Now that I’m 6 months into postpartum life, I thought it’d be a good time to share some things I wish I had known prior.
During pregnancy, there is a lot of information you consume. There is a constant stream of information thrown your way…it can be very overwhelming! But I have found there are some things that just don’t get talked about enough, or at all…and they’re things you need to know.
Postpartum Anxiety Can Be Debilitating
When I was pregnant, everyone and their mothers warned me about postpartum depression. Given my mental health history, everyone (including myself) was worried and on high alert. While I did get hit with a light case of PPD, it was the postpartum anxiety that was debilitating. I didn’t sleep longer than 15-20 minute stretches for the first month and a half. Honestly. My anxiety was crippling. I checked to make sure the baby was breathing every 5 minutes. I was petrified of the possibility of something bad happening. I was terrified of doing something wrong. I was scared to put the baby down in the bassinet, so I held him. My anxiety over every single thing was exhausting. Through therapy, I’ve been able to work on a lot of my issues, but that anxiety is still there. Throw in the fact that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic…and I think some of those anxieties are rightfully justified.
It’s not the baby blues and it’s not postpartum depression—so what is it? If you’re feeling overly worried after giving birth, you may be suffering from postpartum anxiety disorder.
Breastfeeding Can Be Difficult
Prior to having RJ, I was asked over and over again if I planned on breastfeeding, and after saying yes – not a single person warned me about just how difficult it could be. And difficult it was. In fact, RJ didn’t latch for about the first three weeks, so he was bottle fed. I had this vision in my head of RJ being born and after our skin-to-skin, he would latch on and we would immediately bond through breastfeeding right there in the hospital. Well, that definitely didn’t happen. He had a tongue tie (which is very common, and another thing one should know about prior to having their baby) and just couldn’t latch. Even after having the tongue tie taken care of, he was still having a lot of difficulty latching. This took a MAJOR toll on me and my mental health. I was sleep deprived, my hormones were all out of whack from labour – I would have a panic attack every time I tried because he would just get frustrated and start bawling his eyes out and I’d be doing the same. I started to come to terms with the thought that perhaps, RJ would just have to be bottle fed. FED IS BEST, afterall. I kept trying and eventually, he just got it and now we’re exclusively breastfeeding. But I really wish I knew beforehand just how difficult it could be. I had set this unrealistic expectation on myself, and when it didn’t work right away – I felt like a failure as a new mom and in reality – I absolutely was not.
Breastfeeding isn’t always easy. Because many mothers face a few challenges along the way, we’ve uncovered 15 breastfeeding problems you might encounter, plus solutions to help you fix your breastfeeding relationship with your babe.
Postpartum Life Can Be Lonely
Now, with this one – I’m sure Covid has played a major factor, but – it’s still relevant. There were many nights I was up alone with a crying baby, and as I sat there feeding him I would be overwhelmed with loneliness. You’re alone with just your thoughts and sometimes the boogeyman in your head plays tricks on you to convince you that you’re alone. Even now that we’ve gotten past the newborn phase of waking up every 2 hours – I’m still lonely. Mike has been back at work for a few months, and Covid has hindered my vision of what I thought maternity leave would be. There are no Mommy and Me groups. There are no weekend brunches with the girls. Heck – even family visits aren’t as frequent as expected and on top of that – they’re socially distancing visits. It’s really important to ensure you have a solid support system in place, and be honest and open with them about your feelings. Don’t let it manifest itself into something worse.
Mike’s Contribution: Babies Are Loud
Now, we all know babies are loud when they cry. That’s common knowledge. However, at around 4 months, RJ hit this milestone where he “found his voice.” Meaning, he realized he could make noise and that’s literally all he wanted to do. Started off with cooing, you know – baby talk. “Oohhhh” “Ahhhh” “Blerggghh” – the usual. But then, he realized he could scream. Not an “I’m in pain, help me” scream. Just a, “Look how loud I can be” scream with a few giggles in between. And there’s not really much one can do to stop it. I did let him smell bacon the other day mid-scream and he abruptly stopped. Maybe that’s the magic trick?
My friend, Joshua from thisdaddylife.com said it best – he and his wife referred to it as the “Pterodactyl Stage.”
I think the best thing to do if you’re expecting or new to this whole “parenting” thing, is to take it easy on yourself. Don’t expect anything to go exactly as you plan. Make sure you have a strong support system in place, and reach out when you need help.
Postpartum life can be difficult, but it can also be simply wonderful if you can embrace the chaos and seek out help when needed.