Melanie Rickett-Henry (38), Ronan (8mo) and Audrey (3.5 yrs)
Photographed in Seattle, Washington
Melanie shares -
"Motherhood is not something I ever wanted to experience growing up. When I met my husband, Ed, he wanted children, and he convinced my left brain we to see what our genetics would result in. I always loved kids but feared I would fail as a parent so it was not on my bucket list. It took awhile to conceive our first child (Audrey) and it was a rough pregnancy. The birth was even harder.
Audrey was two weeks overdue and I was induced on a Friday morning at 5am. Everything seemed to be going okay until the pains of birthing became to much for me. I did accept the epidural after 7 hours of laboring and reaching the right dilation. My epidural wasn’t fully effective so I was in control most of the pushing. I was miserable and exhausted like most moms. It was determined by one am that she was stuck, my labor had stalled and I was regressing in my dilation. By approximately 02:30am Audrey was born.
Our story is most difficult postpartum. Auddie was born with a tongue tie but it was not caught until five plus weeks later. She didn’t latch and we both were constantly crying. I saw more lactation consultants and even a specialist at the children’s hospital. Finally she received a frenectomy, but still never latched. I pumped milk for 18 months and cried constantly.
This and severe postpartum depression lasted for months. It strained friendships and family relationships. Despite this all my husband and I banded together and repaired our family and became stronger with counseling. We loved our little girl so much and after years of discussion decided to have our second child.
We knew the risks of what may repeat. Ronan was much harder for us to conceive and we had to have medical help, but he was born via scheduled cesarean, healthy, with the coveted recessive red hair. I went straight back into my antidepressants under my doctors guidance. After our experience with tongue ties we requested he be screened the day he was born. He too received a frenectomy after a confirmed tongue tie diagnosis. We continued to struggle with breast feeding and had a repeat frenectomy at five weeks old. After those struggles, here we are today, fully breastfeeding!
Breastfeeding is the hardest thing. I fought self hate every time I read ‘breast is best’ articles and it added to my depression. It took time and for me to realize a fed baby is best. I could still have skin to skin bonding with my little girl despite her not latching and I some ways that allowed her to have a better bound with her father too because he and I could equally feed and bond with her. Postpartum depression is real and it’s important to know that there is no one right way to feed and nourish a relationship with your infant. We all find our ways and that is what makes us stronger.
I love the ideals behind this project. Reading all the different birth stories and postpartum stories helped me though my first postpartum depression and I’d like to share my struggles so others know they are not alone either. We are all unique and so are our stories, but the common thread is our love for our kids and the strength that we have to get through the tough times and enjoy the good times."