I’m not sure if this will become a post or if it’s just for therapeutic purposes, type it out to get it out of the system. I had a wonderful pregnancy. I was happier than I’ve ever been, but the shock of our baby being born so early (37w, 4d) rather than the 40 weeks put my mind into a weird scary, fearful zone. After the baby was born, I felt disconnected, empty. This is the reason for this journal post. To sort through the emotions.
Greg calls me “Evil Aleta” during this time. Not because I’m angry or yelling. But when we came home with our baby, all I did was cry. It bothered both of us and we worried about post partum depression. EA (Evil Aleta) is probably a good term, because of the thoughts going through my head, again, not angry, but negative. You know those cartoons where you have an angel on your shoulder and a devil on the other shoulder whispering thoughts to you?
All I was hearing was the EA. I’m starting to here the positive thoughts too now. This journal is to type the thoughts out, vomit the negative as much as possible. Sorry to dump it in a post. I’m going to write it as if the EA and Angel are talking the emotions out as if it was a cartoon….
EA: You planned for natural birth. Went to all the classes, you were nervous but looked forward to sharing the experience with your husband. You were happy being pregnant. The baby instead was cut out of you via c-section. There was nothing to share with your husband. It happened to you. You had nothing to do with the birth. You didn’t even get to see him born. You had a blue sheet in front of you and were half out of it with the drugs. You feel no connection to him. Empty instead and empty emotions when everyone is telling you how joyful you must be. What is wrong with you!
Angel: Haven’t we worked through this? Dry your tears. Remember what Dr. Wild said, “You’re lucky that this happened at 37 weeks when other women with blood pressure issues like yours face this at 24 weeks pregnant.” So, somehow you did something right with your body to keep the pregnancy going for that long. You had a lot to do with the birth, because you kept the baby healthy. Dr. Wild said that you made the right call about having a c-section instead of inducing because the baby was too high up in your ribs for the inducement to work and the umbilical cord was wrapped around his head. These issues would have caused the baby to go into duress and required an emergency caesarian. It was not an easy decision, because you wanted natural, but you opted for the healthiest means to bring your baby into this world. You were the one calling the cards on how to go, you made a good choice for your baby and for you.
Angel: Also, count your blessings, because Dr. Wild could have denied your husband to video the baby coming out. She had legal rights to do so and yet she permitted it. And you get to see it. (EA jumps in: yes, but you see it like a third party, just like anyone else viewing it.) Angel:… does that matter? At least you have the video and that’s a blessing.
(Believe me, it took a lot of time to finally hear Angel words… the EA voice just kept repeating itself for the longest time.)
EA: The baby looks nothing like you. Nothing for you to connect to him. He has a beautiful face with blue eyes and incredibly blond hair that everyone oohhs and ahhhs over and then looks at you and says, “Well, where did he get the blond hair from?” And everyone says how the baby looks like Greg or your Dad or your uncle, but never you. He has nothing for you to visibly say, “Hey, I am a part of him.” Even when your Mom made the comment that the baby’s nose looked like yours, your husband went so far as to take profile pictures and prove that the baby’s nose was like his and not yours. Disconnect.
Angel: It’s true, the baby doesn’t look like you. But he’s beautiful. And here’s something to remember and maybe God meant for you to experience it. Your Mom has white hair. You were born with jet-black hair. People told your mom that you weren’t her baby because of your dark hair. People said you looked more like your dad. Your Mom gets your emotions with all of this. And you know what? You didn’t have to look like your mom or your dad, and you were loved. You don’t need to be visible in your child’s profile, just in his heart.
EA: Your baby is called a “pretend” baby, because he was preterm, looks like a baby but he can’t breast feed. Your body was too full of fluid after the c section and because of the magnesium they pumped you full of. You could barely hold your baby because your hands and body were so swollen from the fluids. You couldn’t get your baby to breast feed because of the extra fluid and instead, had to learn how to pump and your son got used to the bottle in the hospital. Another “FAIL” for your birth plan of breast-feeding. Why did you even bother to take the classes? They didn’t tell you the first three days after birth were the critical days for breastfeeding and during those days you were out of it with pain medicine.
Angel: First, your doctor took care of you. Your blood pressure was in stroke range and the magnesium was given to prevent seizures and strokes. Rather all that you went through than for your baby to live a life without his mother. And you are using the pump, giving him whatever you possibly can. And you supplement with formula. You know what? The baby’s first pediatrician appointment was one week after the baby’s birth. At this appointment, the doctor looks for the baby’s weight to be close to birth weight. Baby was born at 6.12. Left hospital, baby weighed 6.5. At the pediatrician’s appointment, baby was 6.11, so you’re doing something right and healthy for your son.
EA: While you were confined to the bed for 36 hours after the c section, waiting for the magnesium and your blood pressure to come in line, your husband got the “first” – the first diaper changing, the first bottle feeding, the first swaddling lessons. You missed out on those and could only watch and take pictures. Your husband was so happy and joyful and you were stuck to a bed like a vegetable. Disconnect.
Angel: And remember how proud you were of your husband for doing those things? As for “first” – hey, the other day when you were changing the baby and your husband wasn’t home, it took 3 diapers to change the baby, because baby decided right then and there to go for round two of dirty diapers AND he pee’d across the room. So, do you think your husband would want that first? There will be many shared firsts in the future and it doesn’t matter if you see it or he sees it or neither, just that it happens for your son.
EA: Some people won’t think you are motherly, because you don’t have the energy to stay up all night and take care of your baby. Women have babies every day and there are single moms out there who are able to do this. Why can’t you manage. Why are you so sleep deprived when it seems to easy for everyone else to do?
Angel: First Time Mothers aren’t told the truth; babies are not rainbows and unicorns. They are HARD work. They are worth it, but it’s a shock to a parent’s system and even more so for someone trying to recover from major surgery. As for those single moms, often they either send their child to daycare or have a support system. You not only had a baby, but you had a c section. As your cousin, Lori (RN, studying to be a nurse practitioner) stated, “It’s like having a hysterectomy and baby all at the same time.” And as your aunt Vera stated, “When you are young, you have more energy and don’t realize just how much of a toll this can take on a woman who is older having a child.” You and your baby are both new to this. You never were around babies, give yourself some leeway on the learning curve and allow your body to heal too. For chuckles, remember Dr. Wild’s words… “It’s natural to feel worn out and sleep deprived. I think if I were to die and go to hell, my hell would be sleep deprivation. That’s how horrible it can feel, but things will get better.”
EA: You cried almost non-stop for 4 days. Every time you looked at your husband, you cried. How do you think that made him feel? Probably horrible, especially when you had to open your mouth and say you didn’t feel connected to him, what a cruel thing to say. And now, you cry when he wants to slow dance or says something loving.
Angel: You cried at first because you didn’t feel emotions, just that empty feeling, totally hormonal. You cry now because you do feel and it’s overwhelming, that’s not a bad thing. It just means you appreciate your husband’s tenderness all the more. And you cry, because you are sleep deprived and it’s the only outlet left to express how tired your body is, both from the surgery and from lack of sleep.
EA: …. (crickets)…
Angel: Is that all then? Got everything covered? Good, now, go read this again and see how foolish some of the EA’s comments are and remember the positives. And in case you need some more positives… here are a few…
You only gained 14 pounds for the duration of your pregnancy.
Within the first week home, you lost the 14 pregnancy pounds, plus an additional 14 pounds by the end of the second week. You are still only drinking water and trying to eat healthy (the unhealthy part being that you sometimes forget to eat).
The other day you were holding your baby in your left arm and your mother-in-law said that you are taking to motherhood quickly. When your mother-in-law was leaving the house, you were still holding the baby in your left harm, using your right leg to stop the dog from going outside and using the right arm to close and lock the door. I’d say you are getting the hang of it.
You already sent in the insurance forms to make sure your son is covered, that takes a clear head to sort through all the required forms and you did it within the necessary timeframe.
You have a great support team to help, including baby, husband, parents, in-laws and friends. Your mom and mother-in-law and sister-in-law took the time to each sit some nights and that helps a lot. They might not be able to do this often, but each time counts for a lot in keeping you sane.
Your husband thinks you look sexy and you went on your first breakfast date post baby, felt a little more human and happy. And have since then gone on a lunch date and dinner date, those outings help to reconfirm the bond.
You get to take cute pictures of the baby and text them to your husband so that he knows his wife and son are thinking of him throughout the day.
You have a lot of blessings and your baby grows each day and changes each day, so each day is a new blessing to appreciate. Take as many pictures as you want, because right now the baby can’t complain about you being a shutterbug.
You know your son is going to teach you more about love throughout the years and that’s a beautiful thing.