Sometimes, I was on cloud nine. I couldn’t have been happier.
And then other times? Well, this picture speaks for itself:
You know what no one tells you about the first week after giving birth? Just how emotionally difficult it can be. I heard of the baby blues, but I didn’t really know what it actually was…or if how I was feeling was normal. In the hospital they always say, “It’s normal to feel a little emotional for awhile,” but really…how much is a little?!
I read the other day that laboring for three hours is about like running 20 miles. I don’t know how accurate that is, but the fact of the matter is – giving birth is hard work – physically and emotionally.
After Jack was born, I knew to expect a period of physical discomfort – what I wasn’t prepared for was that emotional discomfort. And, somehow, I seemed to forget what it was like this time around as well.
Not everyone will have the same postpartum emotional experience – but I thought I’d share what that first week was like for me. Preparing for the emotions that come after giving birth is important – maybe you’ll get lucky and be less emotional than I was!
Day One (Birth Day!):
This was an exhausting day. I had been up all night and by the time I was admitted to the hospital, everything went by so quickly. I was admitted at 8:30 AM, and Oliver was born at 10:33 AM. However, giving birth tends to give you a huge surge of adrenaline, and I definitely felt that afterward. I knew I should sleep, but all I really wanted to do was snuggle my sweet baby boy. The epidural didn’t wear off for awhile, so I wasn’t really in pain. Even after it did, the main pain I felt was when I would nurse Oliver – those afterbirth cramps are killer!
My parents brought Jack by that night to meet Oliver. I couldn’t wait. I missed Jack so much, and he had been waiting for this day for so long. When he walked in, I felt like Jack had grown about two feet since the last time I saw him.
How did he get so big? It made me sad.
But I cheered up as soon as I saw how much he loved his brother right away. When Oliver started crying, Jack rubbed his head and just kept saying, “It’s okay baby brother. It’s okay.”
That kind of translated in my mind to, “It’s okay, mommy. It’s okay.”
Before they left, Jack told me he just wanted me to come back to Grammy’s house that night.
As soon as they walked out the door, I burst into tears. My heart longed to leave with him, too.
After awhile, I was okay again. We had an awesome nurse who took Oliver so I could sleep (as you know, I’m a big fan of the hospital nurseries.) By that point, the exhaustion from the day was catching up to me. I fell asleep immediately.
This was the day where I just felt like I was on Cloud nine all day.
My nurses were great, everyone kept telling me how cute Oliver was, and I just felt so pampered (I mean, the hospital isn’t nicknamed “Spa Ridge” for no reason.) The nurses kept saying how peaceful our room felt – and the charge nurse told us she kept assigning us the best nurses because she liked us so much. The fact that my baby boy was finally here was starting to sink in, and I couldn’t have been happier.
I ordered a giant carrot cake with my lunch, watched HGTV, and did skin-to-skin with Oliver all day long. I kept thinking, “I’m so happy! Maybe I won’t have any baby blues this time around.”
We were set to be discharged on this day. I think we left around 4:00.
My milk came in around 10:30 AM. This is when the real emotions started up (the same thing happened with Jack.) My sister warned me about that when I had Jack, so I was prepared for it.
I told my nurse, who almost started crying – she said it was the best thing that happened that day (she was a lactation nurse, so, it made sense. Kind of.) Then she started telling me how I was such a good mom, and how sometimes, it breaks her heart to see some of the situations babies went home to. She wasn’t worried about me.
The waterworks were officially set off – and I don’t think they really stopped for a few days.
After we put Jack to bed, I sat on the couch and held Oliver…and I just cried, and cried, and cried.
I think I went to bed crying.
This is the day where reality started to set in – my life had totally changed in an instant.
I cried all day long – mainly as I “mourned” the loss of my old life. This made me feel so guilty. Of course, I wouldn’t trade Oliver for anything, but I started to feel guilty that Jack’s life had changed, too – though, admittedly, he was doing great. I was having a harder time transitioning than him.
Then I started to get sad that Jack was so big, and that Oliver was going to get bigger, too. I cried a lot about that – I told Forrest I didn’t think I could ever have any more kids – my heart might not be able to handle them getting bigger!
My mom came over to help that day – she came over most days.
I broke down a few times to her, telling her that I really didn’t think I’d ever feel normal again. She just listened, and she tried to tell me it was normal. I didn’t believe her. She even said that I was better than I was after I had Jack (I must have been really emotional after him. I hardly even remember.) After she left, I cried some more.
This is the day that everything fell apart.
At least, that’s what it felt like.
I had started to accept the fact that I had two boys, and that this is how our family was supposed to be. However, I started to feel the weight of having two children – and I was overwhelmed. So, so overwhelmed.
At dinner time, Jack wouldn’t eat his dinner. I just burst into tears and went into my room. I cried ugly, heavy tears for probably an hour. Forrest and Jack came in.
Jack said, “I hope you are normal again soon, Mommy,” in a very sweet, concerned tone. I told Forrest that I would never be normal again, and I don’t think I’d ever stop crying.
Forrest is such a compassionate, loving person – he just told me that he thought I would be okay soon..but if not, I could get help. Then I just cried some more.
This is the first day that I didn’t cry.
I woke up, and I felt like a weight had been lifted from me. My mom described this feeling to me a few days earlier – something she had experienced after she had my second sister. I started to feel human again – and even better, I felt like I could actually be a good mom to these boys.
Take care of yourself
Since then, I’ve been fine. I mean, I’ve had a few emotional moments – especially as we dealt with Oliver having trouble gaining weight. But nothing compared to those first few days. I won’t say I’ll never have an emotional moment again – anyone who knows me would laugh if I did. But I will say that it does get better.
The most important thing you can do? Take care of yourself. Let others help you. If you’re feeling down, try skin-to-skin or babywearing – I truly believe those are both healing practices. Order out. Sleep when you can. Hold your baby and cherish this time as much as you can – it goes by far, far too fast.
With that said, it’s okay to put the baby down for a little bit so you can take a shower. Make sure you eat and drink enough. Yes, you have a new tiny human who completely relies on you, but if you aren’t taking care of yourself, your ability to take care of your child is hurt, too.
Having a support network is so important – even if you want to be alone. Just knowing that there are people who care and that check in on you makes a world of difference – I know it did for me.
I don’t know what I would have done without Forrest and my mom. Forrest probably felt a little helpless at times, but he just let me cry and told me everything would be okay. My mom made us dinner, watched Jack countless times, and held the baby so I could sleep. Having my sisters text me, and reassure me that how I was feeling was normal meant the world. I’m grateful for my friend Hilary, who kept checking in on me after I told her I was having a hard time…even when I didn’t respond. Everyone needs a Hilary in their life. I’m grateful for other friends who asked me how I was doing, and even if I didn’t answer totally honestly…I appreciated them wanting to know.
Just know that “this too shall pass.” I promise. You’ll find a schedule. Your hormones will settle down. You may still be exhausted but accomplishing your day to day tasks will get easier every day. And soon enough – you won’t even be able to imagine life without your baby. I know that’s how I feel now. You’ve got this – enjoy it.
After about a week or so (I think what they say is two weeks at the most), you aren’t feeling better…talk to your doctor. Postpartum depression is a real thing that affects many, many women, and if you think you are experiencing it, don’t hesitate to talk to your physician. It’s treatable and you shouldn’t have to suffer in silence. If you have suicidal thoughts or you feel like you might hurt your baby at any point – get help immediately. I’m not a doctor or medical professional, and my advice should not be taken as such.