Donette Morris' Narrative Portrait
My pregnancy went swimmingly, my labor was almost comical but my postpartum symptoms kicked my ass. I was not prepared for such grief, no one had died - only my life as I had always known it.
I was 44 when I unexpectedly became pregnant. I had given up on being a mother. Beyond excited, I took leave at my job and spent the next 9 months taking great care of myself. I decided to deliver at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas due to a heart murmur concern. I was only willing to give birth in a natural childbirth friendly facility that allowed for no medical interventions.
On a Wednesday evening in September of 2004, I was on the phone with one of my besties, sorting through family photos, when I felt the first twinge of pressure down low. My friend said, “you might be going into labor”, I said “no, I’m not due for another week” and brushed it off.
I was hungry and decided to eat some chicken salad, which immediately came right back up. A common sign - my body was preparing for labor. I called my doula right away, she suggested I lay down and rest up for the potential long night ahead.
I called my partner, Doug, who was out with friends to let him know “it may be time”. He rushed home and was pulled over for speeding. Classic, right! They let him go after speaking with me to confirm that I was indeed in labor. When Doug walked through the door, I was hanging on my birthing ball and he called the doula to tell her “it’s happening”.
In between contractions, we prepped to go to the hospital. As I walked into the bathroom to get one last thing, my water explodes, leaving blood all over the walls. I yelled “OMG my water just broke and it’s everywhere – we can’t just leave this”. In tears, laughing, Doug assures me our cleaning lady will know exactly what happened and nudges me out the door.
All the way to the hospital, I’m pushing my feet through the floorboard, demanding “where’s the fricking doula, we paid her to be here when labor started! That’s when Doug confesses, “she is sick and is sending a sub”. “A SUB!” I barked. “I don’t want a sub, this isn’t how it’s supposed to go”. We get to the hospital and are met with the most enthusiastic and positive staff we could have ever imagined. My doula “sub” arrived to support and document our birth experience. Within hours and a couple of pushes - our beautiful Audrey was born.
I was high. All those good feeling hormones were pumping through my body, this was the best day of my life. During discharge the doctors and nurses warned me should I feel depressed to call them and I thought, who could ever be depressed after such an empowering experience.
Several weeks went by and I’m feeling great until the day the tide turned and I was left stunned and blinded to all the wonders of motherhood. It was like someone had turned off a switch. I didn’t want to go out. I felt confused and exacerbated. The change in lifestyle was too quick. The responsibility felt too heavy. I also started to have excruciating pains in my arms whenever I breast fed. It felt like a chainsaw cutting off my forearms whenever I’d pick Audrey up.
Every attempt to reach out for help was met by the suggestion that I should get on antidepressants. I refused, despite studies saying these drugs would have no effect on the baby through breast milk. I knew DIFFERENT, and that is when my journey into holistic healing began.
I started taking yoga classes to get more in touch with my body and changed my diet completely. I remember moments of lying on the yoga mat sobbing, releasing months of confusion and overwhelm. This was the point at which my postpartum symptoms began to lift.
Looking back at the first 18 months of Audrey’s life, I see clearly now that my body was speaking to me. I eventually found my footing and got into the swing of being a joy-filled mom. Had I found yoga earlier maybe I would have released all those feelings sooner and shortened the time I endured the emotional pain. The blessing from my postpartum ordeal was the inspiration that led me to my current vocation toward becoming a wellness practitioner focused on the childbirth process. Now as a yoga instructor, a doula, and a nutritional counselor I have the tools at hand to support women through the sacred process of bringing forth a new life. Soon I will be able to add the skills of a Naturopathic Doctor.
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