Prior to having a baby, whenever someone mentioned “Postpartum” in relation to pregnancy, I immediately assumed they were talking about depression. Postpartum Depression was the most common usage of the word that I had ever heard. It wasn’t until I gave birth that I learned the Postpartum Period is simply a time period (the first 6 months after having your baby), while Postpartum Depression is a potential symptom of having a baby. Since having my son, people often ask me about my postpartum journey. Out of shame and fear of being judged, I give a generic, “It’s been okay”, as an answer. The truth is – it has been extremely hard physically, mentally, and emotionally.
In the physical sense, the first six weeks after having your baby is the time in which your muscles and connective tissue start to return to your pre-pregnancy state. When I underwent my C-section I was cut with a classical incision (not the typical cut). I made the decision very early on (after a week) to stop taking the medications I was given because I didn’t like the way they made me feel. In recovery, I feel like my body isn’t retracting the way I’d like and my abdomen is often really sore. Not to mention, I now have a mom pouch that has formed above my incision.
Mentally, I am struggling and feeling defeated. I worry every day that it’s my fault that my son didn’t make it to full-term and that he is in the hospital fighting for his life. I worry that my body let him down, that I let him down. My confidence has truly shifted. I don’t feel as attractive or desirable. There have been times where I’ve questioned whether my boyfriend could still look at me and feel interested. One of the largest things that made it difficult for me was my decision to stop breastfeeding. I felt pressured by everyone I knew to breastfeed, but unfortunately because my son cannot breathe on his own I had to resort to pumping. Unlike breastfeeding, when I pumped there was no connection to my son – I grew tired, stressed, and wasn’t producing enough milk for his growing appetite. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t do what other moms could do.
While I’ve always been an emotional person, this time period has been SUPER emotional for me. Naturally, the postpartum period is also the time in which your body’s hormone levels are changing again and your body is adjusting to you no longer having a baby inside. In addition to that, the last two months of my life (from the time my water broke) have felt like a rollercoaster, which my emotions mirror. My range in emotions is wide and often changing. There are times I feel super irritable, happy, indecisive, anxious, disappointed, frustrated, etc.
This is an experience I’d truly never wish on anyone, but as giving birth is apart of life I believe we’ve normalized these experiences of women. The worst part of the experience is not wanting anyone to know you’re going through it – “superwoman syndrome” kicks in, you admit less, and get up each day pushing through it. It was important to me to share my experience because I’m working on being less ashamed of the process. As always, I’d love to hear the experiences of my mommy friends out there – feel free to comment, DM, or email!