The beautiful Julianna O'Brien and Cooper (22 months)
Julianna says that she wanted a natural, drug free birth for as long as she could remember. As a person, she says, it just spoke to her - "I appreciate challenge, reject fear and like to try to embrace my inner badass." Julianna felt well prepared for birth and Cooper arrived after 7 hours of labor in which she felt strong confident, and in the zone. Shortly after Cooper's birth she began to feel an intense amount of pain that was eventually diagnosed as a vaginal hematoma. The hematoma swelled so big it opened her stitches from a 1st degree tear repair and the rupture caused her to loose a lot of blood. Although Julianna, enjoyed a natural birth, she had to go under general anesthesia for repair.
Postpartum recovery was incredibly difficult and Julianna began to struggle with breastfeeding. Cooper was unable to gain weight and they were back in the hospital when he was 2 weeks old with a diagnosis of failure to thrive. After deciding to pump exclusively and bottle feed, Cooper finally began to gain weight. She was so glad to see Cooper's health improve but was absolutely devastated by the loss of a direct breastfeeding relationship. Eventually, they all recovered but Julianna still has a lot of emotional trauma from the fear and anxiety that surrounded their little family during what she'd hoped would be a joyous time.
Julianna felt that she had been so focused and prepared for birth but entirely unprepared for the struggles that came during her postpartum period. Through it she learned much about expectations and to not hold so tightly to a vision of a perfect birth, recovery and breastfeeding.
"The struggles we went through as a family have made us incredibly stronger people. While I wouldn't have chosen that path, it's our story, we overcame it and are so incredibly happy today. Many of my struggles as I entered motherhood were because I didn't feel like I measured up to what I was hearing/seeing in popular culture about what a mother SHOULD be. I didn't fit any of those molds. I didn't particularly like babywearing or co-sleeping and I didn't feel at all conflicted about going back to work. I initially felt like these things made me a bad mom or that I didn't love my son enough. Now as I've grown and evolved through motherhood I've learned to cast off all these types and formats. What I do or don't do doesn't make me a mother - my strength, patience, and love does. I'm participating in 4th Tri because I think it helps to broaden that spectrum of what a mother looks like. We have all different bodies, passions, and styles and that is something beautiful to be embraced rather than something to divide into "good" and "bad" categories."