“But wait. Postpartum. That part is coming again. And now there’s even more stress. Toddlers to chase. Single motherhood to navigate. Grieving through a divorce. This time was supposed to be different!!
Those thoughts raced through my mind quite a few times once the idea of divorce settled in. I couldn’t help but have flashbacks to the God-awful first go-round with my daughters. It all came flooding in and the anxiety was building.
‘How selfish could I possibly be? Bringing children into the world, when I’m so ill-equipped to take care of them. Who do I think I am? What have I done to these poor babies? How fre*king selfish!’
I can hear and feel those thoughts in my mind like they just occurred a second ago. Sobbing on the bathroom floor while my twin newborns screamed. They raced through my mind somehow in slow motion.
The hospital sent me home with a paper that said ‘may experience tearfulness.’ YEAH RIGHT! What a joke!
Noah’s Ark could have sailed off on the tears I cried over those first 8 weeks. I was alone as their dad was working non-stop and being a military family, we lived so far from any support system. The tension was so high between us and he slept through every middle-of-the-night scream. It wasn’t worth trying to get him up anymore anyway.
Breastfeeding was horrendous. It provided no solace to them. The second they’d come off the boob, they would scream. The physical pain was excruciating for weeks. I was encouraged to pump after every single feeding which left no more than 20 minutes between feedings.
Sleep while the baby sleeps? How?! How?! Especially if they prefer screaming over sleeping!
The physical and emotional pain truly felt like too much to bear at times. Then I’d finally get them to fall asleep in the baby carrier. I’d hear them snore and breathe. I’d feel their chest rise and fall on mine as their hearts beat. I knew I could get through one more day for them. Just one more day.
5 weeks in, it was like a light switch had finally gone off. I decided it was time to release the insane mom guilt of breastfeeding. My girls needed a happy healthy mama more than anything. I get them a full bottle of formula, and they were the most silent and content I’d ever seen in the 5 weeks of their life earthside. I cried the loudest cry of relief and knew I did the right thing for my babes and I. It was at that moment I released the pressures and expectations I believed the rest of the world put on me, I put on myself, and decided to show up as whole as I possibly could for them no matter what that looked like.
You see, when we found out it was twins we were instantly thrilled! No, they don’t run in our family and yes, conception was ‘natural.’ We were shocked, to say the least, but I truly never felt overwhelmed or disappointed or scared. From the very beginning, I was excited and ready to take on this new challenge.
I jumped right into finding a doula, researching hospitals, attended a 12-week intensive natural birthing class, breastfeeding classes, and books. You name it, I educated myself on it and felt so prepared for what lied ahead.
Of course, my OB wanted me induced by 36 weeks. With all the extra ‘care’ that comes with a twin pregnancy, especially in a hospital setting, they were bound to find something they were concerned about. Supposedly Baby A was ‘growth restricted’ and they wanted my girls earthside ASAP. I told them I’d allow them to induce me at 36 weeks, 6 days, and 23 hours and tried EVERY trick in the book to get them out naturally before then.
After two failed rounds of Pitocin, artificial rupture of membranes, and my begging for an epidural, my beautiful girls were born safely and vaginally 18 minutes apart at 37 weeks exactly.
I’m not sure if any ounce of the preparation I did could have prepared me for what that postpartum experience was going to be like, but I sure do wish the possibilities of it were talked about more. It’s an isolating, scary place. The more it’s openly discussed, the less isolating and scary it can feel.
I’m grateful to say I didn’t have full-on Postpartum Depression, but those first 2 months or so were some of the worst days of my life I truly thought I’d never get out from under.
Low and behold I survived! I’m sooooo much stronger from that experience and am beyond grateful for every piece of it. So much so I’m 38 weeks pregnant with a baby boy, and my girls are coming up on 2.5 years old. Although the toddler tantrums almost spark PTSD in me from the newborn stages, this age is truly magical and it’s so fulfilling to see them learn and grow and become more like little humans every day.
A lot happened between that bottle of formula and today. I truly went through an awakening of sorts that is hard for me to even put into words.
The struggles between my husband and I never did seem to dissipate completely. I struggled with anxiety and found myself alone with Pinot Grigio more than I knew I should have been. As the tension in my relationship grew bigger, I knew I had to reel it in even more and put my attention on bettering myself in any way I could to be a better mom, wife, and person.
Before I knew it, I was completely sober, vegan, invested in a healthier lifestyle, and learning more about a natural, holistic every day. I even ran a 5k! I had never run in my life, and the very thought of it made me sick to my stomach, but somehow it was that very feeling that told me ‘you gotta do this!’ It’s amazing what having children can do to your priorities, isn’t it?
I learned about the power of essential oils and low-tox living. I started a fre*king business with twin infants at my feet! I started connecting more spiritually with my higher self and the universe as a whole. I had done a complete 180, and I truly believe it was all divine intervention.
Although I believed my marriage was getting better at the time because of all the positive changes happening, that didn’t prove to be true. At 6 months pregnant, having just moved our family across the country to be restationed, my husband informed me he wanted a divorce. He had no desire to try and work on things anymore, and it just ‘is what it is.’
To say I was devastated is an understatement. Confused, angry, resentful, disappointed, and numb were just a small few of the emotions I felt in those coming weeks. The ins and outs of the details of the divorce are too long for my pregnant fingers to type through in this post. I thought after all this time, all the growth I had experienced within myself would only lead to a happier, healthier marriage. I truly never could have guessed what all of that growth was really preparing me for. Turns out, it was leading to a whole new beginning in so many other ways. One with endless possibilities.
I’m still grieving. We’re still in the process of figuring out this whole ‘co-parenting’ thing. It’s still so hard and emotional some days. However, I see the divine timing in it all. I see so much positive coming from us parting ways as individuals and as a family. Of course, it’s going to come with its fair share of challenges. We’ll have to work hard to put our egos to the side to make this work in the best way possible, but I have so much faith that it’s exactly the direction we’re meant to go.
Crazy as it may sound, I feel even more prepared to welcome this little man into the world. Even with the chaos, I know I can make it through anything the birth and postpartum period throws my way.
The growth as a human being I’ve experienced over the course of the last couple years as a mother has been so profound. It has completely reshaped how I think, feel and act on any given day. It starts with me putting myself first. I invest in my own physical, mental and emotional wellbeing before even thinking about getting my kids out of bed every day. It requires me to get up a little earlier and practice discipline as often as I can, but the result is a joyful life even when the going gets tough. Isn’t that all we ever want?
I’m the furthest thing from perfect and never want to be. I lose my patience way more than I would like and Cocomelon is playing on TV more than I want to admit, but I work hard every day and invest in myself and my own wellbeing first and foremost.
If there is one major takeaway from the last few years for me it’s we MUST put ourselves first! It sounds counterintuitive in a way, especially as parents but it’s the most impactful thing we can possibly do!
We can not pour from an empty cup, nor can we expect others to fill our cups for us. Wake up, fill your cup in whatever way works best for you & get ready to make the day your B!%$#!
You deserve it. Your family deserves it. The world deserves it.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Robin Ellen Mercado from Pensacola, FL. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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