Mama, you are stronger than you think
Updated: Jul 30
BY GUEST WRITER, KRISTIN HANDFORD
I absolutely loved being pregnant. Yes, there were aches and pains, as well as nausea, fatigue, and the trials of a Hong Kong summer. But I had my little nugget growing in my belly and I felt empowered and in awe of what the female body can do. I worked as a personal trainer for the whole nine months. I was strong, healthy, and plugging along towards (and then past) my due date.
Labour was medically induced at 41 weeks and 5 days; membranes were swept, waters were broken, but after a long day, my beautiful son was brought into this world.
He was born via an emergency cesarean. It was not the plan… it was pretty much as far from the plan as we could get – but as long as the baby is okay, right?
Wrong. A mother’s wellbeing is also important.
As it turned out, I was not okay. It became evident after a few days at home that my cesarean wound had a doozy of an infection. I was rushed to the hospital, where I stayed for the following three weeks.
Breastfeeding was important to me, it was the life preserver I clung to in an attempt to make my experience a little more “natural”, when everything else had become so very unnatural.
Our early days consisted of pumping every 4 hours around the clock, and direct feeding during visiting hours. I saw my son for 2-3 hours most days, and it was gut-wrenching to be apart from him.
On top of the pumping, I had a serious wound infection to battle.
And the battle was real.
I was brought to a treatment room once or twice a day for “cleanings”. These were horrible, and to make matters worse, I did them without the suggested pain medications so that I didn’t have to pour precious breastmilk down the drain.
Instead, to drown out the pain I listened to Bob Marley…
At the end of my third week in the hospital, I had surgery to debride and close my wound. This time, when I woke from the general anaesthesia – damn right I took the morphine!
The weeks were emotionally and physically difficult not only for me but on my husband too, but you know what? We made it through.
I tried to remind myself as frequently as necessary that I had a lot to be grateful for.
If I allowed myself to focus on everything that had gone wrong, it would have completely robbed me of finding any enjoyment in my day, and it certainly wasn’t going to help me heal.
Instead, I practised gratefulness and found joy in the little things like sneaking outside to feel the sun on my skin, sharing a bubble tea with a friend, or finally getting to wash my hair.
We survived those tough weeks, and have been breastfeeding for ten months so far.
When I feed my son now, I feel strong and empowered, knowing everything that we went through to make it a reality.
When times get tough, as they invariably always do, remind yourself of the following:
You can do hard things.
You are stronger than you think.
This will not last forever.
About the author:
Kristen Handford is a breastfeeding mama and a certified personal trainer and has recently launched pre and postnatal services.