This is the story Of a pumpkin of white What is its place on this autumn night? Amidst all the orange and colors of fall It seems out of place; not belonging at all But oh what a place, and oh what a story You see, in its face lies the image of glory
Of babies so small, so incredibly tiny Perfect in purpose, their souls shining brightly No less a baby, a child just the same As one who was held and called by their name Was my baby a he? Or was she a she? What would my child have grown up to be? Yet bigger than questions and what ifs and whys Is the comfort they feel when they look to the skies For their hope is the truth that they so tightly cling “I’ll know all the answers, understand everything on the day that God hands my child back to me”
This pumpkin is sweet baby boys and girls Who never opened their eyes to this world Never cried, never feared Protected from pain Touched by their innocence We’re never the same Lives perfect and pure All things lovely and sweet And we honor them here ‘Till heaven we meet
This pumpkin is all of the sweet little ones Whose lives although short were covered in love In kisses and snuggles, rocking and playing Their parents not knowing they wouldn’t be staying But the time that they had they would never trade Even if they could be saved from the pain Their cribs may be empty, but the promise remains One day they’ll hold their babies again
This pumpkin is for all these sweet angel friends Whose parents all know this isn’t the end And how they are doing Tonight up in heaven Is better than anything we could imagine Though we’re missing our children And we’re still on this side Our hearts will continue to swell with pride At the special, the wondrous, the out of place things Like this white pumpkin, and the joy that it brings A reminder that our children are more than alive They are perfectly whole, all things are made right
Angel parents, I know there’s still tears to be shed But I hope that this pumpkin brings peace instead Our babies are promised forever in heaven And that’s the best gift we could ever be given
I’ve known for a while I’d been sick and not feeling well. But I had a family to take care of too, and how often do moms get “time off”…. UMM NEVER OR RARELY.
I decided to share my story and journey through all this once it began because I felt it was important for others to know that the #covi̇d19 virus is no laughing matter.
While I’m here in the hospital recovering (which I’m glad about) my families home without me. They’ve been exposed, they’re cleaning the house down even more so than it was already sanitized. They are worried about me and vice versa.
One never thinks, it could happen to them, WRONG! Anything can happen, so never think you’re invincible because no one is.
I did my best to be super mom, to act as life as usual and just rest when I felt I needed to. I didn’t want to worry my family.
I’ve been blessed to have such an amazing group of Drs and nurses taking care of me. They really are amazing! They bring me coffee every time they come in to check on me (yes!!) and they also make sure I’m comfortable and we even chat some and as always, I let them know my gratitude for what it is they do for us with covid. I want them to know what they do means so much to me and my family.
This is why I want to share my story, this journey. Everyone’s experience with this virus has been different, but also similar. These are very uncertain times right now. But we will endure.
An amazing nurse makes all the difference in the care one feels!! Jaleesa has been such a fantastic nurse, and while it was only for a short time, she has left such a beautiful impression on me. In the middle of the night I was suddenly moved from the room I had been in to a different room. My second covid test came back negative so they moved me from the covid positive part of the hospital to the covid negative. There are many reasons for why they could’ve done this, but I won’t have all the answers until after left sometime. So I will be sure to keep you all updated! I’m actually sitting here dowsing off as I write this so I’m going to keep this short. Okay so my biggest point with this post, just like most of mine, is all about the nurses and doctor’s! I’ve been truly blessed to have some of the most fabulous nurses, techs and even doctors. I’ve enjoyed being able to bless them all each with a piece of art work as my way of saying thank you for their service and their phenomenal care! It’s means so so much! Truly, I feel so blessed.
Once she left things quickly started getting hairy again. It was little things. He went back to playing video games all – the – damn – time. Working stupid long hours, and he started going to the gym too. Or at least, he got a membership… but the “gym” ultimately ends up being someone else’s bed!
We moved to our new place on Nov 31st. Sadly in early January we had to return to Alberta for his grandmother’s funeral. Our plan was to only be there a few days. By the time we got there, he decided he couldn’t miss that much work. So only hours after the funeral, he left to return home. He had convinced me, that because Little Lady #1’s birthday was just around the corner, the kids and I should stay and enjoy her birthday with Grandma & Grandpa. They were planning to come visit us in BC really soon anyways, so we could travel home with them. I thought this was a great idea and I took the bait, we stayed. A couple days after he had left, and before we had even celebrated her birthday… I got a phone call late at night. He was bawling. Through his sobs, he told me, he didn’t want the kids and I to come home.
Um… excuse me?
I just spent a month packing our stuff to move 10 hours away from everything and everyone! I gave him the opportunity to leave us behind, I had suggested the kids and I stay in Alberta and live apart until our oldest finished school in June (which he turned down), after we moved all of our worldly possessions to BC…. he was going to leave us in Alberta now? How could he do this? I was about 20ish weeks pregnant. I was sleeping on a pullout sofa bed in the living room of his parents tiny house, with my 2.5 and 5 year old daughters. I had 2 days worth of clothing for each of us and that was it. I bawled for days.
Everything I had was in our new home with him. All our clothes, our beds, my children’s toys. My escape fund was hidden in the house… yes after everything I had gone through, I had started stashing cash to escape if things ever got bad again. What good was it to me all the way over there?! He had EVERYTHING, except my kids. I was so grateful, that at least I had my kids. I tried so hard to smooth things over. To try and understand what had happened and what had changed for him. Why had he just left us here? I didn’t really get a lot of answers, but I was smart enough to do most of the communication through text. With all the things he had threatened me with before… this time, I would have a paper trail.
He ultimately told me that he didn’t want the kids. That he thought they were better off with me, and said, “they will thrive more in your care in Alberta, than they would with me here.” No matter what happened from here forward, at least he had left us here, that he didn’t want them or me there…. he couldn’t pin taking the kids from him on me. I continued to try and work things out with him. It was pretty stupid really. I should have just let everything we had there go.It was just possessions right? However I didn’t. My life was in that house! The kids and I stayed where we were for weeks. Finally I told him and his mom that I had a doctors appointment in February that I couldn’t miss. I needed to come home for that appointment, and I did. His mom drove the kids and I home to BC. His mom was utterly embarrassed and confused by what her son was doing to me and our kids. She was coming with us not only as a mode of transportation, but also to help me pack to move the kids and I back to Alberta. I should have just stayed in Alberta.
We got back to the home in BC, he was there and waiting for us. Almost immediately, we needed to have a conversation. I was ready to put my foot down and to tell him I was back to pack and leave. If you don’t know this already let me tell you an abuser has a way. They have a way of manipulating every situation to suit them. By the end of this conversation, he had apologized, he had sweet talked, he had gotten everything that he wanted mentally and physically, and the kids and I were not moving. He wanted us to stay. He wanted to work this out. Naive me. I still didn’t know what “this” even was. But I was staying. So his mom stayed a couple days. When she went homem my escape plan went with her. I was stuck.
My abuser sweet talked me into staying… then when the coast was clear, all the same shit started happening again. He was “working” late nights. He was going to the “gym” every night. He was getting called into “work” on his days off. He would make and break plans with our kids because he would get “called into work.” When he was home, he was playing video games with his sound eliminating headphones on. He didn’t interact with the kids. He would snap at them for the littlest things, and tell them to “grow up” or “act your age.” They were acting their age! They were 3 and 5. When they were sad, scared or hurt they would cry, like any young child does. They started feeling the tension in the house. They started seeing mommy worn out, sad and scared. Him and I fought often now. NEVER in front of the kids. We would fight over him never being home. We fought about where he was going and how come he never had days off work, and how he got called in to work on every single scheduled day off. We fought about money. When we moved I had to quit my job, and become a stay at home mom. He was spending all our money on video games. For real, I found his purchase history on his favourite game platform (STEAM.) In the same month I was asking him to take me to the food bank because the kids and I had run out of groceries, and he refused to take me, because “the food bank is for poor people, we aren’t poor.” I discovered he had spent $900 on video games. He spent our grocery money on f***ing games! He was perfectly ok with his pregnant wife and children going hungry. He was eating at work (he worked in a restaurant). I was making whatever I could for the kids with what I had left in my bare cupboards. Myself and my unborn baby were surviving off of whatever my little ladies didn’t eat from their plates. I was sustaining myself and a baby off of sandwich crusts, a few bites of this and a few bites of that. Not enough. He had the audacity to tell me I was exaggerating when I said we didn’t have enough food in the house for me to adequately feed myself and our children.
I told his mom that we had no groceries, and she sent me money. I was so grateful. I remember I got hot dogs and buns so I could bbq for myself and the girls. We were eating outside at the patio table, and I tripped. I fell. I fell hard. I smashed my ribs into the corner of a chair arm, hit my forehead on something and I scraped my hand and knee trying to catch myself. I was very pregnant. Once I caught my breath, because it knocked the wind right out of me, I phoned him. No answer. I phoned again… no answer. I tried and tried…. then, his phone stopped ringing. It went straight to voicemail every time I tried now. I phoned the restaurant to try and get a hold of him. “I’m sorry. He left over an hour ago.” I texted his mom to try and get a hold of him… but she couldn’t either. His phone was off or dead. My baby was still moving, we finished dinner, I cleaned up, I put the kids to bed. He came home and I don’t know when. He lied, he said he was at the restaurant, his phone must have died. I told him he was lying. I told him I phoned the restaurant. He insisted, his staff were wrong, he was there. I was sick of his lying. I was sick of his attitude. I was sick of him mistreating me. Things got bad. Nightly now, he would yell at me after the kids were asleep. He would remind me what an awful mom I was. He reminded me that no one loves me. He told me I should just pack my shit and leave. And again… he would never let me take his kids away from him. He told me he had a lawyer and there’s no way I would get the kids, because I had no job. I had no money. I had no home. I had no family or friends here to help me. The verbal and emotional abuse aside, the abuse yet again came into the bedroom. This time, he would slap me, and choke me during sex. And not in a fun kind of way. I remember him even telling me that this was the only time he could take his frustrations out on me, if anyone asked, he’d just say that I liked it rough. This is when I finally clued in. I FINALLY ACKNOWLEDGED HIM AS MY ABUSER.
All this happened at night…. but during the day, he would suddenly forget what he had said to me the night before. I wasn’t allowed to be grumpy. I wasn’t allowed to let my feelings and depression show. He would invite friends over, usually to play games. He went so far as to invite his girlfriend over one evening. Yup… you read that right. “She’s a friend” but her demeanour told me otherwise. She had no interest in meeting his wife. She sat and played with my kids. She only interacted with them or him. I felt like a piece of furniture inconveniently placed in the room. She didn’t stay long. I could see she was uncomfortable. I would be uncomfortable too if I was “the other woman” meeting my boyfriend’s wife and kids. He said he simply thought she was someone I could make friends with. (Guess who he’s engaged to now.) Still, the tension was rising. The air always felt thick now. My kids would scold their daddy for being rude to mommy. Rude is the only word they knew to describe how daddy was treating me. He would blame me, saying I was turning my children into man haters. I NEVER, not even to this day have I ever spoken ill of their father to them, or in front of them. NEVER!
My final straw... One night after he had his nightly go at me, I walked away. I was going to bed. But as I walked toward my room, I heard two little voices sitting in the dark. My girl’s had been staying up late at night, holding each other in their bed, waiting, listening, to see if daddy would yell at mommy again. To sit and listen to see if we would fight. Something inside me grew. A spark lit a fire that wasn’t there before. I was done and I started looking for a new place for me and the kids. Until now, I still had a good relationship with his parents. I suggested my husband find somewhere else to sleep, and most nights he did. My due date was nearing, and I still let his parents come and visit when they wanted. This next visit was a huge turning point…
His mom and dad were here for a visit, they were staying for about a week. During the week, my husband let his guard down and let his behaviour slip. He let his true colours show. He would get easily frustrated and mad at me over nothing. He was sleeping on the couch, when he wasn’t sleeping elsewhere. I’m going to assume he was at his girlfriends place most nights. He would yell at me, when he thought no one would hear him. He yelled at me that I am the reason he wants to kill himself. That was his reaction to me suggesting he move out, instead of me trying to find a different place that I could afford, big enough for me and 3 kids, and moving the kids again. He did this in front of his parents. They were starting to see what I was seeing. I asked him something I had been wondering ever since I fell and couldn’t get a hold of him. “Will you be here for me when I go into labor?” I made it clear, he was welcome in the room when I gave birth if he wanted, but I didn’t care if he was there. If he wasn’t with me, then he needed to be there to care for our girls while I was giving birth. I looked me dead in the eye, and said, “I won’t promise you that I will.” His mom was even in shock. She even asked him to confirm that what he was saying was that, when I went into labor, he won’t make an effort to be there for the birth nor to care for his children while I’m in hospital. He confirmed. That night, she gave me the option of coming back to Alberta with them in the morning. She would be my support system if her son refused to be. I wasn’t sure. At first I said no to leaving. The next morning as she was packing the van to leave… I told her to wait. I grabbed a big plastic tote, and started filling it with clothes for me and my kids. I grabbed my hospital bag and my unborn baby’s car seat. My children grabbed their favourite stuffies, their night light, I packed my tent and air mattresses, (his mom had a family reunion camping trip planned) we loaded the van, and the kids and I left. The night before, we told him what could happen. He told me he thought I should go. Yet when I went, he was mad. I left while he was at work. I sent him a text telling him, I changed my mind. I was with his parents, and if I went into labour while I was gone, I would let him know. He could try and make it for the birth if he wanted. I told him I was coming back, to live in this house, for him to find a place and move out.
The kids and I had a great visit with his parents in Alberta. We went to parks, and camping, and for ice cream…. we could breathe. I was overdue when we went camping, and I didn’t even care. I was comfortable, I had this weight lifted off my shoulders. We had a plan in the event I went into labour. We were within an hour of a hospital. We had 2 vehicles and grandpa would stay with my girls and grandma would go to the hospital with me. Happily we never had to execute the plan. I had a few contractions here and there, but we made it through our camping trip. So many people I didn’t know were rubbing my belly that weekend lol. We made it back to grandma and grandpa’s house, we packed up all our stuff, and on July 4th we made the 10 hour drive home. Yes it was a long drive, but I tend to labour long. I knew that if I went into labour we would keep going toward home if we were more than half way, and we would turn around if we hadn’t made it halfway yet. We made it home around dinner time on the 4th. Shortly after arriving we went to bed. Good thing…. cuz I woke up at 5 am on the 5th to contractions! They weren’t bad yet, I had a doctors appointment later that afternoon, so I decided I was going to enjoy my morning while I waited for contractions to intensify. I woke everyone up around 8. I insisted I wanted to go to Denny’s for breakfast with both of my girls. I had gone into labour in the wee hours of the morning and was starving. I had a good breakfast, then went grocery shopping and got my mall walk on. My mother in law / ex mother in law… whatever you want to call her at this point, asked if I was feeling ok, and if I’d like to go for a pedicure. Um… hells yeah i do. So we did. Then finally I went to my doctors appointment.
Ooooh, my doctor was mad. Lol. I had missed a lot of appointments because I was in Alberta. She was not happy I traveled that far, being so far along. She was not happy to hear we had driven back just the day before. But good news, I was having a baby! My waters had a slow leak, so they moved me straight from my appointment over to labor & delivery. I was contracting, I was dilating just not enough yet. We just had to wait. Aside from my labor being long as hell, it went pretty smoothly. I finally got the natural mostly unmediated birth I had always wanted, and always let my jackass husband talk me out of. 26.5 hours of labor, the best bedside nurse I could have asked for (multiple times she asked if I wanted her to kick my husband out, because she knew we weren’t together and without details she knew he was abusive.) a few funny moments, and finally 1 push later, my son was born! I was given laughing gas at the very end, because the nurses didn’t believe me I needed to push. They thought it was just the pain of my back labor. Like I had with my girls, I went from like 5cm to 10 and ready to push in like 20 minutes. All of a sudden my ex was like “Uhhhh!” (I was crowning) and I couldn’t stop my body from pushing. He was here. I did not find out the sex of my baby before birth, so I cried tears of joy when grandma announced its a boy. I whipped off his blanket to check for myself. I laughed with tears in my eyes and announced he had a penis! I wanted a boy so bad.
A couple days later, I got to take my son home with me. We were the talk of the nurses station (which was right outside my room) “yeah… 1 push!” “26 hours of labour… 6 seconds of pushing!”
When we got home… my damn ex was still there. He hadn’t found a place to live yet, honestly he wasn’t trying and I was getting fed up. I lived like this for far too long. I just had a baby and I did not have the energy to fight. I gave him more time to find a place and get out. I took the kids to visit a family friend for a week. The week turned into 3. My ex phoned me and told me there was a gas leak in our place, he was waiting on the landlord to get it fixed. Keep the kids and stay at this friend’s place if we can.
Finally I got to go home. He had been partying, it was a mess. Soon after the kids and I left again back to Alberta for a visit. His mom was in it for the long haul. She loved being with us because of her grandbabies. She also felt responsible to help because of her son. When we came back from this visit, he still hadn’t found a place, so his dad came back to BC with us this time. He got online and on the phone. He found a new place for his son within 3 days. By now it was September. I told me ex he has until September 31st to come pick up all of his stuff otherwise he could pick it up from the driveway. He had a home to move it to. He refused. saying he needed longer. I was done I told him we have been separated since the 3rd week of January, with no effort on his part to resolve anything. I was starting October 1st free of him. Guess what he did. HE PICKED UP HIS DAMN STUFF FROM MY DRIVEWAY! Because I grew some damn balls and stuck to my guns…. finally! I hauled a sectional sofa, a king size bed, and all his belongings outside. I’m in charge now.
That was the day I started getting my life back.
Since then, I found my feet, I found my voice. I advocated for my children and myself. I decided to stay in BC, because to this day I believe in putting my kids first. No matter how much my ex doesn’t deserve my help. No matter how much he doesn’t deserve these 3 amazing children… my children deserve to know and have a relationship with their dad. If ever comes a day, that he chooses to step out of their lives, I want to know in my heart, I did everything right. I put my kids first. I made every attempt to facilitate a good relationship with their dad. I have done that. It’s not always easy. There were weeks that he bailed on every visit. There are still times that him and I disagree. But it never affects his ability to see his children. I was the single mom of 3 gig for 3 years. In those 3 years, I proudly provided for my children. I give credit where credit is due. Their father does pay child support. We settled on a balance that helps me, and doesn’t drown him. He has only ever been late paying support once. I am so grateful that he is on top of that. I have never needed financial assistance, I have never needed to ask family for money. I am so proud of myself for that. I am prouder yet, that I’ve been able to continue being a stay at home mom through all of this. I earn an income from home selling makeup & skincare products. I’m not trying to promote my company here, but I do want to say that the confidence I found in myself, the friends that I’ve made, and the support system I have built through my company is noteworthy. I finally felt like I was me again. I had a purpose and a name aside from “Mommy.”
For 3 years I focused on me and my kids. I dated for fun, but not too seriously. I wasn’t looking for a fast and easy relationship. I wanted to focus on me. I wanted to love myself. Value myself. I wanted to be a woman worthy of being my children’s hero. And I have worked every single day to be that woman. This past summer I reconnected with an old friend, and we hit it off immediately. He is now an amazing step dad to my 3 even more amazing tiny humans.
I may have been abused. I may have been broken. But I took the time I needed to put myself back together. I am whole now. My pieces may fit back together a little differently now. And a little more light shines through my cracks than before. But the extra light helps me see and weed out the bullshit. I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor of domestic abuse & domestic violence.
…. and so are my kids.
This is my why… this is why I do everything I do. This is why I push to move our lives forward. This is me, recollecting the hardest part of my life. This is me remembering every detail of my abusive relationship, of all the chances I had to escape, the ones I didn’t take. This is me diving deep into those days to share my story with others. This is me remembering and writing about all the hurt and the fear I felt then. But I am not those things now.
Because I’m not the hurt and the fear any longer…. I am stronger, I am wiser, and I am free.
So, things were rocky, and he wouldn’t let me leave. He had told me that there was no way I would keep my babies if I left him. That he would never let that happen. Now through all of this, I had always been insistent, that if I were to leave, I would NEVER keep his kids from him. I wasn’t taking his kids away from him. I have always believed that my children deserved a relationship with their father. Quite honestly, they deserved a lot more of a relationship than they were getting, but his half assed parenting was better than nothing…. right?
But there we were. He was doing whatever he wanted, while I was home raising our babies. By this point I was working part time as well! He insisted that I needed to work, while he only parented when he absolutely had to. To be totally honest his parents watched our children most of the time while I worked. Even my working wasn’t enough for him. You see, I was working as a nanny and babysitting on the side, but because I wasn’t working a typical 9-5 job he didn’t think what I was doing was real work. He didn’t like how I was earning money. There were many months that I earned more money than him. I was good at what I did.
Fast forward… Little Lady #2 was now a few months shy of 3 years old. The oil recession hit, and Alberta and our family was hit hard. He lost his job. It was not too long though and he received a job offer in BC. We would be 10 hours away from our friends and family in Alberta. It was decided (by him)…we were packing up and moving, “Our family was getting a fresh start.” The plan was to move in just a couple short months. While he went ahead to complete training and find us our new home, I was to stay behind and pack our lives into boxes and care for our 2 children.
Only days after he left for BC, I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant… again. I wanted to be happy. I really wished I could have been happy about it. Sadly the only thing I felt was FEAR. My last pregnancy had been so hard. I was down right miserable because of him. After my pregnancy with Little Lady #2 I had decided birth control was no longer for me. It gave us a false sense of security Considering I had gotten pregnant using it already, I didn’t feel like the side effects and mood swing was worth it for me to continue using it. We had agreed that we would use condoms. We were trying to “be safe” but, we found ourselves in need of Plan B. HE purchased the Plan B pill. HE opened the packaging. HE placed the pill in my hand. HE watched and ensured I placed it in my mouth, and HE ensured I swallowed it. Seems a little overkill to you? Yeah, to me too. Whatever, we went on our way, expecting this little pill to do what it was supposed to do. Without another thought, he left for BC, and I went on with packing.
But, alas… let’s throw another wrench in this already complicated story.
It was now Halloween, and I was late. I bought a pregnancy test, and after I tucked my little trick or treaters into bed, I took the test. Yup… almost instantly those two little pink lines were there, screaming at me, that I was in fact pregnant. I didn’t phone my husband. I didn’t phone my family. I didn’t phone his family. I picked up my phone, took a picture of the test, and sent it to a friend, the same one who had tried before to help me figure out how to leave him. WHAT DO I DO NOW? HE’S GOING TO BE SO MAD AT ME!!! Is the text I added to the picture. I’m pretty sure, she reminded me that I had options. I already knew in my heart that I was having this baby. I also knew I had to tell him, and before I saw him next. I needed to give him the opportunity to just leave us behind. I prayed he would just leave us behind.
I didn’t tell him right away. I kept it a secret from everyone except that one friend, for weeks. Luckily it was November, so I was easily able to cover my bump wearing sweaters or hoodies.Yes I had a bump almost instantly body memory they say. The morning sickness was a little harder to hide, but the exhaustion was the hardest. I often dozed off on the couch watching cartoons or movies with my little ladies. Now keep in mind my husband’s parents lived in this house with us, so they saw me falling asleep. At one point his mom suspected I may be pregnant. She tried to confirm her suspicion and asked me to taste her cooler, she said wasn’t sure if she liked it and wanted my opinion. Now don’t go ape shit on me, but I took the teeniest sip. I let the flavour barely touch my lips. This thankfully was enough that she backed off. She figured her suspicions were wrong. I wasn’t ready to tell her. I wasn’t even ready to tell my husband. How freaking terrible is that?! I couldn’t even tell my husband. I continued to pack everything into boxes. Soon he would be coming home to help pack the last few things, and load everything into the U-Haul. I HAD to tell him. I had to give him the opportunity to just leave us behind.
I decided to call him via video call. I felt I needed to see his face. I started the conversation off with
“I have something to tell you, and the way you respond will dictate where this goes next.”
I told him that the Plan B pill had failed. I told him I was sorry. He responded so much better than I had expected. He told me he had been thinking while he was gone. He said he was thinking that once we had moved and got settled that he was going to ask me if I wanted to try for a 3rd and final baby. -mind blown- He asked me if I was ok telling anyone who asked, that we had been trying, that we planned this baby. To me it made no difference so I said sure. He came home as planned to help with the last minute things for the move. We decided to tell his parents that we were expecting together. They were sad that they wouldn’t be there to watch this baby grow, but they were happy for us.
They helped us load the truck, and his mom came with us to help get us settled in our new place. Everything was great.
Until his mom went back home.
Just one more wait till you get to hear the end of my journey. I thank you for your patience while I sift through the emotions this has made me come to terms with.
These are not my words. I came across them on a facebook group for loss moms. It says so much and I felt it impotent to share.
“I am a mother. I am a bereaved mother.
My child died, and this is my reluctant path. It is not a path of my choice, but it is a path I must walk mindfully and with intention. It is a journey through the darkest night of my soul and it will take time to wind through the places that scare me.
Every cell in my body aches and longs to be with my beloved child. On days when grief is loud, I may be impatient, distracted, frustrated, and unfocused. I may get angry more easily, or I may seem hopeless. I will shed many, many, many tears. I won’t smile as often as my old self. Smiling hurts now. Most everything hurts some days, even breathing.
But please, just sit beside me. Say nothing. Do not offer a cure. Or a pill, or a word, or a potion. Witness my suffering and don’t turn away from me. Please be gentle with me. And I will try to be gentle with me too.
I will not ever “get over” my child’s death so please don’t urge me down that path. Even on days when grief is quiescent, when it isn’t standing loudly in the foreground, even on days when I am even able to smile again, the pain is just beneath the surface. There are days when I still feel paralyzed. My chest feels the sinking weight of my child’s absence and, sometimes, I feel as if I will explode from the grief.
Losing my child affects me in so many ways: as a woman, a mother, a human being. It affects every aspect of me: spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. There are days when I barely recognize myself in the mirror anymore.
Grief is as personal to me as my fingerprint. Don’t tell me how I should or shouldn’t be grieving or that I should or shouldn’t “feel better by now.” Don’t tell me what’s right or wrong. I’m doing it my way, in my time. If I am to survive this, I must do what is best for me.
My understanding of life will change and a different meaning of life will slowly evolve. What I knew to be true or absolute or real or fair about the world has been challenged so I’m finding my way, moment-to-moment in this new place. Things that once seemed important to me are barely thoughts any longer. I notice life’s suffering more- hungry children, the homeless and the destitute, a mother’s harsh voice toward her young child- or an elderly person struggling with the door.
There are so many things about the world which I now struggle to understand: Why do children die? There are some questions, I’ve learned, which are simply unanswerable. So please don’t tell me that “ God has a plan ” for me. This, my friend, is between me and my God. Those platitudes slip far too easily from the mouths of those who tuck their own child into a safe, warm bed at night: Can you begin to imagine your own child, flesh of your flesh, lying lifeless in a casket, when “goodbye” means you’ll never see them on this Earth again? Grieving mothers- and fathers- and grandparents- and siblings won’t wake up one day with everything ’okay’ and life back to normal. I have a new normal now.
As time passes, I may gain gifts, and treasures, and insights but anything gained was too high a cost when compared to what was lost. Perhaps, one day, when I am very, very old, I will say that time has truly helped to heal my broken heart. But always remember that not a second of any minute of any hour of any day passes when I am not aware of the presence of my child’s absence, no matter how many years lurk over my shoulder, don’t forget that I have another one, another child, whose absence, like the sky, is spread over everything as C.S. Lewis said.
My child may have died; but my love – and my motherhood – never will. “ – Dr. Joanne Cacciatore
If you know someone who has to go through this, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is an amazing program “Providing the gift of remembrance portraits to parents experiencing the death of a baby.”
Hey all, it’s me again, to continue the telling of my story;
Through domestics abuse and out the other side.Part 2
Hey all, it’s me again, to continue the telling of my story;
To pick up where we left off: I have taken you through my traumatic birth story as my oldest daughter entered the world. Now I do give warning, the next part of my story does include some details of domestic and sexual abuse.
Over the first year of my daughters life things went relatively smoothly. There were bumps in the road of course, I thought to myself, “We just had a baby, everyone goes through rough patches.” I really didn’t realize that these things weren’t normal. That these ‘little’ rough patches, maybe weren’t so little.
It started with my husband making whispered phone calls, a password added to his cell phone, working every single day. I have always been a person to appreciate personal privacy. I was not one to check my spouses phone, but he had never put a password on his phone before. Before this, he would ask me from time to time to check “who just texted me” for him if he was busy. Now, his phone never left his pocket. “Oh the guys at work have been ****ing with my phone.” That was the excuse he gave me as to why he added a password. The whispered phone calls, oh those, “I do it cuz I know it gets a rise outta you.” FIRST OFF… before I get any further into this, TRUST YOUR GUT if you feel like something is wrong, then there probably is. SECONDLY… you should never be the butt end of a joke. You deserve so much more than to be a punchline. Years down the road, I will realize, this was when the abuse started. My first child with him was only a few months old.
The hiding, the whispered calls, and the hidden text messages continued, for months. But aside from those, things were getting better. -insert super dramatic eye roll here- I was so naive. I felt like things were getting better, because we started going out together again. We started having fun again. We started going out on double dates with his long time best friend and her boyfriend. We spent a lot of time with this other couple. Any time my husband asked if I wanted to go out, he always included that they would be there too. I was just happy that he wanted to take me out to do fun things again. But one night, my his dreams and his terrible habit of talking in his sleep gave it all away. He started talking in his sleep, thinking I was this other woman. The long time best friend that we were spending so much time with. I put two and two together quite easily at that point. I confronted him about it in the morning. It had been her that he was secretly texting and having whispered conversations with. It was all my fault he said. He was blaming ME! I was always too tired, I was always dealing with the baby… He was cheating on me with this other woman. Yet, he wanted life, and our relationship to continue as normal. We had a child together, and it would be unfair to split up her family. He was “sorry, and nothing really happened anyways.”
I had a lot of thinking to do. At this point, I had stopped sleeping with my husband. I cared for our daughter mostly on my own, he worked all day, he played video games all night, he would come to bed once I was already sleeping. Somewhere around this time, the sexual abuse started. I didn’t want to have sex with my him, I didn’t even want him touching me. I had felt so betrayed. Aside from when he wanted sex, he had otherwise pulled away and withdrawn into his games and his phone. But, regardless of what I wanted, or didn’t want at this time, I would wake up with my PJ’s around my knees and him on top of me. I said no. I pushed him off of me. But night after night, my NO remained unheard. My NO was worthless to him. My words meant nothing, my feelings meant even less. He felt like I owed it to him, who was I to say no to my spouse, who was I to deny him sex. Well, I guess I was nobody. I couldn’t deny him, he was physically bigger and stronger than I was, and what he wanted, he took. I could do nothing to stop him.
**Did you know, laws regarding marital rape are often over looked. They exist. Marital rape is criminalized. But, there are so many loopholes that work in favour of the perpetrator, that more often than not, being raped by a spouse goes unreported to authorities?** This includes me. I didn’t report it. I didn’t tell anyone for a very long time. I lived silently feeling this shame. After all, How was I to prove that although I gave consent so many times before, that this time was different and I had not. How do you prove to a complete stranger, in the face of the law, that sex with my husband was not consensual. It wasn’t a fight I thought I had any chance of winning. So I neglected to even try. I had become a play thing, my needs, wants and desires were now meaningless. All that mattered was that he was happy. But I did confront him. He obviously knew what he had done. But I felt like I needed to name it. I needed to hear my voice say the words to him. “You, raped me! I said no, I pushed you off, and you still… you raped me!”
Now, he didn’t say much, he didn’t do much. He just became very distant. I didn’t know what was going on in his head, and honestly, I’m not sure that I cared. Not anymore. Why did he deserve my compassion? Things were quiet and uneventful for a while, that was until they weren’t. I do not want to try and portray like I played no negative role at all in this relationship. Because there were times that I thought of only myself. I don’t think I ever did anything detrimental that led to this demise. But maybe I did. I’ve kind of adapted through the years to stop questioning my role, because a lot of what I remember, is his version of things. The way he saw it or the way he would let me see it. Because he heavily influenced what things looked like and sounded like at home. But one thing that apparently led to some heavy stuff was, because I was finally feeling like our relationship was getting better. There had been a period of calm… I wanted another baby. Our oldest was just over 1 now, I was on birth control at the time, and I wanted to actually discuss coming off of birth control and trying for a second baby. Little had I known, He had started hurting himself. But I didn’t know it yet. He was coming home from work with deep cuts, he burned himself really really badly more than once. He cut his neck… he always had an excuse. He “accidentally hit his arm on a hot exhaust” “he fell into the car net at work” I should have known. But I didn’t. I didn’t see what was happening. Until the night I had asked about having another baby. It escalated quickly, we had a big fight, we were both yelling. I honestly don’t remember how it got to that point, but I do know I played a big role in it. Things started to calm, the fight was over. He left the room. His parents were well aware of what we were fighting about. His mom started texting me from upstairs asking if I really wanted more babies, and if he didn’t, was this a “deal breaker?” Was this something I would be willing to leave him over. I was very honest at that point, and said Yes. I was prepared to leave him, if I wasn’t going to get out of this relationship what I wanted. She wasn’t aware of everything else that had been going on. I felt like I had put so much into the relationship, I had given up so much, I had entirely lost who I was, to give him everything he wanted. We had previously agreed on having 3 children, before we even had our first. Family and having kids was super important to me. At this point in time, I was pretty much completely withdrawn from my parents and siblings. My husband didn’t want me associating with them much, because they didn’t like him. I NEVER talked about our problems with anybody, but especially not with my family. I never wanted to hear my mom say “I told you so.” So I boasted often about how great he was, and what a great dad he was.
What I didn’t know was that while his mom and I were texting, my husband was in another room, reading my conversation. He had set up my phone to carbon copy all messages to his phone. I had no idea, but he had been spying on my messages for I don’t know how long. At this point he stormed off into the bathroom. I could hear him sobbing through the door. I cared. I didn’t like hearing him cry. But I was hurting too, and I was mad. I had always been there for him. I was treated so poorly, yet I stayed, I just shoved ‘the skeletons in our closet.’ I shoved them so far in there, no one would have ever guessed what was going on behind closed doors. No one knew we were struggling, no one knew, he had cheated, no one knew any of it. Then suddenly, his sobbing stopped, and I had the worst feeling in my gut. Remember how I said to trust your gut, yeah, it’s pretty damn smart if you listen to it. I banged on the bathroom door, he had locked it, I banged and banged… I looked for something to unlock the door from the outside, I couldn’t find anything. Then I heard the click of the lock, he unlocked it. I opened the door to find him sitting on the floor, blood dripping from him, and a huge hunting knife sitting there. What the actual Hell!? I screamed for his mom, who was upstairs with my daughter. And she hurried him to the hospital with a tea towel wrapped around his arm. I was in shock, I was crying, I was holding my daughter, watching as they hurried out the door, and the last thing his mother said to me was, “This is about him. Don’t freak out, this isn’t about you.”
I don’t know what his reasons were for harming himself at that particular time, and I don’t presume to know what others struggle with personally when it comes to mental health. I do not presume to know what “they are looking for” through self harm, the following part of my story is based off of my personal experience in this abusive relationship. I am 100% for supporting mental health, and getting help for mental health. I just hoped that whatever had truly led him to this point, could be helped, by doctors, by family, by me. But he was reluctant to get any kind of help. And he blamed me for this. I swallowed the blame. Maybe it was me. Had me wanting a new baby really been that bad? Had I missed something that I wasn’t seeing? (The answer is yes, I did miss something, and to this day a decade later, I still don’t know what it was.)
Something in that experience though, something clicked for him. He may not have found what he was looking for, but he did find a new method of control. And he will use it again and again, to regain control when I start finding my own feet. The worst part, a couple weeks later, I wasn’t feeling so good. I was with a friend, and she stupidly suggested that maybe I was pregnant. I laughed it off, I probably told her she was an idiot… because I was on birth control, I couldn’t be pregnant. A few more days had gone by, and I still wasn’t feeling so good. Again, this friend pointed out that she thought I was pregnant. Once again, I looked at her like she had suddenly sprouted a horn… I’m on birth control, I can’t be pregnant. I took a test to appease her, and it was negative. -sigh of relief- After all, given the events of only a couple weeks prior, THIS WAS NOT THE TIME TO GET PREGNANT! But after 9 more days, and now a missed period… Regardless of my birth control, I was in fact pregnant, and TERRIFIED to tell my husband. Of all people on this earth, the last person you should fear, is your spouse. I told his mom first, I guess I hoped she could help me find a softer way to tell him. Sadly she was of no help, she cried, I cried… and she told me to not tell him. Um… excuse me? Not tell him? Don’t you think he would notice as I got rounder, and you know, looked pregnant. I went against her wishes, I told him. I really didn’t have another choice. I had to just tell him, get it over with and deal with whatever nasty things he was going to say. At first he was just mad. Calm, but mad. He cried, I cried… I felt like that’s all I did anymore, was cry. He ignored me after that for a couple hours, but he came around a bit I guess. He gave me a hug and reassured me we would get through this. (His parents were in the next room) I note this, because he was a totally different person when other people were around. As days went by, weeks and months. He questioned me, he insulted me, he blamed me. Obviously I had tricked him. Obviously I hadn’t been using my birth control. I was on the birth control ring. I used it and I used it correctly. But somehow I fell into the 2% of users who may get pregnant while using this form of birth control. And it would happen at the worst possible time. For 9 months, I lived through my pregnancy, catching all the blame he was throwing at me. I was miserable. Online he would boast himself as my hero. He posted pictures of me on an online forum, claiming he was husband of the year for buying me a video game for my Nintendo DS so that I could distract myself from my depression. He was my depression. Here I had wanted another baby, and now that I got what I wanted, even though not in the way I had planned, and I was still miserable. This was not the life I deserved, and now I had brought 2 children into it.
In all of the gloomy darkness, came my beautiful baby. On January 11, 2014 I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. I swore I was going to have a boy. I was 110% sure, I was having a boy. I even laughed and asked the delivery team if they were sure, when it was announced, “it’s a GIRL!” I was so sure I was having a boy. But nonetheless, I was ecstatic to have my baby in my arms. The world felt safe again, in that room, in that moment. My birth had gone so smoothly. Nothing like my prior trauma. I mean… my epidural didn’t work, like at all. But everything else was picture perfect. My baby was healthy, she took straight to the breast like a pro, she never left my side, we were happy. We were released from the hospital and home in less than 18 hours. I was home with both of my little girls, and life was good. My spouse and I had our spats, but things were strangely good again for a while. (I will much later learn about the cycle of abuse. And I very much suggest that everyone should know the cycle too. It was only once I actually learned about it, that I started recognizing it in my life.) But for me, at this time, things were calm, and forgiveness was spreading into all the deep dark corners of my being. I was letting go of the hurt, and letting my guard down.
-insert another eye roll- I let my guard down. How foolish of me. Again, with now two babies at home, my husband started pulling away again. He was leaving me and the kids at home, so that he could go out with “the guys”, He was in fact going out on dates with women, whom he insists were just friends. They were friends I had never heard of before, and typically he hung out in a group if he was going out with friends, so who knows what was really going on. I was once again feeling broken. Once again, he was working every day, (he later admitted to telling me he was going to work, but would go out with friends instead.) I had never stopped him from seeing friends before, so I feel like “friends” was a cover. But whatever, he was always “at work” or hiding away playing video games, again avoiding me, and all responsibility. This went on for almost 2 years.
During those 2 years though, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. He was only one part of my life, I still had two beautiful little girls, who were the light of my life. So let’s take a break from the gloom, and focus on the light. As I had mentioned before, Little Lady #2 was a complete natural when it came to breastfeeding. We never had any difficulties with latch or anything. It was heavenly in comparison to the struggles I went through with Little Lady #1. After having #1, and battling the nightmare that was mastitis and abscesses, and drainage… I ended up with excess scar tissue in my right breast due to the abscesses and drainage. This made producing milk in my right breast difficult. We tried for a long time to nurse from both sides, but ultimately my supply in my right breast diminished and I lost it all together. But!!! I was able to keep up my supply on my left side!!! I actually had an overproduction on my left side, which was a godsend, because I had none in my right. So here I was exclusively nursing my baby from one breast only, I was pumping between feedings, because honestly I was terrified to lose my supply, and wanted to have a freezer stash just in case. So that I did. I built up a stash of over 300 ounces of breastmilk, which isn’t a lot, but it’s not a little either. So, it came a time when I was going out, without my babies. Grandma and grandpa were babysitting, I left a bottle of breast milk in the fridge for my wee one and I went out. I think to a movie. When I returned home, my baby was hungry and the bottle sat seemingly untouched. She wouldn’t drink it. Like most moms I thought, oh we need to try a different bottle. We tried so many and she still wouldn’t drink from it. Soon I would be returning to work, and panic was setting in, what am I going to do. She looks at this bottle like I’m trying to feed her something nasty. So I tried it. Oh my gosh, it tasted like soap! Yuck! I knew what breast milk tasted like fresh, and this wasn’t it. So off to google I went, and found out, I had high Lipase in my milk. Lipase is the enzyme that breaks down the fat in the milk. Normally lipase doesn’t cause any issues, however, too much and it breaks it down to fast, and it tastes funny. High lipase milk is still perfectly healthy for babies to drink, and not all babies will have a problem with the taste at all. I learned how to combat high lipase, by scalding my milk before I put it in the fridge or freezer. **i will include instructions at the bottom, on how to determine if you have a high lipase, and how to scald your milk.**
Once I started scalding my milk, my daughter would take it by bottle without a problem. Success! but this left me with approximately 300 oz of high lipase milk in my freezer. I put out an ad on Human Milk for Human Babies, and found a NICU mom in need of breast milk. Her baby needed it, she wasn’t producing, or wasn’t producing enough, and had turned to donation. I happily offered her my milk stash, some of it included colostrum, which was packed full of antibodies her baby could benefit from. She was so grateful to receive this gift of milk. From that point forward, I continued to pump between nursing sessions. As my baby started nursing less and less nearing and then beyond her first birthday, my supply remained high. I would pump when she had her fill, I would pump an hour after nursing sessions, I would pump while on my break at work.(honestly it hurt so bad if I didn’t) I scalded and stored all of this milk. I had donated a little bit here and there as I had enough to. But then I connected/reconnected with a mama I knew. She needed breastmilk for her little boy. So I saved it for her. As my stash accumulated in my freezer, she would pop by from time to time to take what I had extra. I donated over 1000 ounces of breastmilk. I helped feed 5 babies in addition to my own. All from one milk producing breast. I continued to nurse Little Lady #2 until the day she turned 2 years old. I pumped and donated until she was about 18 months old. This is a part of my life that I am very proud of. Finally, I did that. My body did that. I still felt like my body had failed me and Little Lady #1, but we were making up for it in a way with #2. It didn’t matter what else was going on in my life, this was something I did, and I love that I was able to.
Life kinda plateaued here for a while. We had found a new normal. Unfortunately, this should never have been normal. I should never have allowed myself to feel normal about my relationship. For a period of time, I’m really not sure how long, but he remained distant, he remained secretive, and I tried not to care. Instead I had used this time to really connect with an old friend. Her and I had kinda re-stumbled upon each other shortly before I found out I was pregnant with Little Lady #2. She was one of, if not the first person I told, because I was so scared. She had become one of my best friends, and I was able to tell her almost everything. I still didn’t tell anyone about the abuse, or at least the extent of it. Just that I was unhappy. She knew that he had blamed me for getting pregnant again. She knew that I was depressed, and she knew that I had had enough and wanted out. By conversing with her, both being busy moms, it was typically via text or online messages. She was trying to help me figure out how to leave him. Trying to help me muster the courage to do so. I was so not smart sometimes. I was oblivious. I had left my iPad at home on the charger while I was at work one evening, and he took it upon himself to check in on who I had been messaging with. He read my conversations with my friend about leaving him. I was in for it. I got home from work late that night, and he was ready and waiting. How dare I even consider taking his kids away from him! How dare I even begin to believe that I could even take care of them on my own. After all that he did for me. After him taking care of me. If I left with these kids, he would have them taken away from me. His family had the financial ability to pay for the best lawyers and there is no way that I would be able to take custody of these kids. I had already been beat down after years of emotional abuse… I had no fight left in me. At this point I backed away and flinched if he stepped toward me. I was scared that he would hit me. I ended up pushing my way past him at some point, as he was blocking the door and I had to push passed to get out of the room. After that… for days, weeks, truthfully years. He told people I physically assaulted him, all because I pushed my way past him. This won’t be the last time he falsely tells people that I physically harm him. For now, he won. He used my children against me. I stayed. I stayed in fear that if I left, I would lose the only things I had left in this world that gave my life meaning. The only things that gave me a shred of happiness. My children.
I will once again pause here. I promise we will come full circle next time, and come out the other side of domestic abuse.
As promised, below I will share with you how I combated high lipase milk.
Testing if you have high Lipase milk is super easy. Pump a small amount of milk, and freeze it completely, then thaw. Taste it. Normally milk will taste pretty much the same fresh and after it’s been thawed. But a high lipase will cause the milk to taste soapy after it’s been thawed.
If you have high lipase milk:
(How I scalded my milk)
This needs to be done before your breast milk is chilled or frozen.
• Pour your fresh breastmilk into a small pot
• On the stove top, turn your burner on high
• WATCH IT CLOSELY
• As soon as you see the first bubbles start to rise, turn off the stove & remove from heat. YOU DON’T WANT IT TO BOIL
• Allow your pot of milk to rest and cool to room temperature.
• Your milk may look like it’s separated, swirl the pot to mix it back together
• Bottle or bag and put in the fridge or freezer.
Now your milk should not change in taste. You have deactivated the lipase.
I crafted this memorial bead for Kasey to honour her son Elliot. Here is their story…
Around the time of my 31st birthday, I was feeling very strongly that I wanted to have a third child. I knew my husband had only planned on two children, but I brought it up anyway. To my surprise, he was really open to it, and we quickly decided to begin trying for a baby. We conceived the first month, as we had with our first two children. I had the perfect name picked out immediately.
From almost the moment we conceived, I was so sick. I was nauseous and tired, as well as very anxious. I noticed on Saturday, March 23, that I felt much better and was so excited! After going to the zoo with friends, we did a little shopping and I purchased a set of sleepers for our precious baby. We had lovingly nicknamed the baby, Peppercorn, and we were in love.
The next night, I noticed some brown spotting, and my heart sunk. I told my husband, and he tried to assure me everything was fine, reminding me that I had spotted brown with our first child, and she was perfectly healthy. I tried to believe him, but just felt to my core that something was wrong. Later, the brown became pink, and my concern grew. Somehow, I was still able to sleep that night. When I woke up, my fears intensified, as I was now bleeding bright red. I told my husband my fears, and he tried to reassure me, but again, I just knew. I wanted so badly to be wrong, but I knew. I begged and pleaded with God to spare my baby. This baby was so loved, so wanted. I couldn’t lose my child. I just couldn’t.
On Monday, March 25, 2019, around 10:00 am, I gave birth to my third child during the first trimester. Because of my bereavement doula training, I immediately recognized the tiny baby, and couldn’t fathom flushing my child. Instead, I held my peppercorn-sized baby in my hand and wailed. Thankfully, my mom had come right over after hearing that I thought I was losing our baby, and she held me tight. I told my husband that we lost our precious little one, and what seemed like minutes later, he walked into the bathroom, having left work. He held me as I wept, and I remember feeling a tear drop from his face to mine. Our baby was dead, and a part of me died with him.
I was a shell of myself the rest of the day. My mom tended to our children after my husband went back to work, as I barely functioned. My kids had no idea what was going on, but our daughter knew something was really wrong and was doing anything she could think of to comfort me. I went through the motions and had bloodwork to confirm the loss, which quickly came. Our baby really was dead. My body had failed me. My God had forsaken me. My heart had broken. All I could do was hold on to anyone who would hug me, and cry. Telling our children that their sibling that they didn’t even know existed had died was so hard. Our son had so many questions, and our daughter was very stoic – later we learned that she had pushed all of her feelings about it down to be released months later.
Somehow, the next day, even in my still intense grief, some hope came. My mother-in-law had assured me several times that my body did not cause this loss – I did not cause this loss. I was able to think a little more clearly and began to believe her. I also felt this overwhelming assurance that while our third child was in Heaven, that God was going to bless us with a rainbow. I was grieving hard, but felt such peace that God would give us another child, a healthy child.
In the weeks following, I bled, which was an awful reminder of what I had lost every time I used the bathroom. I also grew more and more anxious, and chose to contact my therapist and do EMDR therapy for the trauma of the loss. My husband and I talked about when to try to conceive again, and decided to wait for a little while so I could feel physically and emotionally.
This time last year I was weeping on my bathroom floor, holding my tiny baby in my hand. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year. I remember it all so vividly it could’ve been yesterday.
I still love you, little one. I’ll never stop.
Happy Birthday in Heaven, Elliot.
I had big plans of scattering wildflower seeds for your birthday, but the pandemic situation squashed my ability to get seeds on time. Your big sis volunteered her sunflower seed stash instead 🌻
We love you, our little Peppercorn! Hopefully next year we can scatter seeds in your honor 🌱
My journey started in 2010. I was only seventeen when I gave birth to my first baby, a boy. I hadn’t exactly done my research per say, but I am smart enough to know breastfeeding was the best option. I gave it a try and it was going well so I thought. Two weeks in and I had been having latch issues. I started hand expressing into his mouth during the day but then I couldn’t get him to latch back on.
I called the lady from our health department that ran a program called hugs and had come to see me bi weekly for health tips etc. throughout my pregnancy. She came to my house to watch me nurse. She told me that he had what was called a “lazy latch” and decided he wasn’t going to latch for feeding. I decided that I’d exclusively pump so that he was still getting my breastmilk. I was able to do so for two months before I felt it was too much on me and I switched to formula.
In 2013 I gave birth to a daughter. I again tried breastfeeding and it was going great. Three weeks into our journey she got thrush then I got thrush. We passed it back and forth and back and forth. I chose to switch to formula just to get out of the cycle. When we were finally clear I attempted to restart breastfeeding. Sadly she too would no longer latch. I was young, uneducated and had no family support other than my husband. I had no knowledge of lactation consultants so I kept her on formula as well. I think I did really good being seventeen then nineteen. I also had never been around or seen anyone breastfeed.
Fast forward to 2015 I was pregnant with our third child (another daughter) I was older and determined to successfully breastfeed. I researched throughout my entire pregnancy. I learned so many things I had never even thought of with my prior babies. I gave birth October 13th 2014. She immediately latched and not once gave me a problem. I thought boy this is too easy. About three weeks in I felt like I was having supply issues. I was able to use my new vast knowledge. I knew what I could do to increase my supply! By following tips and tricks I had learned I was able to regain my milk. We had no other issues after that. It was a lot of work and it was tiring but I did it!
In the fall of 2015 I found out I was expecting our fourth child and third girl. I was a little sad thinking I’d have to stop breastfeeding my third. Thankfully my supply only dipped. I did not dry up until my third trimester when it still only turned to colostrum. I was glad that I didn’t fully “dry up” as my daughter was 16 months and she was still nursing at nap and bedtimes. I gave birth to my fourth on may 6th 2016 and my third who was 18 months had nursed just the night before!
My fourth like my third immediately latched and gave me no issues. I was so happy and so relieved. When I went home from the hospital I had not intended for my third to nurse as I never even thought about tandem feeding nor have any knowledge of it. Not surprisingly she wanted to continue nursing so I just let her on the opposite breast.
It would help me relieve milk as I was not pumping and had a very heavy supply. I truly enjoyed tandem feeding, my third child would hold the new babies hand while they nursed it was the cutest thing. She decided to self wean one day out of nowhere about two months into tandem nursing. She was twenty months old.
I had no idea I’d make it that long breastfeeding! I was sad that our journey had ended but at the same time was very satisfied in knowing I had nourished her with the very best for not only the first year of her life but almost two! I had initially set the goal for just 6 months and then 12 months. I mean I only had gone weeks with my previous two children. As I mentioned earlier I had no family that had ever breastfed and my husband’s family didn’t breastfeed either. Not a single one. So you can imagine the comments I got once my third had hit a year. I was told multiple times it was time to stop. I would be asked all the time “you’re STILL breastfeeding her? It’s time to stop”. I am glad I didn’t listen to them and that I followed my heart. I’m happy we shared that bond for 20 months.
My fourth was supposed to be our last. As she was the baby I set a goal of two years this time. So when she was two and still nursing and was showing no signs of wanting to wean I kept going. Why not right? We were 27 months in when she finally weaned… BUT I was pregnant SURPRISE! I had had no intentions on having a fifth child and we were expecting our FOURTH daughter! The thought of starting another breastfeeding journey made me a little emotional. I had been breastfeeding for what felt like forever already and thought that my journey was almost over. My fourth child weaned in August 2018. At this time I still produced quite a bit of colostrum so I did not consider that much of a break when I gave birth to our fifth just three months later on November 16th, 2018.
I was clearly not new to the game and was able to get her to latch immediately. I thought it was going to be smooth sailing. She instead went into respiratory distress and was rushed to the NICU.
We spent five long days there where she was tube fed. I feared for sure we would be unable to continue our breastfeeding journey. She was finally taken off oxygen on day four. When I brought her to my breast she immediately latched as if the four days away had never occurred. I was so overwhelmed with joy and praise. Breastfeeding was such a big deal to me by now and I did not want to stop . We went home and things were going well.
One day she started to fight at every feeding. I found that she would only nurse straight on top of me while I laid back yet she would still arch and scream sometimes. We discovered she had reflux. It was exhausting and frustrating for both of us but I was not going to let obstacles get in our way. I had done my research and read that it can sometimes just go away on it’s own around three months. So I pushed through being strong for both of us. I told myself one more month, just one more month, then sure enough like a snap of fingers at three months it was just gone and she was latching and feeding with no issues. I was not letting anything stop me from giving her the best I possibly could. October 13th 2019 made it 5 years of breastfeeding for me with a span of three children and not a single bottle and no pumping. 5 years of exclusively breastfeeding straight from the tap. Sometimes I ask myself how I managed? Sometimes I asked myself if this was all I’ll ever do?
My youngest is 16 months old now and still going strong. In fact she LOVES her “chi chi’s” and I have no clue when she’ll wean! This is 100% our last child as my husband had a vasectomy. I soak in every day as I know that when it’s over it’s over! It has been a beautiful, emotional, and exhausting bonding experience that I will forever cherish.
It will definitely be bittersweet when the day comes that my little no longer asks for her “chi chi’s”. I am happy and at peace with it though. I have had a long and successful journey and as I look back at the beginning and wonder what I could have done differently I see myself now and see how far I came from the young woman with no support to someone who has become the support! I have helped a young mom make it to three months of successfully breastfeeding her son. She said to me, if it weren’t for me she wouldn’t have even made it three days. I wish I could go back and help myself, I truly do. I know can’t but what I can do is continue to tell my story, help other mothers young and older that are struggling in hopes that they can overcome obstacles if they just persevere.
As of today I have breastfed for 5 years 5 months and 12 days! Thats an Opal, and almost a silver Boobie Award! I also earned a blue diamond Boobie Award for Tandem Breastfeeding!
Hello, my name is Deanna. I want to share with you my story. As a mom of 3 beautiful children, my story has many twists and turns, many that I am incredibly proud of, but some that I very much am not. From a traumatic birth, through breastfeeding struggles and triumphs, through domestic abuse and out the other side; every piece holds importance in building me into who I am today. I will start with my birth story which brought my oldest daughter into this world. Obviously being a first time mom, I believed wholeheartedly that doctors and nurses had me and my baby’s best interest at the forefront of their minds and influencing every decision they made on my behalf. Now, looking back, I very much felt like an animal being put through the process, enduring the process… not like a human, I was not enjoying the experience at all. Now, I understood that childbirth is painful, and it’s messy. I was prepared for that part, and even so, I still feel like I was robbed of the birth experience I deserved. And there were parts that couldn’t be helped, but there are so many parts that could have been. But I was not a part of my own birth experience. I was merely a bystander to it all. I felt the pain, yet I wasn’t a part of the experience.
Jan 28th, I was 7 days overdue. My husband and I had chosen to stay home from a large family gathering. I was so uncomfortable, I had hardly slept the night before, and was just exhausted. Instead we decided to stay home and have a movie marathon, in hopes I could relax and hopefully catch some sleep. I dozed in and out a bit, but for the most part, I was still unable to sleep. So that evening we headed to bed. I still could not sleep. He was passed out snoring in bed next to me, and with every hour that passed that I watched him sleep peacefully next to me, with my frustration growing more and more, I wanted to smother him with his own pillow. I can not be the only woman to feel this way. But anyways, I had decided that maybe a warm shower would ease my discomfort enough that I would be able to sleep. I’m sure 20, 30, 60 minutes in a hot shower had passed, and I was feeling somewhat better. So I climbed out, dried myself off and climbed back into bed. I tossed and turned, again so uncomfortable. Once again I climbed out of bed and back into the reprieve of the hot shower. Now, I’m sure you’ve already figured it out for yourself, but I was in labor. But because I wasn’t having hard pain yet, I still hadn’t figured this out. Looking back, I laugh, because I can clearly see what was going on, but I was oblivious then. After I finished my second long shower, and once again climbed back into bed, it was nearing 2 AM, on the 29th, the day that would ultimately be my daughter’s birthday.
At 2 AM my contractions started. They came on hard and fast. From the very first contraction they were so painful, and started close together. I laid, sat, tossed and turned next to my sleeping husband for 2 hours, timing my contractions. Then I decided, if I wasn’t sleeping, his sleep was over too and woke him. By about 5 am we went to the hospital, where I was put on a monitor and checked for dilation. My contractions were confirmed to be coming on strong and 5 minutes apart. I was in so much pain. But, I was not dilating, I was only at a 1. The nurses had me get up and walk the halls for an hour, then checked me again. I was at a 1. I could hardly stand, but they wanted to send me home. I didn’t want to go home, this is where I needed to be, I knew it. They offered me morphine. I had no interest in pain meds at this point, but I was told I could get the morph one, then they HAD to keep me to monitor me for another hour, OR I had to go home. I took the morphine. (Which I later found out, they did not add to my chart that they had administered it) I stayed for the hour. By this time, my water had broken. YES! They will take me seriously now… or so I thought. I was there at the epitome of shift change. Every time I saw a nurse, it was never the same one. So when my water had broken, (again it wasn’t charted) my sheets had been changed, the soaker pad under me changed, so I was on a nice dry bed now. Which was great… except no nurse I saw after this point, believed me that my water had broken! They actually told me it was just discharge. Now, you know in movies when it’s like a water balloon popped at the pregnant mamas feet… my water was like that. One big gush and it was gone. I KNEW IT WAS MY WATERS. But… I was sent home. I got home, I vomited the entire way there, because of the morphine, which did nothing for my pain, had only made me sick. At this point, I’m back on my couch, labouring. My contractions are 3 minutes apart and a minute long. My husband phones L&D and tells them what is going on. He then gets scolded for allowing me to leave the hospital. Back to the car we go and back to the hospital. They gowned me up, got me back on monitors, and checked me. Still at a 1. They leave me to continue labouring. The alarms on my monitors keep going off. No one is telling us what is going on. The alarm sounds again. 6 nurses/doctors/I don’t know… run to my bedside, they are jostling me around, turning me this way and that, a hand goes up inside me, it wasn’t communicated with me that was about to happen, no words are spoken to us, the alarms silence, and just like that, everyone leaves my bedside. I am scared, what just happened? My husband calls a nurse in to give us some answers. She says, “nothing is wrong, you would know if something was wrong, because you would have many people around you to handle it.” My jaw dropped, we fell silent. Neither of us knew what to say, as the nurse turned and left. I cried. I was scared, and we were being told nothing. This was not the last time this would happen. Finally they decide I’m not progressing, it’s time to “induce me.” I’m wheeled down the hall from my observation room to the room in which I will deliver. In the time it took to wheel me down the hall, all of 5 rooms over, I went from a 1 to a 4. They didn’t need to start the drip. And finally they actually believed I was in labor. I was now given an option, but not really an option. They were going to insert an epidural into my back, “Just in case we need a C-Section” I could choose to have the pain medication in now, or wait until I was in the OR. I took the medication. They gave me a full spinal block, as if I were now having surgery. I couldn’t feel or move anything from my sternum down. My alarms still kept sounding. My room would be full of staff again, and again, and as quickly as they came, they were gone. Still offering no information. Hours passed, I finally got a few minutes of sleep. Finally it was time to push. After every single push, my nurses would turn and walk away from me. I was so frustrated. I just wanted my baby out, and I had to keep telling them I needed to push, and they were always on the other side of the room. I was then given an episiotomy without warning, they used forceps for her birth… now I have no problem with either of these happening if they were truly needed. But given that I was never asked, or even informed until I saw it happening, this is where my problem lay. But what could I do? Until now, I have not been human in any of this. My daughter was born in a room full of onlookers.
Considering “there was nothing wrong” there was a neonatal team ready and waiting in my room, there were emergency staff ready and waiting in my room to whisk me away to the OR in a moments notice, there were 2 or 3 nurses, the doctor, and a student doctor, in addition to my husband and both Grandmas. We were NOT allowd to take any pictures of the birth itself. We were NOT allowd any pictures at all until my baby was out and crying. My mother-in-law snuck some pictures anyway. How were we told “there was nothing wrong” they obviously felt like something was wrong. My baby did not cry right away. I felt like a horrible mother, because I honestly thought I was just too out of it to remember. But really, I remember it all. I remember every last traumatic moment of my labor and delivery. I didn’t forget her first cry. She just didn’t cry right away. She was placed on my belly long enough for my husband to very quickly cut her cord, then she was whisked to the other side of the room to a warmer. She was cleaned up and given oxygen, this is where she finally cried.
She was brought back to me for a couple photos, then she was whisked away to the NICU. My husband was supposed to follow, but he didn’t hear the nurse tell him to go. So he went to the hall to tell those waiting in the waiting room that at 6:52 pm our daughter was born, with a full head of hair. Meanwhile, I was left ALONE in my delivery room. I was numb from the sternum down, covered in blood and afterbirth, scared out of my mind, ALONE. The nurses had gone, my family was out of the room (thinking I was being cleaned up.) Finally the wife of my husband’s friend/coworker came in to see how I was doing. This woman was a stranger to me, but she grabbed a washcloth and water to help me start cleaning up. Only then, did a nurse come back into my room, and scolded her for entering the bathroom. Because it is for patients only. She entered the bathroom to access the pile of washcloths and towels, that the nurses should have been using to help clean me up. But where were they? Not here, not helping me. I had just experienced a traumatic birth. Then left completely alone. This nurse could go suck an egg. Finally, only once I was finally cleaned up. I was told that my baby’s heart rate kept decelerating dangerously low. That is why my alarms were going off. That is why the nursing team was jostling me around, that is why they were “tickling my baby’s head” through my cervix. My baby had aspirated meconium. My waters had broken earlier and they didn’t know. (Well duh) My baby had an unusually long umbilical cord, she was pinning her cord during labor, which was depriving her of blood flow and oxygen, causing her decelerations. I now had to go back to my room to recover, and once I’ve been checked 3 times to make sure my uterus was doing as it was supposed to, I could go see my baby. I really thought my nightmare was over and I’d see my baby soon. Not exactly. The nurse came in once… twice… all was well. Then hours had passed, I called the nurses station. My nurse had not returned the 3rd time… she had gone home, and I was not passed on to another nurse. Finally I got checked a 3rd time and was able to go see my baby.
She was hooked up to many monitors in her little isolet. But she was otherwise ok. But because I wasn’t taken seriously, I had not received a full round of antibiotics, which I needed being GBS positive. So now my baby was at risk due to this. She needed to be monitored. She has already been given a bottle of formula and a pacifier in the hours since her birth. I wanted to breastfeed. She wouldn’t latch. I spent as much time in the NICU with her as I could, but I had to return to my room for meal times, and med times, and to sleep. I wasn’t allowed to sleep in the chair next to her isolet. When I would be gone, I pumped to provide her milk, but requested to be paged if she needed to nurse while I wasn’t there. They kept giving her formula. Next I was told she was struggling with “regurg ” she was spitting up her formula, or breastmilk I was providing. It wasn’t until I overheard a doctor talking to our nurse about my baby, did I learn, my baby wasn’t struggling at all. They were over feeding her, and she was throwing up because they were trying to make her drink more than her tiny tummy could take. These are NICU nurses… why was this a problem? Why were they so unaware of what they were doing? Why was I being made to feel like there was something wrong with my baby? Why was I being discounted because I was a new mom? WHY!? The best day of our lives, was the day we got discharged and aloud to start finding our normal outside of the hospital. I got to bring my baby home on my birthday. But now, my newborn had nipple confusion, I had no support system as far as breastfeeding went. I was told time and time again, it’s ok to formula feed, it’s ok to supplement too, it’s ok to quit. But no one was telling me that it was ok to seek help, it was ok to ask for help, no one was offering help. I was pumping, because my baby would take a bottle. But now, I had a clogged milk duct. It was getting bad. I realized it was getting bad, when I had gone to make a bottle for my daughter, and I woke up on the living room floor. I had blacked out, I had stumbled from the kitchen to the living room, I passed out and hit my head on the coffee table. It was time to see a doctor. My clogged milk duct was infected. I was prescribed antibiotics. They weren’t helping. I returned to the doctor, they gave me something else, and said if it gets any worse go to the ER. WELL, IT DID. I went to the hospital the following day, I was out on an IV antibiotic drip, 3 times per day for a week. It took over an hour each time, I was not allowed to have my baby with me. My infection had abscessed. The IV wasn’t helping. The next step was multiple ultrasound appointments and then surgical drainage. Twice, I had to go through this before it finally cleared up. At 5 weeks postpartum, my supply had dried up. The meds made it hard to keep going, my doctors seemed so pro formula, that never was it discussed how to help me continue breastfeeding. Later I learned about medications I could have taken to help me. But my doctor was unaware, or unwilling to try meds to help me thrive. Bring on my first experience with depression. I had failed. I had failed at breastfeeding. My body had failed to do what I so badly wanted it to do. Now, enter mom shaming. My first experience with mom shaming came from an older woman, she may very well have been a grandma. I was shopping with my mother in law, she was pushing the cart, and I was cradling my daughter and feeding her from a bottle as we went about our business. This woman went out of her way to approach me, and tell me my baby should be at my breast, and not drinking garbage from a bottle. I ignored her, and walked on. I silently cried through the remainder of our shopping trip. I had failed my daughter. Or at least, that’s how I was feeling.
What I now know, that I wish I knew then… I was not alone. There are so many, too many women who have experienced what I had. From the birth trauma, to struggles with breastfeeding, to mom shaming and post partum depression. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Reach out. If you aren’t finding the support you need at home, reach out to your friends. If you still are not getting the help you seek, it is not weak to reach out beyond your circle. I finally found help and healing… too late to change what I had gone through, but it’s never too late to heal a broken heart. I found help online, via Facebook groups. I found other women who went through my struggles, they could relate. And it was so helpful. I only wish I had reached out so much sooner. But from then on I made it a mission to always be open and willing to help any friend or soon to be friend in any way I could. Even if it was just through conversation. I was there to grab onto any hand reaching out for help.
This is a good spot to hit pause on my story. I look forward to sharing the next chapter with you soon…
It is not uncommon for moms to experience times of low milk supply and it can usually be resolved by methods such as correcting the latch, nursing more frequently or for longer periods of time, and with additional pumping.
While these and other methods work for many women, some mothers do not see an increase in milk supply with these measures alone. For these moms there are several ways that you can naturally help increase your milk supply. These might not work for everyone so experiment with different options and combinations to see what works best for you.
1. Avoid Certain Medications
Some medications, like certain cold medicines, have been known to decrease breast milk supply dramatically. Check out The KellyMom website it has a great list of medications with safety information and alternative methods for relief when you are sick.
2. Make & Eat Lactation Cookies
These are a delicious and nutritious way to increase your milk supply. Ingredients are items like oats, fenugreek, and brewer’s yeast all known to increase milk supply. Here is a yummy recipe you can try!. You can even by mixes online or pre baked cookies and have them shipped to you! Lactation cookie mix can be baked and frozen for up to 6 months. It’s totally safe for your family to eat the cookies and no it will NOT make your husband lactate.
3. Stress Mana gement
Did you know that stress can block the letdown reflex and reduce milk flow. Extreme stress and you may not be able to pump or nurse even though the milk is in your breast. Some tips to help relieve stress : meditate, find a few minutes for just yourself to calm down and refocus, do something to pamper yourself, chat with a friend, get outside and re ground yourself.
4. Stop Taking or Change Birth Control Pill
Many women report milk supply ceasing while taking birth control pills. Contraceptives that contain only progestin are compatible with breastfeeding. Contraceptives that contain both estrogen and progestin can cause you to produce less milk. This applies to all methods that contain both, including the patch and vaginal ring. The mini pill, birth control shots, implants, and IUD are all breastfeeding friendly.
Sleep sleep sleep! I know it seems impossible with a newborn and/or other children in the house. However, get it in whenever you can. Your body has to rest!
6. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is very important. You goal is half your body weight in water. Example: if you weigh 130 pounds you should drink 65 ounces a day. Keeping a water bottle close by at all times makes this goal much easier. Coconut water comes highly recommended by lactation consultants. An added perk is that it provides a lot of health benefits which are awesome for your postpartum body.
7. Nurse Your Baby Naked
Skin to skin contact increases milk supply. Undress your baby and lay them on your bare breasts. It helps maintain their physiological stability, regulate respiration, increase blood oxygenation levels, and stabilize body temperature. This is calming for both mother and baby. Also one-sided breastfeeding is often not enough while you are attempting to increase your breast milk supply. The more frequently both breasts are emptied the better.
8. Massage Breasts
Massaging your breasts will clear milk ducts and get the milk flowing more freely, this will empty the breasts and increase milk production. Use some coconut oil or lotion for massage. In a circular motion, massage your lymph glands in your armpits. This will get the blood and toxins flowing. Continue down to your breast by pressing with your thumb down. Don’t be too hard or your could damage your glandular tissue. Breast massages should be done daily.
Oatmeal is a key ingredient in lactation cookies. Some prefer rolled oats over steel cut oats. Steel cut oats make more milk. If you’re making cookies please use rolled oats. You’re not limited to of a bowl of oatmeal in the morning. You can try adding some dry oats in a smoothie. An added benefit here is that oatmeal is good for weight loss and heart health.
10. Power pumping
What I mean by this is pumping in cycles. After you nurse immediately pump for 10 minutes. This mimics cluster feeding and will get any extra milk out that the baby didn’t need during that session. Another way is to pump for about 10 minutes. Take a 15 minute break then pump for another 10 minutes. Do this for a couple of cycles. The way it works has to do with supply and demand. Your body produces more if you tell it to.
There are no scientific studies that show that certain herbs will make you produce more milk. However, some mothers and lactation consultants believe that certain herbs can increase the production of breast milk.
Fenugreek Is a dietary supplement that comes in pill form. You can buy this just about anywhere. Dosage will vary dependent on the brand you buy. Please follow the directions specific to the brand purchased. You can also find Fenugreek as a tea. Most mom’s have reported noticing a change in 24-72 hours. You’ll know it’s working once your urine starts to smell like maple syrup….. yes you read that right maple syrup. Your may notice your sweat may smell like syrup also.
12. Brewers yeast
This is another key ingredient in those delicious cookies I mentioned earlier.An awesome way to get Brewers Yeast into your diet is to put it in a smoothie. It is also sold in pill form. You can buy it at most health food stores or order online. Some other herbals herbal suggestions include…Blessed Thistle, Alfalfa, Fennel, And Raspberry Leaf
IMPORTANT: As there can be considerable variations in quality and strength of herbal remedies, I recommend that you speak to a qualified herbalist personally before using any herbal remedies.
The best advice that I have to give to you would be to make sure you reach out for help as soon as you can. Don’t struggle in silence or give up on yourself. Breastfeeding troubles can quickly spiral out of control and result in a dash to the supermarket for some formula. No matter if you call a breastfeeding helpline, source a lactation consultant or purchase some good breastfeeding books know that help is available and make yourself familiar with them in case the need arises. Just some good old fashioned advice and support may be all you need! If breastfeeding ends up not being in the cards for you it’s ok. Do not feel bad in any way. Fed is best and however that lookd for your family is whats right for your family.