The Journey of Michelle Villarreal Leschper

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When I was pregnant with my first child, everything was a dream. I dreamed of what kind of mom I would be, how spunky and fun my daughter would be, how we would breastfeed and have time to bond, and nothing would be “that” difficult.

Then, I pushed an 8-pound baby out of my vagina.

My daughter wasn’t ready to come out, but she was at the cusp of being too large for a vaginal birth, so I was induced. That made my labor long and at times complicated. I pushed for nearly four hours, had an episiotomy, but still tore. Recovering from a third-degree tear was excruciating and it seemed to get much worse before it got better. I couldn’t sit right for weeks, and I was trying to figure out how to breastfeed and pump to build a milk supply because I had to go back to work at 7 weeks postpartum.

With each passing day, my body healed little by little, but my stress and emotional levels only increased. After I returned to work, I forced myself to pump three times a day. I walked out of meetings and didn’t answer a ringing phone, all to get a couple of ounces of milk for my daughter, that she seemed to be sucking down quicker than I could pump it out. My body also wasn’t fully healed, so I would occasionally get sharp pains and couldn’t sit for extended periods.

It was a lot to take in and a lot to handle, especially for a first-time mom. I often looked at photos and videos of my daughter while I pumped at my desk, in an attempt to produce more milk. It only made the emotional wave stronger.

At some point, my pumping times turned into crying sessions. I sat at my desk, pumped, and sobbed. I often called my husband, and while he had words of encouragement, I kept telling myself that I went back to work too early, and that I needed to be home with my daughter.

I was sad, upset and angry. I felt guilty for leaving my daughter.

I reached out to a therapist and it was one of the best decisions I made for myself. I didn’t have postpartum depression, but I did have the baby blues and stresses of being a new mom.

The therapist helped me cope with all the guilt and the string of emotions that went with it. We worked through setting small, attainable goals for myself, so I didn’t feel so overwhelmed. Once I started to achieve those goals, I started to enjoy life and my family.

I didn’t feel so alone anymore.

It took three months, but my body finally healed. My mental health took a little longer, but things did get better. My husband became my support system and took on responsibilities to help in any way he could. My parents, my sisters and my friends were also right there whenever I needed them.

If there’s one piece of advice I can give to a mom, it is to ask for help – and not just when things become overwhelming. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you a real mom.

From one mom to another, we all need a little help every now and then. We will support you!