‘I wondered every morning, ‘Is today going to be the day I connect with my baby?’: Woman shares motherhood journey through OCD diagnosis, ‘It does not define me’

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“There was nothing I wanted more in the world than to be called mommy. I dreamed of midnight cravings, ultrasounds, baby showers, and a growing belly. It took months to see those two little lines on the test. March 2013, just before we left the house to celebrate St. Patrick’s day with friends, the second little blue line popped up. We were having a baby! I was scared, excited, anxious, and utterly clueless as to what was coming my way.

pregnant woman looks excited while taking mirror selfie holding belly
Courtesy of Jaime Hunter
pregnant woman holds hand in heart-shape on top of her pregnant belly while wearing black and white tripped shirt
Courtesy of Jaime Hunter

After a routine ultrasound, I received a call from the doctor no pregnant woman wants to answer. ‘There were some abnormalities on your ultrasound, we need you to come back in.’ I was at work and fell to the floor. The nurse explained my baby had a very tiny head, and by the end of the call, I was left thinking my baby was going to have no quality of life. I had to wait three agonizing weeks to get the results of follow-up tests, only to find out my baby was perfectly healthy.

pregnant woman holds and looks down at belly while standing in front of a window
Courtesy of Jaime Hunter

On Nov. 26th, I went to my midwife for my last check-up before my due date, and begged them for a stretch and sweep to get the ball rolling. If you are unfamiliar with a stretch and sweep, it’s exactly how it sounds – stretching your cervix and sweeping the membrane. Sounds pleasant, doesn’t it? Trust me, it’s not. I went home and ate spicy food, pineapple, and bounced on the yoga ball for hours. Nothing.

pregnant woman holds big belly with both hands
Courtesy of Jaime Hunter

Later that day, things started to happen. My belly was achy, contractions began, and we called the midwife to come to check. I was nowhere near ready. They left and came back hours later. Still nothing. The third time was a charm, and when I was just a mere 4 centimeters dilated, they said it was time to go. 42 hours of labor, an emergency C-section, being put under general anesthetic, and waking up to a spinal headache makes for one heck of a horrible birth story.

This is how my life as a new mom started. I did not get to meet or hold my sweet baby boy in my arms until the next day. I met him by being wheeled to the NICU with a pillow behind my neck, high on Dilaudid and Percocet, and suffering from the most intense headache I had ever experienced. I could not lift my head. I could barely focus and my experience of breastfeeding for the first time was from a wheelchair. All I could think about was getting back to my bed to lay down instead of cherishing my first moments with my son.

mother holds her newborn baby boy in ICU after emergency C-section
Courtesy of Jaime Hunter

I repeated this process for five days—five days of crying, trying to pump a mere ounce of breast milk, no sleep, and an abundance of frustration. The doctors finally agreed to try a spinal blood patch to relieve the pain. I will not get into the details of what they do for a blood patch, but being extremely dehydrated makes for a very difficult procedure.

In recovery I laid perfectly still, listening to the beeping of the hospital monitors and praying for it to work. Praying my blissful journey of motherhood could begin. The problem is it never really began. My first days at home were filled with midwife visits, doctor’s appointments, and staying still with heating pads on my neck and my back. I wondered every morning, ‘Is today going to be the day I connect with my baby?’

Did I love him? More than anything I had loved before. I had (and still have) tremendous support from my family and my best friend. She had had her baby just a mere two days before me, and we were living the best friend dream. Yet, every day I would cover up the fact I felt so disconnected. Everything was ‘great,’ ‘fine,’ ‘I love being a mom.’ I was lying to them and myself, trying to force a relationship with my son that wasn’t there.

OCD postpartum mom holding baby boy at home
Courtesy of Jaime Hunter

Coupled with these feelings were breastfeeding struggles—I hated every second of it. It was painful, lonely and just wasn’t working out for us, but I followed the little voices in my head, which kept saying ‘Breast is best.’ So I kept trying and I kept forcing myself to do something I hated because I would be looked at as a ‘bad mom’ for not being able to stick with it.

I started down a dark path of self-doubt, nasty negative self-talk, and at times, wishing I had never had a baby at all. Looking back, I realized some of these thoughts and feelings started creeping in, and around the time I was 6 months pregnant. I have struggled for most of my postpartum life with anxiety, intrusive thoughts, fears of getting sick, and an incredibly difficult time with uncertainty. I had missed work, shut myself out, avoided situations most would find fun, and shed many, many tears.

After having my son, I started to become more vocal about these feelings and thoughts I was having. I talked to friends, family, and my doctor about this, and the general conclusion was ‘baby blues’ or ‘postpartum depression.’ I had heard of these before, but I never thought I would struggle. I was outgoing, active, and generally happy. Why was this happening to me? I wanted to know more. I needed a solution.

OCD mom smiling with toddler at an outdoor dinning table
Courtesy of Jaime Hunter

I started therapy and seeing my family doctor regularly, and after several appointments, I left with a prescription in my hand. She had diagnosed me with OCD. OCD?! I’m not tidy, I don’t like things lined up, I don’t flick light switches or wash my hand incessantly. I held on to the script for five months! I kept telling myself I didn’t need it, and I could handle this on my own. Until one morning I was struggling so bad, I couldn’t even bring myself to drive to the pharmacy. I had to walk.

I gripped the prescription so tight, and as I placed it on the counter, I felt so embarrassed. I felt ashamed and like everyone was staring at me. I crumbled when the pharmacist told me, ‘It will take four to six weeks for it to start taking effect.’ I needed it to work NOW. I couldn’t wait any longer; I was struggling and I needed relief. Eight years ago this May, I took my first dose of Sertraline and have continued ever since.

Mom diagnosed with OCD taking Sertraline pills
Courtesy of Jaime Hunter

From that day, I have spent hours learning and researching about OCD. I, like most, had the wrong idea. I hear the term overused all the time, ‘I’m so OCD. I like my shoes lined up like this,’ ‘I have OCD. My house needs to be clean all the time.’ This is NOT OCD. Instead, try using words like ‘anal-retentive’ or ‘particular.’

Someone who struggles with OCD has incredibly paralyzing intrusive thoughts, they get stuck in a cycle involving compulsions to only relieve the anxiety for a short while before it all floods back in again. The misconceptions can be extremely frustrating for someone who struggles with this diagnosis each and every day. I hesitated writing this post, but if I can change just one person’s language around OCD, then it’s enough for me.

mom diagnosed with OCD sitting down while her son gives her an Eskimo kiss
Courtesy of Jaime Hunter
mom diagnosed with OCD attends aa wedding with her toddler son
Courtesy of Jaime Hunter

I am a proud mommy to two beautiful boys, a step-mom to three amazing kiddos, a dog mom, and a small business owner. My OCD does not define me, it’s just part of me, and taking the step to find help, even when it comes in the form of little yellow pills, has completely saved my life.”

Mom diagnosed with OCD eats ice cream cones with her two sons sitting on stairs
Courtesy of Jaime Hunter
Mom diagnosed with OCD sitting with her two sons at the dinning table with a cake and candles
Courtesy of Jaime Hunter
Mom diagnosed with OCD sitting down with her two boys smiling and hugging at a hall with large columns
Courtesy of Jaime Hunter

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jaime Hunter of Ontario, Canada. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her website. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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