Post Partum


 Chelsea and Jordan welcomed her beautiful baby boy yesterday, one week to the day after Hailey and Colin. WHAT A SPECIAL WEEK!! What a lucky aunt.

I wanted to elaborate on something I hinted at a couple of weeks ago in my letter to my sisters. In addition to describing the love that washed over me with the births of each of my babies, I assured them that if they encountered moments or periods of not feeling like themselves, that they were going to be okay. 

I don't know if it is hormones, lack of sleep, or my being somewhat predisposed for depression (a mix of all three I am sure), but having a baby can create the perfect storm for a funky mood for me in the days and weeks immediately after. Going in informed helps a lot, and knowing you're not the only one helps a lot, too.  

I wrote this piece in 2013, 20 days after little brother was born. 
 

"I can throw this away for you if you like," said the Walgreen's pharmacy tech. He was holding my empty bottle of Motrin in his hand. I'd taken one a day from that bottle since baby boy was born. He was done using the label on the old bottle to fill my new prescription.

Little did he know the battle that was waging inside of me.

"Yes, that'll be great," I said, confidently.

I had won again.

I tried not to look too triumphant as I heard the bottle clunk in the trash underneath the counter.

When my babies are born, I have a borderline obsession with objects that were part of those first few days and weeks of life with them.

Not just the first outfit they wore home from the hospital, but the plastic from their first package of diapers, or the mug they send home with me from my hospital stay.

I don't know what my reasoning is. Something along the lines of being able to preserve their tenderness and innocence through clutter.

I know I struggled with this when little girl was born and that if left unchecked it could hinder my progress in getting to and keeping a healthy state of mind as a new mom, so when we got home from the hospital this time, I took a garbage sack through the house at least once daily and threw away stuff.

If it hurt to throw something away, I tried to step out of my emotions and look at it objectively. How happy are you going to be in three years that you saved the styrofoam cup you chewed ice chips from as you waited for labor to progress? If I couldn't provide a rational answer, it went in the garbage. I will admit, I hung on to the disposable cover to little brother's bilirubin bed for three days before it went in the trash. He'd punched out that cute hole with his arm! Some things must be allowed a little more time. :)

This is one facet of my personal experience with postpartum depression. I wondered to what extent I would experience it after my second baby was born. I am thankful that it has been fairly mild this go round.

It's interesting though, this experience at Walgreen's happened 45 minutes ago. I have step back and laugh a little that I really do have to think that hard about throwing away an empty prescription bottle. The fact that it's a decision at all tells me it's still lingering a little, but the way I win a little "battle" each day makes me so thankful that I am doing so well.

Here are some other facets to my whole postpartum experience.

I love my hospital experience. I am especially emotional after giving birth, and it makes me especially appreciative of the care that is shown to me by the nurses. It actually makes it really hard for me to go home. I become attached to my nurses. This time one of the nurses slid an envelope into the paperwork I was bringing home the evening we checked out. When I got home I opened it to find a card signed by all the nurses that had cared for me. It made me cry. Now it makes me smile. It did not go in the garbage.

For several days after giving birth, I have a heightened sense of how fragile mortality is. Danilo turned on Tarzan one night at home shortly after little girl was born, and I didn't tell him, but I got so upset inside and couldn't enjoy the rest movie when Tarzan's parents were killed by the cheetah in the beginning. I can (kind of) laugh at it now (having just experienced becoming a mother again), but I was truly, truly angry. 

The hardest part of the postpartum experience for me is an intense fear or anxiety that settles in and nearly paralyzes me. Fear of all kinds of things. Parent-killing cheetahs, Danilo making it safely home from work, and mostly over the responsibility of being a parent. Will I be able to do this as well as my parents did? I feel so broken and inadequate. This little person depends on me for everything. Will I be able to rise to the task and give them everything they need?

And then there's the need to know I will experience normalcy again. I was comfortable with life before the baby and now I feel like my whole world has been thrown up in the air and come down scrambled.

The night we brought little brother home from the hospital, he cried all night long. I wanted Danilo to sleep so we could have at least one alert parent the next day, so I made a bed on the floor in his room and tried to calm him from sun down to sun up. As I lay there, I had a wave of anxiety rush over me all night long. It was kind of uncomfortable and scary, but I just kind of let it do its thing.

Because this time I can say, hey, I have a three-year-old now and I felt this way when she was born too, but now she is mine and her daddy's whole world. It took several nights to figure out and adjust to life with her, but now it's impossible to imagine life without her.

Something else that has helped make my postpartum experience easier this time round is having little girl here with me. At a time when my emotions could cause me to take life and myself and this whole experience too seriously, she provides comic relief. She laughs when he burps. She laughs when he spits up. She laughs when he goes cross-eyed. She laughs when he chooses to relieve himself when his diaper is off. It's a truly amused laugh. And it makes me laugh too. And while I laugh, I'm thankful that I'm not all by myself taking life too seriously.

Lastly, I taught a lesson a couple of months ago to the young women at church on the topic of grace. It changed my life. I have come to understand that after all we can do, God will bless us with a strengthening power (grace) that will make the seemingly difficult or impossible possible. So when postpartum panic starts to set in, I just remember my testimony of His grace and move forward. Sometimes the manifestations of His grace have been through my own daughter, sometimes a text message from a friend, the words of a blessing spoken on my behalf, or moments when I'm blessed with clearer understanding. These verses were part of my scripture study this morning and I loved them:

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
Lamentations 3:21-24

All that being said, it would be cool if I knew I am not the only one who has become attached to an empty package of newborn sized Pampers. Is anybody with me?  

Summer 2013



2 comments:

  1. This is beautiful. Thank you.

    I struggled with anxiety/depression after both of my babies were born, and Noah was adopted, so it's not like it was hormones. It was just the enormity of everything. Like you said, the feelings of inadequacy and can I really do this and will I be enough--and add to that that I knew that Katie was grieving and I just wanted to give Noah everything that she dreamed for him and be worthy of her sacrifice...man, it was just A LOT. I wrote a post about my experience in the hospital with him here: http://fyionrachandry.blogspot.com/2011/08/birth-noahs-adoption-story-part-3.html

    And I wrote about my experience with panic attacks after my daughter was born here: http://fyionrachandry.blogspot.com/2015/01/lets-talk-about-mental-illness-shall-we.html

    I feel like it's so important to talking about mental health. Thank you for writing!

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    1. I set aside some time last night so I could get your blog posts read... thank you for sharing them with me! Beautifully written, it's comforting to read your description of feeling like you were losing your mind. Of course not because I was glad that you suffered in that way. Depression is just so isolating. You are convinced that you are the only one who has ever felt that way, and that because of that you are a freak. To read things I have experienced described by another person is just what I already said, comforting! And your perspective coming through an adoption and the way depression affected you for a period during that process.... so neat that you've got that out there for people to read. Thanks Rachel!

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