Monday, August 15, 2016

Dear Brand New Mama, it gets better. I promise.

I debated for a long time on whether or not to write this post. It’s taken me 7 months to sort through my feelings from my daughters birth and realize exactly what I was feeling. 

I’m in that wonderful part of life where everyone I know is popping out babies, so my feed is chocked full of brand new, sparkly mommy & baby photos. I found myself, more often than not, puzzled over these photos. Instead of being in awe of their beautiful pictures, I wondered how the moms could be so perfectly happy. Seriously, how in the heck was she wearing makeup after labor?! I didn’t have the energy to shower for days after birth. Gross, I know. 
We didn’t get a cute “going home” picture if front of the car either. I cried the entire way home from the hospital… and I didn’t really stop until my daughter was a few days old. 
My overwhelming emotion wasn't warm and fuzzy. It was fear. I was terrified of how our lives were about to change, that this little life was completely in our hands. 
Once we were home and the blissful (insert sarcasm) newborn days ensued, I only became more scared and guilt ridden. 
I felt guilty that I wasn’t one of the smiley, happy moms on Facebook. I was scared I wasn’t going to love this tiny baby enough. I was scared this fear would never go away. 

The first few days home from the hospital were my worst. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager, and our 2nd night home from the hospital I truly thought I was losing my mind. I remember giving my baby to my mother in law and having my husband walk me outside. My fight or flight instinct in full effect. He stayed outside with me for a long time. He relentlessly assured me that we would get through this. He told me over and over that this overwhelming fear I had would eventually pass- that my body was flushing out hormones. That it had gone through a traumatic experience… I’d just pushed a human out of my body, after all.  

I thought once I held my little one in my arms that every feeling would snap into place. I thought we’d share a magical perfect bond. That didn’t exactly happen. I just knew something was wrong, broken. 
Looking back, I can see that I wasn’t broken. I wasn’t losing my mind or going crazy. I was experiencing postpartum depression. I am truly blessed to have an amazing support system. My husband held me and the baby as we cried. He assured me that this was temporary. Most importantly, he urged me to get help. My sweet mother in law saw me break down and lose it and never held it against me. I remember her sitting in front of me one night, while I held my baby and silently sobbed so I wouldn't wake my husband. She held and told that I wasn't crazy. I probably didn't show it very well then, but those words meant a lot. My mom and dad were amazing as well. They stayed over through some rough, colicky nights so that we could get some much needed rest- as much as I could while breast feeding. Their gift of support and sleep was truly precious. 
I reluctantly told my OB what was happening and got on some meds, which I’d been on in the past. The meds combined with being open and honest with my husband about my ups and downs helped a ton.

Thankfully my experience with postpartum depression only lasted a few weeks. Slowly, but surely, I started to form a bond with this tiny little human I created. I gave myself grace and time to figure out how I was going to do this whole mom-thing. Although it wasn't immediate, it did come naturally. 

The newborn days were tough for me, but it got better. TONS better. I can confidently say that being a mom is the best thing I’ve done. Everyone will tell you and at the time you won’t believe them (you will probably want to smack them), but you will miss those newborn days. You might not miss the screaming and lack of sleep, but you will miss the cuddles and the squishy, squinty-eyed, tiny-ness.

I’m writing this for any mom who might find themselves where I was as a new mom. Terrified that this part will never end. Scared that you're a freak, or broken, or not cut out to be a mom.
What you’re feeling is OKAY and it does get better. It gets better with work and help and time.
Those colicky nights WILL end. Your baby will eventually sleep (even at night!). 
If your breastfeeding, your nipples aren’t going to fall off. If you’re struggling with breastfeeding, but want to keep going, don’t let anyone force you into supplementing- unless you want to! Conversely, if you’re struggling with breastfeeding, and it’s ruining your life- buy that baby some formula and move on. Your baby will be fine.
Most importantly, if you don’t feel that magical perfect feeling from the beginning, it’s OKAY. Just like any relationship with someone you have never met, it takes time. You have to find your groove, even with a baby. 
Even more importantly, if you feel something may be off, get help. I’m not saying you have to go get on medication, but talk to your doctor. Talk to someone.
You’re not broken, or a freak. 

You’re a mom and you’ll get through it.

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