My First 2 Weeks Were Hard

I was talking with a friend the other day about postpartum depression and I thought now would be a good time to talk about my experience postpartum. My first two weeks were hard. I don't think I suffered from postpartum depression, but I was frustrated and sometimes sad.

I had a really hard time coming to terms with the fact that I got a c-section. I had been so healthy and active throughout my entire pregnancy that I felt jipped not getting a "traditional" birth experience. I hated having to get induced and I had really hoped that I could have Zoe naturally. That was completely not the case and I wanted that epidural. And I wanted it BAD. Getting the epidural (along with other factors) is what most likely led to my blood pressure crazy dropping and Zoe's heart rate crazy dropping and needing to get the "emergency" c-section (though we both did completely stabilize before surgery). I felt A LOT of guilt thinking that it was "my fault" that the c-section happened. I stupidly reasoned that maybe there was something I didn't do to make myself go into labor, I should have been stronger and held off on the epidural, blah blah blah. But in my head I felt like it was my fault. And that put a big burden on me

After the c-section you are of course very sore, so it was hard for me to hold Zoe a lot those first couple days. Combined with the fact that she was really fussy I felt even more like a failure: I couldn't help Chris soothe her as much as I wanted. My core was sore and I could only hold her for extended periods of time if I was sitting down and sitting down is not what makes Zoe happy. She wanted to be rocked, bounced, walked, etc. and I just couldn't do that.

Then we add to the mix the difficulties of breastfeeding and I was a bit of a basketcase at times. I felt like my largest contribution those first couple days and weeks was being able to feed her, and I was struggling a lot to do that. Zoe and I were having trouble latching and figuring out how to make things work. Chris was amazing and even sometimes held her for me while she was feeding because I would get sore and tired. He was really the most awesome and supportive person he could have been. And I was super thankful for that.

But that still didn't mean that I wasn't hurting. I tried to keep a lot of it in as friends and family asked how things were going. I said I was tired or Zoe was being fussy, but for the most part I kept up a really happy face. I didn't want anyone to worry about me

It was impossible though for Chris to not see that I was having a hard time. At different times in my life I've gone to counseling when I go through phases of various levels of unhappiness and Chris knows that it's best to tackle me being unhappy right when it starts or else I start to sort of tailspin and become a super big Negative Nancy. He asked if I wanted to go to a support group or a Mommy and Me class. I was really hesitant and didn't want to. I was already feeling like a failure for being induced, getting a c-section, having a hard time holding her, and having trouble breastfeeding. Of course going to talk to other moms that were feeling the same thing was the absolute thing I should have done, but I didn't want to "add" one more thing to the list.

It was completely stupid and in no way was I a failure for any of those reasons. That was just what happened for our birth. Nothing was my fault and I was doing everything I could as a new mom and Chris was doing everything he could as a supportive partner and new dad.

For me, everything changed once I read about wearing a baby which came about the time I finally felt strong enough to hold her in her carrier. Once I started carrying and wearing Zoe all the time I felt so much more connected to her and that I could make her feel better and that I was succeeding as a mom. Breastfeeding started to get easier and she started sleeping better. It was magical

I'm sure I was suffering from Baby Blues, adjusting to being a new mom and just being too hard on myself. I don't know why I expected a perfect transition and to get the hang of everything as soon as a new challenge presented itself. This was a brand new experience and something I had absolutely never done - why on Earth would it be so easy peasy?

I now am much more confident at being a mom and tackling new challenges. When people ask me the biggest thing I've learned or the most important piece of advice I always go to: I know enough for today. I know that tomorrow there will be a new challenge that I've never faced, and that will be okay. My mom said that one time her and my brother were in a fight when he was a teenager and she told him that even though he thinks of her as a mom and that she might know everything about being a mom, she'd never had a teenager that was 16 years old, 4 months and 19 days. The next day will be her first time having a teenager who is 16 years old, 4 months and 20 days. No matter how long you've been a mom - 3 days, 3 months, 3 years, or 3 decades - there is always something that will pop up and challenge you and force you to learn how to deal with it. And learning to realize that was a huge burden lifted off of myself that I had unnecessarily placed there

It's important to find the joy in every moment and understand that every frustration will also pass. And when you're really annoyed, make sure to go look at your sleeping baby, there's really just about nothing cuter.


Deb said...

Oh Meryl, I wish I'd known you were feeling that way. I had a very similar experience and it took me quite awhile to get through it - frankly it's 13 years later and I'm still not sure I've come out of it - ha! ;) Motherhood is so completely overwhelming - and then you get the internet and the blogs and the tv shows and - yes - even your competitive friends, that act like it's not mind numbingly terrifying and exhausting to have a newborn that you have no idea how to care for sometimes, and suddenly you get whacked upside the head by feelings of inadequacy and sadness. Justifiable or not, those feelings exist, just the same. Just remember that whether we admit it or not, all of us moms have felt this way at one point and a support group or supportive friends are a great way to help you talk through it. Just knowing someone is not going to judge you but is going to listen to you babble about how scared you are that letting the baby cry because you just couldn't handle it and had to shut the door and walk away for ten minutes and now you've scarred her for life and you obviously aren't doing anything right(!!) can make a WORLD of difference (Yes, a good friend talked me down from the ledge while Olivia screamed in the next room. She obviously survived and is my favorite moody teenager). You are a wonderful mama and I will give you a pep talk whenever you need one ;) Hang in there!!

Kathie said...

I totally understand how you felt/feel. I had a c-section also...and my epidural didn't work so they had to put me under completely. I felt like an absolute failure. It took me most of my maternity leave to come to grips with the fact that there was nothing wrong with our story of having Quinn. It was just our story. And while it wasn't the story I had envisioned in my head it was okay...because he was here and he was healthy and happy and I was healthy and mostly happy (albeit sleep deprived). He was also tongue tied which they didn't realize, so no nursing for us. I should have gone and talked to someone too...but I didn't either. Aren't we so stubborn sometimes? :)

em said...

xo that is all.

priscilla said...

I don't know you and I have kids at least your age but...

You seem like a great mom. Vaginal birth is overrated. I had to be induced with both and it hurt. It also ruined certain parts. Forever.

Your baby is adorable.

Sara @ Russet Street Reno said...

Yep, I often wonder how my life would be different if I'd had a C section. Recovery is hard no matter what, and my 'normal' birth resulted in a disgusting 3rd degree tear, 6 weeks of pain, and the most horrible itching in the world. Yeah, DOWN THERE. Plus I will pee when I sneeze for the rest of my life, I'm quite sure. The mommy guilt will never go away, it will just change like you said. But you have the right attitude and you are doing so well now!

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

Hi Meryl. I'm so sorry you went through this. It SUCKS. Once you factor in the pain, the exhaustion and the uncertainty, it makes EVERYTHING a challenge at the beginning. Ugh. I remember it too well.

I'm glad that you have such a supportive husband who knows you well enough to say 'hey - I think it is time to go see someone'. We all need someone like that.

You are doing a great job. Being a mom to a newborn is very, very hard and the rewards are fleeting at this early age (one smile, one giggle) but it will get better. And please - don't be too hard on yourself if you aren't loving every moment. Because some moments just aren't that loveable. ;-)


Emily said...

It took me weeks to feel bonded with my first girl. It felt very hollow, routine. Finally we got the swing of it. With my second, it was immediate. But, this time around, my stress was lower, etc, and had the experience too.

I'm glad it's getting better. It is fun. It's great watching Zoe grow!

Anonymous said...

I had 2 "naturally" and one c-section(the baby from hell) within 3 years. I feel strongly that babies should come UPS. I had no perfect delivery, issues with each birth. Bonding is a lifelong process. I am adopted and always felt bonded to my parents. You are meeting a new person who cannot verbalize and is very demanding. I became so sad, or angry, or whatever, that I sort of whispered to my doctor that I could not be happy. He started anti-depressants and the world got soooo much better. I personally think most of us have some issues after childbirth. My three bios' kids are young adults now and I still have occasional guilt for various things. And then they piss me off again! Don't stress, it will all work out.

meryl rose said...

Thanks for all the support everyone! While it's comforting to know that so many people have so many different feelings of guilt, pain, difficulties, etc. - we should all try not to be so hard on ourselves. Of course, it's so much easier said than done. I always feel bad sneaking in any little bit of work while she's awake and playful. I'm glad to know I have a band of supportive and honest moms to talk with! :) :) :)