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.)