After giving birth to the Trikester, I was venting to some friends about how overwhelming a newborn was, and they all agreed that an “It Gets Better” PSA campaign is needed for new moms. Almost 4 weeks into life with a newborn I can tell you those veteran moms were right – it does get better.
Three weeks ago I thought it would never get better – having a newborn is the single most difficult thing I have ever done. Taking care of someone who is 100% dependent on you for every single aspect of their well-being is overwhelming. There are so many things to figure out – why is my baby crying, how do I feed my baby, is this a normal diaper, where should my baby sleep? Every single thing you encounter is something you have never done before. In addition to feeling clueless, you’re also sleep deprived. For the first time in your life, getting a mere four or five hours of sleep means you’re well rested. Besides the uncertainty and the lack of sleep you’re also dealing with crazy hormonal surges.
Once we came home from the hospital, the first week of the Trikester’s life was super difficult for me. I had lots of people say, “Sleep before the baby comes,” “Enjoy your free time before the baby comes,” and “Rest now because you won’t be able to once the baby comes,” but nobody really articulated just how overwhelming life would be. I did okay the first few days home from the hospital, but then around day 8 things started to go downhill with alarming speed. The sleep deprivation was finally beginning to catch up with me, and my hormones were all over the place. I found myself crying for no good reason and not just little whimpers here and there, but uncontrollable sobbing that I couldn’t get a handle on. I started walking around with wadded up tissues stuffed up my sleeves in preparation for my next outburst. Poor Mr. Tricycle kept asking why I was crying, but I couldn’t give him a reason – the tears just flowed. I could no longer take a nap and my appetite disappeared, too.
Around Day 10 I decided we had made a huge mistake; why the heck did we choose to have babies? I told Mr. Tricycle that I wanted to put the baby back for a couple more months – I wasn’t ready to deal with him. And I wasn’t joking. In those moments, all I could envision was 18 years of torture at the hands of a crying, screaming, needy newborn. I mourned the loss of my freedom. I mourned the loss of my sleep. I mourned the loss of my time with Mr. Tricycle.
My emotions were so messed up that I honestly assumed I was going crazy. People said it would be hard but I didn’t think I would feel like I was losing my mind. I also didn’t expect to resent my new baby so much. I was supposed to love him unconditionally, right? Instead, I was ready to put him up for adoption. So, in addition to feeling crazy and resentful, I also felt guilty.
During those few days, I was a very unhappy camper. If I wasn’t nursing the Trikester, I was Googling postpartum depression. I had all the symptoms, but it was still early – the Trikester was only 10 days old. If it hadn’t been a weekend, I would have called my OB’s office and demanded a prescription for SOMETHING to make me feel normal again.
And then Monday rolled around and it started to get better. I was still exhausted, and I still cried every day around 4 o’clock, but the overwhelming sense of hopelessness began to lift. All those veteran moms are right – time works wonders.
During those really awful moments there a few things that helped me keep going. Firstly, talking to other mothers made a huge difference. I had some lengthy texting conversations with a close friend. She reassured me that what I was feeling was perfectly normal. She admitted that she felt like a hot mess after her baby was born and she had experienced everything that I was going through, too. When I posted status updates on Facebook about a lack of sleep and this being the hardest thing I’ve ever done, coworkers and friends reassured me that it would get easier – I would get used to a lack of sleep and I would start to feel more confident in my abilities to take care of the baby. The Hellobee boards were invaluable during this time. I’d post threads like “Are new mom meltdowns normal?” and then get tons of responses reassuring me that I wasn’t going crazy. My fellow Hellobee moms with November babies also went a long way towards preserving my sanity – they were struggling, too. The more I read about other new moms losing it, the better I began to feel.
Another thing I found super helpful was to get outside and take a walk. Once I taught myself how to use the Ergo, taking the baby outdoors was the single biggest thing that helped improve my mood. It gave me a much needed sense of normalcy – Mr. Tricycle and I always walk with our dogs, so walking with the baby was a blissfully familiar activity. The worst time of the day for me is always 4 o’clock in the afternoon, so I timed my walks to make sure I was outdoors and getting fresh air and whatever was left of the sun at that point in the day.
Even though commiserating with other moms and getting some fresh air helped, the single most important thing was time. In my desperate Googling, I read that postpartum hormone swings are the worst between days seven and ten following delivery. I can attest to the fact that day ten was the absolute worst moment of this entire experience. Since surviving that peak of craziness, I progressively feel better and better about being a mom.
Here’s the evidence that things get better: I just finished nursing the Trikester after getting three hours of sleep last night. He’s definitely exhibiting all the symptoms of colic, and is soo fussy every evening. Mr. Tricycle is back to work and I am flying solo five days a week. I just swallowed my 8:00 AM dose of antibiotics to combat the mastitis I developed, and the FedEx guy dropped off a package, making the dogs go nuts and waking up the baby. Even with all this, I feel ok. I’m not overwhelmed, and I am 99% sure I am going to survive today. I can look down at my peaceful kiddo and feel my heart fill with all encompassing love. Life hasn’t necessarily gotten easier, but mentally, I feel much better equipped to deal with it.
The baby blues typically last for two weeks after delivery. If you’re still feeling unhappy, overwhelmed or out sorts after 14 days, you may be dealing with postpartum depression. Read Mrs. Checker’s posts about the subject and CALL YOUR DOCTOR – it will eventually get better for you, too.
How were your first two weeks with a newborn? Were you ready to send them packing?