Ana Grullon (27) and Dominic (13 months)
Dominican Republic | Photographed in Toronto, Canada
Ana shares -
“I had no idea how much my body would change after pregnancy. I initially had a hard time accepting these changes and measured my “progress” every week in pounds. This continued until I realized that I was looking at my body the wrong way. My child doesn’t need me to fit into body ideals. I am not serving them by trying to be perfect. What they need is my physical and mental well being.
Four days after Dominic’s due date, I started to have an awful headache and I went to the hospital as a precaution. This led to my birth being induced and a number of scary interventions. Because of my slow progression I was increasingly given more Pitocin, which made my contractions stronger and very close together. I opted for an epidural because the pain was adding to my anxiety, especially seeing how the contractions were affecting my baby’s heart rate.
Their position was not ideal for a vaginal birth so after 18 hours of labour, being fully dilated and multiple failed attempts to manually move them to a better position, I had an emergency cesarean. I was only able to hold my baby for a minute or two right after their birth, but it was the best feeling ever to finally “meet” them. While Dad did skin to skin with baby and I was being sewn up, I started to feel unwell. I felt weak, was very pale and could barely hold Dominic in the recovery room. I was told it was normal, but I knew it wasn’t. The bruising on my belly indicated to me that there had been internal bleeding after the surgery. The next 5 days at the hospital it was a constant battle of trying to get the medical staff to listen to my concerns. They were more concerned about my ability to breastfeed my baby instead of my physical and mental well being.
One iron IV and two blood transfusions later I was finally home with a healthy baby, but I was far from being okay. The first few weeks postpartum were so much more difficult than I expected. Breastfeeding became impossible because of my low production caused by the anemia. My belly was incredibly painful, bruised and swollen from the surgery, which made it hard to sit or stand. I felt like I was failing my baby. I obsessed about my milk production and was pumping most of the day. I reached a breaking point and decided to seek help. After seeing a psychiatrist, I was prescribed antidepressants. It took months to start to see improvement, but slowly I emerged from the depression with medication and the help of my psychotherapist. I initially struggled a lot with the idea of being of medication, but by looking after myself I was able to be the mom I needed to be.
It is so easy to feel alone when we go through struggles. Reading the stories on 4th Trimester Bodies Project after my child's birth helped me not feel so alone. Sharing my story is my way of giving back and supporting this movement.”