Sunday, March 2, 2014

Postpartum- the first two weeks

I am putting these less than fairytale memories down in writing because I think it is something many new mom's experience, but are too ashamed to talk about...

Before Octavian was born, I thought we were prepared.
The nursery was set up with all the diapers, blankets and onesies any one baby could ask for.  We had a freezer and refrigerator stocked with easy meals.  The house was clean.
The only thing missing was the baby.

I soon learned that this was not enough.
The day we drove home with our little bundle of joy, I had only slept 4 hours in 4 days and had just experienced one of the most emotionally and physically taxing things a person could imagine.
Emotionally, mentally and physically I was an absolute wreck.
Exhausted was an understatement, and I could hardly sit or use the toilet without crying in pain.

side note- no one really talks about how painful it is to recover from pushing a baby through your lady parts.  it should go without saying, I guess, but just in case there is any confusion- recovery after delivery was often unbearable.  basically, everything is a swollen mess for at least a week.  That said,  no need to worry, everything recovers completely.  some may even say it's better than before.

Physical recovery and crippling exhaustion aside, the hardest part (in my case) was postpartum blues (oh, and breastfeeding, but i'll save that post for another day).
I had read lots about depression after having a baby, and knew that based on my personality and history, it would not be at all surprising if it were something I experienced.
Once again, however, I was not prepared for how hard it would hit.
The first two weeks were hard.  Probably two of the hardest weeks of my entire life.
While I was filled with tremendous joy and love for my new baby boy,  the saddness was stronger.
I cried a lot.  I cried all the time.  I often had no idea what else to do so I just cried.
I lost complete control of my emotions.

The exhaustion and sadness made it impossible for me to sleep. 
made it impossible to eat.
By the end of that first week I added up the total hours of sleep I got and it was less than 10.
Even when I could sleep, I couldn't.
Things were hardest at night.  There was something about the darkness that I just couldn't handle.
It was too quiet and so lonely.  I couldn't wait for the sun to come up.
I recall being unable to sleep with the lights completely off- for some reason, they needed to be on, even when it was just me in the room taking a nap.
I couldn't sleep with Octavian in the room and I couldn't sleep with him in his own room.
The only time I slept was when he was in the other room with Aaron and Aaron was awake.
Otherwise, every little noise he made sent me running to his side.
I worried about his temperature- was he too hot? too cold?
Was he swaddled too tight?
Was he breathing?
Had it been too long since he last ate?
I was literally sick with worry...and sleep deprivation. 

The saddest part for me was that I didn't feel like I bonded with Octavian until he was about two weeks old.
Those first days I waited for the magical bond that I heard so many mom's talk about.
I wanted it so badly.
I felt like the worst mother in the world because although I loved him, I knew I was missing something.
because of this, I was not only sick with exhaustion, but I was sick with guilt.
I wanted to have a baby for years, so what was wrong with me?
I was ashamed and angry.
It really was some of the most conflicting days of my life.

Thankfully, Aaron was so supportive and so patient.
Through all my tears, he was always there to tell me he understood and to reassure me that I was a wonderful mother.
I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't had his support during those weeks- and still, months later.

Thankfully, after about two weeks, the darkness began to lift.
Although it wasn't until about two months post-partum that I started to feel a bit more like myself- the worst was over.
I finally experienced that magical bond with my baby boy and it is like nothing else in this world.  I had no idea a love so powerful could possibly exist. 
This love for my child makes me crazy in the most raw and beautiful way possible.

I still have my daily struggles with sleep deprivation, boredom that comes with a lack of adult interaction, and feeling of not being good enough.
I have a feeling these struggles will stick around for a while.
However, life is so good. and I am so lucky.  
I wouldn't trade how things are for anything in the world.

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Cindy and Jordan said...

This was so beautiful. Thank you for being so honest & sharing the parts of post partum that most women stay quiet about. It really is such a delicate time, especially emotionally and I can see why the tears would flow. I can't imagine the constant worry & anxiety that takes place caring for a new little person, I have a lot to look forward to!

B said...

so sorry to hear you had to go through that. so good of you to share so other new moms dont feel alone. glad you're past that!! :)

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said...

Thank you for sharing your story! What a challenging situation to go through. :(

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

Thank you for sharing this. Thinking of you during this transitional time

cynthia said...

Wonderfully honest post. I'm glad you're coming out on the other side of those baby blues! I never really experienced that, as my son arrived unexpectedly early and didn't come home until he was about 6 weeks old. I think the surprise of that coupled with the worry over his prematurity didn't leave room for any PPD in my brain.
I do think that I might have missed out on some of that initial bonding time, even though I spent hours and hours each day at the hospital, it's not the same as having your baby at home.
But now, 9 months later, I don't even think about it. I love him fiercely, and like you said, more than I ever imagined was possible. We are totally bonded and adore each other. :)