August 9, 2018

Postpartum Baby Blues

Postpartum Baby Blues

Mama and baby, our new normal

After having Max, I expected to be tired and maybe a little in shock by this tremendous life change. But what I didn’t expect, was to be sad. I’m a generally happy, easy going person. So when my doctor told me to look out for postpartum depression or the baby blues, I didn’t really hear her.

Our hospital stay was great, a lot of adjustment, but i was surrounded with the help of nurses who swaddled my baby with perfection (but HOW do they do that?)  and a bed that raised at the push of a button (because… BYE abs).

Getting home on a Friday meant a nice long weekend to adjust as a family of three. It all felt real for the first time. There was no night nurse or fancy beds, but my mom and husband were great support. Visitors and flowers and meals and gifts filled our home, they created this burst of newness and excitement that almost had me forgetting the pending reality.

As a nursing mama, those late night feeds were a little lonely, but thank goodness for social media.  What did mamas do before the ability to stalk everyone’s life while a little one latched on at 2 am?

 

The rock n play was my saving grace

And then Monday came. I’ve always been an early riser, but 5 am comes much more quickly after waking from the cries of a newborn all night. Glen was getting ready for work, back to his regular schedule. He got up and showered without worrying that a little one would wake and need him. He dressed as usual, drank hot coffee, and was out the door. On a normal day I would wake with him at 5, we would workout, drink coffee and read a devotion. I liked this routine. A lot. But today- everything was different… for me.  

I was exhausted. And I was restricted by this tiny human and this new body. Max needed to be fed and held and burped and changed, RIGHT NOW. I could hardly walk up and down the steps, my boobs felt on the verge of bursting at all times, my belly- still round and sore and stitched together. Nothing about my life felt familiar  

I kissed Glen goodbye, it was maybe the only thing that stayed the same. I held onto that moment, hoping to grasp some sort of normalcy, a shred of familiarity in the middle of all this new. The moment was fleeting and when the door shut behind him, I cried. And then I cried some more. I held my baby and I looked at his face and I smiled and felt so much pride and love and still the tears kept coming.    

At 9am I walked downstairs, baby max in my arms. I was still in pajamas and I had nowhere to be. Nobody needed me, nobody that could measure my productivity anyway. It was a hard realization that didn’t make sense to me. I had wanted this, I chose this, why was I crying? Again. I wanted to leave my day job to peruse my dream job. But the thought of no schedule and job to go back to seemed daunting. The fact that there was no maternity leave, no deadline for me to wrap this whole thing up and return to life as I knew it? Did I make the right choice, was I made to be a stay at home mama?

I held it together in front of people but if anyone asked me how I was, I had to hold back tears like it was my job. Because if I told them I felt sad- wouldn’t they judge me? Think i was a bad mom? Ask me to explain why I felt sad? Maybe. Maybe not.

The next morning Glen did his normal routine and I joined him for coffee (thank you, Rock N Play) he asked me how I was and I lost it. I think I managed to blurt out how we will NEVER EVER (dramatic?) get to go to the gym at 5:30am again. WHO cries over that?! Me. He hugged me and told me that he was sad too, that all of this change just shifted everything so quickly. It was reassuring knowing that we were both navigating this from a similar standpoint. But again- he went out that door and went on about his normal life  I went to the the couch, just me, Max, and my nursing pillow.

 

So thankful for Nordstrom and their mama lounge

I never knew I would need other moms. My sister in law and a couple friends who had just had babies started to text me daily. Simple texts, but I looked forward to them everyday. How are you? How did today go? They checked on me and answered my 2936378 questions about everything. Those daily check ins kept me sane.

They sent pictures of their littles making them crazy (in the best way)- reassuring me that I wasn’t alone, scriptures of encouragement, some friends let me just sit and talk and/or cry. They dropped off oils and tinctures, and sent me all the tips. They welcomed me into their club. This sisterhood of motherhood, it’s life giving.   

 

Making the best of our new normal, family life in the first few weeks meant a lot of time on the couch.

Eventually people would ask me how I was and I no longer had to hold back tears. Time somehow melted together and my new normal started to grow on me. I was sleeping a tad more, my boobs leaked less (such a weird thing), my belly was healing and I started feeling a little more like an empowered woman and a little less like a mommy blob.

I realized that I had to let myself grieve my old life. I would carry some of her with me into this new life, but I would never be her again. There would be things in my life that would not change, but I would forever be different. It was a whole process, a lot grace for myself, a lot of letting go, but also holding on- to all of the goodness in this change.

I believe that in order to move forward we must first feel all the feelings of what we are leaving behind. Let them be, then let them go. Sometimes I still leave the house and forget all the things, date nights typically include a lot of baby conversation, and getting dressed just isn’t the same. Life is different, I have accepted that and I love it’s differences. But I am grateful for all of the years of independence and travel and growth and freedom and spontaneity. They made me the mom I am today.

 

Our first date as parents might have been Publix

Mama, if you are the thick of it, those first few months where everyone tells you that it goes by so fast and that you need to hold onto every minute— but you’re sitting there at 2am feeling like the days are just so long and the nights are even longer— just feel it. Let it be. The hard, the tired, the long days and longer nights. If you are happy or sad or both, it’s ok. But don’t do it alone. I realized that every mom said the same thing for a reason. It really is fleeting. It really does get better. Those first weeks are unfair to a first time mama. We have no idea what to expect and then we are expected to do it all while exhausted beyond our wildest dreams. Some moments will be done with joy, some will be loathed, but all will be done with so much love.

If you feel sad (or even if you don’t) text a mama friend, find your  tribe, get out of the house, and use all the oils! If your sadness lasts longer than the baby blues (typically less than a month) please contact your doctor, there is no shame in needing help.

 

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