After Breastfeeding Wraps, How Do You Reclaim Your Body?

Kids “of a certain age” are expected to stop nursing and sever all ties from what provided sustenance and comfort in the first years of their lives.

It’s been about a year-and-a-half since I’ve nursed my daughter. She is now three-and-a-half, well-adjusted yet prone to emotional outbursts, as many young children are. She also does and says things that are hilarious and worthy of being written in the book I am curating for her – a baby book of memories. I didn’t know it was going to become a thing.
“Hey nipple, nipple, nipple,” she says, flicking my nipple with her fingers as I am about to get into the shower. She pets my breast and baby-talks to it like it’s the cutest puppy she’s ever seen.
It is at once amusing and embarrassing. I’m not sure what to do here. This is my first parenting rodeo. What are the social norms? And are the social norms the ones we should be perpetuating? Years ago, a child would be told to stop, hand slapped away. Breasts are a person’s private parts. I open my mouth to begin that lesson.
But I stop myself. Breasts are such a natural thing. We are born with them and they have a use – a miraculous use. I don’t want my daughter to have weird associations, and I don’t want her to be ashamed. After all, men can walk around bare-chested without a second thought. In fact, this is something she recently asked about.
“Why are men’s breasts so small? Can I take my shirt off? I’m hot. You’re hot, mommy, take your shirt off. You’ll feel better.”
When she is emotional, she cuddles into me in the all-encompassing hug of the young – full body-on-body contact. When she is particularly fraught, she sticks her arm down the collar of my shirt. She places her tiny hand on my breast and her breathing slows and settles. Her heaving sobs stop. It relaxes her. She feels safe.
I was not breastfed myself. In New York in the late 70s and 80s, women worked and formula became popular, owing to its effectiveness and convenience. I never thought I would breastfeed. I actually never thought much about it. I was not exposed to breastfeeding at all.
Fast-forward 30-plus years: I lived in Seattle. The natural earth-mother community is strong there, and I hopped on board. Once I was pregnant, I thought, yes, I will breastfeed. I heard gruesome stories about breastfeeding difficulties and hoped I wouldn’t struggle.
Despite a terribly colicky infant, breastfeeding went on without a hitch. Nursing was, in fact, the only way to quiet my incessantly crying baby. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
When I was at the end of my mental tether and the echoes of her cries filled my every minute, I could quiet us both by breastfeeding. Airplanes, restaurants, day-time and middle-of-the-night – it was our quick-fix. I loved that I could provide this for her. In a way, my breasts were the reason I survived the postpartum blues and colic-hell I experienced after my daughter was born.
I nursed her for about two years. We weaned in the typical graduated manner: first putting a stop to nighttime feeds, then the pre- or post-nap nursing sessions, and eventually whittling feedings down to twice a day, then once. After I left for a weekend away, we were done. I put my shirt back on, and instantly, my breasts became off-limits.
Try this with anything else and you will understand how difficult that kind of bisection can be.
We expect that a child’s relationship to their mother’s breasts should cease. We would never take away a plush lovey in the same way. But children “of a certain age” are expected to stop nursing and thereby sever all ties from the thing that provided sustenance and comfort in the first years of their lives.
As my preschooler daughter still gravitates toward my breasts, what should I do? What is appropriate? And who defines “appropriate?” I am not making a case for when to stop breastfeeding. Some don’t breastfeed at all, some do for a few months, a year, or several years, and I believe all of those approaches are acceptable. But are we really expected to end the relationship between our child and our breasts in such a stark manner?
For now, I allow her to rest her hands on my breast if she feels she needs comfort. After several “here nipple, nipple, nipple” moments, I’ve explained that breasts are generally considered part of a person’s private parts. I’ve taught her that she is the captain of her own body, and we’ve had the discussion about private parts and genitals, and who can and cannot touch them. I explain that, in public, I’d rather her not touch my breasts.
My daughter is still really young. Eventually, she will reach an age where my body does not bring her the comfort she seeks. I don’t wish for that to come any sooner than it has to.

I Should Not Be Here, But I Am: A Survivor's Birth Story

I write this seven months later. It’s incredible how much has changed. I should not be here. I should not be here. But I am.

It was dark when I woke from a deep, dreamless fog. I used all of my strength to look to my left, because I aptly sensed someone beside me, and I knew who it was before I saw him. My husband sat on the edge of that chair they give guests, which is meant to be something you can sleep on, but is the most uncomfortable comfort-device in the modern world.
His eyes were so intensely focused on me, that he didn’t fully register I was awake at first. He had been praying, though at the time, I didn’t know what for. I guess it must be something to see your prayer answered almost immediately, because he gripped my hand harder than he meant to and cursed between apologies. I gave him a weak smile and, before I could ask what happened, I slid under again.
Two weeks before then, we began the long process of induction to welcome our daughter into the world. It took almost three boring days to really get labor going. Until that point, we watched countless families go in, have babies, and leave, like they had some VIP access to childbirth that we weren’t cool enough to get.
I was on and off the monitor to make sure contractions were still happening, and the baby was healthy. But other than that, I had free reign of the maternity ward. “Oh, you’re still here?” people would constantly ask, as I walked my usual laps with my husband, still visibly pregnant.
“If someone asks me that one more time, it’s their head on a plate,” I promised my husband on more than one occasion. I knew labor was some intense shit, but so far it was starting to advertise itself as a dull event.
Finally, after a membrane sweep, my water broke, launching me into two intense hours of active labor. I ended up having an intervention-free delivery, because there just wasn’t time for an epidural. My pain was overruled by determination right before pushing, and she came in one long push with no tearing. It was actually a very beautiful experience, and something I hold onto today.
It wasn’t until a few minutes later when everything went south.
While my husband and the doctors conducted routine vitals and cleaning of the babe, the nurse stood me up to pee. As soon as I was on my feet, two clots – one as big as a child-size soccer ball – fell out of me with a rush of blood. I shouted at my husband not to look, and the nurse laid me back on the bed.
My midwife performed a crude, emergency D&C (dilation and curettage, done to remove excess tissue or placenta) without any anesthesia. She apologized profusely as I bit down on my lip so hard it also bled. I cried out in pain. I have never experienced something so excruciating in my life, including the med-free labor I had just endured.
After my blood count climbed back up, they decided against a transfusion. The excitement ended two days later, and we went home. Life was as it should be with a new baby: exhausting, blissful, beautiful, and exhausting again. But after about a week and-a-half of heavy bleeding and abdominal and pelvic pain, I returned to the hospital for another D&C when an ultrasound found retained products.
At 9 p.m., after reassuring my husband in the same way doctors had reassured me, I went in for what was supposed to be a 10-minute routine procedure. My friend had been with me while I waited to go into surgery, because my husband needed to be at home with the kids. He was miserable and desperate to be with me, but I promised him it would be fast, and that I would be home a couple hours later.
We were wrong.
From 9 p.m. until the next morning, everything is grey smoke clouding my vision. I get snapshots of images or conversations, but when I try to hold onto them, it goes grey again. My friend said I rambled to her after my procedure – the 10-minute one that took me three hours to wake from only briefly.
They called my husband and told him he needed to be there with me. So around 5 a.m., his parents took the kids. That’s when I woke briefly to see him on my left, praying and watching and cursing his strong grip.
When I came to again, he was lightly sleeping on the edge of my bed, looking weary and aged. I saw tracks on his cheeks from tears I didn’t understand and shadows under his eyes that you could swim in. I had a hard time using my voice from the surgery’s intubation, but managed, “That was some party, I guess.”
He woke almost immediately and wrapped me so tight in his arms, I started coughing before more cursed apologies. I didn’t know I needed it, but being held by him felt like a long drink after days in the desert. He stroked my hair gently and asked if I was okay.
“I have to pee,” I managed. A nurse came in, removed my catheter (when was that put in?), and after five very slow minutes to the washroom four feet away, I was held over the toilet so I could go to the bathroom because motherhood is glamorous.
I barely made it back into the bed when the nurse said, “You’re ghost-white,” and I slid under again.
I was finally fully coherent by 11 a.m. I felt tired, but it seemed like passing out was finally done with. My husband was awake and more calm, and his face broke out into the brightest smile as he moved to the bed to ask how I was feeling. “I’m okay. Are you okay? Is Luna okay?”
He promised me everything was fine. “I’m okay because you are.”
“What happened?” I sat up slowly. My head throbbed.
“I don’t know. No one will tell me much, other than something about the D&C going wrong and your heart.” He looked worried again, but paged the nurse and asked her to find the doctor. About three nurses came in and out over the course of two hours, promising we would see the specialist soon. During that time, I was given an EKG (apparently my second one) and bland hospital food.
“You need to eat,” I told him.
It made him laugh then, because “Even when you’re like this, you’re still worried about us. I don’t get you.” After I nagged him, he finally said he would find hot food for the two of us, and left after handing me my phone. It was full of so many notifications, I just turned it off and tossed it on the counter.
When he returned, the runaround by the nurses continued. My frustration peaked to the point where I threatened to discharge myself and leave if I didn’t get any answers. Twenty minutes later, the specialist magically appeared.
“I’m the cardiologist on call. You have some questions for me?” His scrubs looked too nice for me to accept his ER-was-busy excuse.
“What happened to me?”
That’s when I finally learned everything. At some point during my 10-minute, in-and-out D&C, I hemorrhaged again. They couldn’t get it to stop at first, my heart rate spiked before crashing, and I hung out with my heart working at half capacity – 30 beats per minute, sometimes less.
“We were ready for you to go into cardiac arrest. I still don’t know how your heart made it.” The cardiologist reassured me that my heart rate, as of 9 a.m., was finally stable and climbing. I sat in bed, stunned, feeling shock slowly wash over me as my husband held my hand and tried processing how close we came.
“It’s a miracle you’re here,” the cardiologist said before leaving. “You gave all of us quite the fright.”
My husband and I prayed, and he called his parents after we spent an hour alone in the quiet together, soaking in what we learned. His parents needed help with the kids, so he very regretfully had to leave, but at that point I was fine and just wanted to sleep.
When I was stable for long enough much later on, they sent me home, but only after I pushed them into it. I needed to be at home with my baby, I insisted. Friends picked me up because they lived down the road, and I found myself downplaying what happened because I wasn’t ready to process it all. It remains this miracle – almost dying after giving life.
Three months of strict bed rest and constant visits by a cardiologist, a hematologist, an OB, and my own primary doctor passed. I was impatient and hormonal, weakened by everything and extremely low in iron. My husband and I went through a period where all we did was argue, then pray, because all of these issues were on top of the usual postpartum hell.
I struggled with depressive cycles, especially – as the hematologist explained – because extremely low hemoglobin levels can cause anxiety and lows. I tried to find the energy to be a mom to my toddler and newborn. I’m an athlete who runs, works out, and likes to keep moving.

A whole pregnancy of problems, 20 weeks of bed rest, postpartum complications, and three more months of rest all felt so insurmountable at times that I doubted whether they would end. It wreaked havoc on me physically and mentally.
So I kept talking. I saw a postpartum therapist, who coached me through it, and my husband and I focused hard on God and our love throughout the storm. And I’ve somehow come out the other side.
I write this seven months later. It’s incredible how much has changed. I should not be here. I should not be here. But I am.
My iron is still too low. They say it’ll take months for me to fully bounce back from everything that happened. During recovery, I had to be careful not to tax my heart, because it’s so fragile and weak. Even lifting laundry posed a risk. But now, I go jogging and take the kids on long walks. I’m on month three of my workout program, and have started hiking again.
I spend moments just appreciating and soaking in the love I have for my two girls. My husband and I are closer than we’ve ever been. I can lift heavy objects again, but exhaust more quickly because of my low iron. I’m still working on finding that delicate balance of caution and strength. So far, so good. My doctors have cleared us to safely conceive again in the future, but that’s a question we will leave unanswered for now.
Sometimes when I sleep, I can see the bed rails from the operating room as they wheeled me out after my procedure. Most of what I see is darkness, with a blurry spot of light where my hand reaches out to someone. I can’t make out who it is, but their grip feels soft and strong, warm and comforting around mine.
The image is so visceral that I’m sometimes convinced that it’s the thing that kept me alive – that it was me, having given life, reaching out and striving to hang onto my own.

Sometimes Motherhood is Keeping on When You Want to Run

The early days of motherhood aren’t guaranteed to be awash in bliss and contentedness. But it doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.

“Hard work makes a mother. We like to think something magical happens at birth, and for some, it does. But the real magic is keeping on, when all you want to do is run.”

Oh, to have heard this encouragement from a seasoned midwife on the BBC’s “Call the Midwife” while still in the throes of newborn-induced insanity. This instant “magic” that so many mothers describe never happened for me. The birth of my first child was mind-numbing – my epidural did it’s job, and more. When they hastily ripped down my hospital gown and plopped that waxy little nursling upon my chest, I cried, but I felt nothing.

What followed was a fairly typical saga of first-time mom recovery, complete with post-epidural complications, difficulty breastfeeding, oceans of unexplained tears and a post-labor, postpartum appetite that rivaled that of a varsity lacrosse player. I was sure I’d done something wrong – in those long weeks, I either felt nothing at all, or complete despair at my newfound calling into motherhood.

I am not unique. Postpartum depression is real, folks. Most mamas experience some sort of curious “baby blues,” and somewhere between 11-20% of those new mothers have what’s classified as PPD. I was never officially diagnosed, but I’m sure I landed somewhere between the normal emotional rollercoaster and full blown postpartum depression. The thing is, I didn’t stay there. Somehow, some way, slowly, I emerged.

Looking back, I’ve realized that it’s ok to secretly not love, and maybe even hate, being a mother at first. It’s a feat of olympic proportions just to give birth. Whether you did it like an all-natural birthing warrior goddess, had a calm, clean, and gloriously medicated birth, or had a crazy emergency medical situation ending in surgeries and sutures, these situations are all equivalent to running a thousand marathons in a single day.

And then, as your body – bleeding and leaking – attempts to heal itself, you immediately are required to begin the high-pressure task of keeping another human alive. “Time to feed,” the nurses yelled, barging into my room in the middle of the night, bearing no gifts except a wimpy, pathetic $800 ibuprofen disguised as “pain medication.” How does anyone ever have more than one child, I screamed internally, as I attempted to nourish this child with a body that protested producing anything more than the little life it had just given, sleeping peacefully at my bedside.

For some, this cocktail of pain, emotions, and delirium does not distract from the wonder of becoming a parent. For some, it is a magical, incredible, beautiful experience from the minute that sticky baby emerges. And for others, it simply is not. For some of us, it is a completely life-altering experience that feels devastating at first.

And that’s ok.

One day, after weeks of days that are nights and nights that are days, the tidal wave that was my postpartum misery slowly subsided. A friend came to my home 2 days after my first child was born and gently closed the nursery door. She assessed my general condition and asked me, in a hushed tone, after making sure my husband was out of earshot, if I felt like I’d made a mistake. She asked if I felt like screaming, if I felt like I wasn’t going to survive this.

Through embarrassed laughter, I cried tears of relief. Only hours before, I’d been contemplating marching back to the hospital and demanding a refund. This whole newborn thing was precisely not what I had signed up for. You’re going to be ok, she told me. It won’t always be like this, she said. You aren’t the only one who has felt this way.

I wish I could go back and reassure myself in those first dark days. I would remind myself that it’s ok that the sleepless nights, the constant feedings and changing and swaddling and shushing isn’t your cup of tea. It’s ok that you feel like you don’t know this baby, this small person that suddenly is in your charge. It really, truly does not mean you won’t be a good mother, or that you made a mistake having children. It means that you’re in charge of a tiny, helpless little maniac that will hold you hostage for a few months and then suddenly one day, without warning, that little dictator will smile or cough or sneeze or fart at you in the most amazing and incredible way that will fill your entire body and soul with a love that you never imagined was possible.

For some, that moment happens as soon as their slimy little babe is catapulted into this world. For others of us, it takes hours of rocking, countless diaper changes, infinite swaddle blankets and techniques and weeks of wondering if you’ve got what it takes to love this person, to carry on, to be an actual mother. For me, it took all of these, accompanied by hours of Googling absurd things like, “baby is still sleeping after 3 hours for the first time ever is this ok” or, “how to choose the pacifier that looks most like your nipple” before I started to feel like perhaps I may be capable of caring for my newborn son.

I remember gazing into my son’s sleepy, grayish eyes while feeding him one day, and suddenly his face changed. He gave me a knowing smile, like he was aware of all the upset his arrival had caused, and in that moment, I felt a thread of companionship, connecting us beyond just basic survival. I felt the first glimmer of pure, unadulterated love and infatuation for my child. It came slowly, but with each sniff of his sweet-smelling cheeks, it began to gain momentum. When he reached for my face for the first time, it grew, and as we passed the 6 week mark and the fussiness lessened, it grew again. Little by little, over those grueling first months, I fell hard for him.

In the years that have passed since the fog of brand-new motherhood cleared, the bond between my son and I has grown into something sturdy and enduring. It’s ok that it didn’t happen for us right away. The truth is, bonding between a mother and her child is unique and personal. It’s different for everyone—it’s as individual as each one of us. And most every mother will tell you that the bond deepens as time goes on, as she watches her littles become big. Because the magic truly is lost somewhere in getting up for the 4th time in one night, in cleaning the spit-up out of those adorably tiny fingernails , in changing a newborn’s clothes for the 8th time in one morning.

The magic truly is in keeping on when all you want to do is run.

Postpartum Depression? There’s an App for That.

A groundbreaking study of postpartum depression invites 100,000 women on 3 continents to participate via smartphone app.

Several sources offer postpartum statistics including the Center for Disease Control and the American Psychological Association. The numbers are troubling. Of the women who give birth in a given year, approximately 1 in 7 will experience postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum psychosis (PPP).

But those statistics don’t tell the whole story. According to Postpartum Progress, a national nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of PPD, those statistics omit two additional at-risk groups: women who miscarry and women whose babies are stillborn. Further, the CDC’s numbers account only for women in 17 states who self-reported having symptoms of PPD.

On their blog, Postpartum Progress explains,

Given the shame associated with PPD, it’s possible that some women didn’t report symptoms, while others felt that the symptoms described didn’t match their experience given that many women have postpartum anxiety.  Additionally, multiple studies have confirmed that in high-poverty areas the rate of PPD is as high as 25%. We’d argue it’s likely that approximately 1 million women each year will struggle with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder.

Putting these numbers in perspective,

More women will suffer from postpartum depression and related illnesses in a year than the combined number of new cases for men and women of tuberculosis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, and epilepsy.

And yet, only 15% of women with postpartum depression receive professional help. With so many women experiencing PPD, why do so few get the help they need?

Screening for Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Despite the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force’s recent revisions to postpartum screening guidelines, stating that women be screened for symptoms of postpartum depression during pregnancy as well as after giving birth, many physicians never do.

Lack of screening can be attributed to several things. Among them, inadequate staffing for screening and/or follow-up treatment, and the persistent stigmatization of mental illness.

The importance of proper screening and treatment is not only a matter of maternal mental health, but of the child’s mental health as well.

We know postpartum depression affects children’s development and puts them at a higher risk of future psychiatric illness.  In fact, maternal depression during infancy has a bigger impact on a child’s development than later exposure to maternal mental illness.

Enter PPD ACT, a study seeking 100,000 participants, the largest postpartum research endeavor of its kind.

PPD ACT is a research study developed by Postpartum Depression: Action Towards Causes and Treatment (PACT) Consortium, an international group of academic clinicians and scientists committed to understanding the interaction of genes and environment to predict which women are at risk of postpartum depression (PPD).

Mixing in with those academic clinicians and scientists from the likes of UNC Chapel Hill and National Institute of Mental Health is Apple.

Apple is providing a free app for the study’s data collection (available now for iOS, and soon for Android). Whether you’re currently experiencing PPD, or struggled with it a decade ago, you’re invited — encouraged — to participate in the study right from your phone. The app also provides information about where to find treatment.

Postpartum Progress refers to the women who’ve experienced PPD as “warrior moms.” An apt description for all who’ve battled maternal depression, anxiety, and even psychosis in stigmatized isolation.

With all that’s at stake, studies like PPDACT are crucial to understanding who gets postpartum depression and why. Information that will help to bring ever more warrior moms out of the darkness into appropriate, and sometimes life-saving, treatment.

Source: Pact for the Cure, Postpartum Progress, Center for Disease Control, American Psychological Association

 

 

 

 

 

How Does Oxytocin Impact Mother-Child Bonding?

A new study examines the impact of oxytocin levels on mother-child bonding, and what it might mean for baby’s healthy development.

Recent research regarding maternal mental health has prompted health care experts to consider that postpartum depression likely begins during pregnancy, and not after.

While the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, an influential government heath panel, now recommends that pregnant women be screened both during and after pregnancy, the factors contributing to postpartum depression, and its impact on a developing newborn, are still not entirely understood.

New research currently being conducted by psychologists at Florida Atlantic University considers, “how breast feeding, oxytocin and face-to-face interactions between a mother and her baby are impacted by depression and the mother’s oxytocin levels.

It’s commonly understood that oxytocin — a hormone with anti-depressive effects — increases during pregnancy and is also released during breastfeeding. Is this different for mothers who already suffer from depression? How does it impact the child? Nancy Aaron Jones, Ph.D. of FAU explains the various aspects of the new study:

…we are looking at oxytocin levels in pre- and postpartum mothers who suffer from depression to see how they differ from mothers who don’t have depression. Another novel aspect of the study is that we also are examining the oxytocin levels of the infant once they are born and how these levels change across development.

Why is this significant?

We are really trying to understand how these varying levels of oxytocin affect the mother-infant emotional relationship as well as the baby’s emotional development and their emotional bond with their mother. 

Jones continues,

In our previous studies on breast feeding versus bottle feeding and depression, we found similar patterns of brain asymmetry in the baby and the mother. What appears to be happening is that these babies are either inheriting or developing a pattern that is similar to their mother’s depression. They focus on the negative emotions and withdraw from stimuli as if they are withdrawing from the world.

The importance of the study lies not only in understanding which factors impact the mental health of the mother, but also the healthy development of the child.

If depression in mothers-to-be is not addressed and treated, these mood disorders can negatively impact the child’s well-being and the important mother-child bonding process.

Source: Newswise via Florida Atlantic Newsroom

How Finding My Tribe Helped My Battle With Postpartum Anxiety

In finding my “tribe”, the weight on my shoulders became lighter. I wasn’t alone. In fact, I never was. I needed to get out there to find that out for myself. I am so glad that I did. I hope every mom does too.

Getting to that restaurant had become my mission. It was late July in 2012, and very humid in Brooklyn. My two-month old was in his stroller with the canopy up. My two-and-a-half year old walked beside me.

I worried about them being out in the heat, but we had to get there. We couldn’t stay the way we were for much longer.

Just a couple of months ago, on Memorial Day weekend, I had given birth to my third child. Although Owen was an absolute sweetheart, I could feel myself slowly unraveling. After a bleeding scare in the hospital, I came home just “not right.”

I was anxious, worried and very overwhelmed.

I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I didn’t know how I was going to handle it all. I was very isolated, and rarely left the house.

I went to see my primary care physician who didn’t understand why I was having frequent heart palpitations. He failed to diagnose me with something that I would later realize that I was suffering from. I was in the midst of severe postpartum anxiety.

I was also still grieving. My firstborn, also a boy, died at nine days old. What if something happened to Owen too? What if something happened to my husband? My other child? Myself?

I was in need of some major support.

While birthing a baby is certainly magical, it can also be quite traumatic. I sought to be around others such as myself. I needed to be around my fellow moms.

Prior to this summer’s day, most of my exchanges with other mothers were from online forums. For a socially phobic woman such as me, they were helpful. However, they also contained drama that I simply did not need. I was in search of something more.

After a thirty minute walk, we finally made it. It was through social media that I had learned of this gathering. It was aptly named “Mommy and Me Lunch.”

As I walked in, I got butterflies.

I am painfully shy, so the sight of a bunch of women that I didn’t know put me into a panic. Who was I going to sit with? All these women seemed to know each other already. Should I just leave?

A woman named Joy, the organizer of the event, saw me and quickly introduced herself. Joy was as cheerful and vibrant as her name. She introduced me around. I calmed down a bit. We could do this.

I made small talk with a few women, and began to feel happier. I did it. It was a great accomplishment.

While there, I overheard a few women talking about a fabulous monthly event that involved reading a book and drinking wine. I vowed to be there for the next one.
I kept my promise. My night’s out were just what the doctor ordered.

The connections helped me realize that I was not so alone. I met other women and we talked. We were all different, yet so alike. Some of us breastfed, while others didn’t. Some of us worked full time, while others stayed home. In this real life environment, there was far less judging. We all sought to help each other. We were accepting. We laughed a lot. We enjoyed the well earned “girl time.”

Getting well was not an overnight process.

I saw a therapist that specialized in post partum issues. I promised to not be so hard on myself. The experience was not without many tears. It was very cathartic.

In finding my “tribe”, the weight on my shoulders became lighter. I wasn’t alone. In fact, I never was. I needed to get out there to find that out for myself. I am so glad that I did. I hope every mom does too.