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When my husband and I decided to have a baby it was one of the most thrilling experiences in our lives. I kept checking the home pregnancy test frequently and with many negatives there came a day when I saw “pregnant”. I couldn’t believe it and took another home test right after that one. The second one confirmed the positive results, too.
We were so thrilled and yet scared to believe it that we didn’t really accept it as a fact until my urinary and blood tests came in positive as well. We felt like we had just won in the Olympics. The next months of anticipation, pain, changes in clothing sizes and everything else that we women go through was just a part of the journey to meeting our little new family member soon.
Realize that what you are going through is absolutely normal
Then the delivery came and the shock of it all. Then the fact that after having just delivered the baby I had to feed him even though I could barely move myself. The crying tore my heart out. I remember I was so fatigued and exhausted those two days that they kept me in the hospital that at one point I started to become confused. I remember that clearly. I was blabbering and completely confusing reality.
Then the drive home was something else that I had never envision being as difficult as it was. Even the smallest pot hole, no, just a curve in the road felt like I was hopping on horseback while still nowhere near feeling healed. I did not want to take pain killers because I was adamant about feeding my baby the best that nature can provide – breast milk.
Try to tell yourself - every day - that this is temporary. Because it is.
The fact that it took me over three months to really get the baby to latch properly and start eating without causing major stress, is another matter and for a different post. I am just glad that in the end it happened, but my husband and I were prepared to feed our little one formula because the struggle with breastfeeding was real and completely unexpected.
Once we got home after what seemed like a drive through hell, the challenge of not having the nurses care for my every need kicked in. In our case, it was just the two of us, my husband and I. We did not have any other support from friends or family. That was one of the hardest things that we have ever experienced.
Try to realize that there are so many women and partners who want to have children but simply cannot. Try to realize that this is a major blessing and not a curse. That the challenges are only temporary even though they feel like they will never go away and this is your life forever.
Moreover, walking down and up the stairs was a major feat. The constantly crying baby; the feeling of my entire body being a raw piece of meat; the constant extreme pain of feeling like my guts were just going to fall out and I wouldn’t be able to pick them up.
The serious and real fear of the first poop. If you have ever had a baby naturally, you will know what a major fear and feat that is. If you had a c-section, in a way you are lucky that you didn’t experience the horrors of feelings you get ‘down there’. I felt like a torn up soldier from one of those realistic war movies.
The pain of going to pee and it taking over thirty minutes because there is so much to do while you are at it. Sometimes I just tried to hold it in because going to the bathroom just to pee was like going somewhere far away from where I would not return for a while. The fear of getting an infection kept me peeing even though I dreaded it every single time.
It is absolutely a normal and healthy experience when you feel like you are completely overwhelmed and motherhood is not what you thought it was going to be. Just realize that this is also temporary. You will get your ground back. Just let yourself believe in the future.
In a matter of two days, my world has completely changed and turned upside down. Whatever I told myself to prepare myself for what was going to happen seemed like an illusion a child has about the world. I felt like I was in a whole new dimension. One where I had no idea what to do or how to survive. I felt bitter and resentful that it was I who had to go through such extreme difficulties. I felt as if I had been cheated out of my dream of being a mom.
We also had an extremely difficult feeding time due to our baby not latching well and also during those five days that we waited for my milk to come in. I remember being sleep deprived to the point where I just fell down next to my baby’s crib every time he slept which was very little.
Hormones play a major role in how we feel postpartum. Try to realize that. At least, try not to think too much about the feelings you get and try not to judge yourself because there is a thought or a feeling you get which makes you feel like you're a terrible mother. Ignore any of those negative thoughts. Life will get better. It is only the beginning now.
Our baby still does not sleep through the night. He is not an extremely difficult baby but he is certainly not easy. At least we did not have a purple crying period that other parents do. If we did, it was only for about a week or two, but it is hard to tell whether it was purple crying or not. Making even a slightest move that could be avoided was my priority.
The thought of going back to the bed when I could just lie down next to his crib seemed impossible to handle. A lot of things were mentally impossible to handle at first. Moreover, we had a lot of appointments that we had to go to during those early two months. Barely alive and able to move, I actually had to drive while still hurting down there. In addition it was only me and my newborn baby in the car.
If you feel homicidal or suicidal do not be ashamed to contact your doctor right away. They know what hormones can do and you will not be judged. Just start taking medications and going to counseling. Whatever you are feeling is very temporary and with proper medications can get you back to normal.
The stress and feeling of being completely overwhelmed was enormous. If my husband was not as supportive and amazing as he is, I do not think I would have been able to get through it without having some serious PTSD. At one point I even thought that having babies was completely not worth it. At other times I told myself that this was going to be the one and only child I have.
The good news is that now that I am 8 months postpartum I am already ready to get pregnant again and can’t wait to have more babies. Call me crazy, but what I am trying to say is that if you had an easier journey than me, or an even harder one than mine, chances are you will learn to feel alive and like a human being again.
Realize that we do not live in the 1800s or even in the 1990s anymore. There is no shame in asking for help. There is no reason anyone else needs to know that you are on anti-depressants to help you with postpartum anxiety and depression.
Try to accept what you are going through. Realize that no one can help you if you do not help yourself first. Ask for help. Your life and the well being of your baby is worth it. Do it for your child. Your baby needs you in his life as a healthy parent.
Motherhood does change your life. However, it does not have to mean the end of the world that you can enjoy. It simply means a few things are different but overall everything is really the same. You just have to see it and you will notice that. There are many obstacles, but if you are honest with yourself and seek help if you need it, your life will be so much better and healthier.
Luckily for me, I did not feel homicidal or suicidal when I was going through those hard parches. However, I was taking anti-depressants in order to cope with the extreme anxiety and stress and also just to help my jumping hormones get through it all with minimal effect on me. I actually asked my obgyn myself to prescribe those to me while I was still pregnant.
Every little thing is a feat. Get in the habit of praising yourself for the smallest things. It is not stupid. It is smart. You will get in the habit of either belittling your achievements and yourself or you will raise yourself up and praise yourself and what you have done no matter how small a feat it might be.
I was planning ahead after having done my research that majority of women suffer postpartum depression. After discussing it with my obgyn, I had my ‘pills’ ready for me to take the moment the baby was out of me. Some women actually have to take them while they are pregnant because the hormonal changes and life changes are too much to deal with.
When you are going through an overwhelming moment, tell yourself that it is normal, you are not a bad or incapable parent, you are a strong woman who had just had her (first for me) baby. If you feel completely overwhelmed, then just put the baby in the crib, and go outside to the fresh air and close the door behind yourself.
Advice from my pediatrician:
No baby ever died or was hurt by crying a little. But many babies are hurt by frustrated and overwhelmed parents. When you feel frustrated with your baby or feel overwhelmed, just put the baby in the crib where he is safe and walk out. Take a little time for yourself. Your baby will be ok. Allow yourself to do that. It is absolutely ok and normal.
No baby ever dies from crying a little bit. But you need to create for yourself moments of being able to walk away to de-stress. This is one advice I got from my pediatrician. Allow yourself to just take a breather. Look at the sky, at the trees moving in the air, the sound of the wind going through your hair. It is ok to just take a moment to yourself.
Then when you can, go back to your baby and try to comfort him. This way you are stopping your frustration from growing even more and your anxiety from building even more. When you feel frustrated and overwhelmed, just put the baby into the crib where he is safe, and walk out for a little while. He will be ok.
Realize that you are your baby's entire world. He worships you and needs you more than anyone else. Try to feel comforted by these positive thoughts. It is good and ok to feel good. Do not get stuck in the loop of negative thinking and anxiety riddled routines.
There comes a time when you recover (at least a little bit) where you feel like you are a hermit and will never be able to do anything that you used to like sleeping in, going out whenever you and your partner wanted to, or just taking a long shower without feeling the pressure and the stress of your crying baby that needs you.
These are absolutely normal. You just had a baby. Your baby is at his most vulnerable at this stage of his life. The older he gets, the less needy he will be. Right now your baby is at his maximum vulnerability. He will never be this defenseless again. Try to realize that you are his entire world and his entire life.
Advice from my pediatrician:
If you are formula feeding or even breastfeeding, divide the feedings through the night with your partner. Have half a night where he takes care of the baby and you sleep. Then the second half is when you feed and care for your baby while he sleeps.
Try to get comfort from the fact that you are absolutely needed. He worships you. You are his entire life. There is absolutely no one else he wants more than his mother. This is a lot of good, positive thoughts to tell yourself. What is more, all of this is the absolute truth. It feels good knowing that you are needed this much.
You will be able to go out again. I can guarantee it. We are now able to go out again. We have even been to an air show with our baby. We just took professional sound silencing headphones which we put over our baby’s head. He slept through the entire thing. And we were able to go out, enjoy this wonderful experience and connect with the world outside of our newborn baby.
If you are unable to breastfeed but really wanted to, do not hold it against yourself. Just be very glad that we are not in the middle ages where the baby would just die. Today we have baby food. That is a lot to be thankful for. It is not your fault. You wanted to, but maybe you can't breastfeed for one reason or another.
Be grateful for the fact that you are already a selfless woman who was going to sacrifice her boobies for her baby. On the other hand, be glad that you won't have to deal with boobie changes that often happen when a woman breastfeeds. Find something positive that makes sense to you and praise yourself for it.
Give yourself a pat on the back whenever you achieve something. It is a big deal. Do not just ignore it. It will become a habit of how you handle situations. Whether you just ignore it and belittle yourself, or think big and realize that you just accomplished something great and took a step forward to the bright future where you feel in control of your life again.
Even the fact that you can take a shower by yourself. You can breathe by yourself. Feed yourself by yourself. Poop and pee by yourself. You have arms and legs. These are major positive points to be happy about. Even if you feel like this is absurd, try to imagine a pregnant woman who is disabled or has other health issues. Realize how many people would be absolutely happy to have what you have.
Your individual journey is worth it. You can do it. You survived the hardest part already - carrying and having a baby. Now your baby will grow and you will regain more and more control over your schedule and your free time. You will get more free time. And you will be able to get good sleep again.
Try to realize that there are people who have suffered through a lot more. This is not to make you feel ashamed or guilty, no. This is to make you realize how blessed you are. And you are blessed. You just had a baby. You will make it through. Just realize that every small step counts as something. Be good and gentle with yourself. You are worth it. Your baby is worth it.