It can be lonely here

 photo by Michelle Rose Photo

photo by Michelle Rose Photo

New motherhood is isolating. It’s hours and hours spent alone with a newborn. Who is quite often crying. Or nursing. Or being held. Or needing to be held. Or played with. Or bathed. Or any combination of a million tiny things. Yes, there are those moments where things are amazing and sunshine and rainbows shoot out their butt and you both can’t contain your joy as fits of giggles and a thousand iPhone photos are had.

But those other moments? Those darker ones when you feel so alone and overwhelmed are there too. In this social media culture where we share the most perfect and edit moments of life we can too easily forget that those moments are simply that. Moments. Often staged and manipulated for likes and engagement. I admit I’ve done that too.

My lowest point thus far came around when Baby P was 8weeks old. We’d been out far too long that day but I had been enjoying myself talking to other adults and being charming (or so I hope I’d come off that way!). I even wore lipstick for the occasion. By the time we got home, P had been crying hysterically for over an hour with no end in site. Another 2 hours later and I was losing it. I hadn’t eaten dinner, desperately needed a shower (postpartum sweat + spit up is a gross combination) and was feeling defeated in a way I hadn’t yet felt. I agonized over finding and sterilizing a pacifier in the hopes that this small piece of plastic would be the secret to cure what ailed him.

When my husband eventually returned home (after a text that both the baby and I would be in tears when he returned) I begged him to take the baby for 5 mins so I could shower. The desperation was real. He asked why I hadn’t come home sooner and the next time I shouldn’t do so much. Daggers shot out my teary eyes. I felt like I was failing. Failing at everything mom related. I just wanted to hand baby over and melt down the shower drain. 

  raw, red and real.

 raw, red and real.

A long cry in the shower and I stepped out to start the cycle of bouncing, rocking, swaying and simultaneously shushing the baby to sleep alone in our dark room.

Once I finally admitted to myself that I just may have a colicky baby, it got better the next day. And even better the next day. Sometimes I wonder if it was reaching this breaking point and surrendering that cleared the way or if his colossal meltdown was a developmental shift that lead to more ease. Who knows. I’m just thankful for it.

I’m also thankful for the community of friends, doulas and mom friends who are with me- via text, Instagram and phone calls. Those check ins and “me too”s help more than you may realize. To not feel so alone and to normalize these feelings is so helpful. The question of “is this hormonal?” Or questioning if it is indeed a postpartum mood disorder can be complex and confusing. What is normal after your life has been completely turned on it’s head is hard to distinguish.

Having support and a listening ear can go a long way. Build a supportive nest of helpers before your baby arrives. Connect with other expecting people who you can text at 2am when you’re up for yet another feeding session. I’m lucky to have so many friends having babies at the same time that I had Baby P that there was no shortage of text friends when I need to vent, cry, laugh, share or just simply know I’m not alone.

You’re not alone, mama. I hear you. I see you. I’m here with you.

If you do feel like you may have a postpartum mood disorder or aren’t sure, please take the Edinburgh Scale, speak to a professional (your care provider, a therapist) and/ or seek out a support group. If you’re in NYC, The Motherhood Center and The Seleni Institute are wonderful resources. 1 out of 5 new parents experience some sort of postpartum mood disorder within the first year after giving birth. There IS help available.

My Birth Story

I wrote this on a Thursday, in the odd hours of the morning while I rock my son back to sleep. Thursday’s were important markers of time during my pregnancy. Thursday’s were when my gestational weeks rolled one into the next. Thursday was the day my cat died unexpectedly when I was 35 weeks pregnant. Thursday was the day I was induced at 39 weeks.

My son is nearing 8 weeks old. 8 weeks it has taken me to process my birth story and realize the particulars are not what matters. The exact details don’t need to be shared or even truly remembered in detail. What matters is this:

At the end of a wonderful and easy 39 week prenatal visit with my midwife Shar, baby’s heart rate and position were checked along with my fundal height and blood pressure. All normal. Except it wasn’t this time. My blood pressure was elevated. My midwife encouraged me to go to the hospital for additional monitoring so off we went a few hours later to Metropolitan Hospital. It continued to be elevated after several hours, even with meditation and relaxing music. The on staff midwife suggested I stay to be induced but I chose to sign myself out AMA. Soon after leaving, however, both of my midwives called to urge me to return. We discussed the risks involved with elevated blood pressure and what that meant for my planned home birth (it risked me out). After lots of tears on a long call with my doula, Lindsey, I ate dinner, packed a bag and returned to the hospital.

I had planned for an unmedicated birth at home. Even in all of my transfer scenarios I had not planned ahead for this one. Being a doula I knew that inductions could take a while. I came prepared with an eye mask, music, essential oils, and items for my birth altar.

 My birth altar: essential oils for both energy and calming. Crystals for birth. Pictures of my cats, one of whom passed away 4 weeks prior. Mala and beads made from her ashes.

My birth altar: essential oils for both energy and calming. Crystals for birth. Pictures of my cats, one of whom passed away 4 weeks prior. Mala and beads made from her ashes.

My story is a long one, and one I don’t think is necessary to share. The short version is this. It took 3 days for my son to be born. Labor didn’t follow a typical arc. It started and stopped over and over. My doula stayed with us almost the entire time. We labored during the intense moments and chatted or rested during the quiet ones. We ate guacamole and pita chips. I was obsessed with pineapple. The hospital had wireless monitoring and wonderful midwives who support physiological birth. They allowed me to be in my space without pressure and with respect to my choices. I declined routine cervical checks and IV fluids. I moved around, walking the hallways or rocking on my birth ball.


63 hours after arriving at the hospital, my son was born. Almost 2 hours of pushing and he came out face up (direct occiput posterior) and eyes wide open. He was a tiny little guy, 6.5lbs and 20” long. He latched for his first of many feeds in the first hour, after we both had some time to adjust to our change in conditions.

I’m so grateful to every midwife and nurse who supported me in my birth experience. I was continually respected and supported in every decision I made. And I was allowed to make my own educated and informed decisions without pressure, which was vital to me. There were tears and laughs. Somewhere along the way my mantra became the very unzen “fucking hell” that I repeated as each new contraction began in earnest.

Birth looked and felt like nothing I had ever imagined for myself. I had prepared for long. I had prepared for challenging. But I had not prepared for this. I’ve learned that no matter how prepared, healthy, fit, educated you are that birth happens how it happens.

 Welcome baby boy! First latch

Welcome baby boy! First latch