Ariane Audet

Josiane, Montréal QC (Canada)

Ariane Audet
Josiane, Montréal QC (Canada)

I became pregnant with my son while being on the pill. It was my second pregnancy that year using contraceptive methods. I had an abortion for the first and then got pregnant again, four months later. I actually had an appointment to get an abortion with him too, but I was too late in the pregnancy to terminate. I often joke that he imposed himself into our life, that he chose to be born and that was it! My twin sister and I got pregnant at the same time – she too was using contraceptives. She gave birth before me and told me everything I had to know! I spent my whole labor on the toilet. I always try to be as honest as I can and to laugh about what happens in life, and it really felt like I was pooping my baby, not giving birth to him. Then my labor stalled and I asked for Pitocin. I said, "This baby needs to get out. I’m hungry. I want McDonald’s." One hour later he was in my arms. I was also kind of mad that nobody had told me how painful giving birth would be. Your ass is literally splitting in half and your abs are nowhere to be found when it’s time to push. They say you forget about the pain. I didn’t. The day after my son was born and two weeks after my sister had her daughter, our parents told us they were getting a divorce. Perfect timing. After that, we didn’t really have any support. We were the firsts to have babies in our circle of friends. Our parents were divorcing, so no help there, and our partner’s families live far away. My sister and I work together and are both self-employed. We are co-editors-in-chief and fashion bloggers. Our partners are also self-employed, and for that reason, we didn’t have access to any parental leave. I took like, nine days off, and I was back at work. I never had that moment where you drive home with your kid and think, "Hi baby, nice to meet you! Let’s relax together and learn how to know each other." I was always in a hurry. There was this sense of urgency about everything.

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On top of it all, there was breastfeeding. I had someone come into my room at the hospital to check out my breast. She was like, "You have inverted nipples. Or kind of. You should try to pump, put your milk into a little bottle, and use a fake nipple with a lactation aid feeding tube so he can learn how to nurse." I did it, but it wasn’t working. I called somebody else and she said, "Maybe you’re not able to breastfeed because your son knows that, deep down, you didn’t want to have him." The shit people feel entitle to say… You are in the most vulnerable moment of your life ever, and somebody tells you this. You have no idea what’s going on with your body, you’re hormonal, and all you can think of is, "Why can’t I do it? Why can’t I give the best of the best to my child?" So, I pumped, but I gave him my milk through a bottle because fuck it fighting with him to put him on the breast. But I still felt the need to justify myself – like, this is not formula in the bottle, don’t worry people! My production was great. Like nine ounces on each breast. I didn’t sleep and I was exhausted, but my production was great! My sister and I are very active on social media. When we had our kids, it was at the beginning of Instagram, and we decided to be open about our lives and to be super honest about our experience. Of course, it opened the door to all sort of comments, good and bad. We always had received comments on our bodies, but it was way worse being pregnant and when we became mothers. I would post a picture of all the milk I had just pumped because I was so proud, and people would write to me personally saying, "Why aren’t you breastfeeding? It’s so much easier!" It sucked. I mean, why are you taking the time to send me a message about this? At the same time, it was important for us to showcase the reality of being a new mom. So we kept doing it.

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There’s a lot of talk about authenticity in social media, especially when it comes to motherhood. My sister and I would often write ‘Calls for Help!’ when we needed support. The other parents would freak out, like, "Why are you asking strangers to fold your underwear." Shit, I don’t want you to sniff them; I just needed help and I asked for it. After you give birth everybody’s like, "Never hesitate to ask for help! That’s so important!" but when you actually do it, they judge you. I mean, come on, let’s just be honest about how crazy and overwhelming this whole thing is! That and a bunch of other stuff led me to be super anxious. You always hear about depression, but postnatal anxiety is real. My sister has been battling depression for six years now and is very open about it. I know what it looks like. For me it was more… impulsive. I’ve recently been diagnosed with ADHD, but for the whole first year of my son’s life, I knew something was wrong without being able to name it. I never slept. Ever. Or maybe one or two hours of uninterrupted sleep, but that’s it. He would wake up often because he had reflux, because he hated the feel of pee in his diaper, or because he had colic. For months. I was so afraid he was going to die – I still am, actually. I also couldn’t stop thinking about what the lactation consultant had told me about him knowing he was not wanted. I kept repeating to myself, "You don’t deserve him. You don’t deserve him." I was so tired I had hallucinations. I remember one night I called my sister and told her, "I’m not sleeping because of this whole pumping thing. Maybe I could take a walk to the hospital and ask them for help. I could ask them if I can sleep there for a while." Twenty minutes later she knocked at my door with a bottle of formula and said, "Breastfeeding’s over. You stop right now and give this baby formula, or I’m taking away your pumps." It really helped.

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Now I have pills to sleep and deal with my anxiety. It’s good but I’m still super anxious. I have to stop thinking that I don’t deserve my son or that I’ll lose him. He’s so smart and nice. I think that’s the reason why I don’t want another kid or why I’m including him in every aspect of my life. Because of work, we are invited to a lot of events and I bring him everywhere! Again, people judge – "How dare you bring your four-year-old to Osheaga!" – but he’s super friendly and kind! My sister and I are successful. I’m not bragging but I’m proud of what we've accomplished. We are living a really fun life and I want my son to be part of it. Even if it means that he goes to bed later because we’re at a concert and people give me shit about it. The reason why we started our sites is because we didn’t recognize ourselves in other fashion or moms blogs. I never wanted to change the way I dressed when I got pregnant: if I want to pick up my son from daycare with a white silk dress on, I can. We live in a city, we travel, and we are very close to the cultural community, but we also openly talk about down to earth topics, like being on your phone at the park because you need a fucking break, or mental illness and abortion. There's still so much shaming. Abortion-rights is one of my priorities. It’s my body and I decide what’s going to happen in my uterus. And having one doesn’t mean it’s not hard. We don’t talk enough about the aftermath of having an abortion and then becoming a mother. We also don’t talk enough about the right to have a kid and then getting an abortion after, for whatever reason. It’s challenging for a lot of people to hear that. So, I know our blogs are not for everybody, but I also know that they helped a ton of women. Feminism somehow forgot about moms. I try to use my doubts and anxiety to empower others and offer a different perspective. Nobody’s life is perfect and motherhood’s fucking tough. We’ve got stop judging each other.