Brittney's Postpartum Story

I was so sad that I couldn't feed my baby or have that bond with her that everyone talks about. It felt like I had failed. Meanwhile, I had to go back to work at 7 weeks pp and I was just barely figuring out what she could eat. I now know that fed is best, but it still makes me sad!

Brittney Pohlen

Labor & Delivery

My water broke at 40w4d. It was 5am, I was sleeping and I had planned to go to work on this very morning. Being 4 days overdue was frustrating to say the least lol. It was comforting to know that my baby was finishing developing but I didn’t want 1 more person to ask me when I was due haha. After my water broke, I called the hospital and went in about 2 hours later. After finishing the dishes, grabbing a few last minute items and finishing my hair & makeup, I figured it was time to go in. It was very peaceful! Definitely not like the movies lol. After 13 hours of labor, pitocin, pacing around the hospital and 45 minutes of pushing, my sweet baby girl Harper Ann was born! I delivered her vaginally and she weighed 8lbs 3.2oz and was 20.5 inches long! 

During my labor my husband and I focused on the Duke game (March Madness) and it was a very calm atmosphere! Nothing like I had anticipated. All people had told me were horror stories of their labor lol. It was so calm. At this point I was pretty confident I could do this again! However, when it came time for me to feed my daughter, I couldn’t. Apparently there are 3 different kinds of nipples. There are normal nipples, flat and inverted. Well, mine is inverted. I hardly had anything for her to latch onto. After struggling for about 20-30 minutes of her crying, I asked the nurse what I was doing wrong. This is when I found out that our breastfeeding journey would not be easy. So I ended up having to use a nipple shield for every feeding after that. Let me tell you, nobody talks about nipples before you have a baby! The lactation consultant was on maternity leave and I felt confused and lost. I was assured that the nurses were amazing and “so helpful! Ask them anything” but I did not have the same rewarding experience.

Coming Home

After we arrived at home, the next week was a blur. Lots of crying, no pediatrician at the hospital to tell us how to feed our child and especially how much. They told us a syringe would be fine for a while. Well, she was starving by day 4 and I didn’t know what to do! My milk still didn’t come in and I had no clue what to do. She would cry so hard that she would start making choking noises. After my husband went back to work it seemed like Harper would cry before, during and after feedings. At this point I still didn’t have my milk in at 7 days pp. I felt like my body had failed me. I had every intention of breastfeeding and bonding with my daughter. My expectations were shattered. 
Now, rewind to the recovery of having a child. No one can describe the strange feeling that you get in your whole vaginal area. I felt liked I couldn’t sit down and the only thing that felt “normal” was to stand up and walk around. During the second week, I felt like I couldn’t even take care of myself. I was told to bathe twice a day, well that was didn’t happen lol. Harper was so fussy, stiff and crying a lot. Occasionally she would sleep for 3 hours but only if I was holding her, so I did just that. I didn’t want visitors, because to me it was so embarrassing that I barely knew how to get Harper to stop crying or let alone feed her. I felt so alone. 

Baby’s First Pediatrician’s Appointment

When we arrived at her first check up, she had lost so much weight that they gave me a bottle of formula to give her in the doctors office. I felt like a failure. Nobody had told me about this part of being a new mom. As the weeks went on, I supplemented with formula and combined my 1-2oz of breast milk that I was getting a day. When I would give Harper her bottle, she would suck, cry, suck, cry, it was a mess. It took almost 45 minutes to feed her 3 oz. I was exhausted and she was up every 2 hours. I eventually called my mom to come help me every single week of my maternity leave. I felt like I didn’t have the mental capacity to deal with the crying, I was barely eating, and definitely not drinking enough water. Which I know also affects my milk production. After being told by doctor after doctor that she was colicky and that’s how it was going to be, one doctor finally said “she has severe acid re-flux. She also has sores in her throat.” Talk about mom guilt.
I had been getting frustrated at this little baby who was in pain, but people told me not to worry. We started re-flux medicine that same day and I would say she improved around day 4-5. Now, in the midst of the craziness, I WAS able to enjoy some peace and quiet with her and get in lots of snuggles! But I had never heard from another mom whose baby had re-flux. To top it all off, we found out around 5 weeks that she has a possible dairy and soy intolerance. They told me that I shouldn’t even try and alter my diet. I was barely producing any milk and they told me she actually needed a very special formula called Elecare. It is an amino acid formula and the small amount of soy that is in it, it contains a protein that is broken down as much as possible. The only place you can purchase this is through a pharmacy ($60 for a 14oz can) or through Amazon but you have to buy a case of it.

Dealing with Mom Guilt

I was so sad that I couldn’t feed my baby or have that bond with her that everyone talks about. It felt like I had failed. Meanwhile, I had to go back to work at 7 weeks pp and I was just barely figuring out what she could eat. I now know that fed is best, but it still makes me sad! Especially when people would ask “does she nurse good?, oh you can feed her in here if you want!, she drinks from a bottle already?” Once we started the Elecare, Harper started vomiting. Not spit up, vomit. Hurling, gagging, profusely vomiting. It was a regular thing by week 7. We could not figure it out. She never had a fever at all, so they told me there was nothing they could do. At this point, we were told we needed to come to the doctor every Monday and Friday to see if she was getting better. 
Between all of the appointments, phone calls, and crying sessions, I could see my maternity leave dwindling. I didn’t even have time to enjoy the newborn stage with her. It felt unfair! I couldn’t afford to quit my job and stay home with her.
Fast forward almost 9 months. Harper is happy, her tummy is much better, she is off her acid re-flux medicine, I am dealing with my PPD only a couple days a week, we have started to incorporate processed dairy into her diet, she is crawling, and we are pretty much always happy 🙂
We think back to those frustrating months and wonder how people get “so lucky” with their first. Being a parent has been the most challenging yet rewarding part of my journey. Of course, I would love to go back and try again, but that is not possible. I feel like I could have been a better mother, but I think everyone experiences this with their first. I can’t wait to learn more and have a better understanding of how things might be with my second child. At this moment, the focus is still very much on Harper and I am content with one sweet child for now. 🙂 

Finding Something for Me

After reading through this, I feel like I could have focused on more positive things, but I will say them now lol. In July, I signed up to be a Beachbody coach. Now I look forward to my daily PD & devotional, my workouts, healthy meals and ME time. It felt selfish at first, but now I wake up before Harper to become the best version of myself that I can be for her. I am constantly putting her first and so happy that she is growing and healthy. Things could have been much worse! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my PP journey! I don’t tell it to most people unless they fully want to know. I keep it very short and usually don’t focus on the negative 🙂 But here is the real, raw story. 

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