Friday, March 28, 2008

Postpartum, shhh...

So, I've been a mom for about a month now and I've been thinking about a couple things:

1) While the pregnant woman is in vogue, the postpartum one is not. Big-bellied celebrities are all over the covers of magazines these days. Not so much with the chubby, frazzle-haired postpartum ones with dark circles under their eyes. This has been the least glamous time of my life and I want to warn others about it. While talking about pregnancy symptoms seems to be expected, postpartum woes seem to be taboo, with moms discussing topics in whispered tones.

2) It is really hard to be completely honest, even when blogging to an unknown audience. It is easier to just give the highlights and gloss over the hard parts of life, unless they are really funny.

Hopefully this isn't too much information. I'm going to share a little about my journey this last month.

**Lack of Sleep -- Brian has been amazing at taking the night shift without complaining. Even so, I think I can count on my fingers the number of sleep cycles longer than 3 hours I have had in the last two months. I kind of expected that though. What I didn't expect was my sleep position continuing to be limited. About November I had to stop sleeping on my back due to my growing belly. I couldn't wait to be able to sleep on my back. Now, I have to sleep on my back because of my c-section incision and I can't wait to be able to sleep on my side.

**Drugs are nice, but complicated. It is so hard to remember when I took what and trying to find times when I am awake and haven't had food for two hours and won't be eating for another hour to take one kind. They should make it easier for new moms. Drugs also mask the fact that I'm recovering and I end up overdoing it by doing things like walking five miles one afternoon.

**What do you wear? Pregnancy clothes are not necessary, but pre-pregnancy clothes either don't really fit, are not practical for the massive amount of time spent nursing, or are packed away with no time to dig them out.

**On the subject of nursing, I've had the gamut. Our first Saturday home, Maggie spit up what looked like blood with her normal milky substance. Worried, I called the pediatrician's nurse and she had me look for cracks in my nipples. Sure enough my sore nipples were bleeding under the intense strength of my little one's sucking power.

**While in labor, I was constantly asked to describe my pain on a scale of 1 - 10 (1 being barely noticable and 10 being the worst pain of your life). I think for the most part my labor hovered around 5 or 6, spiking to an 8 or 9 during the worst parts. One morning, after dealing with engorgment for a few days, I woke up with level 8 pain in my right breast. I had developed Mastitis, a breast infection. But your kid still has to eat. Luckily, usually it felt better after she ate.

**During pregnancy Brian commented that he had never been a parenthical statement more in his life--"Glad to hear you and baby are healthy (Oh, and you too Brian)." Now I know what he meant. Our labor nurse when she was showing us our room commented in regard to setting the room temperature "During labor you are the princess, but when that baby comes out, its all about her." It was foreshadowing of what was to come. I can't count the times I have heard something to the effect of "I can't wait to see Magnolia" or "I miss Maggie so much" quickly followed by "Oh, and you too." I wonder how Brian is feeling now? Parentheses within parantheses?

**A few days in, the emotional roller coaster began. It seemed like any time I was alone, especially when feeding Magnolia at night, I would start bawling. For a while my feelings of failure for needing to have a c-section and not being able to experience the "pushing" stage of labor were a recurring theme. I definitely had moments of feeling inadequacy. One time I cried because everyone else had sung to Maggie and I hadn't. What kind of mother was I?!? The craziest though (and, people, I'm sorry to say this happened more than once) I realized that if Brian and I live a full life to somewhere in our 80's, Magnolia will be in her 50's and maybe becoming a grandparent, and we will potentially miss out on 20+ years of her life. I actually was grieving missing the end of my child's life during her first month. Then of course I had feelings that I might be going crazy, etc. Needless to say, my doctor went through all of the questions to determine if I had postpartum depression and decided that no I just had the blues. He suggested I take vitamin D and try to curb any negative thoughts.

**Brian has been incredibly patient and supportive in the midst of my neurosis. Not all has been emotional. One night after waking up for the third time to feed, our sheets, which were slightly rumpled and askew, were driving me crazy. I made Brian get up and help me remake our bed. He patiently did it. I felt super bad in the morning.

Thanks for letting me vent.

Postpartum has been really hard in more ways than just the expected sleep deprivation, but, I can't complain too much. It's all been worth it. Last night, we had fortune cookies. Mine said, "You will be rewarded for your hard work this past month." Really, I already have...


scottandsara said...

Thanks for sharing, Shannon. I can certainly relate to many of those aspects of postpartum...just know, it gets SO much easier! Aliza is only 7 months old, and already that first crazy month feels like a whole lifetime ago...hang in there, and thanks again for being so open and honest! What a sweet picture of you and Maggie.

erinn::haley said...

that picture is beautiful shannon.
i'm continuing to pray for your family as you adjust to life with lil maggie.

therachel said...

Shannon - although I haven't had kids of my own, I think it is great that you are willing to be honest and transparent about the realities of motherhood, especially this first month. My guess is that your emotions and thoughts are totally par for the course at this stage of the game, which I'm hope brings you some reassurance that you're doing okay. I also agree with you that given that postpartum seems to be such a taboo subject, it is a breath of fresh air to hear your story - that the rest of us can learn from your experiences, and not be afraid to share the joys and the difficulties of being a mom, when that time comes. Thanks again for sharing, I'm thinking of you, Brian, and Maggie lots at this time!

The Hornes'es said...

I agree with the previous comment! I am not a mother myself, but I appreciate openess and honesty! I think people need to know this stuff, it's all a part of the process. I remember when I was getting married, people always share the good stuff about (sorry to any under age readers)sex. I remember talking with Aimee Stark on the phone one day and she was just totally open and honest about EVERYTHING, things I would have never thought about because someone had not shared them with her. Anyways, I look at your blog Shannon, and I am greatful that you have given me some of this wisdom - I know every situation is different, but I appreciate your story.
I will continue to pray!

kate said...

Get the feelings out b/c there are tons of other moms who have felt the same way. My first cried for 9 hrs straight at 2 weeks old, the first day on my own and I thought "what have I done to my life?". It was awful. I was a mess. But those are the adjustments to being a new mom. No one can prepare you for it, you just have to jump in and learn.
one thing I have learned, NEVER compare yourself to others, resist those thoughts of failure, and remember God designed this child just for you, he'll give you all the tools you need to walk each moment with her and your hubby.

Shannon Rush said...

Wow! Thanks for the support ladies! I wasn't sure if anyone was going to make it through that lengthy post. Instead I woke up to your words of encouragement! Last night Magnolia blessed me with 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep followed by two other short sessions! Wahoo! My brain is working again. I thought of a few more things I should have added, but I will spare you here. If anyone ever wants to talk more about it, I'm game.

Anonymous said...

Good morning honey!
I'm so proud of how open and honest you've been here on your blog. The postpartum issue is really ignored in our society and that's a shame since every woman does experience it to some degree or another. As I read through your thoughts I remembered feeling the same way. It's funny how those emotions fade as time goes by but when you are reminded of them they ring true once again. You have already become such a great mommy, having the desire to really know your child shows the depth of your love. In my opinion, you're also fretting over all the appropriate things even though it may seem silly now. It just shows how much you love your baby. You and Brian also will need to get use to your new identities, from now on you are not just Brian and Shannon but Maggie's papa and Maggie's mommy. Life does seem to become "all about the kids", which is why the two of you need to plan special times for you as a couple. (babysitting is always available free of charge:) Take comfort in the fact that you have a strong and happy marriage. Raising your children in the strength of who you are together will make you both wonderful parents!
Mom G

Aimee said...

Shannon! I have to say... I read your post aloud to Jono this morning as he was making blueberry pancakes- I laughed my way through the whole post (hope that isn't weird). It felt so therapeutic to have someone who writes so well, perfectly articulate the thoughts that I tried to convey to Jono when I trying to adjust to my new life with a baby. I laughed because it was such a relief to identify with every point you wrote about, it is such a crazy trip at first! Now that Hudson is 2 and Ollie is 7 months, it feels like an eternity since I was at the stage that you are in now. It really zips on by. I remember feeling like I would never be able to leave the house again. There was always one more diaper change, one more outfit soaked in spit up, one more feeding, etc. Ok, I will stop now. Just know that I loved the honesty and it really does get humorous as time goes by and everything gets balanced out. I hope that this was not at all offensive. I am NOT laughing at you nor do I have a lack of sympathy. The whole post partum bit is such a trip.

Shannon Rush said...

Brian said I should post the things I thought of in the comments so that I would remember for next time. So...
1) They tell you one perk of pregnancy is that you don't have to worry about your period for 9 months. But they don't tell you that your body will make up for in during the 4-6 weeks after when your uterus is getting back to normal.
2) When you are getting dressed and considering wearing something you have previously worn, even for just a few hours, you have to inspect it carefully for spit up and milk leakage -- at least if you plan to leave the house or have visitors.
3) I can't remember the third one right now, which could probably be a third thing itself.

Shannon Rush said...

Thanks for laughing with me, Aimee. It is therapeutic. :)

Jodi said...

Ughh...nine months of pregnancy and the agony of birth are NOTHING compared to postpartum. It's so hard and I loved how well you articulated it. I can identify with pretty much every single one of those things.