My birth experience was traumatic, and my postpartum anxiety was intense. I never thought that either of those things were going to be easy. However, I also had no idea that they would push me beyond my limits.
My birth and postpartum experiences were the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced, both mentally and physically. Nothing else even comes close. I wasn’t prepared at all, and had given so much thought to my baby, I had forgotten to think about myself.
The Physical Pain Was Overwhelming
I had a second-degree tear, and it was excruciating. Standing and walking was almost completely out of the question, and sitting was extremely painful. I was pretty much limited to mostly laying down for well over a month.
Not to mention I also had a sprained rib from pushing while giving birth, which limited me even further. I could only lay down in certain positions and only on my right side.
Breastfeeding was so painful it brought tears to my eyes. Everyone kept telling me that when done properly, breastfeeding isn’t supposed to hurt. This was not particularly helpful for me. My baby had a very tiny mouth and simply couldn’t open wide enough to properly breastfeed.
My Postpartum Baby Blues Were Severe And Ugly
During postpartum, I was barely a shell of my former self. I wanted to find my way back so badly, but I didn’t know how.
It felt like I was lost in a giant field of very tall grass. All I could see was grass and sky, and I had no idea what direction I was headed in or where my destination was. I wandered around for weeks, tired, frustrated, and in pain. The whole time I was just longing to be able to find my way home.
It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced.
I thought I was never going to feel like myself again. I didn’t think I would ever laugh or smile again. Crying and having mental breakdowns had become my new normal.
If I Could Send A Letter To My Pregnant Self, This Would Be It
You are about to go through some of the biggest challenges that you have ever faced. As the you that has already gone through them, I can tell you that I’ve been inside the belly of the beast and it is ugly.
I can tell you this. You WILL make it to the other side, and it’s more beautiful here than any place you’ve been before. Not only because of your beautiful daughter, but because you will become a better version of yourself. Trust me.
I wish I could think of ways to make postpartum easy for you, but I just can’t. However, here are ten things that will help you to get to the other side:
1. Stock up on at least 2 months of necessities.
This includes things like toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, etc. This may seem like a small thing, but it actually isn’t. It will be better for your postpartum anxiety if you have less that you have to think about.
2. Marie Kondo the crap out of your house.
Clean EVERYTHING, and throw away things you don’t need. You will have a LOT on your plate when your baby is here. You will not be doing any cleaning, and your husband will be busy taking care of you and your baby.
3. Take lots of pictures and videos of your newborn.
I love Jim Gaffigan’s bit where he says, “I take more pictures of my kids than my dad ever looked at me!” But trust me. Take pictures AND videos. Lots of people will tell you this time goes by quickly. That may not happen for you. However, once that time is over, you will forget what your baby was like as a newborn. You will treasure looking at those pictures and videos later, and wish you had taken more.
4. It doesn’t matter how you feed your baby, as long as you are feeding your baby.
You may struggle with your breastfeeding journey, and may decide to end it early. However, no matter what wonderful benefits breastfeeding has to offer, formula is also an amazing thing that shouldn’t have any negative connotations attached to it. It has allowed so many mamas to feed their babies, and that’s beautiful. Your baby will be just as healthy being raised on formula. Remember that you were adopted and exclusively fed formula. You were a very healthy baby, and never had any disadvantages because of it.
5. You will laugh and smile again, I promise.
In fact, I’m happy to report that you will laugh and smile a lot every single day. It may not feel like it now, but please feel some comfort knowing that you WILL find your way back.
6. Do not dwell on your traumatic birth experience.
I know it feels like it’s impossible not to right now, but please stop looking behind and start looking ahead. Don’t focus so much energy in that negative direction. It’s over, and the best thing you can do is focus on your baby and all the wonderful things that lie ahead.
7. Breathe deeply and deliberately.
You love yoga, and you’ve always believed in the power of deep breathing. Please take some time every day to focus on your breathing, and to do some deep breathing exercises. It will help to ease some of your anxiety. This is something that they practice in birthing classes. It would be really good to sign up for a birthing class with Kopa Birth. They have an essentials course that would be really good to take prior to baby being born.
8. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
You have so many family members and friends who are happy to help you. Do not feel badly or worry that you are inconveniencing someone. Please ask for help when you need it and be thankful for all of your loved ones that want to help.
9. Trust your motherly instincts.
Even with all of the chaos going on inside of your head, they are there. You have to tune into your own frequency ONLY in order to hear them. If you don’t, all of the noise from everyone else will create so much static that your voice will be lost.
10. Please write these things down on paper.
Put it in a place where you will see it every day. Read every item carefully on a daily basis. I promise that they will help you to get through this difficult time.
This time will pass, and there will be so much joy and happiness in your future. More than you ever had before. Please believe that.
Your Future Self