Pandemic Baby Blues
| This is the 606th story of Our Life Logs® |
Life doesn’t come with a manual, but if it did, I know it would say this: No matter how the plan changes or how hard things get, there will always be a way to the other side.
I want to tell you my story of how my plans of motherhood came with a sudden and unexpected route. But first, let me give you some background. I was born on February 18, 1991, and I was the only girl and the oldest of four children. I grew up Mormon in a small town in Utah. The majestic mountains were my backdrop with the Mormon community as my second family. I was raised to be my mother’s domestic helper, and oftentimes, I watched my little brothers while imagining what my life would be like when I had my own children. I dreamed of having my own family—a loving husband, a son, and a daughter.
The dream became a reality when I fell in love and got married in 2014. We had so much in common. He was Mormon, he dreamed of having a family just as much as I did, and we even shared the same name. Yes, two Taylors fell in love. My Taylor started out as an English major like me but later decided to become a doctor. This decision was the right one for him, but it came with long hours away from home during residency. Despite this, we moved to Washington and stuck to our plan of starting a family. And lo and behold, I got pregnant just a couple years later.
My pregnancy was smooth, and every moment brought something ordinarily spectacular. I remember the feeling of his little feet pressing on my belly when I drank anything and the sound of his heartbeat. It was incredible. For an entire nine months, both sides of our family and friends celebrated our soon-to-be addition. In fact, I was showered with so much love and affection from all angles that I grew to expect it. I was pampered, adored, and I fell even more in love with my husband and his family. It was bliss. Our love had created life! How much cooler could it get? And a son, at that! I had always dreamed of having a son first.
My pregnancy with Arden was perfect, but the labor…not so much. This is where the plan derailed. I had become a doula after college and was an advocate for natural deliveries at home with a midwife or doula. I had decided I wanted to give a home birth of my own. But after a couple days of contracting and not dilating, I was forced to go to the hospital out of fear that something would go wrong with the baby. When I got there, the doctors told me they would have to perform an emergency C-section because of the distress the baby and I were already in. I was cut open and Arden was evicted from my womb that same day. It was scary. Our baby boy came in March 2017, but it was not the way I had planned it would happen at ALL.
I loved being a mother. It was everything I had dreamed of and more. Besides being exhausted, I could not find one complaint. Our son, Arden, was the love and light of our lives, always happy and easily entertained. He was nursed until 18 months and that made our bond even stronger. My husband was still in school at the time, but I always had family close by.
Our little family!
My days were filled with crafting and scrapbooking and making natural baby food. Our families were always lending a helping hand. By the time Arden was two, we could not think of any reason not to try for our little girl. And BOOM, just like that, we were pregnant again. By then, it was 2019, and we had relocated to Las Vegas for the remaining years of my husband’s doctorate. I liked Las Vegas, but I missed the familiarity of Washington. Around my second trimester, we received some life-changing news.
It had been circulating all over the television. A global pandemic. This was not something we could have ever fathomed in our lifetime. After my first pregnancy experience, I decided I wouldn’t try to do a home birth ever again. I still wanted to try for a natural birth. But with lockdowns in place, I didn’t know what kind of plan I could do. Would I be able to safely give birth in a hospital? What would it be like?
There was so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and pregnancy. On top of that, my husband was still knee-deep in his residency, always at risk. With his long hours away from home, I felt so alone in my fears. Arden was in his terrifically terrible twos, and I was entering my third trimester. This time in my life wasn’t as exciting as it was scary. In the chaos, we almost forgot to be happy. But I had been raised with faith, so I knew I had to hold onto hope that things would work out.
The days of my second pregnancy were so very different from my pregnancy with Arden. My baby shower was over Zoom. There were no hugs or not even a touch from a loved one. It lacked the celebratory energy that I was used to. My husband was excited, but he was always gone working 16-hour days at the hospital doing his residency. This made me feel very alone.
I was afraid to go into labor alone and afraid for my husband working in a hospital. The fear of him getting sick was always prevalent. I’ll never forget how scared I was when he came home with a fever. He wore a mask inside our house until he tested negative twice.
With my mother hours away and my husband working long hours, I was in need of moral support, so I decided to get a doula again. This was a hard choice because the hospital made it very clear that I would only be allowed to have one support person there. Choosing between my husband and my doula was awful, but I had to do what was best for me. As my delivery date drew closer, I was told that I would not be allowed to have any guests visit me in the hospital. The more restrictions I heard, the more I felt like I was suffocating in a bubble.
I prayed to God that I would be able to at least have control over the way I was going to deliver. I had a C-section with Arden, and some doctors believed that once you have a C-section, you can never have a vaginal birth. But I refused to accept that. I wanted to have a natural birth. I found the one doctor in the entire Las Vegas Valley that did V-BAC (Vaginal Births After Cesarean) and he agreed to help me. There was a risk in doing this. Birth this way could lead to a Uterine Rupture which means that my scar from the cesarean would re-open, and they could have to do another emergency C-section, possibly resulting in a hysterectomy. That’s why so many doctors do not perform this. But I wanted to experience natural birth at least once, and I knew this would be my last pregnancy for some time with the virus circulating.
I had to have my cervix manually stretched (which was a nightmare), but despite all the unexpected emotional trauma, my beautiful baby girl was born healthy and strong. We fell in love with her instantly and named her August. At that moment, the pandemic could not steal my joy. I was elated to become a new mother again.
Eventually, the thick air of joy began to dissipate, and difficulties rained down on me. The isolation as a new mother was deafening. My mother stayed for a few weeks, and my husband was allowed a few weeks off, but then, they went back out into the world, and I stayed home. That’s when reality set in. I was isolated with a toddler and a newborn in a town that I did not know well. Postpartum depression came for me like a thief in the night.
In those months alone, I was in zombie mode. And when I wasn’t, I was irritable. My newborn was keeping me up at night and my toddler was keeping me up during the day. I had no time to sleep. Once I had gotten everybody else fed, bathed, and happily tucked in bed, I'd have time for a shower. But by then, it would be midnight.
One night I did not get to take a shower at all, and it had already been two days since I got to shower. But the baby was hungry, and every time I got in the shower, she would cry and wake up the toddler. I remember being so disgusted by my own smell. It was moments like these that I felt at my wit’s end. I felt nothing but rage.
One day, I went to the other room, locked the door, threw around the clothes, and screamed. I felt trapped. I felt like I was losing my sanity. The aroma of dirty diapers and the sound of a three-year-old having a temper tantrum were not the idea I had in my head when I was planning all this. I didn’t want to do this anymore.
I was constantly aggravated, emotionally drained, and pissed. I even became snappy at my precious baby boy. This is what caused me to look into my behavior. One day, my son was playing with August and got too rough with handling her and, without understanding his own strength, hurt her. That’s when I lost my cool. I just completely lost it. As my baby boy was sobbing my outburst, I realized how I was feeling wasn’t right. This wasn‘t me. I realized I needed to get help.
It took about 30 days for me to get an appointment with a therapist, and I just tried to keep it together until the day came. Finally, after two weeks of sessions, I was referred to a psychiatrist who had a word for what I’d been dealing with. Severe post-traumatic anxiety. It was causing my bouts of rage. I was prescribed medication and told that I was not a bad mother, that there was still hope, and I was to be the parent I always dreamed of for my kids.
Since I got help, I have been doing much better. I have joined support groups, I looked for outlets, I reached out to other young mothers in my neighborhood for moral support, and I started to feel like myself again. My community started to feel like home. After months and months of my plans going array, I could recognize my dreams again.
This is the story of Taylor
Taylor always dreamed of having her second child surrounded by family, but after giving birth during the pandemic, things changed quickly. She was now more isolated than ever when she needed people the most. After having a mental breakdown, she realized she needed to take care of her mental health so she could be the best mother and wife possible. She now spends her time as a happy stay-at-home mother of her two adorable children Arden and August, a doula, and an advocate for women.
This story first touched our hearts on December 15, 2020
Writer: Melodie Harris | Editor: Kristen Petronio; Colleen Walker