Postpartum: the good, bad, & ugly

Postpartum. One of the least talked about parts of having a baby.

Everyone shares a lot of details about pregnancy. However, the baby comes & they totally skip over postpartum going straight to baby bliss. I’m not going to lie, postpartum hit me like a ton of bricks. I thought it was all baby snuggles & happy tears, but anyone who’s had a baby knows that’s only part of it. I’m going to try to be brutally honest for this post.

One of the most intense things I was not prepared for was the hormones. I thought there’s no way postpartum hormones will be that much worse than my pregnancy hormones because I had some MAJOR pregnancy hormones. Boy was I wrong. I was ALL OVER THE PLACE. The first two weeks were the worst. I was constantly worried about Ellie, I was frustrated, I felt inadequate, unprepared, alone, and about a million other things. I definitely experienced some baby blues/postpartum depression, which was really hard for me to admit. I didn’t really admit it to anyone except Will until my mom flat out asked me around week 5. I knew PPD was a real thing, but I didn’t think I would experience it. If you’re into the enneagram, I’m an 8 & as an 8 I just thought my mind would be strong enough to overcome it. God humbled me real quick.

My least favorite question was, “Don’t you just love being a mom? It’s the best!” I wanted to yes it’s amazing, but I’m struggling. Since that doesn’t seem like an acceptable response I just smiled & said, “Yeah it’s amazing!” I would’ve much preferred someone to say like, “Being a new mom is so hard. How are you handling it?” Then I might have felt like I could actually share some of my struggles.

I felt really ashamed for some reason. Admitting I was having PPD felt like it somehow took away from how much I loved my baby, but it absolutely doesn’t. It’s just a lot to adjust to while your hormones are literally all over the place. Plus, it was temporary. My hormones have leveled out & I feel like I’m starting to get a handle on being a mom, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get overwhelmed at times. When that happens I have learned now to ask for help. Nobody expects you to do it all on your own, so reach out & ask for help.

Postpartum hormones are one thing, but add in the isolation of having a baby during a pandemic & it can be a recipe for disaster. I still feel sad about the fact that we weren’t able to have family & friends over every day helping & loving on our baby. The only people who came over in those first two week were our moms. And even then, they didn’t come every day. They probably came every 3 or 4 days. I felt extremely isolated & alone. I can count on one hand the amount of times most of our sibling have met Ellie. We haven’t been able to show her off & watch our friends fall in love with her. Coronavirus definitely has the ability to take the joy out of this journey if you let it & I let it in the beginning.

Another part of being a new mom that I don’t think we hear enough about on social media the struggle of breastfeeding. Oh, breastfeeding. Either nobody warned me about how hard it would be or I just didn’t listen! So, let’s talk about it. I know this is not everyone’s experience, but breastfeeding was extremely frustrating for me. Especially those first two weeks, but to be honest it still is sometimes & we’re 10 weeks in. I don’t know if it was partially because Ellie was a premie or what, but we had many many tearful feeds…and Ellie wasn’t the one crying. She had a decent latch right away, but she was a very sleepy eater in the beginning. She would eat for a couple of minutes & then fall asleep & it drove me nuts. Mostly because I was so worried about her eating enough & gaining weight. We would tickle her feet, rub a cold washcloth on her, strip her down to her diaper, etc. It felt like it was going to be like that forever, but after a couple of weeks she got the hang of staying awake & getting what she needs! Now that we’re dealing with some reflux we still have some bad feeds, but they are much less common these days. And if we’ve had a bad feed or two & I need a little break, we will give her a bottle of milk I’ve pumped & it helps me stay sane.

I was extremely opposed to the occasional bottle feed at first because I felt like it was my job to feed her & if I couldn’t do it that meant I failed. Let me remind you, we were giving her bottles of pumped milk, so it wasn’t like I wasn’t providing her food. Those hormones tricked me into believing I was failing at being a mom if we gave her a bottle. During one particularly bad feed around week 2 Will finally said we cannot continue like this (this being me getting frustrated & crying). He convinced me that it was okay if I wanted to just pump & give her a bottle sometimes. Now we give her about 2 bottles a day & it has helped all of a lot. Plus, I love knowing how much food she actually got! So, I breastfeed about 4-5x & then we give her about 2 bottles. That’s what works for us right now.

Next topic, physical recovery. This is where it gets a little ugly. Now, I was fortunate enough to deliver vaginally & I’m so thankful for that, but recovery was still rough! I tore during delivery and ended up with a few stitches in 4 different places. After the high of meeting my baby girl wore off a little the pain set in. My…um…lady parts were so sore, which I 1,000% expected, but I also had TERRIBLE tailbone pain. Moving around was so hard. And the blood! So much bleeding, which I also expected. It was really hard being in so much pain while learning how to take care of a newborn. I expected to feel a lot better within a week of delivery, but I didn’t. I mean, obviously I felt better, but not as good as I wanted to. I would say the 3 week mark is when I really started feeling like I could move around well. My bleeding mostly tapered off after 2 weeks, but then it started back up again. Google will tell you that’s not normal & to be concerned, but unless you’re hemorrhaging, it’s normal. I continued to have bleeding until about 5 weeks postpartum, but it was really light after about 3 weeks.

Here are some of my suggestions for physical recovery:

  • Take as much stuff from the hospital as they will let you – squirt bottle, pads, disposable underwear, numbing spray/gel
  • Get comfortable underwear
  • Wear loose pants
  • Buy lighter pads for when bleeding slows down
  • Buy some additional healing spray/foam/gel for when you run out of the hospital stuff – I used the Frida Mom Perineal Healing Foam
  • Rest – don’t try to go for walks or anything until you feel ready

To wrap it up, bringing a new life into this world is the most beautiful thing, but it’s HARD. I thought labor & delivery would be the hardest part, but I think postpartum is harder. My faith was tested to the max & I grew so close to my husband because I had to lean on him so much. If you’re dealing with PPD or just a little bit of baby blues you are not alone. I would definitely say that acknowledging it & talking about it with Will helped me so much. At first I was trying to convince myself that I was fine, but once I finally admitted that I was feeling some PPD it felt like a weight lifted off of me. Also remember that it is temporary & it is SO WORTH IT. Give yourself grace, You’re doing great mama!

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