharing our stories of new motherhood and PMADs is essential to transcending shame and finding self-love. But this is nearly impossible to do. Why? Fear of judgment. We need to listen attentively to new moms and without judgment, without blaming, without interrupting to offer “advice”. We also need to ask the right questions. Questions that don’t only involve the baby, but also the mother.

Questions to ask a New Mom

A mother sharing her experience can start with a simple question, such as: “Are you able to sleep?” “How do you feel?” “Are you overwhelmed?” “What do you need from me?” and “How can I help you?”

The first month, it felt as though everyone was always giving advice and planting words in my mouth:
“Isn’t it the most magical experience!”
“Awww, having a baby is the best thing ever! I miss when my kids were so little!”
“Aren’t you soooooooooooooooooo happy!”
“Make sure you sleep when the baby sleeps!”

It felt impossible to share my true experience because everyone assumed I was over the moon.  This wasn’t the best thing ever, I wasn’t happy. It felt like a nightmare. When society only accepts two feelings from a new mom- love, and gratitude- sharing our authentic experience of new motherhood becomes impossible.

5) MOTHERHOOD IS MESSY- IT’S NOT ALL BABY GIGGLES AND FUZZY BLANKETS.

The transformation into motherhood is hard: it requires suffering, shedding the ego, losing our sense of self and our sense of freedom. It’s okay for a new mom to have negative emotions! We need to accept that motherhood is hard and our response to this new role is complex. Although we may be delighted to be a mother, some of our reactions to this new role can include emotions such as fear, anger, and even grief.

6) POSTPARTUM EMOTIONS AND MOOD DISORDERS ARE TEMPORARY. GETTING HELP HEALS.

The postpartum timeline varies for each mom. Some experience the baby blues for a week, others are in recovery from a PMAD for a year or more. Some develop a PMAD while pregnant, others a year after birth. Just like our birthing stories are different, so are our recovery timelines and journeys. But it is always temporary and it will get better.

During my hardest days of dealing with postpartum anxiety, I felt like I would feel anxious and overwhelmed forever. I didn’t think it was possible to recover. I found relief first through acceptance, but my anxiety spiked before I could accept this as the condition of my mental health. First I had to grieve that my maternity leave and time welcoming my baby into the world was not going to be what I had hoped.

Not How I Expected to Feel

I wasn’t over the moon; I was sad, anxious and afraid.
As a new mom, I had intrusive thoughts that made me question who I was.
I couldn’t sleep when the baby slept, day or night.
My body was still aching from a 30 hour labor.
I was a walking, nonfunctioning zombie.

One morning I had a panic attack. I didn’t know how I could care for the baby while my husband was at work. I was terrified. Only when I was brought to my knees by the gripping anxiety could I accept that I had PPA and needed help.

Postpartum Anxiety Recovery: Get Help and Talk About It

Getting help and talking about my mental health was imperative for my recovery. Apprehensively, I started taking Zoloft and sleep aids. Initially, I was afraid because I was exclusively breastfeeding and I was afraid of how this would impact his neurological development. But every professional I talked to-from a nurse practitioner, clinical therapist, psychologist, and OBGYN- said it was safe and worth it. For me, it was the right choice. Finally sleeping more than an hour at a time made me feel human again. I started feeling the effects of Zoloft after a week. Although I was still anxious, especially at night and in the afternoon, I could smile at my baby and see the light.

RELATED: How to Start Exclusively Pumping (eCourse)

Warrior bracelet from 10th floor treasures

Bracelet: 10th Floor Treasures

7) HAVING A PMD ISN’T THE END OF A MOTHER’S WORLD AND IT’S NEVER HER FAULT 

Developing a Postpartum Mood Disorder can feel like a living nightmare. The key is intervening as soon as possible and getting the help and support you need. Although accepting that you have a PMAD is hard to admit to yourself and to others, it’s the first step of recovery.

Postpartum disorders affect mothers from all walks of life and it is never the mother’s fault.  Needing help does not mean you’re weak, to blame, or selfish. Getting help for a PMAD is no different than getting help for a broken bone.  And every step towards health and healing brings hope, confidence, security. Every time I am able to overcome a fear (which were simple, everyday things, like driving or being alone with my newborn) brought me joy- I knew then that I would recover. Finally, I could see the clouds parting and the sun shining down.

8) MOTHERS ARE LIFE CREATING WARRIORS.  

Now, I know what it means to be a mother- and I know we are life-creating warriors. But even as warriors, mothers still need their tribe.  Being a mother and life-creating warrior is a role learned in real-time, with no previous training. This can be terrifying and overwhelming.

We are vulnerable and we can and should depend on others as we take care of our babies and children. Asking for help doesn’t make us weak, it shows our courage, our strength and our dedication to ourselves and our families.

Postpartum Narrative Contributions

This series, Postpartum Narratives, aims to bring awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same, and as a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be. By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc. if you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.

postpartum anxiety pinterest.png

Thank you to Celeste for sharing her story. Every woman’s story is powerful, and when we share and diversify our understanding, we become stronger as women and as a society. If this story resonated with you and you would like to talk more with Celeste, you can contact her via her Instagram.

If you are struggling, help is available. Caring for yourself is essential to care for your baby. You can find a local resource by using the Postpartum Support International directory here. You can also call 1-800-944-4773 for Postpartum Support International Helpline (available in Spanish and English.) *The PSI HelpLine does not handle emergencies. People in crisis should call their local emergency number or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Support for New Moms

Are you a pregnant or recently postpartum mom looking for a supportive group to connect, process and have safety in the beautiful and difficult parts of early motherhood? Do you like to keep things real and raw and authentic? Do you find yourself wondering if you’re the only one feeling how you do? Are you feeling the pressure of social media and movies saying how we “should” be as moms?


Postpartum Together is a collective of virtual small group experiences that gives you a “home” as a new mom with other women who get it. Get the details and hop on the waitlist before it’s full! Momma- by taking the steps to live in your truth and safely process your transitions, you give yourself and your family the gift of a more confident and connected mom.

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

Postpartum Stories

Postpartum Mom Recovery with a Baby in the NICU

HOW IS POSTPARTUM DIFFERENT FOR NICU MOMS?

When I think about the narrative that can be left out of the postpartum and motherhood story, I think about a NICU mom and her family. ⁣

Everyone has a heavy heart for a NICU baby, rightfully so, but NICU moms need extra love too.⁣⁣

The Choices of a NICU Mom

A NICU mom is choosing whether to rest and let her body heal or venture down long halls to sit in uncomfortable chairs and (maybe) snuggle her child with cords. Sometimes the snuggling isn’t even an option and she watches, through an isolet, as she hopes her baby hears her voice and feels her love. ⁣

nicu+halls-min.jpeg

A NICU mom, if choosing to nurse or pump breastmilk, must learn to do so with an audience of medical providers in and out. ⁣

A NICU mom changes her blood-soaked Depends in too many public bathrooms. ⁣

She knows the hospital cafeteria menu and any food options nearby. ⁣

This mom doesn’t get herbal bath soaks and is doing all her self care in a sterile space void of the comfort of home. ⁣

She sleeps to the sound of beeping devices and continual stat checks through the night. ⁣

When we talk about postpartum, May we not overlook the voices of the NICU mom. ⁣

The complexity of a NICU Stay⁣

I had but a small taste of being a NICU mom. While our week inpatient felt long, it was so short in comparison to families we saw and families we know. The NICU experience often spills over into the struggles of maternity leaves and insurance needs, sibling care, and more. ⁣

NICU mom- you are heard. And we will work together to make sure your voice is part of the story when we talk about postpartum and motherhood.

Nicu mom story

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

RELATED: Amazon Breastpumping List
RELATED: Baby We’re Home, Now Let’s Sleep (Course)

Online Community for New Moms

Are you a pregnant or recently postpartum mom looking for a supportive group to connect, process and have safety in the beautiful and difficult parts of early motherhood? Do you like to keep things real and raw and authentic? Do you find yourself wondering if you’re the only one feeling how you do? Are you feeling the pressure of social media and movies saying how we “should” be as moms?
Postpartum Together is a virtual small group experience that gives you a “home” as a new mom with other women who get it. Groups vary in topic and are available on a rotating basis. Click the link above to find the next group for you.