my truth • motherhood

by chelseakyaw

Even before becoming a mother, motherhood was a part of my life. Motherhood is a part of every woman’s life whether or not we have children of our own, and I’ve learned the truth of this through talking with other ladies. At one point or another, almost every gal has had to defend her experiences and wishes to someone about their involvement in motherhood. In future posts, I’ll get a little bit deeper into that, but to avoid runoffs and tangents, I’ll stick to my story.

I’ve always somewhat (maybe to a weird fault) been open about my life through social media. Some people choose not to share much of their life, but I like to. It’s easy for me to connect with others without the stress of in-person contact as I’m a huge introvert with awkward tendencies. Sorry everyone! :) Openly discussing issues surrounding mental health is really liberating to me, and a lot of cool people are in my life due to that openness. Before getting pregnant, I knew that I wanted to document my pregnancy in this blog; It began mostly for myself but along the way, it was a way to connect with a lot of other people and mothers. It’s still weird to me when people call me brave or courageous or things like that, because I never ever (and still don’t) label myself as such. Honestly, being open like this has oftentimes made me feel like a huge complainer and seeming desperate for help or for attention. Maybe I am. Who knows?

My Story • Possible trigger warnings //

It’s hard to pick an exact point where I feel like “my issues” began. To preface a little bit, I’ve always been a really anxious person. I have struggled with a lot of depression in my past and have also gone through some eating disorder issues (for lack of better terms). I’ve always personally thought my experiences could have been worse, as in others definitely have this a lot worse so I shouldn’t talk about it and blah blah blah. Anyone else? I’ve since learned that regardless the intensity, if it’s something that affects you negatively, it’s real and validated. I knew with this kind of past, I was definitely susceptible to baby blues. That’s honestly all I knew. I literally knew nothing about anything that could go wrong with pregnancy, and I think that’s a lot of women.

But I definitely had a plan and knew exactly how I would handle it. I would just be happy and push through it and maybe use oils and thank goodness I’ve got a supportive husband and yada yada. I was also going to get my placenta encapsulated (which never happened because meconium). I could laugh at past me; I was so. naive. and so ignorant to things. Anyway, we got pregnant right away, it maybe took two months of trying. Nowadays, I am tenfolds more informed on the reality of infertility and conception struggles, but I had not a damned clue while we were trying. We also announced our pregnancy immediately because i knew if something were to happen, i would need a community to support me. Immediately after our positive test, i became filled with dread on the thought of how my body would be affected by my pregnancy. It wasn’t just a vanity issue, it was bigger than that. Around the six week point in my pregnancy, I had some bleeding. Arnold and I went to the emergency room and after an ultrasound and some tests, a heartbeat but a diagnoses of placenta previa. Yes, my baby was alive but knowing a handful of things could end my pregnancy was really stressful. I was just shy of bed rest. I wasn’t allowed to have sex or exert myself much more than walking. It really fucking sucked.

I remember being vocal online about how stressed I was and all of the suggestions from other people. There are a lot of issues that you just don’t know until you know. Truly, people do mean well, but we all know how things sting. I was told to be grateful. Sometimes we live in a world where our struggles don’t matter because the fact of being grateful rings higher? Uhhhhh. that’s bull shit. You’re okay to complain and have problems and your feelings matter. I was given ignorant advice about working out. Sure. I’ll just bleed and cause a miscarriage and i’m going to get fat and this is terrible. I already hated being pregnant. I ended up gaining 75 pounds because I couldn’t exercise and ate my feelings. It was my own fault. I did this to myself. But there were a few people who reached out to me and confided that they had similar issues. THIS. this is the best part about being vocal and the reason I’m doing this. Connecting with people who feel and experience what you do will heal you.

Forest came into this earth like a banshee and the last 19 months have been testament to this. I have been challenged in more ways than I thought possible. it’s funny because if your baby isn’t anything but happy and a perfect nurser then it’s definitely something you’re doing – that’s how I felt anyway, and a lot of the suggestions I received were for me to change this or this or that or blah. It could also mean that he’s unhealthy or has this or that problem. We’ve been to countless different pediatricians and have tried everything ranging from my diet to different parenting techniques and I can say with confidence that I did my best. Forest is thriving. He’s so healthy and he’s meeting and exceeding every developmental mark. It’s taken me a long time to realize that some kids are spirited and will be a challenge, you know. Like some adults are ;) He takes 100% of me and as a SAHM during the day and working at night, I have very little time for self care and it’s taken a huge toll on my well being. Things like that also have put my marriage through hell. We are still together, but having a kid has been the biggest test. I’m thankful that we choose at the end of the day to stay together and not hurt each other, but we definitely fight a lot, argue, and have discussed separating.

I remember about six months PP, i went to my doctor for a routine check up. It’s funny because you fill out a questionnaire and that’s supposed to tell you if you have a problem or not. EYE ROLL. I was told what I was feeling and going through wasn’t “that bad” and according to the questionnaire, i had a low chance of exhibiting postpartum depression. Really? Like, I’m coming to the doctor and describing my feelings but also feeling like I can’t be completely honest or my baby will be taken away. After that, I never went back to get help. I still haven’t gotten “help” and I think the fear that I will be told it’s not that bad compared to others really holds a heavy weight in my heart. Even after a week of hearing the stories of other women, I feel like I should be happy despite the fact. I still haven’t gotten the help I feel like I need, but I’m trying and doing things every day to be a better person, wife, and mother. It’s just more to balance than before.

If I could go back and tell myself one thing, it would be to embrace what I’m feeling – good or bad. That no. matter. what. my feelings are justified and I will find a way to get through it. I think sometimes i’ve felt guilty for being so sad because a lot of people do go through worse. That’s hard but I’ve always been a huge advocate for not comparing your experience to others. Don’t judge other people for their problems because you truly just don’t know until you have gone a mile in those shoes.

Photography and writing heal me. They allow a creative and productive outlet when I didn’t know what to do. I hope that by opening my heart to others and gathering with a group of kick ass women, we can all talk and learn and not feel so alone. I can’t wait to share with you some other kick ass ladies!!