Dreams of Motherhood Shattered
I am a woman in the public eye; I am a celebrity stylist. I am an Influencer. I was on Stripped TV show (Bravo TV). Then, I was expecting a baby. I was going to be a mother.
I started dreaming. I did not just dream of motherhood but about my delivery. I was enjoying my pregnancy; I adored the entire process. My belly grew, and I was feeling my daughter move inside of me and having the intense dreams of what was to come.
I wanted my delivery to be natural, in a birthing center. I wanted to be immersed in water, because I felt very connected in the water. I had a doula and a midwife, and I was looking forward to this magical event that would live in my memory as the happiest moment of my life.
I was convinced that my body would get back into the original shape fast. I was healthy and why not? I had seen so many other mothers on Instagram do just that! There was no reason for my trajectory to be any different. I would go back to work; my adorable baby would come with me, and I would continue my Hollywood appearances and my career as before. Now, I would bring along my adorable baby girl.
After 42 hours of hard labor, my plans had to change. My dream was crushed. I needed a c-section. Everything I had intended was not to be. I needed to be in a hospital with a medical team, and I needed surgery.
My name is Ali Levine. This is my Kintsugi Story.
Everything that happened after the birth did not go as planned, as well. Everything I envisioned was lost. To me, the question of her nursing was not negotiable. But Amelia would not latch. So, 48 hours after a c-section and while still in the hospital, I had to start breast pumping but no milk came, only colostrum. The nurse said that this was "liquid gold" to make me feel better, but I did not. This was not part of my dream. Nursing was supposed to be easy, an instinct. Everyone does it, why couldn't I?
It was a whirlwind of emotions. I could feel myself spiraling out of control. Finally, after 10-11 days my milk came in. I was fortunate to have assistance with the latching issues. It was not easy. It was very emotional, but after months of hard work, we found a good nursing routine.
This was not to be the end of the story for this new mom. I was in bed, in so much pain. I couldn’t drive. I could not go up and down the stairs of my home. I felt isolated; I felt like I lost my direction. My dreams had all been shattered. My body was in no way going back to its shape as I thought; the incision was making me miserable. My life as I knew it was gone for what seemed to be forever.
I thought I was just sad because I was disappointed. I thought it was missing my independence.
I realized I was not building a strong relationship with my baby, and these emotions were not normal. Amelia was two months old.
I was crying, and I told my husband,
"I mourn the death of me."
"Why is everything so out of control?"
"I hate what I see in the mirror."
"Why am I so upset about my scars?"
My husband said, "You know you just had a baby." But I knew there was something wrong with me.
My husband started seeing the signs as well, and he offered to take over for a day. He would be home with Amelia, and I went to have a spa day. It was so wonderful. I was out and getting pampered. When I returned home, I started feeling the anxiety and started crying again. I went to take a bath, and I knew this was not typical. I did not want to be in mommy mode.
Reaching out for Help
I contacted my midwife, and she said that it could be PPD, Postpartum Depression. While it was common, it was not healthy, and I needed to get help. Where? Where was the help? It was so hard to find the right place to go.
When I found the person to help me, I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression and anxiety. Through this help, I recognized that I had to avoid social media. When I was seeing the seemingly perfect moms with their perfect babies, perfect bodies, and perfect homes: it was not healthy for me. I needed to recognize when the anxiety crept in and find what the triggers were and how to center myself.
I was taught many tools that became a part of my tool box. I could use these tools in the different situations I found myself in. Meditation was a transformative tool that I use still today.
While I was going through therapy, I wanted to make a drastic career change. I did not see myself being in the public eye, being an Influencer, although that is what made me happy before my pregnancy. I thought I wanted to be a lactation expert. My therapist knew to guide me to not make any radical decisions while battling depression and anxiety. There is a time and a place to make major decisions.
Today, I laugh at the thought of being a lactation expert. Still, I have also made tremendous changes in my life. I only take the clients that bring me joy. I am more selective. I pay attention to the signs of anxiety, and I instantly use the tools I developed to help me. I am more attentive to myself, my inner voice, and my many feelings.
At that time, everything appeared so final. Things felt like they would never improve. When you are in the current, and you are swimming against it, you can’t see land. You can only see the next wave.
A Good Influence
Today, I am a different type of Influencer. I am the place where people can come and see things fall apart. They can see me cry; they can see me disheveled in sweat pants, because I am a real, authentic mother. I am the woman that is in all of us in between happy selfies. I connect with other moms on a deeper level. I share my raw self, and I find that my new connections are much more genuine and meaningful. I still love clothing, make-up, beauty, Hollywood and all that the life has to offer. Now, I am part of it in the way that suits my new lifestyle.
Motherhood is beautiful, but it is also crazy. It is mayhem. It is messy, and it is very hard. It is such a difficult job, but it is also so rewarding. I needed to go through my journey to see all that I see today. Now, I use my ability and my passion of being an Influencer for something good and bigger than myself. I am grateful for the challenges and the hard times. I could not recognize what the world needed most from me before I went through PPD.
Everyone goes through hardship; this was one of mine. I am stronger from the experience. I gained wisdom and knowledge that I could not have without going through the process.
My Name is Ali Levine, and I am Kintsugi.
To follow Ali on Social Media: @alilevinedesign
If you feel that you have postpartum depression, seek help immediately.
To find out more about Postpartum Depression:
Photo: Laura bravo Mertz - Soliofoto
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