Tammy McKinney, Dover, Pennsylvania, USA
Beating the baby blues at the start of motherhood.
The day my daughter was born was filled with emotion, exhaustion, and expectation. I remember wanting nothing more than to rest and stay awake all at the same time. There lay a little being whom I had anticipated meeting for so long. I loved her so much and yet I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with her. I knew one thing though, after five months of strict bed rest I was ready to get my life back. I wanted nothing more than to go outside, to walk around freely, and to clean my own house. But I found myself saddled to the couch, struggling to make my dream of breastfeeding a reality.
I endured a strict schedule of breastfeeding, pumping, bottle-feeding, parts cleaning, and repeating. There was never enough time for me to do the dishes in one shot, let alone get out of the house and participate in the real world. My biggest fear was slowly becoming a reality as I felt myself slipping into what would surely be a long battle with postpartum depression.
One particularly beautiful morning, I decided to try to battle the blues by breastfeeding my baby on our back patio and take in a little sunshine. Half way through our session my phone alerted me to the monthly La Leche League meeting. I had honestly forgotten all about La Leche League and wasn’t sure if the effort would even be worth it. I wouldn’t know anybody there and for all the work it would take to get ready and out the door I worried that I would regret wasting my time. After agonizing over the decision to stay home or attend the meeting I decided to go, just for an excuse to leave the house. That single decision was a turning point in my emotional health and my life as a mother.
What I found at my local LLL meeting that day was a group of mothers who were all in a situation similar to mine. Although we came from different walks of life, we were all tied to the dream of breastfeeding and we were all keenly aware of the struggles of motherhood. The first few moments of awkward silence, where we all nervously tended to our babies, quickly turned to excited conversation about everything from breastfeeding struggles, postpartum depression, to changes in our relationships. I was fortunate enough to meet a couple of moms who were regulars at the meetings and who invited me to join them in other moms’ groups, ones that organize events such as walking at the park with babies, playdates, and moms’ nights out. It was magical! Before I knew it, my long days on the couch became busy, visiting with other mothers and laughing together at the perils of motherhood. My baby blues faded and I was finally enjoying my baby and my life.
Everything improved after that day. I was eventually able to give up pumping and exclusively breastfeed, thanks to guidance I received from LLL mothers that helped me to increase my supply. My mood was lifted by the friendships I formed and my home life improved because I was a happier wife, a more fulfilled mother, and felt like a whole person again. I think back to that day when my phone buzzed with an alert about a meeting. I cringe to think what would have become of me if I had decided to give in to my sadness and just stay home.