I’ve got a bone to pick with you.
How come no one warned me? How come no one told me what was about to happen?
I thought going through labor was supposed to be the hardest part. Looking back, that was the easy part. There was an end to that. There was a goal, a finish line. You got your beautiful baby. All was supposed to be well in the world.
BUT WAIT, there’s this whole period of your life that starts right after the baby’s born and ended about 6 weeks later (for me) called postpartum and for some unknown reason, no one talks about it!
On November 6th at 8:04 am I delivered a beautiful 7 pound 4 oz miracle, the nurses placed her on my chest, and I felt a feeling that can only be described as indescribable. I didn’t think anything could tear my focus away from this new tiny human. I was 100% fully absorbed in the moment. BUT THEN, the doc started sewing up my nether regions like we were on a battlefield in WWII. The real kicker was right before she threaded a needle through me, she said, “this may hurt a bit”…ummm, ya think?! No one informed me that there would be sewing involved at the end of this.
Soon after that unpleasant experience the nurse told me that I needed to try to breastfeed. Yes, I thought, I’ve been looking forward to this and I’m so excited!! Robert was right there with me, Eleanor latched on super quick and started nursing with no difficulties, and I was elated. BUT THEN, I started to feel a rather familiar cramp like pain in my abdominal region. I looked at the nurse with what I’m sure was pure terror in my eyes. And she so kindly reassured me that, yes, I was indeed feeling another contraction. (joy) Apparently, breastfeeding releases oxytocin which causes your uterus to contract, so it can shrink down to its normal, not holding a baby, size. Uh, hello other nursing mamas, this would have been a nice thing to know in advance! Thanks for the heads up! *eye roll emoji*
Speaking of pain that occurs after the babies born, it never dawned on me how my body might feel after pushing a large object out of a not so large opening. Well well well…Let me be the first to tell you, it’s not great. Waist up, you’re feeling fine as a dime. Waist down, however, is a whole different ball game.
I read a few things online before Eleanor was born. I read that I should bring ice packs and a nice soft pillow to place under my bum. Oh and that I would basically live in adult diapers for a month. (Side note: who knew they made pads so big? I sure didn’t.) I scoffed at the notion of ever wearing what I know lovingly refer to as my postpartum panties. Gracious, that article wasn’t lying! I remember pleading with my night nurse to bring me another ice pack and I remember dying a little inside when she said they just gave the last one to another woman down the hall. Luckily, my nurse was an innovative gal and made an ice pack of sorts out of a newborn diaper. You better believe I soaked up every ounce of coldness that diaper had to offer.
A numb bum is a happy bum.
If only there was such an easy fix for the mental complexities that ensue postpartum.
At first, I felt pretty level. Nurses and family kept asking me about my hormones and I could honestly answer that I was completely normal. BUT THEN, a week went by, I entered a new level of sleep deprivation that I was unaware existed and I felt it. I felt that awful postpartum depression that so many suffer through, yet so few talk about.
I’m not sure I can put into words how it feels to look at your new baby and know with every ounce of your being that you love this tiny thing more than anything else in the world, but yet you can’t feel that love. Knowing and feeling are two entirely different things. What I felt for those next 3-4 weeks was sadness, guilt, anxiety, fear, anger, and oddly, a sense of rage I’d never experienced before. I recall telling my husband one night that I just wanted to punch something. It felt like I had all this bottled up raw emotion and I couldn’t figure out how to release it. Thankfully, my husband is amazing and talked to me about PPD when he first started to notice the signs. He helped me through all the tears and sleepless nights. He listened to me ramble on for hours about how out of control I felt. He watched me breastfeed with tears rolling down my cheeks from the pain and uncertainty of what I was trying to do. I can honestly say that he kept my sane through it all.
My only regret is that I feel like I missed a part of Nora’s life. I feel like I missed out on those ‘middle of the night snuggles’ because I was consumed by the anxiety and the desperate need for sleep. I feel like I missed out on the joy there for a while.
But that regret just makes me all the more passionate about increasing awareness for PPD. Can all of us mothers please talk about it? Get it out in the open. Discuss it with the new moms and the soon to be moms. Prepare yourself mentally for it. Know that it might happen and know that you’re not alone. Motherhood is crazy, but you’re not!
So there’s my beef, other mamas! You never warned me about the absolute need for things I never knew existed, like nipple cream. Or that I would walk like I just got done riding a horse for a month after the baby was born. I had no idea the human body could run off of 3 hours of sleep or that my heart could hold so much love. Out of all the things that surprised me postpartum, the level of love I now feel astounds me the most. As I said earlier, it’s a feeling that can only be described as indescribable. And it makes all the other stuff totally worth it.
Motherhood, am I right?!