March 05 2020 – Gianna Shawley
We are all in a different part of our journey to #holdbabieslovebodies. Because for most of us, loving or bodies is a bit more complicated than making a decision to. Melia tells us about how her past, motherhood journey, and hope for her children leads her to #holdbabieslovebodies here:
"I have never loved my body.
I have never felt confident in it."
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been overweight. I was always bigger than all my friends and my mom was always trying to put me on a diet or exercise. Stubborn me thought if they’re trying to get me to do something, I’m going to do the opposite. I liked to eat. I liked the taste of food. I’d eat just for the sake of eating, not because I was hungry. I covered up my body in big, baggy t-shirts and jeans to hide my shape.
When I joined the Navy, I figured I’d have to lose weight, get fit, and hopefully gain confidence in myself. I did lose weight in preparation, but not in a healthy way. I starved myself, took laxatives, and walked/jogged miles every day. I made it through boot camp, but still disliked the way I looked.
"With my first, her birth wasn’t
what I expected or planned."
My water broke early that Monday morning. When we got to the hospital, they told me yes, my water had broke, but no, you’re not in labor. They put me on Pitocin, which made my contractions incredibly strong and unrelenting. I wasn’t expecting or prepared for that. They asked if I wanted anything for pain or an epidural. I opted for the pain meds even though I had hoped for all-natural. Soon those wore off and I asked for an epidural. The pain turned numb, but I felt disappointment and guilt. I had whimped out- how could I not do what nature intended and give birth to her naturally? Well, I slept on and off until it came time to push. Not feeling when exactly to push/stop, I tore pretty badly. I had a beautiful baby girl! She immediately went to my breast and started drinking. Everyone said she was a natural!
"Breast is best, right?
We kept trying, kept getting frustrated."
My epidural wore off and the pain meds and ice packs kept my pain at bay, but getting around and positioning her for nursing was difficult. My nipples were sore and bleeding. She didn’t have a good latch. When we got home, Lina wouldn’t latch. Breast is best, right? We kept trying, kept getting frustrated. I was able to pump a little, which she immediately drained. So, we figured she’d want it fast and easy, so we decided to stop trying a bottle. She’d cry and turn away from my breast, she’d sleep way too long and her wet diapers would be completely yellow. I knew she was starving, so I begged my husband to get formula. My mom, husband, and I were trying so hard to make breastfeeding work, but my precious needed to eat.
At her 2-day follow up exam, she’d lost almost 2 pounds. The doctor was concerned, so ordered tests. High bilirubin. She had to be admitted to the hospital and put under lights. She had to wear protection over her eyes, which she hated, couldn’t be held except while feeding her every 2 hours, and had to have her rectal temperature taken, disturbing her right after she’d finally fallen asleep. It was the worst day/night of my life. I was in pain and only had a hard window seat to sit on. I started bleeding and got cold to where I couldn’t stop shivering. The night nurse decided we were feeding her too often, so she said we couldn’t hold Lina to feed her and had to feed every 3 hours. She even wrote the times we could feed Lina on the whiteboard. Lina cried and all I could do was watch; I felt so helpless. Luckily, since she was eating so much, her bilirubin levels went down and we were discharged the next day.
Depression set in. I felt like I was drowning, I had failed. My body had failed. I wasn’t able to have the birth story I had dreamed of. I wasn’t able to breastfeed her. I was a failure. Thankfully I reached out to my mom who immediately realized I had PPD. I was put on medication and soon started to feel more like myself and enjoying my daughter.
"Because my birth and postpartum season were so traumatic for me, it took me time to want or try for a second."
My OB scheduled my induction two days after my due date. After experiencing Pitocin with Lina, I graciously declined and asked if it was possible to wait any longer. He didn’t seem too happy about it but agreed and canceled the induction. He did a membrane sweep. That night I went into labor. I woke up around 2 am with contractions, took a shower, and labored for a little. I wanted to make sure it was the real thing. Finally, I woke up my husband, got Lina bundled up, and called my mom. We got to the hospital and I was at 5cm. I was begging for an epidural. My water hadn’t broken, so they asked if I wanted to wait for an epidural or have them break it and progress very quickly. After they broke it and two pushes later, baby Roger was born! I had minor tearing and was able to move around much easier afterward, compared to Lina’s birth.
Roger was able to latch (which was so painful for me) but needed it all the time. I wasn’t able to sleep, and when I tried to pump nothing came out (which I found out later was completely normal). But terrified Roger would end up in the hospital like Lina, I opted for formula the third day.
I wasn’t able to see Lina for a whole day because she had caught a cold. It broke my heart. I’d never really been away from her for more than a couple hours. So when I got home, all she wanted was for daddy to hold her. I felt so hurt. When she did want ups from me, I couldn’t hold her comfortably due to my tear. Roger needed to be held constantly; he’d cry pretty much whenever he wasn’t being held. Roger required so much attention and I had to pump every 3 hours. I felt so guilty and selfish and full of regret for having Roger. I wanted 2 kids and for them to be close in age, while it was obvious Lina still needed/wanted so much attention.
"I’ve decided to
give myself grace."
With Lina, I gained 30lbs, which melted off within a month. With Roger, I gained 45lbs. The first 25lbs came right off. Three months after his birth, I still have an extra 20lbs to lose and have stretch marks covering my belly. Although I don’t like the way I look and plan on working on my appearance through diet and exercise, I’ve decided to give myself grace. It took 10 months to grow him, my body won’t bounce back instantaneously. I was able to create two babies within two years. I’m proud of that. I’m proud of my body for nourishing them (even if it’s not the way I wanted or intended).
I never want my daughter to feel ashamed of her body. She is beautiful and confident; I hope she is always able to see that. I want to set an example for her, to show her I’m proud of my body. I may not always love the way it looks, but I don’t want her (or myself) to ever feel ashamed.
written by Melia Fryer