Coming Clean in a Teacup, Volume I

I have never had a problem with readily volunteering information. Like about a surprise birthday party that I once ruined. Or when I got pregnant – I had to tell someone that day and made her keep the secret. Keeping secrets is NOT my strong suit, and I wish I knew why. Who doesn’t love keeping a juicy secret? Me.

It is for this very reason that I am writing this blog, in volumes no less, right now.

I don’t know if any of you are tired of hearing me talk about having a kid or not, and to that I say “Oh well!” I will continue to talk about it until it’s old to me, which may be never… or until our next one arrives in another seven to ten years. I don't know if there are any baby books written about any of this, because I pretty much despise reading. Meh.

Today I want to talk about something…. a little scary. I don’t even want to have a full-out conversation about it, I just want to type. I can’t recall anyone ever writing/blogging/ emailing/talking about how they FELT after having a baby. Sure, I’ve read plenty about the physical ailments (and there are plenty) after having a baby, but nothing about how a woman really feels, emotionally, about having a baby. I think the reason why I felt that my emotions were so incredible was because no one told me what I would be feeling or experiencing. I expected for everything to be normal again right away, only with a little less sleep and a cute baby to carry around. I was wrong, and part of that could be my fault for not being proactive about the situation and seeking out the answers to “what might be.”

First off, a “little” less sleep should have been translated into “zero” sleep. A newborn can eat every two hours, which JJ did. So I would get up, change him (at least ten minutes), feed him (which took 30 minutes), rock him back to sleep (sometimes up to 30 minutes) and go back to sleep myself (roughly ten to fifteen minutes). That left me with about 40 minutes of sleeping before he woke again to eat. Your body was designed to function on 6 to 8 CONSECUTIVE hours of sleep per night. Nothing can prepare you for the shock of sleeping only 40 minutes every two hours, and trust me… you don’t get used to it. Add this to the fact that your hormones are dancing a jig inside your brain – and it’s a recipe for instant psychosis.

The first two weeks I was a mess. Not only could I hardly move from the C-section, but I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I almost couldn’t function. I would be holding JJ while feeding or rocking him and start to cry uncontrollably. My tears dripped on his newborn face and I would wipe them off gently, focusing on the contours of his tiny nose and chin and cheeks… and start to cry harder. I was paralyzed by the thought about how lucky we were that he was here and healthy. It’s startling that you can love someone you’ve never met so much that you would give your life for his to be spared.

JJ got his first ear infection by his second week. You’ve never heard a baby cry like he did. Babies are difficult to soothe when they’re that little to begin with, but when you add sickness on top of that, soothing becomes impossible. Jerry and I rocked, sang to, talked to, and held JJ almost constantly for a solid two weeks. I slept while I held him. I peed while holding him. Jerry held him while I showered. It was the only thing that brought him any comfort and it was, like everything else, exhausting.

As JJ learned how to be a baby and I learned how to be a mom, the emotional roller coaster slowed down a bit. JJ started to sleep up to four hours a night (not consistently, but often) by week three and it was a very welcome relief. While my constant crying continued, I also became emotionally unstable over many little things. I would get wildly aggravated if there were dirty dishes in the sink, or if I got woken up by anything other than the baby (telephone, dog barking, Jerry kissing me goodnight – you name it.) I screamed and yelled and cried and threw temper tantrums. Now I know how two-year-olds feel when they haven’t napped. It isn’t pleasant. I became overly protective of the baby and called the pediatrician/newborn nursery several times in several weeks over little things (some of which weren’t so little – like the choking-on-and-sneezing-out spit-up at week two.) I had a hard time being physically away from him, even to take a shower. I was tethered to him; trapped like a hostage by my own child.

It was around week four that the breastfeeding became complicated. JJ needed more than I could produce, so I pumped between feedings. This translates into feeding him, pumping an hour and a half later, cleaning the pump, feeding an hour and a half later, pumping an hour and a half later, cleaning the pump, feeding an hour and a half later…. you get the picture. Sleeping? No time for that anymore, I need to trick my body into thinking that I needed to produce more milk. It seemed to me that the harder I worked at it, the less my body produced. JJ’s latch started to suffer, because he was getting frustrated that I wasn’t satisfying him enough. Because his latch wasn’t good, breastfeeding became extremely painful, and I went to exclusively pumping, which meant even more work. It was exhausting and frustrating.

Exhausting and frustrating seemed like the only words I knew then.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have so much to talk about with you. I really do... especially about this post. Let's hang out, for real. I have many insights that will not make you feel better, but will make you feel like a human again. Much love to you, mama. Jen P.


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