Six Weeks In…

It’s been six weeks since our little Bug was born. I thought I’d check in about how I’m feeling. The time after you give birth is a roller coaster, both physically and emotionally. I’d detailed some of the physical healing in my post about what happens after delivery. I wanted to detail the nitty gritty “what the yuck” stuff that most people would be too embarrassed to ask or speak about. Since I’m rarely one to be embarrassed by stuff I figured I was a good candidate to get into it. Physically, you repair steadily and yet you have good days and bad days. I was fortunate to have no tearing or such to repair from and other than the meconium in the amniotic fluid thing, my labor and delivery was fairly ho-hum. Other people with more extreme labors may not have as easy a time healing, but you will heal.

There is a lot of emotion involved with giving birth (duh.) Some days are filled with wonder and marvel at your child, some days are filled with tears, sadness, and anger. All of these feelings are normal, unless they are not. I think I have the baby blues from time to time, but I’m pretty sure I am not suffering from postpartum depression. I was concerned about the possibility, because I have experienced depression in the past and that can lead to a greater chance of PPD. Also, given the initial NICU stay and our difficulty breastfeeding, it was a possibility. The symptoms of PPD are:

  •  Irritability or hypersensitivity
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety and worry
  • Crying or tearfulness
  • Anger
  • Negative feelings such as sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, or guilt
  • Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
  • Difficulty sleeping (especially returning to sleep)
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Changes in appetite or eating habits
  • Headaches, stomachaches, muscle or backaches
  • feelings of not being able to adequately care for their baby
  • belief you may harm your baby (on purpose, not accidentally)

Sound familiar? Yeah, at some time I think I’ve experienced every single one of those things. The issue is when they become pervasive.  It’s really hard to know if you have PPD or not, which is why you should rely on your doctor if you are worried about PPD. Like I said, I’ve experienced every symptom on that list, some times multiples on the same day. Do I feel I have PPD? No. Why? Because I talk openly and honestly about my feelings with my doctor and I know that to have PPD these symptoms would have to be my only feelings for the most part and in addition to the above, I’ve also felt joy, love, wonder and a whole host of positive feelings. In speaking with my midwife, she said that all mothers feel overwhelmed and frustrated and if they don’t, they are lying (at least to themselves.) Then she said something that shocked me. She told me that when her children were young and crying and there was seemingly nothing she could do to help she understood why women throw babies out of windows. Yes, those were her exact words. She said of course we’d never do it, but the understanding of being so frustrated and overwhelmed was there. I confessed to her that in a heated moment when my Bug was beside himself with tired and couldn’t sleep that I threatened to sell him to the gypsies she laughed and said she wanted to leave hers on a corner with a sign that said “free.” Later, in talking with my mother in law, she admitted in those early days with a colicky child who would scream all the time she understood why child abuse existed.

Would we ever hurt our children? No. Do we understand how someone can be so overwhelmed that they would go that far? Yes. It’s called empathy. You understand how someone can be driven over the edge, even if you personally aren’t Hearing this, from two women with experience raising children, was shocking and yet comforting. In those early days when the crying lasted what seemed to be forever and nothing I did helped ease Bug’s pain, I would think about putting him in his crib, walking out the door, and never coming back. Did I actually do it? No.

People may think I’m crazy for talking about this. They may even think I’m a terrible mother for even thinking it. I can ignore those who want to judge me and claim that they’ve never had feelings of extreme frustration with their babies. These are the women that love to feel superior to all mommies and frankly, they need to learn that they aren’t perfect either.

In my not so perfect mommyhood, I’ve learned a lot and achieved a lot. I exclusively nurse my baby who initially refused to nurse do to the trauma of a NICU stay (as my midwife said, “oh the NICU, where babies go to forget how to breastfeed.”) I’ve learned that my baby has tummy issues that are relieved (but not gone) when he doesn’t get formula. I’ve learned that Bug runs hot and is most comfortable wearing as little as possible. I’ve learned the hungry cry, the tired cry and the “I need a change” cry. I’ve learned that my husband can do anything in a fugue state and I cannot (seriously I am bolt upright awake at every overnight feeding.) I’ve learned that a swing is essential equipment in our home and that I am happiest when I co-sleep (not necessarily bed-sharing.) I’ve learned that a mother-in-law will not notice that you haven’t mopped the floor in weeks as soon as she sees her grandchild for the first time. I’ve learned that Bug is happiest in the mornings, so that’s when we do floor time and tummy time and I get all my smiley pictures. I’ve learned that you never change the poop diaper until you hear the poop sound three times. I’ve learned that my body is capable of miraculous things and I’ve learned that my heart can never have enough love for my son. I’ve also learned how to function on 6 hours of sleep and on a diet or granola bars. I’ve learned that I will not eat a meal with a fork while it’s still hot until I am done nursing Bug. I’ve learned that any herb, tea, or food that will increase my milk supply will taste like stinky socks to me. I’ve learned that my husband is more capable that I gave him credit for and I’ve rediscovered all the reasons why I love him. I’ve learned that wipes will always leave the container like a magician’s scarf trick whenever you don’t have the hands to put them back into the container. I’ve learned that cookies are a perfectly acceptable breakfast on the go. And I’ve learned that parenting is 10% preparation and 90% on the job training that should come with hazard pay.

For someone nature crunchy like myself (and I’ll admit I’m not where near as nature crunchy as some) I was surprised to learn that I don’t always love breastfeeding. After all I went through to nurse Bug, how hard I fought, the nights I cried myself to sleep feeling like a failure as a woman and a mother, sometimes I just don’t enjoy it all the time. Sometimes I have this great bonding moment with Bug, and sometimes I’m just like “really dude?” because though he’s really hungry, he’s fussy and unlatches, bounces around while he smiles and gums at me. Sometimes it’s isolating and lonely, going off to the nursery to breastfeed, leaving the table at a dinner while everyone else eats and celebrates. I try to tell myself that I’m experiencing something very special and I know that I am, but still I feel like I am missing out. I also experienced nursing in public for the first time, which turned into 3 times in one week. The first time was in the barber shop, followed by twice in restaurants. I was probably more upset by it than anyone else around, but it’s something I have a love-hate relationship with as well. I love that I was able to just do it, I hate that I still feel like people are staring at me when I do.  And then there’s the engorgement, the leaking (waking up wet and not knowing if it’s sweat or milk) the panic when I leak that I’m wasting valuable milk. Sometimes I’m OK that I don’t find every aspect and every minute of breastfeeding to be some miraculous and rewarding experience. And sometimes I feel guilty.

In the next few days I’ll be seeing my midwife for my six-week followup. I know my husband is eagerly awaiting if I will get the green light on all fronts. While I’m hoping I’m healthy and doing well, part of me kinda don’t want that green light. I love my husband, part of me wants to be intimate with him, but part of me is just so exhausted and meh about the whole possibility. I’m still getting used to this whole “mom” personality and I’m not feeling too sexy right now (not because I’m a mom, I just don’t feel too sexy.) I’m far more excited about my hair appointment than the go-ahead for sex.

So that’s where I’m at now. Probably not all the feelings I’m having, but certainly the ones I can remember on as little of sleep as I’ve gotten lately.

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