Mom Guilt (Part 2): The Baby Blues
To every one reading this post and any others, past or future, who believes I am complaining about my husband, our life, his work or that I am unhappy... With ALL the respect in the world, you are very mistaken! I am proud of my husband, I am proud of our life, and I am proud of the father that he is to our son. Please do not mistake my transparency and realness as complaining, ungratefulness or as a cry for help. We good! I am simply trying to make women, like you, or not like you, realize they are not alone. #unfiltered
I found out I was pregnant with my son ONE YEAR AGO ON TUESDAY!
Can I be real with you for second, actually, can I be real with you this entire post?
I. Was. Devastated.
See, first of all, I'd just gotten back from a bachelorette trip with some of my best friends where we spent the entire weekend drinking on the beach and eating like garbage, oh, and drinking on the beach.
I knew I was pregnant. Something was off. I didn't feel like myself. I knew.
My husband had just started the Police Academy a month prior to the day I found out. So, when I found out I was pregnant, I felt a weight crush me with uncertainty, fear, heartbreak, more fear... and more fear. My husband and I had just gotten married in March. We weren't trying. We weren't ready. We wanted to travel. We wanted to get in the swing of being a Law Enforcement family. I took three pregnancy tests, and went to my family doctor for a blood test. I was terrified to tell him and spent the majority of my day on the phone with one of my best friends trying to calm down. Ain't God funny. Turns out His plans were way better than mine.
After the initial shock, my husband was thrilled! I did all that worrying for nothing. What a relief. But I was still terrified.
My entire pregnancy my hormones and emotions were ALL over the place! I cried over everything (as most pregnant women do) but y'all, my emotions and insecurities were at an all time high. My husband was working long days in the academy. After the academy he started FTO. He was stressed. I was stressed. It was a sh*tshow, constantly, all the time. My husband deserves all the praise for sticking with me during those crazy months.
I didn't feel a real connection to my son while he was in my belly. Once I started to feel him move, the connection grew but it wasn't what I expected it to be. I felt guilty about that. And dare I ever share that with anyone? Absolutely not. I can hear the backlash now... So, moving on! We picked a name and I felt uncomfortable every time I said "Rohen" instead of "the baby." IS SOMEONE FEELING ME ON THIS? PLEASE TELL ME I AM NOT ALONE!
Fast forward to after he was born... Don't let anyone ever tell you Post-Partum Depression and Baby Blues aren't real because sister, they are more real than the sky is blue and Alabama's 17 National Championships (ROLL TIDE BTW). My husband was supposed to start his first night as a fresh out Rookie Officer the night our son was born. I never had the chance to get adjusted to it before we brought our son home. He took off two weeks, which was GREAT, but after that, I was riding solo like Jason Derulo and crying pretty much every second of every day... that may be an exaggeration but probably not.
After my husband went back to work, my PPD reared it's ugly head. It was a constant battle. There were days I didn't want to be a mom. I questioned my role as a parent and often told myself I would never be good enough. I frequently thought about what it would be like if Rohen was never born. Could I ever imagine now?! HECK TO THE NO! That baby is the best thing that's ever happened to my husband and I and we love him SO much it hurts. I can't even remember what life was like without him! But, I'd be lying and going against the whole purpose of my writing to try and sugarcoat this for you. My mission is to remind you that you aren't alone. Have you ever heard of Intrusive Thoughts? If not, Google it. It's a terrible thing that happens to mom's post partum, sometimes even if you're not battling PPD. I will post a link below if you are curious. But those thoughts will consume you. They will ruin you. And if you let them, they will control you.
Let me first say this about my marriage. My marriage is great. I love my husband. He is my very best friend in the whole entire world. We have made this crazy life of ours work and there's nothing, absolutely nothing, I would change about it (except for the fact that pizza is still bad for you). But after my son was born and before I got help, I can look back on it now and tell you with full confidence, I kind of hated him.
He was sleeping or he was working. I was taking care of a baby, trying to breast feed, trying to remember to feed myself, trying to find time to take a shower, trying to sleep, taking care of a house, taking care of dogs... My husband helped, certainly. But I felt like a one man show. There were days I would cry for as long as I was awake. Almost every night my husband left for work, my world felt like it was falling apart. I really hated being a mom. I just wanted to feel normal again. Your husband, baby's father, boyfriend, dad, whomever, if they're a man, they will never understand what this feeling is like. So when my husband would ask me, "what is wrong with you!? Why are you crying so much!?" I would lose it every single time because I honestly couldn't even tell you. But I did know, if he asked me that question one more time I was going to throw all of his stuff out on the lawn! If I heard, "Aren't you just so happy right now? Isn't this the best thing ever? Enjoy every minute." again from anybody, my family, a friend, whoever, I was going to scream. "No, I'm not happy. I am exhausted. My boobs are leaking. My nipples are bleeding. I can't pee without squirting myself with a bottle because I can't wipe because I have stitches in my hoohah. My insides are falling out. I am starving. I have hemorrhoids. I am wearing a diaper. I have to feed my baby every two hours which means neither of us are sleeping. AND I MISS MY FREEDOM AND MY BODY AND WINE. I MISS WINE."
Let me tell you how breastfeeding contributed to this chaos and drama. First of all, all you ladies know there's nothing a man or your family can do to help you breast feed unless your baby will take a bottle. Disclaimer: one of the best things I did for my sanity is start bottle feeding from the very beginning. If we have another, i'll do it all over again the same way. But, I had serious complications with breastfeeding (see my last post titled Mom Guilt (Part 1): Breastfeeding). I was pumping and breastfeeding and in those first few weeks it's critical to pump, and pump, and latch that baby and pump some more to establish your supply.
So picture this: your husband works 5 nights a week (10pm-6am) aka WITCHING HOURS for a newborn, and you are pumping to establish your supply and bottle feeding because your baby wont latch. So, you wake him every two-three hours (because he was a preemie, this went on for a while), feed him a bottle, which for us took at least 30 minutes because he had reflux but we didn't know it yet, try to pump at the same time so you can go back to bed promptly, but that doesn't work because you're not coordinated enough, and milk is going every where (which is almost as bad if not worse than dropping the vase of grandmas ashes on the floor. Breast milk is "liquid gold!") so you're crying over spilled milk, literally, and have to stop and put the baby down, which means he starts screaming, put the tops on the milk you've pumped, start feeding baby again, lay baby back down, finish pumping, clean pump parts, go back to bed.
This took about an hour and a half ON A GOOD DAY! Get ready to do it again in another hour. It was exhausting. I was spent. This is the honest truth, this routine of pumping, feeding, breastfeeding, made me really really not like my son and not like my husband even more because I was a one. man. show. Every time I took a bottle of breast milk out of the fridge I got a little more irritated. It was no ones fault, CLEARLY, but when you're not in the right state of mind and you're extremely exhausted, and your hormones are raging, that's just the way it is. This is just my experience. Though I am sure some of you mama's have had an experience very similar.
I couldn't accept the fact I needed help or medication. So I put it off until my 6 week post partum check up. Even then, if the nurse hadn't of asked, and I hadn't broken down into tears and went into a full blown panic attack almost, I probably still wouldn't have admitted it. She sat with me, hugged me, and cried with me for 25 minutes. That meant so much to me.
They gave me medication. I was ashamed but I knew I needed it. And wouldn't ya know... after about a week I felt like a new woman. Oh, then I stopped breastfeeding and guess what happened then, YA GIRL WAS FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!
Looking back at that time in my life now, I can see the signs of PPD so clearly. Then, I was blinded by exhaustion. I thought surely the solution was sleep. But I knew I wasn't going to get any anytime soon so I accepted that this is just me as a mom. FALSE! Next time I wont be so hesitant to ask for help. I missed out on weeks of my son's life I could of been celebrating as a new mom, instead, I was just wallowing in my hormonal depression.
Once I started taking care of me, the love for my son became over the top, unconditional, unbearable, wanna scream it from the mountain tops, buy a plane and write it in the sky, HUGE, enormous, love. I saw my husband as my husband again instead of a stranger who didn't love me. I was so appreciative of him and now instead of grieving when he walked out the door because I didn't think I could do nighttime alone ONE MORE FREAKING TIME, I was confident in myself.
I can't tell you that I don't have spurts and days of depression/anxiety anymore... because I do. Some days are just flat out hard and I spend the majority of my time worrying and crying over nothing. I can't promise it will all go away. But I can promise that it will get better.
I wish someone would of told me about the Baby Blues and Post Partum Depression before my son was born. I wish I would of read a blog like this one before my hormones and emotions went on a full blown rampage and declared war on my mind, body, and soul. I would of been much more aware and much more likely to ask for help as soon as I saw the first signs.
So, mama's, mama's to be, and girlies thinking about being a mama one day, take care of you. Don't wait until the last minute to realize you may need a little bit of help to get back on track. Don't be ashamed of asking for it, either. You will be a much better mama, wife, and friend if you are taking care of yourself and making your sanity, your sleep, your nutrition, and yourself a PRIORITY and not an option. Your mental health is not optional. Your mental health is essential to your success as a mother. Make time for yourself. Are you overwhelmed? Do you spend more time crying than you do loving your baby and being your baby's mom? Talk to your doctor. If you're breastfeeding and it's making you crazy, stop! If having your baby in a separate room at night is causing you to sleep less, let that baby sleep in your room! If you need a break, ask for help! You wanna order pizza so you don't have to cook? Do it! You wanna drink a whole bottle of wine? GO FOR IT! I SUPPORT YOU. Mama, you are a great mama. Don't be so hard on yourself. You'll look back on these/those days and laugh when you think about how much you love your baby now.
You're doing a great job.