What was it really like to be pregnant for 30 out of 52 months?

2018, 2017, 2014

That was 3 babies in 4.5 years – without any real help aside from their Dad and his Mother for a few hours a week. I really did not have much emotional support either. It’s funny how a few occasions in time can add up to a one-sided relationship for some. Two months after my first daughter was born, my Mother left for a 4 month trip.

I ended up only taking a 4 month maternity leave and my husband took the next 4 months. At the time, that worked really well for us until everything seemed to catch up to me. Going back to work that soon was probably a mistake.

It was exciting having babies but also very scary. I had 3 insane, fast Births which caused its own set of complications. Two of those were incredible experiences as they were unmedicated and easy. My daughters are beautiful, smart, happy and healthy.

However, after my 1st and 2nd babies, around 4 months later, the depression and anxiety fog became so thick. I almost lost my life to Addiction resulting from severe, untreated postpartum Depression that probably began 6 months after my 1st baby. I don’t think it ended until June 24, 2018.

Medicating that pain and trauma; along with extreme loneliness and exhaustion – became a necessity.

My past experience with pharmaceutical anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medications had always failed miserably. Recently, I obtained my legal ACMPR Status which is essentially a medical prescription for Cannabis. This was a choice I made to ensure I am accountable to my children but also the people who help protect them.

Motherhood without Emotional, Loving Support:

There is a huge burden placed upon any Woman and her body when she becomes pregnant:
Consider the changes you go through on an emotional, physical and spiritual level:

The energy, patience and love required to raise 3 under 5 can be extremely taxing. Without adequate support, self-care, time alone and of course – a loving relationship; it can become disastrous real quick. It was interesting as time went on because although our families were not involved in our daily lives physically, somehow their opinions were always front and centre.

I was encouraged to ignore my intuition on a regular basis in exchange for Old Wives Tales, Unsolicited Advice and 30-year Outdated recommendations for sleep, daily routines, feeding and proper Attachment building.

READ: Family Cohesion and Enmeshment Moderate Associations between Maternal Relationship Instability and Children’s Externalizing Problems

I’ve been practicing Attachment Parenting for pretty much my entire duration of Motherhood. I wore my kids and co-slept, breastfed and snuggled. We don’t spank or yell – I’ve had my moments believe me. I get frustrated like any parent and my kids know when this happens so of course they will react accordingly.

Thankfully, my daughters are extremely emotionally connected to me despite my Health challenges and Recovery. I know this bond is different than anyone else’s, I am their Mother. They are patient with me because they know I love them and have been there for them every single day of their lives in some way or they have been in the safety of their Father.

All of their needs are met, they are nurtured and feel happy, healthy and safe with either parent.

My 3 Girls – November 2018

It can be overwhelming and if a Mother does not seek treatment, she can absolutely burn-out. If the people around you rally for the other parent; supporting him as if he is the one suffering (no doubt he could’ve been in his own way) – well over time, it creates a Toxic Environment for any Woman.

Compiling all these stressors, obligations and burdens; you are now facing a serious situation. Everyone involved now plays a part in this even if they don’t feel they do. Resentment begins to build and no matter how many attempts one in Recovery makes amends – it will never be enough.

What was interesting about my period of Depression; is that so many people noticed my unhappiness but I kept saying “I’m fine.” It was obvious for so long I wasn’t but for many years; as long as my kids were fed, happy and healthy – all was well.

My needs really didn’t matter because in this life; with these people – the Mother is to be 100 percent selfless. That’s not entirely anyone’s fault – the cycle of our Family Dynamics will allow these things to continue if no one tries to change it. In this Family Hive, any sign of weakness is a sign of a problem.

The kids come first no doubt but no one can keep dredging a bottomless well. Eventually you fall in forever as you try to dig yourself free. Someone has to care about the Mother and her well-being especially if everyone is aware she does not have her own Parents to help her the way her Spouse’s parents can/do.

We often hear on the news of Women who escape extremely controlling, isolating Family situations. Often times, there is a complete lack of Boundaries in place therefore everyone knows everyone’s shit because no one has anything else to talk about. They are fully enmeshed in each other’s lives and lack a separate identity.

Schedules and Self-Care:

As long as I was physically present, with the same set of people, resolute in my role; not causing “trouble” and ultimately listening to direction – things were “fine.”

Self-Care became a thing of the past and I don’t just mean getting my hair or nails done or something. Just to have a shower took rigid planning and asking for the time/permission from my Spouse. I did not put those restrictions ever on anyone nor did I expect much. Even now, I am with my children on average between 18-21 hours a day.

Once I became a hardcore user, hygienic rituals went completely out the window. There was simply no energy left to expense.

This is very common during end-stage Active Addiction. One of the ablutions I picked up during my time at Treatment involved a self-care window/ritual however that quickly went out the window despite Aftercare Planning for weeks leading up to my return home. No one was interested in that unless it fit someone else’s schedule or Agenda.

Daily Planner from In-Patient Treatment – July 2018

For 10 weeks, every day in the morning we had to complete a Daily Planner. I truly enjoyed doing this as it allows the person in Recovery to focus on 3 simple tasks. “Keep it Simple” is a regular theme throughout Recovery. As one can imagine, I led a very busy life as a Working Mom as well. Keeping it simple after managing millions of dollars for people was Recovery all on its own. I’ll elaborate on that for a future post.

Consequently, when my waiting spot for two-hour, once a week Aftercare came up post-treatment, I was told in December I could not attend because it was “too much.” It was my only opportunity to attend any Support that I was clearly responding to. I was held back from seeking treatment before and after my acute stage because it did not fit with someone else’s expectations or plans.

Mommy In Recovery:

I’ve been asked so many times how this all happened and how my children were affected. Quite simply, I medicated myself with so much crap I became numb. I did not speak. People ended up speaking for me in the end because I could not relate to anyone. The pills allowed me to pause the pain inside.

During this time, I did not really know anyone else in my situation therefore I kept to myself. As no one else had experienced this, the signs were not as easily recognized. I functioned at a high-level for years until my body and mind gave out.

Second, my kids always had their needs met by me so it became easy to fly under the radar for so long. No one could’ve imagined the trouble I faced but I don’t think anyone realizes how unsafe it is to Detox from Opiates while Pregnant or with kids around. Now that I have 433 days under my belt, I recognize the extreme risks involved with Opiate abuse and Parenting.

It’s impossible almost and extremely dangerous to even consider a Detox while pregnant or while in a Primary Caregiving role. Do not even attempt this without suppport. The risk to the fetus while pregnant if the Mother stops taking Opiates can result in pre-term Labour or even Death.

Early Recovery Goals

If I wasn’t pregnant during the last 4.5 years – I was recovering from Birth and taking care of a Newborn along with another child. The constant up and down of hormones and lack of sleep, self-care will catch up to you. If your partner has no regard for your happiness or emotional well-being, it becomes easy to slip into a depressive state.

A Woman’s Self-Esteem and Self-Worth becomes impacted just from the physical changes alone. Now imagine the shame, guilt and traumas associated from having children born while you are battling an Opiate Addiction. The cycle of Abuse continues regardless if you are Pregnant or not once you hit a certain point in your Addictive state.

Gossip in Families:

Private Events between Spouses occur and the same people provide the same reactions.

Despite being told by Professionals do not Gossip, you now believe everyone in your immediate Family; or particular people around you, hate you because everyone is talking shit.

It is easier to talk shit about you than it is to evaluate themselves and their roles within the situation.

© Angela Westelaken

They cannot fathom how you can abuse pills while pregnant, or as a Mother. If you are married to someone who never loved you unconditionally and based your worth upon appearance; the pressure to get back down to pre-pregnancy size becomes intense. Ultimately you are not treated the same by anyone until you do.

Outside Family members, who were never on your side to begin with; either became heavily involved or they begin to Gossip.

Individuals rooting for the other side ultimately protect that person regardless if that person has done the right thing. In my case, my problem was essentially ignored until the glaring consequences began piling up.

In my case, every one became distant towards me and even hostile at times however they rallied around my Husband to ensure his safety, protection and future. I never lost custody of my children. I always came home. I suffered in complete, absolute silence until the last year when everyone knew but no one did a thing other than Gossip.

READ: Can a Family be too Close?
You can usually tell from the outside looking in it Enmeshed Family relationships have replaced normal, outside ones. If a decision or plan was made that someone did not agree with; of course drama would ensue. I actually hate confrontation and will usually shut down or hide. I learned later this is a common trauma response.

It’s very rare I will yell back but once a Cycle or Pattern has been identified between me and a person like that; I usually go no-contact. I’ve only had to do this in extreme situations that involve emotionally triggering people.

This is the type of relationship I’ve had with my Mother for almost my entire life which dramatically changed last Summer. She actually stopped talking to me when we disagreed on something but we never really made amends from that point.

It became vital to my Emotional Wellbeing that these boundaries be put in place but unfortunately; it was too late to prevent any permanent damage to my marriage or any relationship I’d ever have with my Mother. My Addiction Doctor has been adamant: once this cycle is identified, you must detach.

The Aftermath of Accountability:

© Angela Westelaken

It was right after my Husband and his Family, along with my Mother; without a shadow of a doubt – began setting the stage to make it appear no matter what I did, no matter what bottom-line I met or how many Urine Tests I took (every Friday!), I would just always be a fuck-up but I was never a fuck-up to begin with.

Healthy boundaries between my Mother and I had to be put in place but also between her and my husband. It’s an unfortunate consequence of Addiction where a Triangulation occurs due to a Trauma Bond created by the Addict and those involved. There is a difference however between Co-Dependancy and Triangulation which I will cover off in another post.

The projection of my real identity has been lost because for so many years, I did not speak. I had no voice.
They spoke for me and they don’t even know the real me.

I was unsupported from meaningful help for so long that horrible, ugly things kept happening as a consequence from drug-seeking behaviour. The guilt, shame, embarrassment, etc. along with a serious physical, emotional dependency to the Opiates led to negative behaviour that was actually completely out of character for me.

Throughout my Recovery, making amends became my obsession. I’ve found who my real people are no doubt and many of them have been there all along. I’m ready to become THIS Woman, THIS Mother.

I’ve been born ready to take this on by myself, ultimately preparing for this role my whole life. I do hope one day things will heal as time passes on but everyone reaches a point in their lives where hard decisions must be made.

Despite a few minority opinions – I have tried everything. This group refuses to acknowledge my Sobriety and Recovery because I use Cannabis (prescribed). Every day I do my very best as a Mother. I tried my best to make sincere amends. I put myself out there to receive every level of scrutiny my extreme honesty and transparency could provide. I have a strong, Female-led Community behind me. I have met the bottom-lines put up to me by every Agency involved.

I did not go through all of this for nothing. I am ready and waiting.

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