Healing A Wound

by Alison Friedman in Mommy's Musings, Stupid Infection

Today is Yom Kippur. This Jewish holiday marks the beginning of a clean slate for the new year. On Yom Kippur, we are supposed to right our wrongs and forgive those who have let us down. I’m not sure I’ll be able to wholly forgive and forget my rocky start to my postpartum experience, but as my physical wound heals, so must my emotional wound. It’s time I concentrate on what matters now instead of dwelling on the past.

Some women have difficult pregnancies. Some women have bumpy labors. I’m a woman who had green lights on the whole baby mama highway, but after Madelyn was born, I crashed into a rail, tumbled over a cliff, and rolled into a murky water. It’s been a very difficult ride for me due to the infection I got in the hospital that was dismissed and negated by the on-call physician, Dr. Shlub. For weeks, I couldn’t hold my daughter due to the pain at my fresh incision and I missed out on crucial bonding time. I know Madelyn was in great hands while I was absent and healing, and she will never know of any suffering, but I know I was cheated out of my experience. That hurts more than my open wound.

I’m not breastfeeding. This is a tough subject for me because I always planned on nursing my baby. I was breastfed and I’ve always heard my mom tell me what an awesome experience it was. I was so looking forward to developing that similar relationship with Madelyn. We had our rough moments starting out as most mothers and new babies do, but we finally got our groove on! It was fabulous. We were flowing and she was filling. Chug chug chug and then, bam! Infection and pain up the wazoo. No nursing position was comfortable. I was awake every two to three hours to feed while I was trying to heal. My energy was at a zero and my motivation went kaput. I didn’t want to quit and really had no intentions to, but my doctor told me that healing should be my first priority and if I was in pain or feeling stress from my incision infection while nursing, it wasn’t healthy for either of us. She gave me permission to stop, and after a lot of deliberation, I did. I needed to become healthy because I was no good to Madelyn if I wasn’t.

With every drop of leaked milk on its way out of me, I cried. And cried and cried. I knew breast milk was the best milk for my daughter — at least that’s what I’d always heard — and doesn’t every mom want the best for her children? Some women choose not to breastfeed and I support that just as much as I support those who do. I’m not a lactivist. I was just a mom looking for a unique experience and to provide the best I could for Madelyn. At this point, the best thing for Madelyn was a healthy mom and food any way she could get it. The pediatrician recommended a formula and that hungry little baby gulped it down. She never knew the difference and she was a happy camper. She continued to gain weight and was thriving just fine. Of course, that’s all I cared and still care about. Grow, little Madelyn, grow!

But I mourned. I still do. I looked in the mirror at myself and would think, “I failed me.” My blood boils and my ears resemble an angry, steaming Donald Duck when I think about what could have been. Sure, I might have been exhausted and annoyed about nursing around the clock or submitting myself to the “whoosh whoosh” of the boob juicer, but I never expected it to be a breeze or any sort of convenience. Instead, as I get my six hours of sleep and whip out a bottle of shaken-not-stirred, cow’s milk goodness in a public place, I rejoice in the ease of feeding, but I sulk in the absence of providing. Yes, I know, I’m still providing. Our hard-earned dollars are providing cans of powder via Diapers.com and Babies R Us, but it was ME who wanted to provide. ME. Not my credit card.

And then there’s the guilt. I did nothing wrong, so why do I feel guilt? Why does breastfeeding have to carry such a heavy stigma of guilt or shame when it’s not practiced? And don’t get me started on the jealousy! I see babies attached to their mothers, and I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach. Not a hard violent kick. Just a breathlessness of sorts and then my stomach turns and aches. It’s beautiful and I’m thrilled for their relationship — really, I am! — but I still wish I had that, too. All I have to do, though, is look over at my happy baby and it’s fine. It’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine! Deep breaths. Leveled.

I went on Celexa. I’m still taking it. Dr. Fiiiine thought it would be the best thing for me and I agree. I’m not ashamed of it and that shit works (no, the sales rep did not take me to lunch or shower me with theater tickets for the endorsement). Hormones + shitty recovery from an infected c-section incision = happy pills. I’m feeling better now and I don’t cry eighty-seven times a day so that’s definitely a good indication that there’s something to the drug. I also know that my wound is healing well and I’m no longer in pain 24/7. Madelyn is the cutest baby to ever exist on this planet and my husband is the most awesome father. Things are on the way up. Thanks to the pill? Nah. The pill just allowed me to see this. Forest. Trees. That whole thing. I’m not sure how long I’ll be on it. I’ll admit, I’m afraid to find out what it feels like to be off of it, but I think it will probably be okay. Once the home care nurse stops coming to my house and Dr. Fiiiine has declared me healed, we’ll talk about weaning. I’m in no hurry, but I also don’t want to be on it forever. I’m just taking it, literally, one day at a time. Eventually, postpartum depression has to become past postpartum depression.

So, I know hate is a strong word, but I think I’d still use it in the same sentence to describe my feelings about Dr. Shlub. Without hesitation, I dump all the blame on him for stomping all over my woulda-shoulda-coulda after Madelyn arrived. But I also know that isn’t going to get me anywhere. Which brings me back to Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. This has really been my holiest year… period. I’m not kidding. I have a c-section hole below my belly button where my baby came out and it’s still open. It’s closing, though, little by little thanks to the daily medical care I’ve been receiving since August 19th. Dr. Fiiiine says we probably have just a few more weeks of packing the wound before we can call it a day. Or, approximately 80 days. I’m promising myself that when it’s closed, and my crooked abdominal scar is complete, I will stop looking back with such sadness and resentment and try to realize that I’m stronger for overcoming extreme hurdles.

Forgive on Yom Kippur? Ehhh, not really ready to do that. Forget? No, not happening either. Start anew with a fresh outlook? That I can do.

  1. Aunt Pattie
    10/9/2011 1:47 PM

    You certainly did have a rough start with your baby girl! I think I’d print this and send to Dr Schlub and make him realize what his lazy ass caused a new mommy!!

  2. 10/8/2011 10:58 PM

    Honest and awesome post, Alison. I am in total awe of your strength. You seriously rock.