This might be one of my more difficult topics to post about, but I’m starting to feel it necessary. I loved every minute of being pregnant. I didn’t care so much about the weight gain, the fact that I had to stop sleeping on my stomach, and the restrictions that came with creating such a beautiful baby. But nothing prepared me for the reality of living with a newborn. Yes, everyone says things change with kids, but nothing really prepared me for those first sleepless nights. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s no one will make you feel more incompetent as an adult woman than a screaming 1 week old at 3 am…
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my little girl. She is what Chris and I hoped and wished for but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult going from a two-person household to a household with a newborn. I was not prepared for the sleepless nights, no matter how many people warned me, I guess you just don’t know until it’s 3am on day whatever it is of sleep deprivation that it hits you. Also, can we talk about this great concept of ‘sleep when baby sleeps’….I wasn’t able to do that. I tried. I lay awake trying to clear my mind most times, or when I finally felt myself drifting away, Wendy would wake up and would start the feeding tongue sign….or she would only sleep on my lap or in my arms because she loved the warm body to body contact. So yes I found it difficult to find moments to sleep. Also if I slept when baby slept, when the heck was the laundry suppose to get done, or the bathroom cleaned….
It’s funny to think about how things basically change overnight and you’re left with this little person that you really know very little about. I found it both exciting and frightening. What did I know about Wendy before I gave birth to her? I knew she usually kept her eyes open during ultrasounds, she constantly had hiccups, and she loved being on her right side. What I didn’t know was that she is most likely lactose-intolerant, loves smiling, and actually, let’s be honest there’s a long list of the stuff I don’t know. It’s a scary time. I found it especially scary because I couldn’t control the surge of emotions that came over me the week after I gave birth. Everyone talks about Postpartum Depression, and that is a scary reality in itself, so when I found myself crying my eyes out during one 3am morning feeding after an hour of sleep, I quickly did what any millennial mom would do….I opened up Google and searched for whether or not it was normal to cry so much in my first week as a mom. There were some nights I think I cried more than my baby. Did I have postpartum depression? Was I just not a good mom? I seriously had thoughts of getting into a car and driving to the nearest hotel. There were so many emotions that week and not enough sleep. So what did I find on google? It wasn’t postpartum depression, it was ‘The Baby Blues.’ Yup, I had never heard of that before. Apparently, 50 to 70% of women experience the baby blues within the first two weeks. It apparently has a lot to do with raging hormones after birth, sleep deprivation and the painful physical healing that comes after childbirth. You just don’t feel like yourself. The thing about that is it should go away within the first 2-3 weeks or for some women within hours or when you get a few good solid hours of sleep. If it doesn’t then talk to your doctor.
My baby blues did eventually go away, especially when I got a solid 8 hours of sleep (thank you Chris!) but looking back that didn’t make it any less difficult to deal with. There were moments of 3am regret and mourning for the life before a newborn which then only made me feel severe mom guilt for thinking that. Then there was the feeling of isolation. There is such shame when it comes to admitting that you don’t feel baby bliss 100% of the time. It makes you feel incompetent as a mom, simply because I haven’t met many moms who admitted to having those feelings. So what I decided to do was to tell my husband everything, thank goodness. He made no judgments and just reassured me that I was a great mom and that I just gave birth to a human being less than a week before. He was/is amazing. But that got me thinking; if the baby blues are so common why haven’t I ever heard of them. I came to realize the intense shame behind the feelings that women experience in those weeks. It’s almost like those feelings are downplayed because women feel judged for not having that after birth blissful connection to their newborn 100% of the time. I going to say this to you, be kind to yourself. What you feel those first two weeks or two hours is normal. You are doing great. Those feelings of insecurity will pass (they will probably come back during the toddler years, teens years oh heck they will probably appear randomly throughout our parenting journey) but they will pass. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, just ask for help. You don’t have to do it alone. I’m generally the kind of person who hates asking for help because it makes me feel weak, but I learned to depend on my support system. You are not weak. You gave birth to a frackin’ human!!! You are not abnormal or a bad mom just because motherhood seems so difficult (thank you hormones and sleep deprivation…). Keep going, you can do this! Talk to the people around you about how you feel and remember if you really can’t shake the baby blues, talk to your doctor about it. There is no shame in saying that you need help.