*And the things I “knew” but didn’t believe until they happened (and the shit I didn’t know, and learned REAL QUICK).
I have actually been writing and re-writing this post for weeks, and I finally decided to break it up into several smaller posts in the hope that it reads easier.
I am not particularly religious, but I am a believer in the quote of “we make plans, and God laughs”. As one thing we have definitely learned, is you cannot prepare enough, and and also when your newborn is screaming in the middle of the night, good luck remembering all of your “research”.
I read books, listened to podcasts, made family members and friends tell me their most intimate, horrific, & honest stories about birth, pregnancy, and having a newborn.
I just kept saying to myself the “more I know the more reasonable with my expectations I can be”.
I mean it is a joke in the sense that I am humbly laughing at myself – because you can’t REALLY be prepared especially for the hormones, and emotions that come with it.
I say this with all of the love- because in MY experience I KNEW certain things would be normal- but as I was experiencing them I was so unprepared.
I wasn’t prepared to be rationally, irrational
- I KNEW there would be a tremendous upheaval in my hormones but grossly underestimated how I would react after giving birth. In one moment I would have friends and family telling me something really supportive and reassuring and in the next moment I was crying on my bedroom floor, because…
I wasn’t “prepared” for how hard breastfeeding and nursing would be
- In short, I’m glad I researched everything I did, but even with all of that knowledge, it was still very hard, and when you are sleep deprived it can be extraordinarily difficult to apply knowledge to your unique situation.
- The best advice I can give, and what I would do over if I could/will do with future babies is reach out to my hospitals lactation consultant ahead of time.
In no way were we “prepared” for the first 48 hours after she was born
- I thought going home with baby would be the hardest, and I wasn’t entirely wrong, but I was ILL PREPARED for next 24-36 hours in the hospital after giving birth. I did not realize the onslaught of hormones I would be feeling, colliding with sleep deprivation, and then the tsunami of information I was getting from the nurses (who were fantastic) as Pat and I were asking question after question.
- Neither of us were prepared to handle sleep deprivation, and then have our brains packed with so much information from the incredible nurses
- I didn’t realize how much I would be bleeding (I still don’t know why I was surprised by this), nor did I realize how the drastic hormone changes would manifest. I knew I would come home in a diaper, I didn’t realize I would be changing mine as often as my daughters, and ice packs down my pants would be a necessity.
I wasn’t “prepared” to feel like I had no maternal instinct
- This one was real doozy, and it took me a good week before I finally asked my husband if I was crazy. Perspective:Pat and I are both only children (I have a step sister, whom, for all intents and purposes is my sister), my point is, neither of us were super at home around babies. We both kind of assumed the instinct would just come to us. I kept seeing posts on social media about women referring to their babies as “perfect”, “miracles”, etc, and I just kept wondering what was wrong with me for not thinking of my newborn as a perfect miracle, to me she was a loud, screaming force that constantly needed to be reckoned with.
This did change for me, and this is not to say we didn’t love our daughter, because we so did (we do) but damn I was so unprepared I kind of just thought those instincts and immediate bonding would come in with my milk. For me it took some time.
Last, but not least: there is Postpartum Depression AND Postpartum Anxiety
- I’ve “dealt with” anxiety probably since high school, I have had my anxiety MANAGED for the last 2 1/2 years. I knew about Postpartum Depression (PPD), I feel as a new parent that is something that is talked about a lot more commonly nowadays. I didn’t know about Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) until Emilia’s pediatrician told me about it.
- Upon returning to my OB a few weeks later, we discussed it further, and agreed to some changes with medication, and revisiting some of the tools I had had success with in the past – such as the Headspace/Calm apps, and making time for appropriate exercise.
I am not writing this to claim I am an expert, because I am not, I am writing this to keep conversations around parenthood, motherhood, and its challenges going. I think there are so many aspects of this transition that are still considered taboo, and make parents hesitate to speak out about how they are feeling- when in fact, many share these emotions.