Ariane Audet

Tracey, Chesapeake Beach MD (USA)

Ariane Audet
Tracey, Chesapeake Beach MD (USA)

For my first daughter, we have to go back 22 years. I was an unwed mother - we didn't do that thing. She was three weeks early, mind you, and the only one of my six kids I got the epidural with. It was my first baby, in the middle of the night, I was so scared. She came and she had the biggest cone head. It was so scary. Breastfeeding was awful. If someone had warned me about the pain before that, I might have been able to do it a little better. I lasted only three weeks with her. Then of course as soon as you stop you're like feeling terrible. There was also a whole bunch of other stuff that wasn't baby issues. The father was telling me she wasn't his - but he had a tattoo of her on his back! He was there for a good three weeks after she was born doubting it. I do remember being put on medicine with her because I was definitely ready to jump out the window. She also had colic, which I don't really know if colic is really even a thing, but it might also just have been me, stressed, and single mummying it. Maybe she was just feeling my vibe. It's always the mom's fault anyway. I don't really even know if it was anxiety or depression because of everything that happened personally and with her father, or if it had something to do with her. But once she got passed that whole colic thing and that period of time which was so hard to adjust, it's when she started to get cute and do things. She would laugh and start to sit up. Eventually her dad came around, but only when I started dating somebody else. He was saying things like "No other man will raise my baby," that type of thing… We moved out of my parent's house and got ours. Then I got pregnant with my son.

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The only thing I recall from my postpartum with him is that when he was born, his ears were curled up so I used to tape them. I would go over at my brother's house in North Carolina because he'd just had a baby girl and him and his wife would yell at me, saying I shouldn't do that, so they made me stop. He was one of the best babies I would say. Breastfeeding with him was so much easier, but I went back to work when he was eight weeks old and the whole pumping thing wasn't a thing back then, so my boobs just dried up. That job didn't last very long though, maybe two months. After I stayed home and did the whole daycare in the house so I could be with the babies and make money. I don't remember feeling depressed with him like I had with my first. But then when he was six months old, I found out I was pregnant again. A baby girl. I remember calling my mother in law and being so upset and telling her I didn't know how to tell the father. I don't really remember his reaction but he stayed so I guess it was fine. With her, I had a precipitate delivery - like under an hour. She came so fast and I remember the doctor saying she wasn't breathing right. She had a hole in her lungs. I don't even think I got to hold her and she was being airlifted to Baltimore, taken away from her mother, three hours after she was born. I didn't take any time off from the daycare and went back to work the next day. I guess I was probably not mentally stable to do that. She stayed in the NICU for about a week and then we got to bring her home. She was the best baby ever and not to mention one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen in my life. Astoundingly beautiful. I breastfed like four months with her. Then six months after her birth, I was pregnant again. I laugh at myself now, but before I wouldn't have. I think about having babies after babies, and what it does to your body and to your mind… I also had other things in my life, bills and an irresponsible husband who was not spending money wisely. It just made it so much harder.

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About a month before our fourth kid was born - another girl - my third had to be hospitalized in DC. We were out by the time the baby came, but when I got to deliver her at our local hospital, one nurse asked me if I knew I was running a fever. I didn't. So, I have her - I pushed like three times and she was out. My mom and dad were there, all sort of people were there because it was a time where there was no regulations for how many people were allowed in the room. It was crazy. It's only after I was by myself with her that I realized she felt really warm. I told the nurse and she told me they would have to move her because she had a fever. I was like "What do you mean you're going to move my baby? You can't move this one too!" She just needed antibiotic because she had a bacteria called morganella that you only get in the hospital - which we didn't learn until later. So, they take her and it turns out she is transferred to the exact hospital I stayed at a month ago when I was there with my other baby. Obviously, that's where I got the bacteria and passed it to her, and now, there she was! She stayed over there for two weeks. I probably did take a week off from the daycare this time and we took turn at the hospital. It was hard to say the least. Then when she was two or three, I got separated. That's a whole other life. People always ask me how I did it and I'm like, "Who else was going to do it?" I did keep my daycare. We moved, the kids went with me, and I met somebody else.

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We had dated for quite some time when I got pregnant with our son. When we met, we were married to other people. I was separated, but he was not. None of his family knew that I was pregnant or even when I had the baby. This whole period is a bit iffy because I was dealing with a married man and his whole back and forth, not knowing, and not living together as this family I'm envisioning of myself. Strange shit went through my head for sure. But it all ended up working out anyway. When our son turned one we all moved in together. Then I got pregnant again. I didn't know I was pregnant. I was actually trying to lose weight so I switched birth control and in the midst of switching, I become pregnant. She came two or three weeks early and ripped me - a seven-inch tear inside. I was losing a lot of blood. All I can remember is 'I'm dying and I need to call my mom so somebody can take care of this baby.' I had to get blood transfusions and seriously almost died. Then after, we were both in the hospital for almost a week because she had jaundice. At the same time, a week in the hospital when you have five kids home… it was wonderful. I couldn't share her with other people. I didn't want anybody else to touch or change her. I wanted to breastfeed forever with her. She completed my whole life. But when she was five months old I found out my partner was cheating on me with somebody. Of course, people were looking at me like "Duh… he cheated with you so why not?" But I thought we were soulmate. I don't know, my whole world changed after that. That kind of spiraled me into this deep dark depression and I quit breastfeeding because I dried out. I stopped eating, stopped drinking. We're still together. But it took a long after that to even… anything. Anyway, I got my tubes tied after that, because of the traumatic birth. That was one of the hardest surgery I've had. It just took a toll on my body. It was horrible timing probably, so soon after her birth, but I knew it needed to be done.