Dear New Moms: You’re not Crazy, this time is just REALLY hard.
We have all seen the Instagram posts, so and so was born at 1:25am on January 1st, and mom and baby are doing great. The lighting is dim, she has makeup on, and is positively radiant. We feel the love emanating from the screen and think “wow, what a perfect moment," but we know the truth. Labor is hard, delivery is traumatizing, the infant stage shakes up the very fabric of our being. This time of life is not only exhausting, but overwhelming and depleting on a cellular level. If you are wondering if you’re crazy because you are not loving the infant stage, hang tight.
After you give birth, your body immediately starts to shift to prep for the next stage. It took nine months to build up hormones that hours after labor are crashing to make way for breastfeeding, even if you choose not to. Your organs which have been so tastefully rearranged to make way for this miracle are now shifting back in the dinner plate sized hole left in you when you gave birth. Your body contracts to shift back quicker, resulting in sometimes excruciating pains, especially while nursing. Those hormones trigger emotional shifts called the “baby blues," and we do not talk about this enough.
For a few weeks after you give birth, most women feel more emotional. Pair that with the
lack of sleep, postpartum physical recovery, adjustment to new person in your life whose
only communication method is screaming, and you have a recipe for trauma. If you have a
partner that is able to take off work (maternity/paternity leave varies wildly and is often insufficient), then you at least are not completely alone, at least at first. However, typically mom is the one keeping this fragile being alive, sometimes while using her own body, that is trying to heal and she is trying to come to terms with. This. Is. Hard! Everything described above is what happens in a perfect labor/delivery with no complications.
If you have a labor/delivery that was unexpected, unusual, more painful, or longer than
average, you may have extra complications afterwards to incorporate into your already difficult recovery. All of the above thus far, assumes there are not any complications with the baby. If the new addition experienced issues during labor and delivery, if mom had gestational diabetes, Bilirubin levels are high, or undiagnosed medical conditions come to light, (etc. etc. etc. etc.), a NICU stay might be in order as well, which adds an additional layer on the suck sandwich of early postpartum existence.
So if you’re in the weeds, and you’re not glowing and loving your postpartum life,
congratulations, you’re normal! This time of life is incredibly hard, and you’re doing a great job.
** Please note, if symptoms of depression/anxiety do not dissipate within the first weeks after delivery, please seek therapy. It is sometimes okay not to be okay, but when help is needed, we are here.**
By: Cassi Whitney