Mothers Mental Gymnastics – A Postpartum Experience

I’ve never been one to publicly talk much about my mental health struggles but being postpartum I’ve been told It’s important to let it out.

But as a perfectionist and of stubborn Irish-Italian descent…It’s so hard. Getting used to responsibilities of keeping the tiny human alive is a huge change in routine.

Then there are those moments for myself when baby is sleeping where I try to figure out who the hell I am. Those moments I seem to struggle with the most. Adjusting to limitations with COVID on top of all that is just the proverbial straw on the camels back.

I feel guilty sometimes leaving her w the hubby because I see my maternity leave as my “job” to take care of her.

My hubby works remotely from home but his availability and responsibilities can change at a moments notice. He is an amazing father and I knew he would be from the beginning of our relationship over 10yrs ago. I have no doubts in his skills and abilities.

I am learning so much from him already. Things like rushing home and asking him if things are good, are more to calm my brain while I learn to dial things down. It’s just a learning curve to go through at this point.

I was driving to the store the other day and was overwhelmed w the thought “who am I, and who am I now?” Yes I’m now a mom but I’m trying to still find out me. What do I like? Dislike? What are my goals and dreams for ME?

I know I coast along socially with work and family but I’ve never been strong w friendships. I feel like I have trouble making friends but I hate being alone. If that makes sense.

So I am trying to figure out a lot. If you are a new mom and have thoughts that you’re a failure as a mom, are over anxious, or feel out of control please tell your doctor ASAP. Save yourself to help your child. Both of you will benefit.

I told my doc how I’ve been feeling today and just her saying to reach out to people daily, take each victory as it comes, and nothing is going to be consistent to control, only your reactions to them was a huge help.

There was a poster in the exam room explaining the difference between baby blues and true postpartum depression. Blues last about 2weeks, PPD lasts longer and becomes more intense over time. The quicker you communicate the better you will feel.

1st week of parenthood- Mom edition

So it’s been quite a whirlwind. People tell you how much your life will change with a baby and you don’t realize it until it happens to you.

Had a routine doc appt prior to my sched delivery day which would’ve been today, 8/3. I had very high BP so she sent us to the hospital for “monitoring” which turned into getting IV medication because it was so high they worried I could have a seizure. Then they decided on delivery because I started having contractions.

Delivery was beautiful. Heavenly. Just dreamlike. Yes it was a C-Section but it was one of those times where you really take stock and are truly awed at this life, creation, the human body, science, and just absolute unconditional love. While riding high from delivery of our baby girl, I was still on this medication that made me hotter than the sun inside and out, and also made me intolerable to everything, even water for 24 hours.

My hospital is very keen on breastfeeding and skin to skin within the first hour. It was so hard to concentrate on so many things during that time. Recovering from surgery, this damn IV drip, hormones all over, and a baby to learn about.

Eventually we tried latching and she did ok but no one told me how much it would HURT! Literally NO ONE (including fellow moms) mentions this. You see pictures of women breastfeeding and it seems so serene and natural. I assumed it actually feels good. WRONG!

They said “it gets better just keep at it… don’t be so hard on yourself. She’s 36 weeks so she’s still figuring it out too.” They suggested trying to latch for 5-10mins, then try pumping, then formula. So they brought in lactation consultants over our 4 days in the hospital to work on latch and holds.

The whole time I felt tricked and frustrated that it should be so easy. There’s something I’m not doing or maybe something I’m doing wrong.

I felt like I failed at Mom 101 already. Nothing was comfortable. I felt so awkward, my back hurt from being so tense just aching for breastmilk to come in so I can mentally feel relief that I can do what my body was designed to do.

Pumping seemed like a hassle to set up and do. When I did it I suctioned too much and my nipple bled. It scared me so I had to hold off on it and only try latching on one side. I stayed in a hospital gown that didn’t fit and got in the way, an uncomfortable bed, BP all over the map, people coming in and out to check my vitals, baby’s vitals, give me pain meds. It was all just exhausting.

Finally come home and tried to latch still, and grew increasingly frustrated. Annoyed at the process pumping takes, and just generally felt overwhelmed and defeated at the start of how hard this all is. Later that night I shed tears of frustration and overwhelming change seeing my husband running around to help and keep me relaxed.

He really has been my rock, savior, saint, and lifeline for me through this whole thing. I literally have no idea what I would do or who I would be without him. I draw my strength from him without him even knowing it.

Over the next few days, I looked up anything to help and found nipple shields. I was able to get colostrum out of my right breast not my left. After the shields it evened out. They helped with her latching but man does feeding still hurt!!!! Sharp glass like pain at every latch.

I still only get about 5mls total for both sides. I have been trying to pump after her formula feedings to keep up my milk supply. Hoping it will ramp up. We will see.

With all of this going on, I just look at her face and know I can keep going and she’s going to be okay.

This blog has definitely been an outlet for us and hopefully it is for other moms AND dads out there. We all can relate to something so let’s talk about it. Would love to hear your thoughts and share ideas on this parenthood journey.

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From sadness to hope…..

It’s been a crazy emotional rollercoaster the past few months. Feb 16thwe found out we were pregnant. Feeling normal pregnancy symptoms and thinking about the future, looking at strollers, and coming up with ideas of how to announce it were going through our heads.

At our first sonogram we were able to hear the baby’s heartbeat.  Second one everything seemed to be going well.  After that my symptoms started to become less, which I attributed to coming down to the end of the first trimester. Some occasional cramping and aches and pains but again, assuming that’s all part of the baby growing and my body changing.  I woke up one morning with some light pink spotting and cramping.  I decided to stay home from work and just knew something wasn’t right.  The PA who was treating us was didn’t think anything significant was going on but to keep in touch with her throughout the day is my symptom changed or got more intense.

She decided to schedule an appointment for me that day for “peace of mind.”  When I went to the office they wanted to do a sonogram.  As soon as I saw my uterus and the size of the baby I knew it. The sonographer who hadn’t spoken the entire time, quickly shut off the screen that graphically shows the heartbeat as I would find out later, there was none.  Crying in disbelief.  I called my husband and told him the news and we were scheduled for a D&C the next morning.

The day of the D&C and even that night I was calm. We just kept telling each other we will try again.  Let’s get past this and as soon as we can we will try again.  About a week later I was still having some intense pain so I scheduled a follow up to make sure that was normal to feel.  All of those emotions from that day we miscarried flooded back. I was a sad weepy mess coming and going.   I reminded myself that it’s ok to feel that and just another part of the process.  I am trying hard not to associate the doctor’s office with sadness and know that one-day we will look forward to future visits there for happier reasons.  I just have to be a patient patient.

We do feel sad, but not depressed because there is a hope and a dream and determination that we will get pregnant again.  Right now our mantra is to make ourselves the best we can.   Taking vitamins, sticking to the same diet we were doing and keeping stress levels down.

As a woman, it’s hard not to blame yourself since you are the vessel to which the baby grows and comes into the world. Men don’t have that luxury.  My husband and doctor were adamant I not blame myself.  I was sad that it was taken away from us so quickly even before we had a chance to meet.  Physically I have noticed it’s difficult not feeling pregnant. Mentally I am not as excited to look at baby things.  It’s only a temporary feeling and mindset.  None of this was easy on husband either.   It’s just as traumatizing to the husband as the wife to lose a child so quickly.  It is extremely common for miscarriages to happen in the first trimester.  Even sadder is the fact you only hear of it when talking of your own.

Miscarriage should not be a hush-hush subject because it’s not something that YOU did. It is sad and uncomfortable to tell those who shared in our joy about our loss, however that support helped us so much.  It showed us that we are not alone no matter what happens. Hopefully by reading this you can share in that comfort as well.