To say that I felt I was not ready to leave the hospital is an understatement. I couldn’t have been more unsure of myself or my state of being. All I could think about was the staircase in our house that I would have to climb. How would I do that with the baby? I was just starting to get out of bed with less pain and I still had 11 staples across my stomach. These people were on crack. I couldn’t go home! My insurance said I got 5 hospital days for a c-section. Well, the hospital really didn’t care what my insurance said. They needed the room. So after three days they sent me home. Now in hindsight, it was probably for the best. I did manage physically, better than I thought I would. And “having” to do more probably made my recovery that much quicker. But boy, my head was NOT wrapped around being at home with the baby yet. I needed help. Didn’t they see that? I felt completely inadequate for the job that lay ahead. All I knew is that I wanted to cry. And then, I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t know how much my hormones would spike and fall. I didn’t know just how that would affect me. And mix that with feelings of guilt, because how could I not be elated? How could I be sad? What was wrong with me? I tried to put on a good face, but I was terrified. I can’t imagine what my husband was thinking? He must have been completely freaked. I was the one who was supposed to have it all together. And here I was falling apart. He didn’t know what to do to help me. Neither did I.
Each day and night, it got worse. I couldn’t stop crying. Somewhere in my head, I knew this behavior was ridiculous, unfounded, down right silly. But the louder voice in my head kept saying, “What have you done?” I had given birth to this child who needed a mother and I didn’t think I could do it. No, I knew I couldn’t. I was doomed. I remember my husband giving me a list of phone numbers of help lines for women with postpartum issues. I remember feeling so ashamed. Why couldn’t I handle this? I am a Type A woman! I am organized, educated and in control!! I had planned everything. And nothing was going to plan. I finally got the courage to call…and there was an answering machine. A flipping answering machine. I remember when the beep came, I didn’t know what to say….and then it hung up on me. I thought. Well, there you go. Figures. The next day (at my husband’s plea) I called the nursing line at my doctor’s practice. The minute I began to speak, I broke down. I told her I just wanted to go somewhere and figure it all out. I told her the baby might be better off with someone who knew what they were doing. I have to tell you, it’s not easy admitting any of this, but I didn’t know that I could feel so messed up. It was not on my radar that I could be hit with the “baby blues.” Well, the nurse must have thought I was ready to jump off a bridge. She had me see the doctor that afternoon. When Dr. Singer walked in, he held my hand and simply said, “How are you doing?” I broke out in tears and told him of my plan to get away for a bit and then come back when I was ready. He smiled at me. He said, “You want to come back.” I said, “Of course.” He said, “You’re gonna be just fine.” He then explained to me what was going on hormonally in my body. How the “baby blues” are real. How if they last longer than 6 weeks….it could be postpartum depression, but he was betting, based on my effort to look presentable that day, it was most likely temporary. He also told me that because I was older, the entire recovery would take longer. Everything. Body and mind. I chose to not use any medication, because it can take up to 6 weeks to even take affect. No, I decided to ride out the “blues” and see where that would take me.
Of course you know, they have all these classes to take when you are pregnant. Childbirth classes, Infant Care classes, Infant CPR, Breastfeeding 101. We took everything that was offered. To be honest, besides the Infant CPR class…they were all pretty useless to us. What we really needed was a “Surviving the First 2 Weeks at Home with Your Newborn” class. Like a Baby Boot Camp. What to expect those first couple weeks and how to deal with it. They could run a few random scenarios with you, and throw in some variables like hormonal mother, baby losing weight, and oh, it all happens on zero sleep. If one more person said to me, “sleep when the baby sleeps!” I wanted to hit them in the face. Hard.
It isn’t even possible to thank my wonderful husband enough. He must have been wondering, “Where is my wife? Where did Mares go?” He is not only an amazing father (born to do it)..but a loving, caring and supportive partner. He didn’t know what each new day would bring, as I fumbled around trying to find my footing as a mother. But he has never given up on me. I also had help from my best friend, Jo, who came to stay with us before the baby was born. He cooked, cleaned and took care of us. He was a link to reality and remains a true godsend. And my husband’s mother, who saw me at my worst and lent me a life preserver each and every day. I don’t know how to thank them, except to say I love you all. I truly don’t know how any woman who has the postpartum blues gets through it without help. Your impulse is to try to hide it, because the shame is so heavy. If I didn’t have help, I don’t know where I would be…most likely half way to Arizona, living in my Kia, hating myself for running away. I’m here to tell ya, these “blues” are real and very scary. If you have had them, you know what I am talking about. And if you are living them now, get some help. Talk to someone. Anyone. You never know from where you will receive help. It comes in many shapes and sometimes in the most unlikely forms. But above all, don’t beat yourself up. Know, this too shall pass, and you will feel better. 🙂
Next post, I’ll tell you about my breast feeding fiasco, as I like to call it. I think that lent itself a great deal to my wounded state of mind. Until then, keep up the good fight. And remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she’s screwing it up. 🙂 xo