My Postpartum Journal
Since the birth of my daughter in late November, I’ve been trying to take a few minutes every few days (or at least once a week) to journal and write out what I’m feeling. When I became a mom for the first time with my son two plus years ago, it was imperative and so helpful for me to read other mothers’ postpartum journeys and feel like I wasn’t so alone. My goal in sharing my thoughts and feelings during this period is to hopefully do the same thing for other new mamas. Below is an excerpt that I wrote down a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for reading and please share with any new moms that may need to hear they aren’t alone!
I am 6 days out from delivering our second child, our daughter, Scottie. To say I feel differently than how I felt with our firstborn Shepard is the understatement of the year. I had so much fear that I would experience the same trauma during delivery. I had so much fear that something would go wrong with her journey getting here (it is 2020, isn’t it?)…I had so much fear that I would feel like I was living in the same thick postpartum fog I was 2.5 years ago. But so far, I don’t feel like that. I know I’m less than a week out, and I’m sort of waiting for the ball to drop, but to my surprise it hasn’t yet and I’m calling that a win. Don’t get me wrong, I have had a couple of breakdowns and I’m exhausted, but I feel completely clear if that makes sense. I don’t think I realized how much I went through the motions the last time and didn’t really truly experience a lot of the “good” newborn stuff – I just felt raw and numb and if I’m being honest, trapped. Now, I am genuinely enjoying a majority of it – I love holding her, talking to her, looking at her, and doing all the new mom things that I did the last time but didn’t allow myself to really enjoy. It makes me sad that I didn’t get to feel this way the first time – but I also know that it did end up creating a bond between my son and I that will never change or break. He eventually pulled me out of my fog and made me the mom I am (so far) today. It also put me on this path of creating COO BABY and Motherhood for Me – which fulfills me more than I could ever imagine. I wouldn’t have had the passion that I do to bring the postpartum experience to light- and it’s still a mission I feel so strongly about and I ultimately know it was the path I was meant to have been on.
This isn’t all to say it’s been sunshine and rainbows so far, a few nights ago we had a very difficult night…
It was day 3 or 4 – the day they say a lot of hormonal shifts happen post delivery. I have been really good so far from an emotional standpoint during the day, but once bedtime rolls around for my toddler – between 7-7:30 – the exhaustion hits me like a ton of bricks and my body and brain get into desperation mode. I’ve been trying my hardest to put my son to bed each night since that was our routine before the baby came. Luckily, my mom was here for almost a week after the baby was born, so between her, my husband, and I – we had a good rhythm going. My husband would handle all the food/cleanup, I would handle the baby, my mom would bathe my toddler, and then I could come in for story time, singing a few songs in bed, and then tuck him in. Well, this particular night Shep seemed to be struggling a bit more emotionally than he had been so far. He wasn’t outwardly sad or crying, but he was showing it in different ways. Not listening (he’s usually a great listener for his age), extremely high energy and bouncing off the walls right before bed (which also isn’t typical for him), not being gentle when he would approach the baby, jumping all over me once we got into bed (which doesn’t feel good when everything hurts like hell already) – and really- just being a typical two year old who’s entire life had changed overnight. I could feel my patience unfairly wearing thin – I was trying my hardest to be calm and not react, trying to give him some grace because it’s not his fault, but once I got my second kick to the breast I snapped. I raised my voice and told him to lay down and he burst into tears. The guilt immediately set in and I started crying. I hugged him and held him and told him I was sorry and laid with him until he fell asleep, hating myself, even though he was over it in 30 seconds.
After that I told my mom and husband that I needed to lay down, get some sleep and that I was taking the baby to our master bedroom (where she sleeps in a bassinet next to our bed) and that I would feed her and then we were both going to sleep (or nap – whatever we’re calling 2-3 hour increments these days). Up until then, that had been our little routine and it was working just fine. Well…I fed her around 8, and then again at 9, and then 10, and then 11, and by the time my husband came in around then I was ready to lose it. “I need you to get up here NOW” I had texted him. When he came in and innocently asked if she was perhaps hungry I held back tears and rage as I told him I’d been feeding her literally for the past three hours and he needed to hold her and walk her around so she could fall asleep. I also motioned towards the bassinet and told him to move it to his side of the bed for the night – I think I thought my scent was keeping her awake and that maybe it would help to move her over – IDK- but he moved it without hesitating and I instantly felt that guilt again. Why was I such a bad mother that I didn’t want her next to me that night?
I gripped the covers and put them over my head so my husband wouldn’t see me cry. I don’t know why – I get embarrassed when I am emotional in front of people. From under the comforter, my thoughts quickly moved from guilt to feeling defeated, and a childish “this isn’t fair” loop began in my head. Why was it that I had to feed her, that my body had to be in such pain, that it was all on me all over again. Why did my hormones have to shift? Why does my stomach have to look like it’s still pregnant? Why does my husband (who is actually extremely attentive and helpful) just get to be the dad – show up, change the diapers, clean up the kitchen, play with my son, but ultimately continue on with his day to day life. Why wasn’t he so tired he was (trying) going to bed at 8 like me? Just as I was about to (unfairly) unload on him, my eyes peeked out from under the covers where I was quite literally hiding from my responsibilities and I caught a glimpse of him cradling her, moving around the dark room with her in his arms while singing a lullaby, and definitely not feeling a mutual anger towards me that I was feeling towards him. Instead of spewing whatever asshole thing I was about to say, I took a deep breath and asked if she was rooting and if he needed me to try and feed her again.
We did 1 or 2 more cluster feedings that round but eventually my nerves calmed down, I tried my best to remember that my partner was there to help me, that I had so much to be grateful for, that what I was feeling was completely normal, and that it would all (hopefully) feel better in the morning.
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