When I started to write this post, my baby was nine and a half months old and now when I am finally posting it, he has completed 10 months. It took me two whole weeks to write and when I look back at the initial days/ weeks/ months post delivery, I realize how little or may be nothing I knew about postpartum recovery. Though I had been told many times that life is not gonna be the same after the baby but I wish had more insight to it.
My pregnancy was super smooth. I didn’t have nausea, was super active throughout, except for hemoglobin levels going down a bit and breathlessness in the third trimester, there was not any other issue. We prepared the nest, bought everything that the baby may require and felt very much prepared for the arrival of the baby but, little did we know that it takes a hell lot more than that.
Being a working woman I found it immensely challenging to settle in this new phase even though I had my parents move in with us and they have been of great help (I wonder how would we have survived without them). It isn’t like I didn’t want the baby, seeing him for the first time, his twinkling eyes are few of the memories I’ll cherish forever but, this doesn’t help in recovery.
I was ready to bring this baby out into the world and look after him but I didn’t even think about how would I look after myself. If I ain’t feeling good mentally and physically then how on earth will I shower my baby with all the warmth and love? Nobody even for once mentioned to me that self recovery is difficult and needs to be taken care of. Having survived those days, here are 6 things I struggled with postpartum recovery:
1.Latching & Breastfeeding – You can breastfeed only if your baby latches. I was well aware of the fact that post c-section milk supply doesn’t come immediately, it takes time but, how much time? few hours, days, weeks, months…when does the enough supply finally come? Doctors told me that the more I nurse, my body will get the signal that it needs to produce more milk but, for nursing my baby was required to latch and it was not happening. My baby used to howl whenever I tried to latch him, I remember his face going red and nurse telling me that him being a stubborn one. I just wondered if something was wrong with my body. I had heard from a friend about her supply not coming no matter what she tried (she had a normal delivery) but I never tried getting to know about how and what she struggled with. The doctors, nurses, lactation consultants were there at the hospital to help me with positioning the baby, trying to help him latch but once I was back home and had to do it all by myself with those sore stitches, then I realized what f**k is this and why is it so hard and not coming so naturally. Ultimately we gave baby the formula.
2. Sleep Deprivation – Life changes drastically and being up all night to rock, soothe and feed the baby becomes extremely exhausting. Demands of an infant aren’t many but enough to create a storm of insomnia. I found it next to impossible to sleep when the baby slept. Most of the time i was feeling anxious and wondering if i’ll hear my baby cry when he needs me or checking on him over and over again just to ensure he is safe and breathing.
3. Baby Blues – I have heard people say it is natural to feel sad after having a baby due to changing hormone levels but when ‘baby blues’ hit, it is a tough mental war! The anxiety mounts and it is all overwhelming. I had my parents’ and husband’s support all the time but still i felt irritable and emotionally fragile. Baby blues usually last up to 2 weeks and fade away on their own but if they last longer, check with your health provider as it could be postpartum depression. Talking to friends who are already a parent made a huge difference in my well being. It is very important to talk out your emotions, thoughts or queries when you feel lost. Do not keep any negative emotion to yourself.
4. Uncertainty about Navigating through Parenthood – It takes time to adjust in the new role as a parent. No matter how well equipped you are, the actual experience of being a parent is completely different. It is a process of trial and error. For me becoming a parent was a lot more different than what I had expected. There were times when I felt lost and didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I realized it takes time to feel confident in this new role. Being a parent is very challenging as sleepless nights while looking after the baby consumes a lot of energy, requires a lot of patience and stability of emotions. It is an important role to play but I felt trapped by the entire situation as it was enveloped with frustration and regrets at losing my old life.
5. Changing Relationship with the Partner – This came as a complete surprise to me. I wasn’t at all prepared for it. From a twosome to becoming a family is challenging, leaving no time or attention for each other like before. The clash of parenting style in the middle of the first few nights up with the baby makes it further difficult. There were differences on just about everything when it came to the baby. Apart from clashes, I resented my partner for going to work while I was home on leave attending the simple needs (eating, pooping, sleeping) of the little human being. For me going to work was equivalent to partying. I had a short temperament and used him as a punching bag and snapped every now and then. Over a period of 10 months, we have learnt to deal with the bumps in the road and I guess we can make it through anything now!
6. Bodily Changes – My engagement ring doesn’t fit me anymore, my shoes size has gone up a bit and my my clothing size has gone one size up. As I had a c-section, which is a major surgery, I felt extremely tired for the first few weeks and the stitches did hurt with any sort of movement (I still can’t wear well fitted clothes for longer periods of time). I was in awe of my body throughout the pregnancy but postpartum that deflated bump with stretch marks didn’t appeal to me. It took me time to accept the way my body looked in the mirror and yes, my partner played a very important role in helping me to overcome this mental block of having a perfect bikini body.
The only thing that kept me going through was the poem below:
Below are the links to designer Amrita Thakur’s talk on pregnancy and giving back to your body. Please do watch the video, you’ll forever be grateful to her for the insight.