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.