I Was Drowning and Didn’t Even Know It.
I love my daughter. She is the best thing that ever happened to me. But 2 years ago, this is not how I envisioned my life at 23. Pregnancy was unexpected, to say the least. But postpartum, ... that was a whole different ball game.
My situation may not be yours and may not be the typical story considering I gave birth 10 weeks after being in the hospital for 5 days during a Pandemic. I remember the NICU doctor talking to me before I went into labor and she told me that I was more than likely going to experience it. How you gone put that on me like that?? She was right. The hospital should really do a better job of placing NICU parents in the postpartum unit. Hearing moms being rolled in with their babies crying triggered me like nothing I've ever experienced. I felt like I had let my baby down and my body betrayed us. We were supposed to go all the way. When I finally cried, I couldn’t stop. I just kept thinking about how everything happened so fast. One minute I was taking pictures of my belly in the bathroom mirror, the next minute I’m in the operating room getting a c-section. Another major factor that played into my early postpartum was that I couldn’t hold my baby for 4 days. When they delivered her she was immediately placed in the incubator. And then since my placenta had become infected she needed antibiotics and the IV was through her belly button. It was too dangerous to hold her with that in place. So the most we could do was hold hands and then I would have to leave. Having to leave her when I left the hospital to go home felt like I was leaving all of me at the hospital. My mom's first child was premature, so having that support from my parents who knew along with my boyfriend who was experiencing it was necessary.
Just because my baby was in the NICU didn’t mean that my sleepless nights hadn’t started. Breastmilk is major for a preemie so every three hours we would wake up and pump. It was rough. No sleep, infected c-section scar, clogged milk ducts and sore nipples, baby not there, and did I mention I was in school (that didn’t go so well). 50 million things. But through all of that, I was just grateful that she was here and healthy. She literally went through the NICU like a champ. When she came home my symptoms didn’t get any better. I wasn't answering any of my friend's calls, I didn’t want to go anywhere, and me and my boyfriend were arguing every day. Until one day, I lost it. I looked at my boyfriend and said “I’m drowning” and a weight was lifted off my chest. All of these things were happening to me and I didn’t even realize what was taking place. During postpartum our body is literally stripped of all the hormones it just pumped up for the baby and mine was stripped early. I didn't acknowledge myself until it was too late.
After that, it got better. I decided not to continue with school and decided to put my daughter first by following my dreams of creativity. I started thinking of this blog and how to use my writing for something fun and positive, I thought about creating a brand for myself. I'm not saying school is out of the picture, but the major I chose and the school were not where I wanted to be. I finally called my friends back and I didn't even realize how much I needed them until I did. I almost forgot how essential a good brunch was in my life. But the funny thing about postpartum depression or the baby blues is that it doesn't just disappear. Some days it hits me in waves. If I start looking at old pics of Yo Yo in the NICU I remember all of the emotions. Sometimes when I'm on insta and I see all the beautiful mommies getting big and having baby showers or hitting their due date, I fall back into that space. Or even the other day when I couldn't make it to dinner with my girls and they ended up going to bars all night, I realized they were better off without me. Because at 23 that's what you're supposed to do but for me, I would be leaking like a cow. My bar-hopping days are postponed, and that's ok.
When dealing with postpartum you just have to take it day by day and give yourself time. I pray that you are not affected by PPD but regardless, listen to your emotions. Give yourself time to be alone and time away from the baby is healthy. Don't feel bad for not answering phone calls or turning away guests. You just gave life, it's your world, not theirs. But overall I say find a support system, however that may look for you because a healthy mom equals a healthy family.