Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Little Peace in the Midst of My Chaos...


When I started this blog, part of my intent was to share my struggles during my first few weeks as a new mother. I did more of that toward the beginning - I've talked about postpartum depression, such fun activities as fishing for turds and struggling to have a clean house, and suffering from moments of mommy brain, but there's so much that I haven't shared yet, and today it's time to talk about it some more.

I am so glad Dennis snapped this picture of Kaylee and I. She wasn't yet a month old. Those first 2 or 3 months are pretty much a blur to me, and I don't have a ton of fun memories of that time. Mostly, I remember being tired, cranky, weepy, putting on a happy face when, in all reality, I was freaked out and in way over my head, exhausted, and unable to function in many ways.

I wanted to share this picture because when I look at it, it reminds me that I did have some moments of peace in the midst of all the chaos of those first few weeks. I did have sweet moments with my baby girl. And believe it or not, apparently I did manage to get some sleep here and there.

I've talked to my mom and some of my friends about those first few weeks, and I usually end up in tears by the end of the conversation. I get so sad because I honestly don't remember a lot of what happened, and I feel like I missed out on some really precious time in the earliest days of my baby's life. I truly felt like I missed out on moments that I will never get back, and I think I'll always be sad about that.

In order for you to understand the whole picture, I'll start at the beginning.

I had a normal labor and delivery course, and could have gone home after 24 hours, but we were having trouble getting Kaylee to nurse, so I was encouraged to stay an extra day to get more support with breast feeding. I agreed, but one sleepless night in the hospital turned into two sleepless nights.

I was exhausted from giving birth. I was in awe at this sweet little being nestled in a handmade, white, crocheted blanket in the bassinet next to me, and I couldn't stop looking at her and checking on her as I lay in that hospital bed. I was tired of being bothered all the time so the nurse could check my vitals. I had what felt like everybody and their mother in my room trying to help me breast feed my baby every two hours - seriously, at times there were 2 or 3 nurses in there at once trying to help us. And every time I tried, I failed. I was really, really, really sad that my baby wouldn't breast feed. I felt like a freak - like something was wrong with me - that I couldn't do one of the most basic tasks of motherhood.

And I was in pain. The ice pack and pain meds were wearing off, and I was beginning to realize how much trauma my body had just gone through. Episiotomies frickin' suck - and Kaylee was only a 5 pounder. My body eventually decided that it didn't like the codeine that was in the Tylenol, so I proceeded to ralph up all my pain medication in the middle of the night, and had to wait several more hours before I could get any other form of relief, and from then on my pain was never really under control. That's when things really started going downhill...

When I was finally discharged, the doctor said something about taking Aleve at home. Somehow, I managed not to catch the part about how I should take several Aleve to equal the amount of medication I was getting at the hospital (sleep deprivation, perhaps?) , so I went home and proceeded to take 1 capsule of Aleve. I was on 800 mg tylenol and narcotic pain meds at the hospital to manage the pain, so 250 mg of Aleve didn't even touch the pain once I got home.

I literally could not get in and out of bed - my husband had to get me to the bathroom and back. It was quite possibly worse than the pain of contractions, and my dignity had flown the coop. I was in so much pain I couldn't concentrate on anything else. I wanted so badly to just settle in and enjoy my baby like I assumed every other new mother did, but I couldn't.

We ended up calling the doctor and I was able to get on a regimen that effectively managed my pain, but it took at least a day for it to kick in.

Those first few weeks I know I freaked my husband out. I was not myself. My house didn't feel like my house. I felt like I couldn't enjoy my baby because I was so dang tired all the time that I couldn't function. And, as ready and willing as I was to pump milk for my daughter every 3 hours, that took a toll on me as well. Each time I got hooked up to the milk machine I got sad that I had a damn machine hooked up to my boobs instead of my baby, nursing peacefully. I was happy I could at least provide her with breast milk, but I still felt crappy each time - it was time spent away from my baby and time spent thinking of how I STILL couldn't breast feed her. The day she turned 8 weeks old she decided that it was high time to latch on, and she's been a little nursing pro ever since. Anyway, back to what I was saying...

4 days postpartum I had the first anxiety attack of my life. I'm a relatively laid back person and don't really get worked up about stuff. After I realized what happened, I was determined to figure out what triggered it so it wouldn't happen again. I quickly realized that it all began with food. I couldn't get it out of my head that the nurses at the hospital told me I had to consume between 500 and 1000 extra calories daily to sustain breast feeding. I wasn't really eating like I normally do because, well, I was either trying to sleep, remembering that I hadn't taken a shower in 2 days, wincing through pain, or listening to my baby cry. So, in the back of my severely sleep-deprived mind, there was something telling me that I had to eat A LOT, and I needed to eat a lot NOW. So, I started eating really fast - I felt like I hadn't eaten in days and shoot, if I wanted to breastfeed I had to eat, eat, eat, right?

Suddenly I was having trouble breathing. I was suddenly ice cold. I was trembling. And it was all completely out of my control. I was scared out of my mind and didn't know what was happening to my body. We called the doctor and he talked me through it - telling me that I was having a panic attack. I can't tell you how embarrassed I was, and what a WIMP I felt like at the time. I was mortified that my family had witnessed all that. But, I still remember my dad, standing behind me as I sat in the glider in the nursery. He would gently pat my arm and kept saying, "It's okay, it's okay, it's okay" over and over. And over. And over. Because I told him not to stop saying that. He calmed me down and helped me get through it. I'm sure he was scared sh*tless, too, but he didn't let on that he was.

I'm getting better about it, but I can't even begin to describe to you how much I've beat myself up over the fact that I have had such a hard time adjusting to motherhood. I really didn't think it would be this hard. But it is. Thank God it's getting better, and thank God for medication. I'm slowly learning to cut myself some slack and not be SO hard on myself. A huge part of my being able to get through this is talking to people who have been there before, or who are going through this now. Because I realize that I'm not the only one.

I'm not a freak. I'm not a basket case (well, okay - maybe some days I am), and I don't need to be locked up somewhere and put in a straight jacket (not yet, anyway - although I did have a conversation with some of my mom friends one day and we all informed each other that we would like sparkly, rhinestone straight jackets if someone came to take us away...).

I'm a mom. A new mom. One that loves my baby tremendously and is living a dream that I always wished for. And, I'm wreck some days. And that's okay.


(This post is part of Wordful Wednesday, sponsored by 7 Clown Circus - head on over to check out more Wordful Wednesday work.)

20 comments:

Renée aka Mekhismom said...

Wow, that really sounds like a rough couple of days. I know you didn't have a c-section but dear it totally sounds like you did. I am glad that this photo is captured. I remember the early days of having a baby - tears, fear, pain, sleepless nights. What a great reminder this photo is of the peace.

Susie said...

What a great picture and a wonderful memory to capture:-)

Letti said...

You both look like angels. I am glad that everything worked out.

Kelly said...

I can totally relate to everything you are saying! As a new mom on "crazy" pills or ABP as you like to say, I too know how overwhelming ALL of it is! My daughter turns 2 next week and I will be doing several posts about her birth story. Stay tuned...I promise you were/are not alone!

Sera said...

Hey Letti - not sure if you'll read this or not, but I wasn't able to comment on your blog. Just wanted to tell you thanks for stopping by and for your kind words!

Kelli @ Gohn Crazy said...

I had a lump in my throat throughout this post. I can most definitely identify with a LOT of what you said. I'm glad you have that gorgeous picture of you and your little angel to help you remember the good. :)

Lorina said...

I am loving that picture.. very sweet. Motherhood is far harder than I ever thought it would be. Oy. I love love being mommy but somedays are way harder than others.

That is quite a story, I had postpartum depression with my son..

I am glad your better.

angi_b72 said...

What a beautiful picture, you should frme that and hang it in your baby's room!! Oh the Joys of Motherhood!

Tiaras and Tantrums said...

wow - such honesty . . . the first one - it is SOOOOO rough and tough!!! OUt of your mind crazy for sure!! But man - she's a cutie!

April said...

Thanks for being so honest. A lot of moms go threw that but don't share because they feel alone. I had PPD real bad and was so embarrassed about it I didn't even want to tell my doc. Hubby made me and I got on meds and got better. Your a great mom and everyone goes threw it at some point but not a lot will share (which helps others so much). That is such a cute picture. She looks like a little angel.

sassy stephanie said...

Oh I love that pic. I too, love your honesty.

I had a bout of the blues with my third but I don't think I really knew it until at least a year later.

Love love love on her every single chance you get.

Jenners said...

First of all, that picture is so priceless.

Second, motherhood is totally not easy AT ALL! Nothing prepares you for it, and not everyone has a great start. I expected to feel some kind of instant love and bond but just felt a bit alienated from my baby. I didn't even get him out of the nursery at the hospital because I was so scared of him. Breastfeeding was a nightmare and I quit after 6 weeks. You are a trooper that you held in there as long as a you did.

The fact that you are working, blogging and being a functional, rational person just shows you that you are doing great! Your daughter is thriving. You are thriving! I admire you for your ability to write so honestly and with so much self-insight and humor. You rock!!!

And thanks for the recipes. Monkey bread sounds right up my alley. (This last part of the comment totally doesn't seem to fit in but I wanted to tell you.)

HeatherY said...

Beautiful picture. Those first few months are brutal. This is a great post and I love your honesty. It keeps getting better and eventually you get some sleep!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Katie Says So said...

What a beautiful picture!!!! I hope that is in a frame somewhere so you can smile at it everyday! =)

I read your story and it brought tears to my eyes! I am not a mother but have had depression before and know it is really tough to talk about. Thanks for your honesty. I had a really hard time when I got depressed/having anxiety because I was ashamed and didnt know what was wrong with me. It was after I finally saw a doctor and through the encouragement of my family that I have been able to get better. But it is still sometimes a struggle.

You sound like you are doing such an excellent job right now! Keep it up!! You have tons of people here rooting for you as well!!!

Jen said...

Sure as hell that is alright. Motherhood is hard and I don't think that anyone is prepared for it. I don't think that there is anyway to prepare. All I want to do is give you a great big HUG. Sometimes it is not want we think it will be but it ALL is still awesome and we would not change any of it.

jenn3 said...

I think the first year of my daughter's life is a haze. Of course she didn't sleep for the whole first year and I had to work full time. I'm so glad I have pictures to look back on because I honestly don't remember most of it. (And she's only two.) Being a mommy isn't as glamorous as people make it out to be - but it's worth it.

Thanks for sharing your story. And it is a beautiful picture. Very peaceful.

Jennifer said...

Oh, Sera--I'm sorry you had such a rough time! Those firt weeks are so exhausting and--like you said--a blur of no sleep and pain. I'm so glad you're feeling better now! Feel free to vent anytime!

Oh and I love that pic!

Anonymous said...

Man, I can SO relate to so much of this. My SIL said that most mommas forget how hard the first few months are with a newborn, and maybe that's a gift in the end (otherwise we would never have more!). She also said that it's okay that the adjustment is hard, that there is a mourning process to go through for our former life that is gone. I know I've told you this before, but I need to hear it (even now sometimes), too!! Hugs, sister.

oh, and panic attacks SUCK! i would be mortified if my family saw me go through one, and most of the people i'm related to have anxiety disorders.

Ruth

angie said...

I, too, was completely unprepared for how difficult motherhood would be. I had episiotomy with my first, and boy can I tell you how much WORSE it is than tearing. I don't know why they do it anymore. Old school, I suppose. I love the picture of you and your baby, and your willingness to share with us!

Mama Kat said...

Ohhhhhh I feel your pain. Motherhodd is TOUGH! Especially the first year. I have a hard time too and my BFF suffered from ppd. She's one of the most nurturing people I know and ppd is one of her life sturggles that still brings her to tears. Talking about it and blogging about all those feelings is good for you though. You'll find lots of people who have gone through and feel similar things and you'll be a ray of hope for those experiencing it now...so keep writing!!!

 
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