Ariane Audet

Josée, Montréal-Nord QC (Canada)

Ariane Audet
Josée, Montréal-Nord QC (Canada)

I can’t really remember the first hours after my two sons were born. I had emergency C-sections for both of them and the doctors had to put me under. Those were the hardest moments of my life. It’s like I didn’t really give birth to them because I wasn’t awake. I was so disconnected from the experience that I ended up asking myself ‘Are they really mine?’ Both were hard, but the first one especially. I didn’t get to see him for two days after he was born. At the hospital, they tell you it’s not that long, but by the time you wake up properly and walk over there it feels like an eternity. I couldn’t even hold him after I finally got to meet him. I think they were giving him something for his blood sugar because I had diabetes during my pregnancy. His dad had been able to see him right after he was born, but back then – it was late 80s – they didn’t do skin-to-skin. I stayed at the hospital 5 days to recover. When I was able to finally hold him, I felt better because I could pick him up from the nursery. Babies didn’t room-in like today. I remember it really bothered me. I mean, you carry this baby for nine months and then you can only be with him a couple hours a day? Because it was so long to be able to hold him, when I tried to breastfeed, it didn’t work. I didn’t have milk. He had spent two days with needles in his arms, away from his mom, and I didn’t have milk. It was so hard.

Josee2_Faces_of_Postpartum

After I came back home, I felt much better. My ex-husband had taken two weeks off and was helping. I’ve never been able to breastfeed though. My milk never came. But at least I got to be with my son all the time. And then, when I felt physically ok, we started to get into a little routine, just the two of us. Being alone with him, this was nice. Although I remember I dealt with a lot of guilt because I hadn’t been able to give birth to him vaginally and to nurse him. Like if it wasn’t normal or natural the way it happened. But I think that staying alone every day with him was a way to rehabilitate myself. At least I was the one taking care of him. I slowly got my confidence back that way. Starting from then and on, everything went fine. I had to go back to work after six months because we didn’t have the money to survive with only one salary. That was hard too. It sucks to have to leave your kid with somebody else because you have to work. I wish I could have stayed

Josee3_Faces_of_Postpartum

I also had to stay at the hospital for five days when I had my second son. It was so annoying, to have your diet controlled because you were put under, everybody checking your every move and what you put in your mouth, like if they don’t trust you to go back home. With him, I didn’t even try to breastfeed. I didn’t want to go through the same failure than with my first and feel sad and guilty about it. My milk never came with him either. Anyway, he was a little piggy! Drinking so much. Five ounces every feeding, right from birth. When I finally got back home, my sisters-in-law stayed with us for a while. They didn’t have any kids and were young, so they were happy to come and help. But after a couple of days, I just wanted to be left alone with my sons. I was so happy to get back into my little routine with them. At the same time, I felt very guilty because I had to neglect my first so I could take care of his little brother. Neglect might be a bit strong… but you know, I couldn’t go outside and play with him. I had stitches and couldn’t climb the stairs up and down. I would look at him, so little, in the backyard. He didn’t seem sad or anything. But I can still see him. This image of him outside, alone… it struck me. It still does.

Josee4_Faces_of_Postpartum

After my second I didn’t go back to work. It was super to be with them all day. I could play with them both at the same time. I would lay the youngest on the floor on a blanket and play with the other one. We were in our world. It was summer so we would take long walks together. It was warm. We were happy. At some point, I started an at-home daycare so I could make a little bit of money. I watched three kids, plus mine. They loved it. They had friends. We would all hang out in the basement, playing educational games. This… this was fun. I did it for three years. After I went back to work, but only evening shifts. I was with them during the day and their dad would take care of them at night. In retrospect, I think I made my entrance into motherhood not when I gave birth, but when I was finally able to be alone with my sons. This is when my postpartum also started. No one buzzing around me. I didn’t mind having guests over for a couple of hours, but not much more. I always preferred staying with them, without anybody to tell me what to do. I didn’t want to get judged and, at the same time, I knew what I was doing. Of course, I probably made mistakes along the way, but I don’t think they held grudges. They are great sons. Beautiful men, today. Yeah. I’m really proud of them.