Ah good ole healing and over estimating…
As I stated in my last post, the emotional toll has been tough and I wasn’t ready. I’ve already gone over breastfeeding now lets dive head first into healing and over estimating my abilities…
It is a necessary evil but it is evil… Let me explain. I thought I prepared for everything. I read a ton, took all the classes, made note of all the advice I received and researched every possible (common) birthing situation. I was ready for the unmedicated vaginal birth that I wanted to try as well as the meds I could ask for and their side effects, c-section, emergency c-section and complete knockout. I felt very fortunate to have the birth I wanted (see LnD for details) but I wasn’t prepared for the disappointment I’d feel when I got home.
I had this beautiful healthy baby boy, my husband by my side, a clean apartment and a clear mind that allowed me to be present and truly soak in the wonderful changes that were ahead of us. We took a seat on the couch and stared at this little human in complete awe that he was finally on the outside. The first full week with the three of us was amazing. It was challenging but great. However everything seemed to change when hubby went back to work. I knew what to expect when he went back but I wasn’t physically or emotionally prepared for the annoyance and random pain/ irritation from my vag stitches.
WARNING – Things are about to get real…
The first day was weird. I didn’t want to be away from him for a second for fear he’d disappear or I’d return to the horrible reality of SIDS but logically speaking I knew I’d eventually have to put him down. I had to time my bathroom breaks correctly or else I’d be running off the toilet bleeding, sore and waddling w/ my pants around my ankles. My bathroom trips were as follows:
- fill up squeeze bottle w/ warm water (only because cold water sucks)
- grab Tuck pads ( unnecessary but in my mind this helped prevent hemorrhoids)
- perineal ice pack (vag ice pack)
- after swelling went down the ice pack was replaced with pads
- note to younger generation the new “heavy” pads are so thin compared to the giant pads that we heavy flows once had to use
- flushable wipes (adult baby wipes)
- use bathroom as normal
- good time to note I was terrified to have a bowel movement (BM). the first BM was awful and the blood (from vag) looked like a crime scene. so all BM was accompanied w/ slight fear of seeing the same horror show and feeling like I was being ripped apart down there…
- use squeeze bottle filled with warm water
- wipe with wet flushable wipes because regular TP felt like sandpaper
- open, crack and shake ice pack
- place Tuck pads on ice pack (later on would be placed on heavy flow pad)
- use numbing spray as necessary (all the time)
- waddle out the bathroom like a baby wearing a diaper…
That was my routine for what felt like forever but I eventually adjusted. What I didn’t adjust to was the pain that would radiate from my nether region up through my lower back and sometimes down my leg. It was so persistent that my sciatica came back. Yet more things I didn’t think I’d have to deal with because of the “you’ll be back to normal in no time” lie that was told to me since I had an uncomplicated birth. Plus with that statement rolling around in my head I felt like a failure because I was still sore. I felt I didn’t deserve to take the pain meds prescribed to me since everything went so well during delivery. I was also paranoid about the effects it would have on my little man. I kept piling on the expectations and guilt over not being healed and up and running at full speed. I kept wondering why I was still sore, bleeding and experiencing intense back pain. I told myself if I wasn’t overweight when I got pregnant I wouldn’t still be in pain. If I would have followed a strict healthy lifestyle while pregnant then I wouldn’t still be in pain. If I would have just XYZ then I’d be perfectly fine but I wasn’t. The pain eventually grew so intense that I couldn’t pick him up one day (about 3.5wk pp).
I finished running errands, cleaning up, cooking dinner and was now refilling the mobile diaper station aka the pack n play when it happened. I was picking up my crying heart (my son) when I knew I needed to quickly and carefully put him back down so I didn’t drop him. I lost all control and fell to the side of the pack n play. He started crying louder and I ugly cried in utter pain. I was afraid because I didn’t know why I’d simply collapsed. I had the pain before but this time my body decided it didn’t want to support me. It didn’t want to keep holding me up after continuously pushing it. If I didn’t say it before I’m saying it now. No one put this pressure on me except myself. I wanted to be supermom and I expected myself to do so because I no longer worked, my delivery went great and my son was ideal. I felt I needed to live up to all the expectations I had in my head. But my body couldn’t keep up. I wasn’t sleeping or eating enough (some days only a handful of whatever was close) or taking time out for myself so my body (in a very loud way) said you can’t keep this up. This also coincided with the breastfeeding issues I was having. I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that even with a nearly textbook delivery I needed to focus on taking care of myself and my son and doing other things as I felt up to it.
I wish I could say this was my wake up call but it wasn’t. I got worse and so did my need to prove I was fine. It wasn’t until breaking down completely in front of the lactation consultant that I realized I needed to stop before my sadness (over not being supermom) turned into full blown postpartum depression. My husband happened to be off that day and was able to come with me so he was able to reason with me. He reminded me that these were my own requirements driving me insane not my son or anyone else. He held me and reminded me that it hadn’t been that long since I had a child. He also reminded me that if I kept going I would really break down and wouldn’t be able to take care of our son then he lightened the mood by trailing off into something funny involving what he was saying. It helped tremendously. I spent the next day treating my body as I should have from the beginning. I watched movies, took care of my son and allowed myself to relax. I allowed myself to just be… And I felt like I’d DIE!! But that got me to thinking. I needed to relax in order to recharge but a complete stop would drive me insane. Then I realized BALANCE is what I needed.
I had to allow myself to do both. I had to allow myself to let go of the supermom idea. I had to realize pregnancy was very taxing and delivery was the fast version of the whole time I was pregnant. I needed to allow myself to heal the way my body wanted to. Mentally I couldn’t sit around while my apartment became dirty and cluttered but physically I couldn’t keep deep cleaning like I used to. Physically I needed to rest when I could and exist in the new role I was in. Mentally I needed to cope with my new limitations instead of beating myself up for a made up version of motherhood. Sure there might be times I’m supermom but I needed to be okay being normal mom.
To my son: Mommy is trying the best she can while still trying to maintain her own identity. I’m coming to terms with the fact that my life will never be the same but it is a great thing. I’m changing into someone I never thought I could be. I’m doing things I didn’t think I was capable of. Most importantly I’m finding a new type of strength. I’ve always been able to physically push through things but mentally I’d block out and avoid anything that caused mental pain. Being your mommy is teaching me to deal with mental/emotional pain in the same way I deal w/ physical pain; head on and armed with as much knowledge as possible. My hope for you is that you’ll go through life the same way. With your eyes wide open and armed with as much knowledge as possible coupled with commonsense of course. And if you get married and your wife finds herself in a similar situation do what your dad did for me. Remind her she’s a wonderfully made human and you’ll support her through whatever. Also offer to take your little one so she can have a break knowing her child is close by and in the best hands (next to her own of course 😉