The amazing Malana Anderson with her sons Linden (4) and Banyan (2). Malana never wanted to be a mother but when she was 32, she and her husband both realized they wanted to have a baby. She was surprised to get pregnant right away and had a wonderful pregnancy. She had planned for as unmedicated and intervention free birth as possible and found an OB in Alabama that was fully supportive. Her water broke at 38 weeks and she called her doula right away. After laboring at home for about 20 hours she decided to go to the hospital and learned she was only 3cms. She decided to get an epidural so she could rest and woke up feeling ready to have her baby. She ultimately ended up delivering Linden vaginally but in the OR just as they were about to call it and deliver via cesarean.
Linden latched right away and was the most gorgeous, peaceful thing she had ever seen. She says he never even cried except for a little sneeze and the entire time they were in the hospital he continued to be so relaxed and sweet. When they got home, however, she says, "the shit hit the fan". Linden screamed constantly and was entirely inconsolable - she felt like she was poisoning him with her milk. She had heard of colic but this went beyond any description she could find and was left with a baby that only slept 15 minutes at a time and screamed around the clock. They were all miserable and she didn't know what to do. Doctors said he'd grow out of it, friends told her that by three months it would go away, but three months came and went, then six months, then nine. Malana tried elimination diets, she had him evaluated for GI issues and nothing seemed to be the answer. At one point, she was only eating turkey and rice and even that was causing issues. The doctors suggested he may have silent reflux but they will never know for sure.
In the meantime, Malana was at a loss. She was angry, frustrated and found herself in a dark place. She would go to work and find herself taking the longest route home to prolong the time she was away from the screams still ringing in her ears. She looked for support groups and couldn't find anyone who seemed to get it until she met a women who held her hand as said she had been there. The only thing that would get her by for 15 more minutes was remembering that first moment she ever met him.
At some point, a shift happened. And Linden started screaming less and interacting more. While he is still amazingly strong willed and full of personality, things got so much better. When he was about a year and half old, she says that she and her husband's conversation shifted from "oh, my, goodness we're never doing that again" to "he definitely needs a sibling, right?" They figured they had paid their dues and decided to give it another try.
She got pregnant again right away and had another healthy pregnancy. At 38 weeks, labor began again but she still felt great and expected another long process. She prepped meals and decided to take a nap but when she awoke realized the baby was coming, NOW. They scrambled to get to the hospital and Banyan was born in the car in the parking lot. Malana says that the hospital treated them horribly once they got in as if they had broken the rules and had an unattended birth on purpose. They didn't want to circumcise and planned to delay vaccinations and the hospital went so far as to threatened to call child protective services because they weren't following their policies. They eventually got home without further issue and for the first two weeks things were bliss.
Unfortunately, at that point Banyan started screaming too. Malana says that he had more classical colic and "only" cried 5 hours per day but it still created such distress in their home. It always happened in the evening which meant that Linden had to learn how to get through dinner, bath and bedtime with little help from her. This time Malana struggled with breastfeeding and getting him to latch and stay latched. They continued to work through it and eventually his colic went away but at 21 months her milk dried up and she still wishes that they had been able to continue longer.
Malana adores her boys and is having a lot of fun at this stage of motherhood. She knows that at some point, distance will make the difficulties of the early months matter less but they will always matter. In that, she wants women to know that it is okay to talk about the hard times. She found herself understanding how mothers hurt their babies in some of their darkest times and felt like she was the only one who had been there. On the other side she knows that she wasn't alone; she says if her story, her honesty, can help even on other person through, then it's all worth it.