I can’t remember the correct timeframe, or how old she was. Everything is such a blur when you’re a new Mum.
But I had just come back home from one of baby girl’s Maternal Child Health Nurse check-ups. They are so frequent at the beginning – they visit you at home a couple of times, then there are weekly visits, they go to 2 weeks and 4 weeks and 8 weeks… maybe it was even MORE frequent. I can’t remember.
I think some things you choose not to.
I had been trying to breastfeed her for so long. She was just so little, and still learning. She was soooo little. Born at just under 2.5 kilos, she truly was a doll.
I had been told at the previous visit, based on her good weight gain with the formula milk I had been giving her, that I could try to wean her onto the breast, and rely less on the formula.
Which is what I did. It was really hard, and that is a whole other story, but I did it.
So when I came for my next MCHN check-up, the nurse was surprised to find… she had actually dropped in weight.
A couple of hundred grams is a lot when your baby is only weeks old. The nurse was actually quite nice, not judgmental, and didn’t question my tactics… yet I saw the concern on her face.
She suggested perhaps my breast milk wasn’t strong enough. Try some cheese, a handful of almonds before you breastfeed, she said.
She looked at the previous record and this current one, repeatedly, comparing the two and wondering if there had been a weighing error the last time.
She tapped her finger against her chin, thinking of what to do, wondering what was going on, and scheduled me to come in and see her again sooner than was necessary.
Through my haze of confusion and intense worry, I could see the answer, and yet it couldn’t come forth for me to speak up. It was too far away to catch, distant amidst all my sleep deprivation, anxiety, intense mood swings, and adjustment to life that I had not been prepared for at all.
I had only been somewhat prepared for the labour. That was it. None of the BEYOND. None of the important stuff.
I thought I had turned a corner in my breastfeeding, and that finally, I had succeeded at something. To have all of that questioned, to hear that my little baby girl was losing weight, NOT gaining weight as needed, especially as she was so petite, was the tipping point.
I don’t know how I drove. A friend was desperate for a group catch-up. I hastily wrote “it’s not a good time at the moment.” And I went home and bawled my eyes out.
Baby girl was asleep. I remember sitting on the table near the kitchen, feeling so alone. Those first few days, weeks, months, ARE LONG. You are waiting for your husband to come home, to help you, relieve you, hug you, love you, and tell you it’s going to be ok.
They go to work every day. Oh how lucky they are to leave those walls. To walk out the door and go back to some sense of normalcy, to speak in proper conversations with actual adults, when all the while you are dying at home and wondering when it will all end.
I was sitting there, and actually begging. I was begging God to send me someone to save me. I sat there crying, feeling so alone, and yet unable to reach out and call anyone.
It’s awful that in our worst moments, we are unable to reach out. To ask for help. To seek advice, a shoulder to cry on, and a listening ear when it is most dire to our wellbeing.
I was an absolute mess for what felt like the longest time… but maybe, it was really about an hour. Watching the clock, crunching on almonds, hoping someone would call, or Hubbie would come home early.
Soon, the phone rang.
Help had been sent. It was my sister.
She listened to my tears. We worked out what I had tried to grasp earlier, but couldn’t amidst the shock of the news. The formula was heavier than the breastmilk. She naturally dropped in weight as I went to exclusively breastfeed her, and within time, it would go up again.
She would regain it all.
And she DID. Being at one of the lowest percentiles at birth, can you believe this petite angel of mine is now in about the 90-95th percentile in height and weight?
People constantly tell me how tall she is for a 4 year old.
I never would have imagined.
But this is not the moral of the story. It’s got nothing to do with the breastmilk, early Motherhood or even how much you should listen to nurses…
It’s all about the sign. The help. The call out.
I had called out, and I had received help.
I’ve always believed in something greater out there… and this to me was further proof.
I don’t know what has gotten into me lately. Something is not right. I can’t get excited. I don’t know what it is, or why or how this has come, because I didn’t think, other than the normal crap that life sometimes throws at us, that I had anything that was weighing me down.
All of a sudden, I was DOWN. Not in the gravitational pull sense.
I mean FLAT. Uninspired. Losing interest. NO focus.
I don’t like to use this term casually, but even… DEPRESSED.
I started to worry. Was this a hormonal cycle thing? Was I just having a bad day?
I woke up after my first bad day, my DOWN day, and… was still DOWN.
No interest. Lacking motivation. Feeling hopeless, for no apparent reason at all.
When I realised I wasn’t looking forward to anything, I started to worry.
Because this wasn’t like me. I always had something to look forward to. Even when I was sick I’d be looking forward to getting better. I would even look forward to work, believe it or not. I had many things to look forward to, and even amidst shit people and events and spanners thrown into the mix, I would find a way to look past all that and look forward to something bigger and brighter in the future.
I think of things now, and my mind goes blank.
I actually have no reason to feel this way… that concerns me too. Nothing notable or significant has happened to make me feel this way, and yet there is this niggly, annoying feeling at the back of my mind, there is something weighing me down, making me feel moody and lowly and telling me that all is not right.
It is a scary place to be.
I didn’t ask for ‘help’ while I was at work yesterday. But I was thinking a lot about the state I was in, and getting upset and emotional within myself. Because each time I spoke to someone, and they asked me how I was, I felt like I was trying to convince myself, more than I was trying to respond to them.
“Yeah,” I replied nodding, thinking. “Good.”
No, I was not GOOD.
I went through these emotions, this thinking, ALL DAY, trying to get myself out of the funk, to no avail.
And then without any kind of request, other than me asking myself “WHY?” a series of small interactions occurred.
Because within a 5 minute period, as I packed up my belongings for the day, I came across three women. Not necessarily women I see or talk to often at work either. And all three of them expressed great interest in me, in how my life was going, and they had such big smiles as we spoke, that it was hard to not get affected.
Now don’t get me wrong, a simple chat wasn’t enough to take me out my funk. I was still a bit helpless. But I had gained a bit of something that I talk about often here.
I don’t know why, but that series of small chats made me feel like there was something, or someone, trying to get through to me and lift me up. Those three women were thrown at me, so unusually, and with such force, that it was difficult to deny that there was something other than divinity at work here.
Someone or something, had responded to my unanswered question.
Life can be hard. No, Life IS hard. We are fortunate when we call out and receive a response to our cry for help.
Other times we may not ask, but we get assistance in unspoken form.
And then there are times, when we need to seek it out ourselves.
There is no shame in asking for help, or telling people we feel like shit. It actually takes all the courage in the world.
And whether you believe in a higher power, a greater good, or NOT, that is also ok… as long as you seek what you need when your soul is crying out for it, because every now and then, we all need a lending hand.
And maybe, just maybe, you have somehow been led to this post, and I am lending my words of advice, my experiences, and my Hopes for something greater, to YOU.
If you or someone you care for needs help, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or click here.
Photo by Paola Chaaya on Unsplash