Ariane Audet

Marie, Stafford VA (USA)

Ariane Audet
Marie, Stafford VA (USA)

My son was born via emergency C-section, which was scary enough, but he also had tremors and ended up staying in observation at the NICU for four days. What the medical staff wasn’t telling us is that they thought I was a heroin addict and he was going through withdrawal. So every 12 hours, the shifts changed, the communication was poor, and it was about 18 hours before we were able to see a doctor and know why he was hooked up to all the machines. Some of the nurses were harassing me about the pain pills. They kept asking "Are you sure you need them?" and I was like, "Why do they keep asking about it? Yeah, I’m in pain, you just cut me open!" Instead of also seeing me as a patient, they only really focused on his health. Which is great, I mean, if it had to be one or the other, obviously, he’s number one. But because of the confusion, by the time we got home, I felt like I was not competent. I was paralyzed. What really helped was having my mom with me for the first week. She cooked for us and was there to remind me that there’s no right or wrong way. You just have to do it. After all the confusion at the hospital, she was the voice of reason.

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When my husband went back to work after two weeks, I didn’t think it could get harder, but it did. I was super jealous that he got to go to work. I love my child and he is the most special thing in the world, but I also felt tied down more than I had expected to be. Being at work while you’re pregnant, that’s all anyone tells you "Oh, I wish my maternity leave was longer, you’re going to have such a hard time being away from that baby! Are you coming back to work?" Naturally, that’s how you expect to feel so when I didn’t, I felt like there was something wrong with me. It just wasn’t as fulfilling as I initially expected it to be. That’s another thing you realize quickly: the concept of mom-guilt. I was raised Catholic and mom-guilt is definitely stronger than just catholic-guilt! The only time I really let myself enjoy and snuggle with him was the last month of my maternity leave because I knew there was a final point to it. And now, five months in, I’ve come at least to a point where I’m like ‘Fuck it. This is how I feel, some out there will agree with me and some won’t.’ You can’t base this period of your life on everybody else’s experiences.

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My son is a maniac. He never stops moving. But look at me: I don’t sit still ever and I'm a stress-monster! He’s a child-hound when he nurses, but I’ve always been nervous he didn’t get enough food. Before I got pregnant, I was super grossed out about breastfeeding. Not about other moms, but to think that there’s another person sucking on your body part. But then I became pregnant and I changed my mind on everything: whatever’s best and, because I’m super practical, the easiest. I almost quit breastfeeding because of all the stuff that had happened in the hospital. After two weeks, I was still using all the equipment. The shield and shells… I probably had 500$ of nipple care surrounding me at all times! I’ve never thought about my boobs more in my life. But it worked and he’s still nursing. I’m just going to keep riding it until it doesn’t work anymore. I also recently discovered that you can nurse lying down. It changed my life. Until that laydown-position, I’d look at him and be like, nursing is supposed to be everything (right?), you know, like a lot of people get to experience? But the truth is, it wasn't. He was sucking on my nipple, it hurt but it was working, and I was not going to complain because a lot of moms would like to have the problem of "working nipples." Now, it's better. We can lie down together for night feedings. I’m dozing with him, we’re bonding, and we wake up in this perfect little position. It took us five months, but I’m glad I tried it out.

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I’m still not super comfortable with nursing in public, mostly because he’s very combative and it’s a pain in the ass. He’s such a squirmy little one. I’m not shy about nudity at all – "I mean, what? Do you want a better view of my boobs? What are you staring at?" I wish we could just all go around topless. There’s also this whole camaraderie thing that is great. Like an old Spotsylvania woman once told me, ‘It’s fine to breastfeed in public, we used to do it all the time with a baby latched on one boob and a cig hanging out of our mouth." When I meet another mom who’s breastfeeding in public, I just want to do a slow clap. The other day I saw this lady at Target, pushing a cart and breastfeeding her child while walking and shopping. I was so impressed and amazed. I hoped she would make eye contact so I could tell her: "You’re my hero! How do you do this? Teach me!"