The beautiful Becky Durling and Clementine (10 months).
Becky says that she spent her entire life wanting to be a mother and then when it happened her, pregnancy was so much harder and more traumatic than she expected, but says that being a mother is even more wonderful than she could have imagined. Becky learned she had conceived unexpectedly on her very first day of work as a nurse, six days before her wedding. While she had always wanted to be a mom, it felt like the timing could not have been worse.
She says that her first trimester was challenging - adjusting to her new life in the midst of intense fatigue and terrible morning sickness. She felt better in her second trimester but says that sickness was replaced with "mind-numbing terror". Becky works on a high risk obstetrics floor and every time she had a patient dealing with a pregnancy complication she was convinced that exact complication was going to happen to her and that her baby was going to die. "I had always thought I would love being pregnant and would cherish the time, but instead I could barely breath with because of how afraid I was. I also kept thinking that once I reached X weeks I would stop being afraid, but it never happened".
By 30 weeks, Becky says that she wasn’t even excited about the baby anymore because all of her thoughts were constantly saying she was going to die. Finally, at her 36 week appointment, when her cervix was still nicely closed, she breathed a sigh of relief that she was going to make it to term (37 weeks) and would be able to avoid the NICU. 3 days later at 36 weeks 3 days at the end of a 12 hour nursing shift, her water broke while walking to her car and she turned around to go back to the hospital, this time as a patient.
Becky was devastated that she wasn’t going to have the delivery she wanted. While she wasn't able to labor at home, the delivery itself was relatively uncomplicated. A midwife friend who worked at the hospital came in and was an amazing help for her. She ended up getting an epidural which she had wanted to avoid, but was so anxious and tired that she hoped it would help her sleep and relax even though contractions were only moderately painful at that point. The epidural worked perfectly and she was able to rest. She spent the remaining time laboring happily with her husband, mother and mother-in-law. Becky enjoyed pushing and says that this part of labor felt so much like running a marathon —incredibly hard but immensely satisfying. Even though she was positioned poorly, Becky was able to push her out in an hour.
Clementine was placed right in Becky's arms but within the first 30 minutes they decided to take her to NICU due to concerns with her breathing. Becky felt like all of her fears were coming true. Clementine was healthy, but Becky says that the 5 days she was in the NICU were the hardest of her entire life. "That first night I woke up at midnight and felt this primal urge that I had a hold my daughter (we had already been back and forth multiple times for skin-to-skin), so my husband and I went on the 5 min walk to the NICU and when we got there her nurse said that she had just fallen asleep and I shouldn’t disturb her. In hindsight, I should have insisted because I know that skin-to-skin was the best thing for both of us in that moment but I was so hormonal and emotional I couldn’t stand up for us and just went back to my postpartum room and I cannot describe how incredibly awful that feeling was".
Becky says that Clementine breastfed beautifully, gained weight like a champ, and slept a lot, but she continued to have a difficult time because she kept reliving the NICU experience and feeling so angry that I had not had the delivery experience she had wanted. She also kept feeling like her body was still supposed to be pregnant. "I also kept having the completely irrational thought that she was never going to hit any developmental milestones because she was born 4 weeks early. But then at 8 weeks old she did her first social smile right on time and I suddenly realized that everything was ok and that I had this amazing, perfect and healthy baby - from that point on my mood lifted and I was suddenly happier than I had ever been".
"Awareness of postpartum depression is growing, but there is still less awareness of depression and anxiety disorders during pregnancy which is one reason I wanted to participate and share my story. In addition, because of my perinatal anxiety and depression, I never got maternity photos taken or newborn photos, this seemed like a good way to celebrate how happy Clementine and I are now."