Healing is hard. While I’m mostly healed, I’m not at 100%. I still have a hard time bending all the way over without feeling it pulling and if I’ve had a particularly active day, I still get sore. Leaning forwards against a counter, or anything really, is a bad idea and Noklop still can’t walk over me.
Everyone always talks about just the good things about having a baby. I think part of that is because the hormones that make you forget how awful pregnancy and childbirth are are still present to make you forget about the first few months (that and sleep deprivation) but also I think as mothers, we are expected to enjoy every minute of being a new mother and god forbid you say anything negative. We shouldn’t have to struggle with anything because having a baby is supposed to be so natural. They are supposed to come out maybe not with ease but it should be natural, baby should latch right away and the baby should be a good sleeper. If we show that we are struggling, it makes us look like, or feel like, we aren’t able to be a good parent. You never hear of anyone else struggling so why are you? Your friend’s baby latched and breastfeeding was a breeze so why are you having such a hard time with it? Well, I’m willing to bet that your friend didn’t have an easy go at breastfeeding. I’ll bet she was engored for a while and it was also painful and maybe there were other issues but she didn’t admit it to you because, well, I don’t know. I have no shame in admitting my struggles in the first 2 months. While Dmitri has always had a good latch, I had way too much milk. I dreaded feeding him because there was so much milk that he always choked and was only getting foremilk. Even if I pumped out 4 ounces, there was still too much for him to handle. I couldn’t lay down to feed him because I couldn’t lay on my side for about 6 weeks because of the c-section. But, we struggled through it and my milk supply has finally figured itself out. Mostly. He’s been eating less frequently but taking more so I still get engored but it’s not every day now. Maybe once or twice a week I get uncomfortable. I’ll take that over waking up every morning with rocks under my skin.
Earlier, I wrote about hormones taking me by surprise. They got better as time went on but I had to deal with some fucked up family bullshit and the anxiety and stress of it all almost sent me over the edge. Up until then, my hormones were good. They made Dmitri and I bond and made me miss him when Tyler took him in the mornings (I still miss him, but not as strongly). However, the stress of the family bullshit sent my anxiety through the roof and dealing with all that fucked up shit made me so stressed out that my milk all but dried up for a few days. Because of my over-production of milk I had plenty of food for him but I didn’t know when I would get my supply back. It took at least a week before I could feed him without having to add bottled milk. That stressed me out even more and my anxiety got out of control. I was so much more weepy than before and I couldn’t control it. I knew it was situational and not true postpartum depression/anxiety but I didn’t think I would be able to get myself out of it. I had my 6 week check a week or so later so I talked with my nurse practitioner about my situation, already planning on asking for help through it. She sat and listened and agreed that it was the situation that was fucked up (my words not hers, she talked about Jesus…) and asked if I wanted something to help me. I agreed and was given a prescription for a low dose of Zoloft. The Zoloft helped immensely and I could feel my brain clearing up. Part of that was the hormones finally leveling off but I knew I needed the Zoloft to help calm the anxiety so that the hormones could stop going crazy.
Just as I have no shame in talking about how shitty being a new mother can be, I have no shame in admitting I needed help with mental health due in part by being a new mum. Women are always comparing themselves to each other and I think that’s bullshit. I could easily have read all the stories about how birth was easy and believed the bitchy women that say that you’re weak for having a c-section but I didn’t and I hate that some mums out there do. I fully believe that without the c-section either Dmitri, or myself would not be here today. When I wrote about Dmitri tearing his way into the world, I wrote about the very little bit that I remember. I did leave some stuff out, not because I forgot but because I didn’t want to add how dire my situation became. I remember the sense of urgency in the OR and I remember being suctioned out. A lot. I also remember the surgeon talking about how they had to get my bleeding under control. My uterus had gotten so swollen that it kept tearing. And tearing and tearing. It took them an hour and a half to get that under control. My healing from the c-section wasn’t just from the usual incisions, but also from a patched up uterus. If Tyler and I want to have another spawn (this is a very big if) I have to wait at least 2 years and will have to have a c-section again. And I will probably be considered higher risk due to scar tissue.
The point of this very long post was to show all the new mums (and there have been quite a few in the last little bit) that no, being a new parent isn’t easy. Everyone struggles with some aspect of it. We should be able to complain and admit that we don’t enjoy everything that goes along with it. That doesn’t mean that we don’t love being a new mum and don’t love our babies because we do. There’s a crazy kind of love that you don’t experience until you have your baby and I wouldn’t ever give that up for anything. No matter how many sleepless nights I have, no matter how many times I get engorged, I can’t imagine my life going back to how it was before Dmitri.
I think some people need to remember that just because someone isn’t constantly complaining about how much pain they are in or how they are struggling, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t. Being in pain from surgery was constant and I didn’t think I needed to talk about it every second (though apparently I did). This doesn’t just apply to physical health but mental as well. Anxiety and depression and the like aren’t things that pop up to say hi for 20 minutes then go away. Until the person gets help, it’s ever present. And sometimes even with help, it’s still there a bit. Or a lot. With new mums, we need to remember that they are probably struggling with something and maybe doesn’t want to admit it. New mums and dads need all the support they can get. If you’ve had children, talk about what you struggled with. If you didn’t have any issues you are either full of shit or have completely forgotten. Even If you didn’t have the same issue, be supportive. Don’t pick fights and argue and assume that the new mum being quiet is because she’s pissed at you for some reason. She is probably worried about how she can overcome her issue or is tired. Or in pain. Or all 3. Try reminding her that everyone struggles in the beginning and while it doesn’t seem like it now, it will get better. “It Will Get Better” was my mantra until about 2 weeks ago because it finally did get better. That doesn’t mean that I still don’t struggle with feeding him or the pain of healing but it’s much better than it was and I know It Can Only Get Better