Postpartum

I try to be an honest writer.

This is going to be an honest post.

… An honest reflection of the postpartum experience thus far. The books didn’t warn me about this part…

The first few days after giving birth are a mixture of euphoria and adrenaline. While JD slept (un)soundly in the pullout chair next to my hospital bed, I stayed awake excitedly listening to Elianna’s soft breathing and bubbling. Nurses came in and out, and I was tireless. If Ellie cried, I wasn’t bothered at all. The mothering instinct kicked in full force the second she wriggled out of me, and I was ready to take motherhood by storm.

Home from the hospital and adrenaline quickly died. It didn’t matter that my entire body ached and I felt exhausted, though, because Euphoria was still my best friend and I told JD I could have 800 babies. I literally began planning the next time we could give Elianna a brother or sister, because babies are JUST SO GREAT!!! Mom and dad tell me I’m doing amazing. I decide I can go on an outing four days after giving birth, so we went to a 4th of July BBQ for a few hours.

This is when adrenaline and euphoria died.

The next day was spent in bed with flu-like symptoms (thanks to breastfeeding and engorgement and all kinds of other goodies). Ellie was taken care of by her daddy and grandparents, only seeing me for meals. I slept, and Ellie Joy fussed due to the gas caused by the stool softeners given to me by the hospital (I am thankful for them though – who wants to worry about going poo after shooting a baby out of your body?).

After a day of fussiness I am determined to get Elianna on a routine. With the Baby Whisperer in hand, I print out three copies of Elianna’s schedule and post them around the house for everyone to see. I watch for signs of tiredness, hunger, gas, overstimulation, and everything else babies experience. This is the day that all euphoria, every last drop of it, goes away and my enemy the Overwhelmed One kicks in. At the end of the day I am more exhausted than before, because I have just realized that every three hours I must feed, change diaper, play (ok, stare), and put Ellie to sleep. And then the cycle begins again. And my life is over. The clock and I have staring contests. This does not bode well for my soul and it is decided in my head that Elianna will be our only child.

I wake up crying the next morning, because I just can’t bear to nurse Elianna any more. Too much pain. My whole body aches and I have a low-grade fever. I take Tylenol with Codine (prescribed to me in the hospital) and Motrin. The rest of the day is spent in bed. Our friend Robin, a lactation consultant, is called frantically. The moms confirm that Ellie has a good latch, but because of 40 minute feedings and some irregularity on my part, well, the bosoms are SORE. My day in bed is met with honest reflection and evaluation of our lifestyle and what is manageable for our baby girl. It is decided that I do not need to give Elianna a bath at 5:30 every day. Nor do I need to be overly concerned if she falls asleep in someone’s arms rather than her crib. And motrin works wonders. These realizations give me great relief and I sleep the day away.

Robin comes to check Ellie and I out. We’re doing well. A few complications to be aware of, but there are no infections. The evil being known as Mastitis has not come knocking at our door, yet. Life becomes less complicated in my mind and I decide to give motherhood another try. Two days into the epiphanies, and we’re doing much better.

I am still a little hermit. Not because I do not enjoy my friends and visitors, but because I am exhausted and the idea of visitors overwhelms me right now. I didn’t think it would take this long to recover. I believed I was immune from a fussy baby, sore breasts, achy body, and the “weepies,” as we’ll call them. I’m not sure why I believed this, but I did. Thought that if I did everything right, then everything would go well. It does my heart well to know this is not true… and that having the weepies is ok.

(By the way, my parents and JD are closely monitoring my weepies to ensure it is not postpartum depression – so I am in good hands).

In the midst of all this – the tiredness, emotional roller coasters, overwhelming thoughts of “Oh sweet mercy she’s here forever AND SHE WON’T STOP CRYING,” concern about my body’s recovery, and sometimes dreading the next three hours because our veracious eater is going to go at it again – in the midst of this, I have come to know a love and joy that is greater and more pure than anything else in the world. I am in awe of my daughter, her beautiful blue eyes, adorable chubby cheeks, reluctant wail, and silky black hair. She has turned me into a new woman, a better wife (parenting has bonded JD and I even more!), and a greater lover of Jesus.

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9 thoughts on “Postpartum

  1. Barbie says:

    I feel like I’m an excessive commentor, but I just can’t help myself!!

    :*) Made me a little teary to read this. Oh the joys of that first couple of weeks. And I remember through all of those emotions, crying because I couldn’t believe my baby was already…a week…two weeks. Oh Annie, I’m sure you’re figuring it out beautifully and all my advice has already been given, so I won’t give any 😉 Just keep chugging along, but don’t be in such a hurry to do everything according to the book. You have good instincts and every baby is different. She’ll survive you and you’ll survive her 🙂

  2. Amy Q says:

    Annie B now Annie G 🙂 I’m so happy that you and miss Ellie are healthy. She is sooo cute. I remember sometimes feeling like this part (newborn)would be my new life forever and what had I gotten myself into. I remember days walking upstairs at the end of the day (well when it got dark!)and my little boy would give me a smile. It would warm my heart so much that it would be like “ok I’ll do this another day!” Before I knew it we were in a groove. Someone told me to put a mark at 3 months on the calendar and that when that day came around I wouldn’t be able to believe how everthing would be organized. Boy was that true! Anyhow blah blah blah. I’m so happy for you girl!
    Luv u!

  3. Great Aunt Marti says:

    I think you would enjoy reading (in all your spare time) Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott. Hilariously funny and typically honest.

    Bless you Annie. You have a huge case of the normals. No one warned me about the exhaustion either. Your body is going through massive changes. Give yourself and your body a break. So great that you have family so you can get rest. Lots of fluid, lots of rest…and lots of looking at God’s incredible new creation.

  4. Joy says:

    First of all, Congratulations!!! Ellie is so beautiful and I can’t believe how well you have done through everything thus far. Mostly, natural labor after being induced. Wow. You are an amazing woman. Thank you very much for the honest education concerning the days after. My coworker (Jade) and I, who are both due in September, frequently view your blog and are grateful to know what is in store. I hope that the next few weeks go smoothly for you as your body transitions into a new state. JD and I send you three our love and I can’t wait to see more pictures of Ellie, you and, of course, my cousin who is now a daddy. I am sure he is doing a fabulous job!

  5. multitaskingmama says:

    Stumbled across your blog via the family category on WordPress.com. Congrats on your new precious baby! My guy is 2 now and I so miss those early days, weeks, and months.. even though a lot of what you said sounds so familiar. I think it is great you are posting it because I think moms put a lot of pressure on ourselves and think there is a certain way it is suppose to be done and that is not the way we are doing it, or it is suppose to be one way and for some reason, the dern train is headed off on the wrong tracks… but the truth is, we make it through just fine.. and yes, it’s true, that even if you don’t give her a bath every day at 5:30, she really won’t be scarred emotionally for life. 🙂

    This is the first of your posts I’ve read & I am sharing your blog with a friend of mine due this fall who also has a website, All Things Birth Choices, because I think she’ll love your blog. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Christy

  6. Congratulations to you and your husband on the birth of your first baby, who is just so adorable!

    After reading your post (which was on the front page of WordPress), I just had to tell you that I can totally relate to your experience! I am a mom to 6 kids, and our 7th due in 6 weeks, and remember all too well nursing my first baby (and each one thereafter)- it was hard at first, and a lot to get used to, as the whole experience is so new.

    Please give yourself about 6 weeks to get used to nursing- it does hurt in the beginning! I have nursed all of my babies until about 15 months or so, for a total of over 7 years of nursing- I have experienced it all from cracked, bleeding nipples, engorgement (ouch!!), mastitis, 40+ minute nursing sessions, to nursing finally all settling down to peaceful, comfortable bonding time. You will get there too, I promise, just try to be patient even though it is hard and seems like it will never get better, but it will! And you will not always feel like a mama cow (lol)!

    It is okay to feel overwhelmed at the thought of visitors. I remember a friend’s visit with my first baby (she did not have any babies at the time), and she sat there for hours chatting with me, totally oblivious to how awful I felt- I just wanted to climb in bed, but I never did say anything- how dopey was I?! Do not be afraid to say anything, people will understand- and you can always get hubby to inform family and friends.

    It will probably take a good 4-6 weeks for you to feel somewhat normal again- it really does take some time for your body to heal, and all of the hormones to calm down. I never like the weepies, and the past two babies, I have experienced postpartum depression- so not fun! Remember that the depression can happen anytime during the first year- I will pray that this does not happen to you!

    The other women who have commented, have given you great advice- your body is going through massive changes, so be sure to get lots of fluids and rest, trust your instincts and not so much the books, forget about the daily baths (too much for newborn skin anyway), and toss out the schedule, as you and baby will develop your own rhythm/routhine in your own time.

    I will keep you in my prayers, as you are experiencing your new calling of motherhod. Motherhood sure is an amazing journey- just wait to see how the Lord uses it to transform your soul! I cannot even begin to tell you how motherhood has been shaping and molding my soul. I have gained much needed patience, kindness, compassion, love, selflessness…

    It is fun (okay, not always fun!) to see the daily tests He gives us to perfect our souls, from the cycle of long nursing sessions, endless crying, many, many diaper changes, the un-terrible twos (my favorite age!), to the blissful moments, full of overwhelming emotion, when you watch your baby peacefully sleep, see her smile, hear her laugh, receive your first hug from her, see her full of pride as she reaches her developmental milestones, and see those big, beautiful eyes look at you with such love and admiration!

    God bless you and your family! Keep blogging about your experience, as it will help you, and the other moms who read your blog. Enjoy the journey, and take care of yourself!

    Sweet blessings,
    Lisa McClatchy

  7. This could be my story exactly! When my mom told me the first month or so would be really tough, I wailed, ‘Mom, don’t be so pessimistic! I’m tough! I’ll be over this!” But I ate my words. For several months. Being mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done (like you said during the birth) but the most beautiful, wonderful thing I’d do over an over.

    You are doing it beautifully! Enjoy!

  8. anniegroves says:

    I’m sorry I didn’t respond to all these comments, but I wanted to thank each of you for your kind and encouraging words. What an incredible blessing to hear your stories, your hearts, and mostly to know that this is normal and OK. Thanks for reading, all of you.

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