Dealing with Postpartum Feelings: Mourning What Was
It comes with 9 months of warning. Some of us are warned with morning wake up calls where we find ourselves hunched over in the bathroom. Others are given the heads up by packing on half our body weight and growing a basketball shape in the center of our torso. Most of us, are given a “Congratulations!” followed by a bunch of blue or pink items we have no idea what to do with other than to pack into the nursery. Either way, that 9 months of fair-game warning is not enough to prepare us for this life changing human that will soon emerge from a place you probably can’t fathom. There is no preparation. Sure, I thought prepared. Maybe you thought you did, too. For as best as I could to push that tiny human out of me. But what about all that comes after?
Sure, the nursery is prepped and the drawers are organized and labeled so your husband can find the undershirts. You probably prepped your job for your leave and your other children for the boot they’ll get when the new baby comes. Just kidding.
And then one little human emerges into this world and his sole existence relies on us. All of a sudden you are questioning yourself.
I was confident before this. Confident with my body, my strength, at work. I made decisions with pride. I thought I knew everything about myself. Yet here I am thinking, 'Did I really know everything about me?' At least I thought I did.
Currently. I feel defeated. I knew my body was going to change. It housed a 8 pound ball of cells that transformed into the love of my life. But, I was not completely ready for the battles that followed. How come no one talks about the postpartum body and change? Why isn’t there underwear that exists to generously hug your hips that just expanded beyond capacity? Why isn’t there a fairy to come and put all of these ugly pregnancy clothes that you’ve lived in for the past 5 months away? And why, tell me why, is there not a rack in Target labeled "Postpartum friendly"?!
I look in the mirror, and yes, its different. And, if im being completly honest with myself, I can see past the stretch marks. Its this new roll that hangs over my thigh that I cannot see past. It haunts me with every pair of bottoms I try to put on each day.
Besides the new body I'm sporting, I'm also fighting feelings EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I remember coming home, being quarantined in my master suite and thinking, "Are these thoughts normal?" You can feel the spiral your mind is going through. Your thoughts snowball from "Maybe I want some coffee" to "Will my husband spill the scorching coffee over my newborn?" NOT NORMAL...
I played Joel Olsten on repeat just to have some positive words rolling in the background because a postpartum quaratined mommy is a remedy for disaster. It was heartbreaking, devastating and literally cruel beyond words to watch my perfectly healthy child being cared for through a door creaked ever so slightly. I think just that alone, is enough to set anyone off.
I feel it more now, than I did then. I felt cold and distant not just that first week but for a short while after. I was just trying to mend the pieces that were disconnected at birth.
I spent the first 2 months in the cycle of greiving.
DENIAL: I did in fact have a pain-free and calm birth. But I was in denial that I was actually feeling okay. I denied that 'I was fine' every time I said it. How could I have been fine? I literally did not have a choice to be.
ANGER: I was angry. I remember when I was about 5 weeks postpartum. I was finally kickstarting my on-the-breast- breastfeeding journey. I told my husband that I regretted not freaking out to the doctors. How I shouldve kicked and screamed and demanded to see my baby. I wanted to talk to a lawyer and see what could be done, being exectuive orders were shortly given after his birth. But what good couldve really come from that? Tim reassured me that we both trusted the doctors decisions. We knew what the positives and the negatives were. And we just listened to what we knew at that time.
BARGANING/ DEPRESSION: I did bargain a bit. Acknowledging the loss. I scheduled an appointment to see my doctor that delivered my baby, even though I had a PP appointment already. It was during this appointment that I felt validated that everything that couldve been done, was. And that I infact did my absolute best given the circumstances. If you are questioning your birth- visit the doctor who delivered your baby. This connection worked wonders for me. I was feeling sad about it for a bit, but never to the point of clinical depression.
ACCEPTANCE: I am working with accepting our story. As life returns, my husband and I have had time away from WIlliam to talk about what we went through. And what I went though. Leaving WG with a story that he can understand, accept and find meaning in, does not include every feeling I ever felt through the process.
It is difficult enough that he will know his father was not there, though he prepared to be there.
It is difficult enough that he will know I was alone.
It is difficult enough that he will know his parents both contracted the virus of the century during his birth.
It is difficult enough that he will know he was separated from his mommy for the first week.
Either way, my acceptance, helps to shape the story that becomes his narrative. He will one day process this story as his. I greived. I mourned what was. And now, I hope to just remember these details when I choose. I am now shaping the narrative that will live with our child for his life. Knowing that, I have come to accept what was, and make it a safe, truthful story, free of my personal processing that followed.