What Picture Are We Seeing?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I can put 100 people in a room and show them a picture and you can bet that you will have 100 different depictions of what was going on, but only the photographer truly knows what was happening at the moment he/she was taking that picture. We can all speculate, but that is all it is, we don’t truly know the story.

I tried for 3 days to have a natural birth. I was induced on Friday at 3:00 PM and after two rounds of Cervidil, two rounds of Pitocin, a cook’s balloon, breaking my water and bouncing on a ball for hours on end, my daughter only got to be 3 cm. If I did not want to have a natural birth (yes medicated, but natural on the other end) do you think I would have gone through that for my sweet girl? I tried everything I could, I was swollen, they were pulling needles out and I was no longer bleeding and finally, Monday morning at 4:00 AM when her and my heart rate dropped for a second time and they had me getting oxygen, I started crying asking for a C-section. Unwilling to go through that again, I did not want a VBAC, my baby’s health was more important than my birth experience, so I scheduled a C-section for our second child, I did not think twice about it because I knew it was best for me and her.

With both girls I did everything I could to breastfeed. My first daughter would not even try to latch. We sought lactation specialists and she would not even look twice at it. The postpartum depression was so bad, we had to stop because I was beating myself up. Fast forward to my second daughter, she latched, but I wasn’t producing enough milk for her. She would nurse for hours and still be hungry. I would pump and pump and barely anything would come out. As the depression made its way back again, and the emotions got to me, we had to stop again because she wasn’t being fed, and she needed to eat.

I know so many women who tried everything they could just like I did in both of these situations. They worked so hard, but guess what, it just didn’t happen. Me, I will never have the chance to breastfeed again, and it breaks my heart, but my child is fed and happy, so what would I rather have?

We as women around April fools, post reminders to be careful about your fake pregnancy announcements, because you never know the pain and suffering of a woman who so desires to have a child but cannot. We love them, are there for them and remind one another to be sensitive to this. Why are we not doing this with every aspect of motherhood? Why are we not encouraging one another for just making it through the day in one piece? We like to pretend we have it all together, but not one of us does, because no matter what, at one point we were all a first time mom, afraid of something happening to this little life we are now in charge of.

When we see a mom bottle feeding, we assume she didn’t try hard enough or was too lazy to really seek help and do what she needed to do to breastfeed. We don’t look deeper at the pain in her face as the other moms pop on their covers and begin to have that beautiful emotional attachment with their children that they so desire. Instead of lauding on their workforce for being a nursing friendly environment during National Breastfeed Week and the fact they are able to pump without fear of missing work time (which one of my amazing sorority sisters posted about for her National Breastfeeding Week and I thought it was fabulous), we post things like breast is best and go on and on about how much better it is then formula. We all know breast milk is the best thing for a baby, but what we don’t see is the mom who is reading that Facebook post thinking she is a failure for being unable to breastfeed her child and once again condemns herself thinking maybe she really didn’t try as hard as she could. We miss the feeling of fear as she pulls out her formula. We don’t hear the shakiness in her voice as she tries to explain how difficult it was to breastfeed and how hard she tried. We miss the fear as her baby is losing weight at doctors’ appointments but she feels like she is feeding all the time. We miss the mom who feels like a failure because she couldn’t produce enough milk and her baby is still hungry. We don’t see the frustration of a woman who just pumped for over an hour and barely got an ounce of milk. We fail to see the strength of a mom who knew her baby being fed was most important and gave up the dream of breastfeeding so that her baby could be healthy.

When we see a mom with an abdominal brace, we think to ourselves, another C-section happy doctor, or a woman who just wanted to make sure she could have the baby around her schedule. We miss the hours of agonizing pain trying so hard to have the baby naturally, and the fear in her eyes as doctors swarm the room flipping off switches because her baby’s heart rate is dropping. We miss the tears as they wheel her back into the OR, that her birth story that came with immediate skin to skin and those precious moments in the delivery room of holding her baby for the first time is now gone. We fail to see that they held her baby up over a sheet, wiped her sweet little one off and then out of the OR went daddy and her new little one, she was all alone, on a table, with no one. We miss the scheduled C-section because of medical problems, or because it is just too risky to have a VBAC for her and the tears streaming down her face as she kisses her husband and any other family member’s goodbye and walks back to the OR by herself. We never get to see the fear in her face as she sits on a cold operating table while people go about their day talking about their weekend, all the while she is praying nothing goes wrong. We don’t see the tears as she can’t change that first little diaper because it hurts to bend over. We miss the strength of a woman who had to come home to not only take care of this brand new life, but herself after a major surgery. We don’t see the everyday struggle of just caring for her children while she is in so much pain. We don’t watch her husband helping her out of bed, helping her walk or even helping her lower herself just to be able to sit down. We don’t get to see a strong woman who is pushing through the pain, sometimes without medication so she can try and breastfeed. We see what we want to see.

Why can we not be sensitive and loving with our posts for these women just as we are with those who are unable to conceive? Why must we all have the same experiences? Why can we not be happy that each and every mother is doing their best to take care of their child? We are all moms, we are all doing our best, and we all need encouragement.

Every day, I wake up to my beautiful girls, hold them, give them kisses and listen to baby giggles, then I proceed to put my pants on one leg at a time and care for my child the best way that I can, giving them all that I have, just like every other mother is doing, no matter how they had them or what kind of milk they get. Let’s pretend, for one day, we are all united under one common goal, to be a mom that loves and cares for her children, because at the end of the day, that is all that matters, and that is the picture that I hope to capture every morning, no matter what someone else believe the backstory is.