K.J. asks from Brooklyn, NY on June 24, 2008
How Did You Cope the First Couple Months?
I'm not sure I'd call what I'm feeling postpartum depression ... I think baby blues is probably more accurate. In any case, I am finding the first couple weeks of my baby's life to be incredibly, mind-numblingly boring. Periodically I start feeling like I will be a milk machine for the rest of my life and maybe in three years time my child and I will have a moment to bathe. I've gone through so many magazines and newspapers in the past week, and yesterday I played my favorite video game for about five hours. Today I woke up and started crying at the prospect of not being able to do anything but read and watch crappy tv (I don't watch much tv generally, so I'm not a huge fan).
All this would be fine, but my boyfriend is working from home to help out in case I need him, and he is really stressing out about all my tears. Keeps insisting that I tell him what kind of help I need, but what can I say? No one else can feed the child until I start pumping.
What I really want is three or four hours a day without the child attached to me. Everything I've read basically says mommy should be encouraged to spend all that time with her child. Slings are suggested, as well as just giving up on doing anything else until the baby is old enough to self-soothe.
To complicate things a bit, I am also recovering from a c section, so wearing a sling isn't really a great option for me. I mean I can wear one for a while, but I can't really do anything because I'm already carrying the weight of the child, which is all I'm allowed to lift for the next few weeks. I'd still have to put the child down in order to do anything.
I know it will get better and that I will (hopefully!) be recovered from the surgery in a few weeks, but how do I maintain my sanity in the meantime? Boyfriend goes to work again in a couple days and I'm not sure if that will make things better or worse ... at least I can cry without worrying about upsetting him. On the other hand, I will have to put the child down to cry a lot more when there's no one here to pick things up for me or hold the baby for a sec.
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So What Happened?™
Hi everyone, and thanks so much for all your heartfelt responses! I must say I'm surprised how many think I am suffering from PPD - I can tell you I'm definitely not! I spend most of my time being pretty happy ... it's just when I get bored after several hours of reading my third New Yorker that I get frustrated. :)
I cry a lot anyway - meaning before I was pregnant - so I don't feel that's a good indicator that I'm depressed. I also refer to my dog as "the dog" (and I love her to pieces) so calling this kid "the child" isn't indicative of any lack of sentimentality - I assure you I drive my boyfriend crazy with all my "cute little baby boy bugaloo" comments! :)
We do appreciate all the tips. Ultimately, we ordered a breast bump (I was planning to anyway, but my boyfriend wanted to wait) which should arrive any day. This way, my boyfriend can feed the baby too. As it was, any time he held the baby, he was relegated to standing and dancing around even for a couple hours if I was taking a nap. He just doesn't have the motherly skill of gently putting the baby down, so the baby would wake up every time and start crying.
Also, my boyfriend setup baby's co-sleeper next to my computer chair so I can work which has been a god send. Pretty much as soon as that was done, I was off to the races. I guess since I'm a techie, being at my computer makes me feel like a normal human again, even if I do need a shower!
Thanks again - I really appreciate your support and it's great to know there is a place to turn when things get tough!
D.B. answers from New York on June 26, 2008
Hang in there it gets alot better. I felt the same way.I felt like a milk machine. Every hour to two hours and I would cry because my son pooped for the fifth time in ten minutes. I cried alot.He was very "boring" in the beginning. He is now almost 5 months old and has a wonderful disposition.
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M.L. answers from New York on June 24, 2008
WOW...I can totally sympathize with you....After I had my daughter I was a mess...I had my Mom stay with me for 2 weeks...and honestly nothing anyone did or said could make me feel any better...I tried to cry in private because I didnt want to scare anyone, even though I eventually would break down every once in a while...when people asked me what was wrong I really didnt know what to tell them...I just felt like I couldnt do it..couldnt care for my daughter and honestly didnt want to....I ended up having to see a lactation specialist because she wouldnt latch on and I broke down there...she said if I still felt like that after a couple of weeks I should talk to my OB...but I, like you, felt more like the baby blues than depression...I couldnt stand being home, staring at the same 4 walls day after day...TV stunk and I could only talk on the phone so much as all of my friends and hubby were at work...I think it was such an adjustment for me because I was used to working 40 hours a week and being totally independant...now all of a sudden we have this little life that depends solely on us....email was a huge life savor for me...I was constantly emailing all my coworkers and friends, who knew what I was going through and tried to send me words of encouragement....My suggestion to you would be to take advantage of this beautiful weather....go for a walk sit outside...what you are feeling is totally normal, believe it or not...LOL....and it will get better....after about 3 months, and when I went back to work, I started to feel much better....you will start to get your life back, a little bit at least....my daughter is now 2 and its still all about her....my "me" time is when I come to work...sad huh??? Ask your boyfriend if he can watch the little man while you go out...either with friends or to the mall or just for a drive...it will help believe me....Im here if you want to chat more...just try to keep your chin up and know that it will get better!! Oh and I had a c-section also and I found that the more I moved around the better I felt and the quicker I healed..
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R.R. answers from Rochester on June 24, 2008
This may be way too philosophical & way too long but I'll make it my creative outlet for the day to reply =)
I think our culture is such an active, "doing" culture that it is a shock when we slow down from the usual busy pace. We are also fiercely independent in this country. So becoming a mom can be like moving into a different country emotionally, and your feelings are shared among your sister new moms.
Here are thoughts from my journey- beginning with resentment and ending in happy anticipation of more babies.
Someone once told me that there is a huge difference between "loving your child" and "loving motherhood". I realized then that I disliked motherhood- it was too repetitive, too much responsibility, and "un-stimulating". But I knew that in order to be very good at something, you generally have to love doing it. I decided I would do whatever it took to LOVE motherhood, not just love my children. So I sought out every positive resource, attitude, point of view, and person I could to help me learn to love it. When you set your mind to something and fill your mind with it, eventually it becomes a part of you and influences you more than other ways of thinking that make the repetitive acts of motherhood seem like a chore.
Nursing- is DRAINING. Sometimes, you don't feel it so much physically as you do emotionally or mentally. It can seem like your baby is just draining your life away. So you need to conscioulsy FILL your emotional, mental, and physical "tanks"... it can be the smallest thing, like going for a walk and NOTICING the breeze, or using a facial mask next time your baby takes a nap, or putting on a cd you love.
I have learned to love repetitive routines or "rhythms" and allow the daily, weekly, monthly, & annual events of the seasons to be my anchors and roots- my framework for enjoying life and making sense of it. I moved to the country and have come to see that within each season all of life (plants, animals) ebbs and flows in cycles, providing a continuity and rhythm, almost calendar-like sign of the times, as things sprout, bud, blossom, bear fruit (or young)... Books like "Full Moon Feast", "The Quotidian Mysteries", and "Seven Times the Sun" have all enriched my life and help me extract so much meaning from the ordinary repetitive tasks involved in being a human, a woman, and a mother. Finding meaning and purpose in a seemingly chore-driven day transform your attitude. And, in your case, as you recover, you are struggling to find meaning as you are limited in your physical capabilities. But this won't last long.
When I was young and had only myself to worry about, I never focused on everything around me- just straight ahead to where I was going and what I was trying to accomplish in my life. I was completely disconnected from the true nature of life in my yuppie existence, and it was only when I slowed down to my second baby's pace of life that it was almost like a rebirth. I began to view the future not as my playground, but as a landscape I was shaping for my children and theirs. I immersed myself in their world, and realized that what some people pay hundreds of dollars for on "Meditation Retreats" I get for free every day- an opporunity to step outside of my own relentless thoughts and be "in" the present moment. To re-live a world of first-times with their wonder and appreciation.
I realized that by funneling all my power and energy into my home and family, I could create a dynamic force that would overflow and spill out on the world around us- by giving my all and nurturing my children and carefully, daily placing the imprint on them of all the beautiful, positive, and conscientious ways of living, they can have far more impact on the world than I could on my own with just my efforts. And places where true mothers reside- women who embrace lives and nurture people- have an incredible attracting force to them. People go there and are nourished, and leave with greater potential to impact the world by realizing their life's purpose. The trend today seems to be to funnel all of your energy outside of your home, but then your own family follows suit and everyone is seeking fulfillment outside of the home- and you are left with a vacuum for a home. Home becomes a place where everyone pursues individual leisure and then heads back out to do their own thing, because it's not "exciting". I want to create a home that draws people, builds people, nourishes people... that re-asserts that people, not things, are what really matters, and that helps build the missing community and CONNECTEDNESS that we are losing as a society. People are so fragmented... We need REAl mothers to connect us and provide FAMILY.
Practically speaking, you should get 3-4 hours a day to yourself with a new baby's sleeping time. It helps to follow a rhythm (like play, eat, sleep) for your baby, and as he or she gets older the "play" time will last longer. When you're physically recovered, pop your baby in the sling and stay on your feet doing whatever you need to do to make your home an inviting, peaceful place for you and your boyfriend, and spend plenty of time outside... Don't feel like you have to hold your baby while baby is sleeping. Better a non-resentful mother with a baby in a crib than a bitter attached one! I had less of a "tolerance" for being a baby holder with my first one, and with my second one I am much more at peace with providing more consistent touch. Do what you can do without becoming resentful. But on the other hand, don't let your baby make you "stuck".
I have found that with a sling, there is very little I can't accomplish. When I had my first baby I would sit around and mope because if I set him down to take out the garbage he would fuss, and if I held him it was to hard to lift it into the outside container. Things like that would build up and I would feel more and more frustrated. Now I look at these things to do as opportunities to reinvent the way I do my chores and think outside the box to how I can incorporate my baby in all I do. Can you believe my 1 yr old son can't walk yet, but he will completely empty our front loading washer and if he drops so much as a sock, he will pick it up and put it in the basket? You and your child are a team.
I always read things that TEACH me something while I'm nursing- whether it be teaching me a new attitude, teaching me to make my own yogurt, my own garden, etc.- becoming more self-sufficient and less reliant on commodities and establishments is another way to have some stimulation and give you purpose and fulfillment. It makes you feel alive, more intuitive and primal, and more connected to your child, and helps you think outside of the box when you are the kind of mother that doesn't need to rush to the dr. for every little problem because you have your own natural first aid kit (each of my children have been to a dr. for sickness only 1 time in their combined 4 years of life, and neither needed a prescription or over the counter medicines to recover), and it makes you feel like housework is artwork when you are cleaning your sink with your own homemade peppermint oil infused soft scrub. Talk to your baby along as you do everything, "narrating", and contemplate every first... the first time your baby feels a fly brush against his or her arm, the sound of the washer machine, the way a door squeaks on its hinges. Your baby is trying to establish a rhythm & understand life (We begin each morning in our house by lighting a candle and saying "For this new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends, for everything God's goodness sends, we thank Thee"- and you'd be amazed how soon your baby will respond to sweet little routines with a smile and expectation).
Your old life is gone now that you're a mother- maybe you can mourn it a bit- but your new exciting life is ready to begin- I pray you will embrace it and find fulfillment you never dreamed existed!
Practical note- make sure you are getting plenty of Essential Fatty Acids to boost your hormonal health. Post-baby is a great time to take fish oil capsules.
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J.G. answers from New York on June 24, 2008
Hi. I just had a son 7 weeks ago today. I also have a 3 yr old daughter. I too was recovering from a c-section with him. And I have to say, I found that the hormone withdrawal was much worse with him. I was crying over every little thing for the 1st couple weeks. To complicate things, I came down with pneumonia like a day or 2 after surgery. Which was a source of crying in and of itself. It was very painful to have to cough right after major abdominal surgery, as you would know. There is no need to give up on everything because you have a new baby. You need a few hours to yourself to keep your sanity. If your not feeling up to going out, have a friend come over and your boyfriend can watch the baby. Everything your feeling is normal. I felt them all and I'm fine now. If you continue to feel it, let your doctor know. If you need someone to talk to you, you know where to find me!
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C.T. answers from New York on June 25, 2008
This is a HUGE adjustment and most of the mom's here have been right on target - this takes time. Be gentle with yourself.
The first night I was home from the hospital with my sweet daughter (now one year old), my husband awoke to find me on the floor of our bedroom huddle in a blanket that had fallen off our bed with her craddled in my arms. I was sobbing as loudly as she was crying and couldn't see her due to the strong flow of tears. I was trying to "protect" him since he needed to go to shift in the morning and needed his sleep and I had tried everything I could think of - diaper, nurse, cuddle - and nothing seemed to help soothe her. I felt like a huge failure and I was less then 24 hours into it! I was also getting WAY worked up over having to be completely alone with her for 12+ hours the following day.
Things did get better slowly though. Some of it is physical, some hormonal and some plain old emotional. Again, it was a time issue but also an acceptance issue.
I would suggest getting as much support around you as possible. For me it was the little things - having Mom fold laundry so I could nap while baby slept, having hubby bring home a Starbucks (since I couldn't drink that for 10 months!), having MIL cook dinner, a friend from church brought over spaghetti one night that fed us for a week, freezer meals from Omaha Steaks from my kid sis that were microwavable so I did not need to plan for meals and shop for food... All these things added up to snippits of "me time". I liked a warm shower or a good soak in our whirlpool tub. A walk around our property under the trees (we have 2.3 acres). A nap in the hammock under the cool shade. Take as much advantage of having your BF home as possible.
One more thing I was told as a new mom was to plan one activity a day and take pleasure in accomplishing it. I was told it could be something little - finishing the dishes, a quick trip to the dry cleaners, an outting for ice cream (for me of course!) - but that by placing one thing on my "To Do" list and accomplishing that, that I would gain strength and confidence.
CONGRATS on BFing. This is huge and I think all Mom's go through a "cow stage". I found the best way to eleviate this feeling was to push off other tasks on Daddy. If the baby needed a changing, I would ask him to do it. If the baby needed a bath, I would ask him to do it. It doesn't sound like much, but it does provide you with the opportunity to free yourself up and take 5 minutes. It gives Daddy some bonding time too. Also, feel free to place the baby down after nursing. It's okay for them to sleep by themselves. We actually had two bassinets - one in our living room and one in our bedroom. The bedroom had a monitor and the living room was in the middle of all the chaos. Now she pretty much sleeps through anything - doorbells, dog barking, thunderstorms, etc. I think it was a good move and I felt more comfortable watching her sleep while I putted in the kitchen area.
If you are looking for activities to do while not breastfeeding, anything from blogging here to scrapbooking to gardening can beat the boredom you are feeling. It keeps you close by, especially with a monitor and you can still be responsive to the baby's needs. God bless you though, because I wish I had had more energy after my little girl was born! Honestly, the primary thing I recall from the first month is sleeping when she slept! LOL!
Finally, I would follow through on the advise of speaking to a doctor and finding a support group(s). MOPS was suggested. You could also try La Leche League. They will help with the "Mommy" feelings as well as the BF-ing feelings.
Good Luck! Lots of HUGS! And, Congrats on a healthy baby boy!
A.J. answers from Albany on June 24, 2008
I can remember dreading waking up in the morning having to face another day as a mom. I didn't really know what to do with my new baby and life was not perfect. I hated the demands of breastfeeding and resented my husband as he snored away while I fed. I hated my husband just because he got to get out and go to work every day. But it did get better, much better. So much so we had another baby 14.5 months later . . .
After my 2nd was born things got bad, real bad. I wanted my son to go back where he came from. I cried a lot. Things got better. Not perfect. But better. But I still needed help. I talked to my dr. and he helped me. I was mad at myself for waiting 1 year before seeking help.
Hormones suck but they don't stay crazy forever. The baby will soon become less of a burden and more of a joy...really. I really mean it. Also, you are not alone. Most moms (at least those who care to admit it) have been in your exact shoes. Being a mom to a newborn is the single most difficult thing ever. But it is time of learning. You are learning about how to be selfless, and how to be a mother. It will all fall into place.
Another thing, it is ok to cry. Cry your heart out. It's good for you. Explain to your boyfriend not to worry when you cry.
And yes, talk to your dr. if you do not feel better in a few more weeks. Don't wait. There are so many things that can help if your dr. thinks it's necessary. At your 6 week check-up speak up and tell the dr. if you still feel lousy. It's ok.
The other advice you recieved is good too. Just know that you are not alone and you will be ok. If you need to talk just send me a message anytime. My best to you.
S.M. answers from New York on June 25, 2008
My daughter is 5 months old, and the most important thing to know is you are not alone with these feelings you have. I was very overwhelmed in the begining and I would cry over the silliest things, although at the time they didn't seem silly. You go from having your own life to yourself, and that's all you know, to giving everything up to a new little baby. It's hard in the begining. And not to say it gets easier but you learn to manage your life as well as your baby. I breast fed as well and it was a lot knowing only you could do the feeding. But look at the positive, your little boy looks to you for nourishment and comfort. Once you start pumping, you can at least maybe give 1 feeding to someone else, or take a break from breast feeding. Now is the time to adjust to your new schedule. Of course you will be around your baby most of the day, but I would look forward to the little things in the begining,like taking a shower, going for a walk, and catching up with family and friends cause I was home. The crying will subside and things will change. Just know you are not alone.
K.S. answers from New York on June 25, 2008
First (((HUGS))) hang in there it will get better (I know sounds like empty promises).
I had help the first two weeks (hubby and my parents, since I had a c-section I needed it. Then everyone was gone and it was just my daughter and I for 6 weeks before I went back to work. We breastfed so same thing we were attached at all times. I felt that I couldn't do anything without her stuck to me. I was crying almost constantly.
I ended up taking my daughter to Wal-Mart and the mall just to get out and walk around! Luckily our mall has a lactation room so I didn't have to worry about where to feed her but it was such a pick-me-up to see other adults.
Lastly ,if you feel like you just can't stand it (and that's ok) please talk to someone. A friend or a professional. Someone that's removed from the situation.
From a mom who's been there,