Monday, April 23, 2012

The After Party

Continued from here.

For my whole life, whenever I thought about giving birth, I only imagined it up to the part where I get the baby. All the labor stuff made me a little nervous, but then once they hand you the baby it's happily ever after. Wrong. I was so wrong. One too many romantic comedies or episodes of "A Baby Story" I guess.

Much to my surprise, birthing baby was the easy part. Then there was shaking uncontrollably, a fever and chills, wearing a diaper (which goes along with a whole world of unpleasant stuff that I won't get into), painful failed attempts to breastfeed, and passing out when the nurses tried to take me to the bathroom--I guess I had lost a bit too much blood right at first. Most of all I was more exhausted than I'd ever been in my life. All I wanted to do was sleep, but nurses kept coming in to check my whatever and push really hard on my stomach. Hi, I just had a baby.. that hurts! And then it took me about a week before I could walk without hunching over and feeling like I was going to pass out.

But the really worst part was probably the emotional roller coaster they call "baby blues". It's such a happy, exciting time but also really scary and overwhelming. Add crazy hormonal imbalance, and it's a mess. I would burst into tears over the tiniest things and sometimes for absolutely no reason at all. I wasn't at all interested in anything that I usually love (food, reality TV, Pinterest). And the very worst of all was every evening when the anxiety would hit. Even though I was dead tired those first few nights, I couldn't sleep because of the awful, unshakable anxiety. If you've ever had a moment where you're scared for your life, and your heart's beating out of your chest, that's how I felt ALL. NIGHT. LONG. But each day it got a little better, and I cried a little less. I'm incredibly grateful that it was temporary and didn't develop into full-blown PPD. I  have a lot more empathy now for anyone who deals with that or any kind of anxiety/depression.

So now it sounds like it was all just the worst experience ever. Parts of it were. But there were moments in that first really, really hard week that were the best ever. Like falling asleep to general conference with my baby boy curled up on my chest. Or seeing Jacob instantly become the best dad ever. Or when he would sit right by my hospital bed during those long anxiety-filled nights, hold my hand, and tell me we could take turns staying awake if it would help me feel better. And all of this making me realize that God knows me so well that he gave me a husband who is more perfect for me than I ever could have known. Seriously, if I wasn't married to someone so helpful and involved, I would have lost it! I also would have lost it without my mom there the first week to be my slave, answer my worried-new-mom questions, and get me out of the house, even though I had to use one of the motorized shopping carts for old folks.

At first I felt a little guilty for not being euphoric every moment of every day. It felt like every new mom in the world felt that way while I kept thinking "Is this really the rest of my life?"  "Will I ever get dressed again?" "Will I ever sleep again?" And while I'm beyond grateful, I think it's OK to feel overwhelmed and even sad sometimes. This is a huge change and so physically and emotionally draining.

Luckily, things are already so much better. We are starting to get into a groove that works for us, and I'm becoming a tiny bit more confident every day. The crazy postpartum hormones are waning, we're all getting more sleep, and I've even showered and gotten dressed a few times. The good moments are definitely outweighing the bad, and we love our little guy more than anything.


Annie said...

Oh, I just love honest posts like this!!! Thanks for sharing, I think you are a great writer!

Brookelyn said...

I love honest posts. And I love you. My sister-in-law and I got on the baby topic the other day and everything you said came up--So what I'm saying is I'm glad you're a real human. Also, she showed me this post and it made me laugh so hard... it might be a little too close to home right now, but you might also laugh a little. You're gonna be such a good mommy!

Andrea said...

Natalli! Thank you for this post. This is something I've definitely worried a little about -the not knowing what happens right after. Thank you for being open about it -it seems like everyone else just skips over the hard stuff and never really brings it up. I'm glad it's getting better. And from what I hear, it just keeps getting better (getting into routines, baby sleep schedules, whatever...)
p.s. your baby is such a cutie cute cute:)

Ray said...

Th newborn stage is just hard! It does get better as the baby gets bigger! You are totally normal to feel all of those things! He is soooooo cute, and it will be even better once you get all moved and settled in your own place!

Em said...

That comment was from me, not Ray ;)

Suzanne M said...

You just described exacty what I felt after having both of my children.
I remember when Hayley was born and we brought her home from the hospital, the thought of anything happening to her made me go crazy. I thought she was too far away when her bed was right next to mine because I was worried someone would break in, snatch her up, and leave. Seriously.
Then came Andersen. Boy howdy, I had more PPD with him than the first time around. It took a month or so to start feeling like we could realy handle this to kid thing.
And now it's bliss. (That's a lie.) :) But it IS easier and I enjoy my two children and have mostly forgotten what it was like when they were born (hence the reason I still want more!).
You are strong and I'm glad things are getting a little better. Newborn life is so unpredictable and the only thing you can do is take it one day at a time and remember those precious moments---because as youve heard by EVERYONE, they grow up too fast! And that's is beyond true.

tracie said...

I love this!! I'm so glad you can be honest about how you feel. I don't think ANY mom has a perfect time after birth even though a lot of them act like it. I'm so glad you're doing better!!