Almost every Tuesday since Crosby was born, he and I have gone to a baby + parent group at the hospital I delivered at. (I still don’t know if I can technically say I “delivered” Crosby, since I had a c-section. “Delivered” seems so… vaginal. Can someone research that and let me know? I’m too lazy to. Kthxbai.) We really love going to class. Me: for the adult interaction with people who are going through the same shenanigans that I am. Crosby: for the overhead lighting. The kid loves a good 60-watt soft tone lightbulb.
Anyhoo, yesterday at class we got to talking about advice. Specifically, advice we’d give to expectant moms, now that all of us have been at this parent thing for a few months. A lot of the answers people came up with were regarding how the expectations before having a baby don’t really match up to the reality. Whether it’s breastfeeding or sleeping or just the pure exhaustion of keeping a little human alive. Which was all legit and true. Because honestly, what you imagine life will be like with a baby is kind of hogwash compared to the actual reality of having a baby.
Well so anyways. I thought about this topic for a while after class and tried to remember what surprised me the most after having a baby. I thought about what advice I would have loved to hear. And what I came up with, what my most important piece of advice to any new mom would be, is:
Do not be surprised if you feel like a fucking insane person for a while after you have your baby.
Let me explain. Right after Crosby was born and through the first week of his life, I was ecstatic. Like :: this is amazing! my baby is amazing! breastfeeding is amazing! I am amazing! no sleep is amazing! I look amazing! I feel amazing! :: type of situation. I was on cloud 9. I was also on a whole truckload of pain killers. (C-section.)
Week two hit, and I went off my pain meds. Breastfeeding did not continue to be amazing. My adrenaline was gone, and I started to get exhausted. And then the feelings hit. So.many.FEELINGS. Feelings that burst out of my eyes in the form of tears at least 10 times per day. Anything could set me off, and everything did. It was overwhelming. But even though there were so many emotions, I couldn’t quite pinpoint the source of my internal mayhem. I kept saying to Casey, “I don’t know why I’m crying?!” He was as supportive as a guy could possibly be, but there was only so much he could do or say. It was all in my head. I felt overwhelmed and numb at the same time. I felt lonely. I wondered if I’d ever feel like myself again. During this time, I felt like I was failing Crosby. I felt insanely guilty that I had a healthy, amazing little guy right in front of me, yet I was lost in a sea of emotions. What was wrong with me.
Sure, I’d heard about baby blues and of course I was aware that that was a possibility. But to this day I don’t think that that’s what it was. I mean, maybe a little… but not to the fullest extent. I know women who have truly experienced post-partum depression and I can see the struggle and the heartache it can bring. But for me, I think it was a mixture of coming off of a junkie-sized amount of medication and just being over-freaking-whelmed. I remember talking to my best friend around day 9 (she’s a mama of two) and asking her if it was normal that I couldn’t stop crying. She reassured me that yes, it was “normal” but it wouldn’t last forever. She also reminded me of what my body had gone through and that my life had just changed in the craziest way possible and that I just needed time to adjust to that. She also told me that the feelings of guilt that I was having were feelings I’d get to know pretty well as time went on. And she was so right. The mom guilt struggle is real. #TMGSIR. (<—- can we make that a thing? Yes? No? Maybe so?)
Luckily (?) the peak of my rollercoaster only lasted about a week-ish. I didn’t really talk to many people about it other than a few friends, my mom and Casey. But since then, I’ve heard many other women talk about having similar experiences. And I keep wondering why, if so many other people go through these same emotions, why don’t people talk about it more? Why do we expect new parents to be nothing but elated? I mean, yes it’s exciting and you will be elated! But also? Having a baby is INSANE. And what’s even more insane is to expect yourself to be shitting rainbows and barfing unicorns because you just brought a life into the world. I mean. YOU JUST BROUGHT A LIFE INTO THE WORLD. Via your ladyparts and/or a hole in your abdomen. Right?!?! Insane. In the membrane.
So to recap. My advice to any expectant mom out there: be prepared to be a hot fucking mess. Or not. But maybe. Maybe your mess will be minimal, like just a little candy wrapper. Maybe your mess will be big, like Britney Spears circa hair shave of 2007. Regardless of the extent of your emotional rollercoaster, it’s all okay. And it will get better. New moms? You are doing a GREAT JOB. But please do not be afraid to talk about how you’re feeling. With your husband or partner, your friends, your mom, James Blunt, Pinot Noir, Sleepless in Seattle, or even just your regular doctor. Or me! Hi! And I repeat, it WILL get better. You are not alone.
That’s all I got. Well, that and be prepared to lose all your damn hair. Post-partum hair loss is real. #PPHLIR (<—– can we make that a thing too? and all post pictures of our receding hairlines? No?)
And on that note, here are a few more pictures of me without makeup. Because real life.
Any pearls of wisdom y’all would like to share? I’d love to hear.