Rebecca's Postpartum Story
Postpartum From the Shadows
I love sharing my story. It’s not the pretty, love-filled stories that people want but I think it’s a important one:
My postpartum journey is one from the shadows. The journey that people don’t want to hear because after 9 months of being pregnant and hours of labor you want to know it was worth it. I wasn’t sure. I remember Logan being born and immediately crying because “he has your dad’s cheeks”, I said to my husband. And then I was in shock.
Logan was placed on my chest and I remember thinking “huh, so we have a baby”. Logan ate, tests were done the hospital itself was a blur. It was when we got home I felt stuck. For one I didn’t recognize my body. It was like this bloated, run down woman was holding my child willing me to be happy. I spent those first few days in a daze of feeding, trying to sleep, and trying to figure out what the hell was happening.
Here is what didn’t happen. That overwhelming, heart-wrenching unconditional love. I didn’t have it. It never came, I was numb. I was constantly crying because I was convinced we made a mistake and unsure of why I felt so empty inside. Because that is what I remember postpartum. The emptiness, the loneliness, I became afraid of being alone and the dark. Night time exasperated things and I would dread the coming of dusk. I was sick to my stomach because I was confused by what I felt.
Keep in mind, I had a vaginal birth with tearing. So amidst feeling nothing and therefore immense guilt, I could barely walk, I was bleeding like crazy, couldn’t pee or poop without crying, my nipples were cracked, and I was expected to be happier than ever before in my life? It was awful.
Finding Beauty in Pain
But also beautiful in a way I can’t explain. I remember Brad taking me in his arms and dancing with me in our living room while Logan slept and I cried. I remember laying in bed with Logan sleeping and crying big ugly cries while my husband rocked me to sleep. I remember watching way too much “Price is Right” because my husband convinced me that it is impossible to be upset when you’re watching that show. And slowly the tears came less often, my nipples started to heal; I started to heal. I still didn’t feel the love I’ve heard about, but I began to get used to Logan and him to me.
Around week 3 I started a daily mantra. I would wake up and tell Logan, “mommy needs three things before we focus on you: make the bed, brush her teeth and get coffee.” And from their a routine was born. I should note that Logan was not a happy easy baby. He cried all.the.time. I mean. All. The. Time. And all of those magical rockers, swings, buckets etc didn’t work. He hated them. The only time he was happy was eating or being held. I was going insane. So I started walking…after the Price is Right that is and guess what? I started feeling better.
Starting to Feel Like Myself Again
It wasn’t immediate it took a few weeks but I started to look forward to our walks and started to enjoy my time with Logan. Logan was born in November so on days it was too cold or snowy to walk I would take him to story time or grab lunch. For me it was the act of getting out of the house that lifted my mood. I needed to keep going because when 5pm hit so did my anxiety, loneliness and the darkness. Sadly, that lasted almost a year. Once I was cleared to workout I started slowly going to yoga and barre classes where I could bring Logan and that helped to raise my mood and energy even more. I have never been more proud of body and more ashamed of it as I was postpartum. I can’t explain it other than my mind was in constant conflict between loving and hating myself. Working out became my sanctuary. The time I needed to raise my mood and step away from my current status as “momma milk maid”.
Starting off postpartum was hard. I was so weak. I cried and had to modify everything, but everyday I didn’t give up I was proud of myself, and everyday I kept going, I got stronger. I started to feel like me again.
My postpartum journey took over a year. My connection with my son is amazing now and while it took us awhile to get there I love him more than I can rationally explain. I mean that, I can honestly say I love him so much. It just wasn’t love at first sight. I have come to live with that and have embraced that as part of our journey together.
We each take time to warm up to people, to get to know them. Similarly, I had to warm back up to my body. Get to know it again. Learn to love and let go of expectations of what a postpartum journey looks like. I could not be prouder of what we went through and how strong we are on the other side. I am pregnant again and I’m not sure what this next journey will look like. But what I do know is that it’s sure to be messy and exhausting but full of so much love and joy. Even if it takes a year to get there.