Ariane Audet

Lisa, Stafford VA (USA)

Ariane Audet
Lisa, Stafford VA (USA)

The birth of my first son was so surreal. When I touched him, I felt like I was touching myself. I couldn’t feel where his body or my body ended. I remember thinking, 'This is me! This is what an extension of me feels like!' He was so big. He looked like a bear! I didn’t go outside the house for two months after we came back home with him. I had fifty-four stitches so I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even take baths, which is my only relaxing thing. I could barely stand up. I didn’t go downstairs for the first week and my husband would do everything because it was too painful. We walked up to the mailbox one day, I was like, "Oh my God… this is crazy." He took the full three months of my maternity leave with me. I don’t know what I would have done without him. He’s a firefighter and, one day, he had to leave for a fitness test. I was like "Where are you going? When are you coming back? Should we ALL come with you?" I was so nervous, but he was super reassuring. It was a lot, just so demanding. For example, the whole breastfeeding thing… nobody tells you that your independence will be gone. It was hard. But at least, I wasn’t alone.

Lisa2_Faces_of_Postpartum

For our second son’s birth, my husband did the whole thing. The nurses were like "Daddy, we’re going to use you ‘cause you’re a paramedic" and they put both my legs on top of his shoulders! The first time you give birth, you think, "Don’t look! I don’t want you to see this!" But this time I kept yelling "Look down there! Do you see the head?!’ He wasn’t ready for this! But he did great. No one else helped me but him that day. When the baby came, he had the biggest paws and the largest feet. We couldn’t believe how big he was. He didn’t get pushed out, he walked out! His big brother couldn’t see him for two days because it was flu season. He was only two years old at the time and we weren’t sure if he really understood what was going on. But when we came back home from the hospital, he flew in screaming "My baby brother! My baby brother!" He grabbed him, snuggling and kissing him, and didn’t want to leave his side for a second. And the baby just soaked it all up.

Lisa3_Faces_of_postpartum

We didn’t go out in public for a while after our sons were born, I was putting all of this trust on myself and had this ridiculous fear that people were going to steal the babies. I thought I had this gem, the biggest jewel in the world, and that everybody wanted it. I was super paranoid. Our second son has a couple of heart murmurs and every time he got tested, I was scared the cardiologist would steal him. My husband, because of his job, is very good at observing what’s going on, so I felt comfortable with him. I was thinking "He’s not going to let anybody take the baby." I got better with our daughter, although for each one of them I couldn’t believe how lucky we got. It was almost like it was too good to be true. It freaked me out. Every time I got pregnant I would say to my husband ‘You don’t understand, this is on me!’ I was sure that there was a 99% chance that if something had happened to the baby, it would have been my fault. But then the babies would come out healthy, ten pounds, and he would be like, "You were right, this is all you: they’re perfect!"

Lisa4_Faces_of_Postpartum

After having each baby, we’d put the older kids in daycare so they could keep their routine. We also wanted to spend that postpartum period just with the new baby. Having my husband with me for the full three months was everything. I wouldn’t have had three kids if he hadn’t been there with me. He was even able to stay home longer than I did almost every time. He gets to use FMLA and had leave built-up from the Fire Department. We would do movie marathons: Stars Wars or Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. We would just blend in together with the baby, watch every single movie, and order food. That was our routine with all of them and the best bonding. I thought I’d go nuts with him around for three months, but it never happened. We ended up having a common goal and became more of a team. We had to work together. It couldn’t be ‘You grab one and I grab one, or you take a break.’ If I was sleep-deprived, he was too, and we’d both be in it together the next day. Once we went back to work, it was a little bit different because we had two different schedules, but by then, both of us knew how ridiculous and crazy it was to have three kids! Having him there with me was everything.