There have been a few happenings in my life lately that have got me thinking back to when I was a brand new mom. It was a time that was supposed to be so joyous, so glorious...but was really rough. For all of you brand new moms, semi-brand new moms or soon-to-be moms, this post is for you.
I really wished someone would have told me how difficult having a baby would be. Oh, maybe they did but I just didn't believe them, didn't really listen or just didn't think I would have a difficult time. I mean, I am a nurse practitioner, in my 30's and tried so hard to get pregnant at all, of course it was going to be easy and fantastic, right?
Not so much. This is not going to be a post about postpartum depression, don't worry. No, this is simply an honest post about my adjustment to motherhood. I know there are those people out there who transitioned seemlessly into motherhood on a cloud of love and joy and ease and I really thought I would be one of them. But I wasn't, here is how it went...
If you read Sully's birth story, you will see that things kind of dragged on and did not go as I had hoped. Truly, I was hoping for a very natural birthing experience without drugs or a c-section but I ended up getting it all. I really can't explain why that made me so disappointed or upset but it did...and I never really told anyone that, at least not right away. For some reason, that nagged at me those first few months.
Next, the hormones were raging. And I mean raging. I knew this would happen, I mean I am a nurse for God sakes, of course I knew that. But I really didn't know. It first happened when I was still in the hospital and by it, I mean my first crying jag for no reason. I was just sitting there, pumping, letting it all hang out and it just came upon me, like a tidal wave of emotion that I could not stop or explain. I was not sad at all, but it was a sad sight to see (I am sure Clayton can attest to that). It got more severe and much more often after we got home and the hormones tag-teamed with the lack of sleep to really get me good. I simply had to look at my husband, whom I felt like I loved more than I ever had before, or my new baby, whom I felt deserved a much more stable mother, and I would completely break down. And once the waterworks started, they just would not stop! All day long!
On top of that, Sully would NOT breastfeed at all. We had supplemented him in the hospital with a bottle as he was deemed a "lazy eater". He would latch and start to suck only to have a complete meltdown 2 seconds later when there was no milk. I never even wanted to breastfeed before I had him. I was totally turned off by the notion but I found that after he was here, I really wanted to make it work. In my hormone and lack of sleep induced haze I really tried to make the breastfeeding thing work for 3 long weeks. I tried it all: the nipple shield, dribbling formula or breastmilk over the shield, priming with the pump so he would not have to wait for the let down, absolutely withholding the bottle, giving the bottle first so he would not be so ravenous hungry, calling the lactation consultant but it just was not in the cards for us. He just wasn't a breastfeeding baby. I pumped religiously, every 3 hours, day and night, and still I could not make enough to feed him soley breastmilk, without supplementing with some formula. At the 3 week mark, I gave up the dream and ALL of our lives got exponentially better. Despite doing exactly what my baby wanted, I would constantly beat myself up about not being able to breastfeed with every bottle I gave him. And every "So you are breastfeeding then?" comment stung terribly.
As luck would have it, I got an infection in my c-section incision a week after I had Sully which earned us a midnight trip to the ER with body aches and a temp of 102 F on a snowy cold December night with a crying newborn. I had a CT scan with contrast so I had to pump and dump for 24 hours. Ugh! Then I was put on antibiotics for 10 days which, via breastmilk, gave Sully constant diarrhea and subsequent diaper rash (the only diaper rash he has ever had).
And so, it was rough. I was pretty sure I was going to have to ship the kid to my mom so she could raise him for me. But things turned around at the 6-7 week mark. Sully started sleeping better and smiling, I started feeling more normal-physically and emotionally, I started sleeping when the baby slept and we sort of got into a routine. I am not telling this to you for sympathy because I am very aware of just how blessed and fortunate I am to have a happy, healthy baby and supportive husband. I am not telling you this to scare you. It is just an honest account of my first weeks of motherhood and it might be comforting to know that you are not alone, you are not crazy, you are perfectly normal and you will be fine.