The Ups and Downs of Motherhood
Becoming a Mom
As Mother's Day approaches, my own journey to motherhood has been on my mind. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I wasn’t expecting to be as sick as I was. I had severe morning, noon and night sickness throughout my entire pregnancy, and during the entire nine months I held onto the idea and goal of having an unmedicated delivery. For some reason, I felt that that was the gold standard of giving birth and after enduring such crippling sickness in pregnancy I wanted to achieve that goal more than anything else.
To my surprise, after my water broke at 3 am a week before my due date and I rushed to the hospital- my sweet girl had a large amount of meconium in her amniotic fluid. My options at that point were to stay in the hospital bed they assigned me to, or walk around. Both options included me being tethered to the IV pole and getting pumped full of fluids and my personal nemesis- pitocin.
A pitocin induced labor is not gentle, nor is it forgiving. Contractions were being forced on my body whether or not it was ready- and they were coming every minute to minute and a half with such force that I quickly climbed into the hospital bed to writhe around in pain. I mustered every ounce of strength, breathing and focusing to make it through the 5 hours before asking (begging) for an epidural. After all that time and pitocin induced contractions- I was only at a 2. Two tiny centimeters! Nothing had ever felt so disheartening.
My body eventually rallied and at the very last check before being wheeled off to a c-section, I went from a 5 to complete and ready to push within a ten minute span of time. Delivery was intense and fast, and left more damage to my pelvic floor than most of the nurses in the room had ever seen. This, all of it, was not in my birth plan. I was so relieved our sweet girl was here, but as I looked over at her while they were frantically tending to me- I noticed the hushed murmurs of the nurses and a call for NICU to come check her out.
To make a very long story short, my daughter was born with a very small abnormal growth of tissue near her right ear. At the time it was concerning and something we just didn’t even know to expect. Apparently that kind of growth can signify more serious brain related abnormalities in babies, so it automatically initiated a bunch of evaluations and tests to rule out any internal involvement, irregular brain activity, or impaired hearing.
Thankfully there were no big red flags with those initial tests. We had it removed fairly soon after birth and could joke about it once we made it past those initial days (we called it her Shrek ear)- but such was my introduction to motherhood- and a really eye opening awareness that just like life, motherhood is filled with the unexpected. If you’re reading this, you most likely have been struggling with plagiocephaly, torticollis, developmental delays or some mixture of things that were not part of your plan for your baby or your newborn experience. You may be no stranger to surprises and things happening in ways that are unexpected.
You Aren’t Alone
I want to offer you some encouragement as you are facing unexpected challenges in motherhood. First, you aren’t alone. Now that I’ve had 4 kids and have seen how amazingly unique each of their stories have been from the very first breaths they’ve taken- the one common denominator amongst them all is that motherhood is filled with the unexpected. All of us can look back at our own lives and see challenges we’ve faced, and our children are going to face hard things just like we have. Some of them face them super early- right out of the gate, and you are not alone if that is what you’re facing.
Handling the Unexpected
There are things that pop up in motherhood that just aren’t things we plan for. All of us will face something with each of our kids that just completely catches us off guard. Whether it’s dealing with plagiocephaly, or even something later like a teen calling you to tell you they were just in a fender bender after they just learned to drive, parenting in general is an exciting adventure full of ups and downs. It helps tremendously if we can let go of our own expectations of how things “should” be and accept what is really happening. Then we can show up for our kids and help them conquer whatever lies in front of them. As moms, we often set the precedent about how things will be handled. So let’s explore what that can mean as you may be dealing with plagiocephaly and torticollis.
No Mom Guilt
First- let go of the mom guilt. You didn’t cause this, and it won’t help you at all if you’re beating yourself up about your baby’s head shape. If someone else is adding a serving of guilt to your plate, it’s also time to excuse yourself from that table so you can get to a really healthy place and be able to take action in order to help your baby.
My oldest daughter did in fact have some neurological issues that didn’t show up until she entered preschool and elementary school, and the only way I could help her is by adopting a warrior mama mentality. If no one would listen to me at one doctor, I went to the next- until I found exactly the right neurologist that could help us.
I certainly had moments of wondering if I had somehow caused my oldest to have that Shrek ear and the eventual neurological involvement she did end up having. If careful contemplation of our own actions results in positive change that will in turn help our children grow and thrive, I’m all for it. But the real danger zone is when you find yourself constantly thinking about what has happened and wishing it was different, or thinking that you caused everything to go wrong. There is no way growth and forward progress can co-exist with those thought processes. So to kick it old school and throw it back to Frozen, it’s time to “Let it Go!”
What are You Going to Do?
You’re on the right path with your baby when you can stop second guessing yourself and keep looking for answers. Don’t stop until your mom gut tells you you are in the right hands. If anyone is telling you something isn’t a big deal, but that thing is causing you to lose sleep, constantly google for information, incessantly think about or focus on that one issue- it’s time to reach out for more help.
Show your kids you aren’t going to let this take you or them down. Our babies may not be able to talk to us, but they understand so much more than we give them credit for. So as you are dealing with positioning, or stretches that may be really uncomfortable- never underestimate the power of seeing your confident smile and hearing “You’ve got this” rather than seeing your worried expression and hearing something like “I know you hate this, I’m sorry”.
Give it All You’ve Got
The newborn stage is exhausting. And you’ve been through a lot if you’ve been dealing with Plagiocephaly and torticollis. So it’s really important to find the right level of giving it all you’ve got. For some, that just means asking for help. If you find yourself unable to stop crying, and just unable to find a way out of being stuck in the spin cycle of grieving what is happening- then giving it all you’ve got means being willing to bravely raise a hand and whisper “help”. If you need to talk to a friend and tell them you’re struggling more than you’d like to admit, or even if you need to talk with a professional about it- you are not too far down that no one can help you up. There are literally thousands of trained professionals who long to help people out of the exact hole that you feel like you may have been trapped in.
For others, giving it all you’ve got means going the extra mile to reach out and find out how to deal with your baby’s flat head or tight neck. Even if no one else sees it or is acknowledging that it’s a real thing. Trust your mom-gut and be willing to give it everything you can.
Enjoy the Reward
On the other side of each of the challenges you face as a mom, is a stronger, wiser version of you. And that version of you will then be able to turn and tell another mom “C’mon, you’ve got this”. Your children will also grow up seeing a confident woman to emulate- one that fights through the hard times and is brave enough to walk through each challenge to the other side. Strength is not forged through ease, it is born out of struggles.
You’ve Got This, Mamas!
If you need a boost, and some answers specifically around what you’re facing related to plagiocephaly, torticollis or anything baby, contact us today. We are here to help.
Written by: Kerri Covington, Parent Educator