My Postpartum Experience- Five Stages of Grief
I do not think anything can fully prepare you for pregnancy, birth, or postpartum. If you are an expecting mom, you take it one day at a time. My little one was a surprise to me when I found out I was pregnant, as I stated in The Balancing Act. He was our plan for the future but finding out we were pregnant was a huge rush of emotions. I think many people can relate to that first time seeing the pregnancy test in complete shock. I have also previously written about how challenging pregnancy was for me in Two Easy Ways to Help with Morning Sickness. I had every possible miserable symptom. I was so ready for him to come. Then BOOM nine months passed and I was in labor.
We went to the hospital right after my husband got off of his 14-hour shift around 11 pm. It was a tight cramping pain and then it worsened into a pain where I could no longer walk anymore. While in labor my husband expressed to me that he was worried that an angel was going to be taken from this earth when another enters. I waited till I was about 7 cm to receive an epidural. Then my newborn angel arrived at 2:30 pm. I would like to say that after that we returned home and he slept through the night or latched instantly. But none of that happened. It was actually the furthest thing from what I had imagined that special day to be.
They moved me into our room so I could rest and shower. I was in bliss holding him. It was surreal and I felt beyond blessed. A feeling I wish I could have stayed with for longer than a couple of hours. I had not been on my phone all day since I was trying to get a hang of breastfeeding. I wanted to send my family and friends pictures of his first day on the earth before sunset.
After leaving the hospital, I would dream of her for those very few hours that I was actually able to sleep. Those dreams consisted of me asking her to stop playing this mean joke on me. Other times, I would hug her and tell her I missed her. I remember her saying sorry and how much she loved me in those dreams. I could not wrap my head around that she was taken on the same day my sweet baby entered the world. We would talk about being mothers together and all the silly things our kids would do. I am still disappointed to this day that I will never be able to see that.
Anger, Bargaining, Depression
Postpartum is different for all women. Some women say it flies and don't remember much, some say they love it, some experience baby blues, and some tell me they did not know who they were. I was fighting the feeling of anger. Never was I truly angry with her. I was angry with the timing. Then in competition with anger, I began bargaining. I regretted all I did not say or did not do. I felt like I could have done more at the moment. I blamed myself and asked all the possible "what ifs" I could conjure up. Mostly, I was angry with myself. I was angry at myself for holding my little one and crying. As a new mother, I was angry that I would never be able to spend any precious newborn time with him again. There was anger in my heart that I felt as though this moment had been robbed from me. The fact that I was not able to enter motherhood peacefully made me feel jealous of the new mothers around me.
I was incredibly harsh on myself. I wanted a moment to freeze time and hibernate. It was already difficult enough breastfeeding which was not as "natural" as I thought it was going to be. I was aching on the outside and on the inside. Exhaustion pushed me to my limits. Then came a rush of postpartum depression (PPD). I can say I did not know who I was. I felt like this dark cloud was constantly over my head. Life became a blur of just existing. It was difficult for me to hold my little one for long periods of time. It became so severe that I reached points where I could not hold him longer than an hour. I began to feel claustrophobic and I would worry about the sun going down since at night I would have nonstop immense anxiety. During the night, I would have panic attacks from all my emotions bubbling up.
Appreciation and Gratitude
I tell my husband repeatedly to this day that I could not have done it without his support. I look back and I realize I gave it my all. I have no regrets and it opened my eyes to all the people who are truly there for me. My sweet friend always seemed to know how to do that even if she had passed away. My husband seemed to know exactly what to do during that time and is the most selfless person I know. He would hold our little one for hours rocking him around the house when I needed that extra sleep. He was able to give our little one that comfort and attention that I was not able to give him on my own. He truly put his needs on the back burner and took care of us. Everyone told me that babies made marriage harder but it was the furthest thing from the truth. We both gained a newfound respect and love for each other. He saw me wiping my tears away to open my laptop to begin my classes. He witnessed me breastfeeding and writing lesson plans. He saw me smile and kiss our little one even though he saw me unable to catch my breath with panic attacks. He loved me through it all and was my rock.
Finding yourself as a mom can be such a struggle. You are the same person but have so much more to live for. A part of me died and was reborn into motherhood. Even in one of the hardest timelines in my life I was able to push forward. All while I was healing mentally and physically, I still pushed through breastfeeding, attended school, and worked. I now feel unstoppable and so proud of myself. I feel like I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.
Knowing what to expect a little more will also help me prepare for my next postpartum experience. Including, having more compassion and patience. I think all mamas need to be more kind to themselves. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Even after having children, it is essential to do what makes you happy and productive. I have discovered a more developed version of myself after having my little one, and I know I will continue to learn and grow in the years to come. If you have been through death you can understand the five stages of grief that include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Healing does not follow a linear timeline. The thought of memories together and not being able to call her makes me grieve at times. I do things in her honor that help me feel close to her.
To my dear sweet friend, you are dearly missed. I could drive hours and hours with you. I am blessed that I was able to love you for 13 years. You never judged me and I could always be my 100% authentic self with you. I miss hearing your laugh and voice. Your smile could light up an entire room. Thank you for guiding my little one into this world safely. Alexis your name will carry on forever. I love our memories together and all our inside jokes. I know you are forever with me. You fought and you fought hard. I love you!