I Can Do Hard Things.

Thursday, June 11, 2015
A 5 day old Oaklyn and me as a brand new mommy
(This post was incredibly hard for me to write. My pride hates admitting my faults and weaknesses. After being inspired by other moms and mostly Gina Davis over at babybluemom.com I figured it was time to speak up and let other moms know they're not alone.) 

When the idea of getting pregnant came up, I was on board.
 Terrified, but on board. 
I couldn't wait to start a family with my high school sweetheart.
When I looked at that positive pregnancy test I was giddy, terrified, but definitely giddy. 
When I told hunter the news I cried. Out of excitement, joy, and fear. 
Every time I got nervous, Hunter assured me everything would be just fine, and I believed him.
 I knew we could do it, I was positive.
 My pregnancy was great. 
It was mostly easy and healthy.
I created a dreamy nursery, was thrown beautiful showers, had support from family and friends, and felt ready for her arrival. 
This baby was planned for, hoped for, and prayed for. 

Fast forward nine months and 5 days.
 We're standing in our home for the last time as a family of two. 
I had just labored at home for about 18 hours.
As excited as I was to meet Oaklyn, I couldn't help but feel so sad that our little life together was about to get turned upside down. 
And our little routine together was about to be completely gone. Forever. 
Maybe that sounds dramatic, but having a baby changes everything and a little piece of me kept thinking I just wasn't ready for those changes. 

Now we're in the delivery room. 
The nurse had just told me they were finally admitting me.
I was ecstatic that I would be getting an epidural to get the pain under control.
Then I looked at my husband. I started sobbing. But, I couldn't admit to him that it was because I was wishing we could go back in time...
To our wedding day, to yesterday, to any day but today.

Now, I'm pushing with all my might and suddenly I hear her cry.
 The doctor holds her up, I take one look and just lose it. 
She's here! Our dream came true. 
I looked at Hunter. He was giddy. 
Completely giddy. 
He was mesmerized and in that moment my heart grew three times bigger. 
Then, reality set in.

The first night in the hospital was and still is mostly a blur. 
A blur filled with cluster feeding and trying really hard to remember what the lactation consultant told me. 
Everything was sore. Everything hurt. And, my baby kept crying. 
Hunter was asleep on the extra bed. 
Every time I looked at him I cried. 
I wanted so badly to just jump in that bed with him and forget my new motherly duties.
 I was scared, but too proud to show it. 
I bottled everything I was feeling up and pretended like I was perfectly fine. 
The moments no one was looking, I burst into tears for no real reason. 
I didn't feel, or look like myself.
 I just wanted to go back in time. 

These first moments were supposed to be some of the greatest, why were they feeling like a bad dream?
I pushed myself to try harder, to do better.
But, that seemed to just make it worse.
Before leaving the hospital I was required to watch a few videos.
The topics varied from nursing to eating well.
The last one was on postpartum depression. 
I had the video playing, but ignored it.
"That's not me... that can't be me. I wanted this baby, I love this baby."
The video continued...
"Wait, I'm experiencing a lot of what they're talking about... no that's not me."

We got home from the hospital and I tried my best to hide my constant tears.
My mom came into town that night, thank goodness my mom came into town.
She kept asking me how I was feeling.
She kept telling me I was doing a good job.
She kept reassuring me that it does get better.
She held Oaklyn and let me sleep when I needed it. (even though I couldn't sleep even when given the opportunity)
She took me to Target a countless amount of times.
She made dinners and did the laundry.
And then it came time for her to leave.
The night before she left I lost it.
I burst into tears out of no where and I saw the fear in Hunter's eyes.
"I love her but sometimes I don't want her. I'm exhausted but I can't sleep. This whole motherly thing is not coming as easy as it should. I don't feel like myself. I'm anxious all the time. Why is this happening to me?? Help!"

My mom was able to delay her flight so that I wouldn't have to be alone until Hunter's mom came in town. 
We made an appointment with my OB, and I felt some of the tension leave.

I remember sitting on the table at my OB's office.
"Why am I here? I don't want to be here."
I remember my mom telling me to tell them everything.
Not to hide anything.
So, I did just that.
I had tears rolling down my cheeks, yet just getting it all out made me feel a little better.
When I finished he told me what I was experiencing was normal.
He calmed me down and made me feel like less of a crazy person.
I left that visit feeling uplifted and inspired.
"It will get better." I thought. "I know it will get better."

That week went smoother.
I felt like more of myself, but not all of myself.
"It'll come. It may take time, but I will be back to normal."
Then it came time for Hunter's parents to leave.
I suddenly felt incredibly alone again.
My fears and anxieties crept up again.
"How am I supposed to shower now? How am I going to get the laundry done and make dinner? How am I going to sleep? How am I going to eat??"

I had heard many babies cry in my lifetime.
It never really bothered me.
For some reason, Oaklyn's cry might as well have been nails on a chalkboard.
Every time I heard her cry I cried too.
Which was pretty much all day long.

Our days and nights felt like a full circle and went something like this:
Wake up about every 2 hours throughout the night trying to nurse. (Three weeks in I found out nursing was not in the cards for me so I then fed Oaklyn a bottle and then would pump in the middle of the night. It was quite the process), Lay there awake for an hour until my mind finally shuts down. Wake up for good around 7. Try to nurse Oaklyn. Get covered in milk because she could not latch for the life of her. Hear her scream because she's still hungry. Sit and pump while she is still screaming. Feed her a bottle. Hear her scream as I try to get her burps out. She falls asleep on my chest. I'm starving. Maybe she'll let me put her down for a second. She wakes up and screams. I run to grab a granola bar. I eat it as fast as I can. I pick her up and rock her. She falls asleep. I sit down. She wakes up and screams. Rinse. Repeat.

I'm a busy body. 
I love to go and do anything. 
But going and doing anything with my baby was harder than I thought it would be. 
If she cried in a public place my stomach would drop and I felt defeated.  
Just getting out the door was the real chore. 
It just didn't seem worth it. Yet I was going stir crazy staying inside all day long with a crying baby. 

I sat there crying and wondering why no one had told me the truth so many times.
"If only someone would have told me I'd be bleeding for six weeks after. If only someone told me that I'm not a failure for not being able to breastfeed. If only someone told me that it's hard. That The first few weeks are nothing but filling constant demands from a needy baby. Or maybe I'm the only one that feels this way... Maybe I'm the crazy one."
I was embarrassed for feeling this way and hardly spoke about it except to my dear husband that helped me so much. 
Thank goodness I had him. 
He taught me to rely on The Lord during the hardest days. 

It slowly got better and I was able to put her down for a little longer each week.
I spent the majority of my days praying that I would be able to figure this out. That I would be able to figure Oaklyn out. 
My fears and anxieties slowly eased as I gained some confidence each time I accomplished a small task during the day.
I was lonely. So lonely.
It felt like the world around me was going 100 miles an hour but my world was at a stand still.
Some days were definitely worse than others, but a few days I woke up recharged refreshed, and confident.
Those were the best days, those were the days I felt my old self coming back. 
My love for Oaklyn grew as she grew.

One day I woke up to her squirming.
I fed her, changed her, and went to get her dressed.
I began talking to her and telling her we were going to have a good day together.
I noticed a difference in my tone of voice. 
I noticed my body language was different too. 
I looked down at the changing table to see my pretty baby staring straight into my eyes.
I smiled at her, and she smiled back.
I immediately cried.
Only this time, it was out of happiness.
"I love her. I can do this. I know I can do this."
That day changed a lot for me, every day from there on out seemed to get better.
And, it continues to get better.
We have "those days" still.
I still get lonely and feel intimidated by the never ending responsibilities motherhood brings.
But, it's so worth it to me.
I love my little girl.
Each new trick she learns brings me so much joy.
Her smiles never get old.
I love her, and I'm so grateful for her.

I don't know why this trial chose me.
I remember feeling, and still often feel, jealous of the moms that have no trouble bonding right from the beginning and adjusting to motherhood.
I often wish I could go back to those first few days with my brand new baby with the knowledge I now have, that it truly does get better.  
But for now, I'm trying to share what I've learned with others that have gone through the same thing or currently are going through it. 
It's nothing to be ashamed of.
It feels like it is, but it's not.
You will get through it whether you have PPD, PPA, baby blues, or are just having a really hard time adjusting to motherhood.
It's also incredibly common. So if you feel alone, you're not. 
My husband gave me the best advice after one of my longest days...
"Pray to Heavenly Father and tell him that you have accepted this trial he has placed in your way. Ask him to help you learn from it, and to overcome it. If you just sit there and dwell in it, it'll never get better. He wants to help you."

He did help me. 
I can honestly say now that even though the times I just spoke of were easily the darkest days of my life, I am beyond grateful that I have been given the opportunity to be a mother. 
I love my little Oaklyn. 
I love being her mama. 
She is my greatest blessing. 

All my love,
Aleigh Joy


  1. Thank you for this post. I really love it. My son is 5 and a half months old and I went through much of this. I wasn't able to breastfeed like I planned and pumped instead for the first 2 and a half months. I felt like a failure, and I too wanted to go back to the pre baby days. It definitely does get easier with time.

  2. This was an incredibly brave thing to write about. I've been (quietly) following your blog for - wow - maybe two years?! I have no idea how I found it but I want to tell you I was so happy when I saw Oaklyn was born and is healthy. I'm not a mother (yet) but I already know when the time comes I will remember this post. I don't know you personally, but I'm really proud of you for sharing this. It's a wonderful thing for all other women out there to know they are not alone. Thanks for sharing Aleigh and stay strong! Oaklyn is lucky to have you as her mother :)

  3. It's true that we feel alone in this but are definitely not, thank you for sharing your story! ..The advice your husband gave you can be applied to many other situations, love it!