I was really prepared this time. I knew the signs of postpartum depression, I know my own triggers for anxiety, and I know how I deal with both. I had plans in place to stay healthy after I gave birth because I didn’t before. This time would be different. I took good care of myself during this pregnancy. I never had to take insulin and I lost about 20 pounds. I wasn’t dieting or anything, it was just a matter of eating well.
I had a good idea of how much I would weigh after I had Tesla, and I planned to use that as a spring board for getting even healthier. I was going to eat good food every day, like oatmeal, good proteins, raw veggies. I was going to prep it and have it ready in the fridge so that when I was nursing I could grab a healthy snack and take care of myself while I took care of her. I was going to have a bottle of water full at all times so that I could drink plenty of water. I was going to start walking with the baby as soon as I was cleared with the doctor. My goal wasn’t to lose weight right after I had the baby, but to take care of myself. I knew from when I had Tobin that I needed to be prepared or I wouldn’t make any of my plans a reality. I also knew that if I were doing everything I could to take care of myself, my postpartum depression/anxiety (if I got it this time) would be easier to deal with.
I had so many plans on February 5th. Then Tesla was born on February 6th and the plans went out the window. Because I had the reality of the newborn and not the newborn in my head. Let me say how lucky I know we are because she’s a healthy baby. There is no reason, other than the logistics of having a newborn, that I couldn’t implement my plans. Except that I had a newborn. One who wasn’t a fan of being put down…and I’ll be honest, knowing she was my last newborn, I *wanted* to hold her all the time. But, holding her all the time doesn’t leave much room for shopping or food prep.
I had planned to have an easy time breastfeeding. Nicholas was easy to nurse, Tobin was more challenging. Tesla had me in tears for two weeks. Nursing her was so hard the first few weeks, both physically and mentally. Physically I was hurting and my nipples were cracked and bleeding and I had thrush. She also wasn’t completely draining me so I was alternating between engorgement and feeling like I didn’t have enough milk. Mentally, I was a mess because Tesla not only lost her birth weight, but also didn’t gain it back at a good pace. We had to supplement with formula, I had to pump, we had to give her bottles…you guys, none of that was in my Plan. My Plan had us surrounded by a soft light with me smiling down on my newborn as she nursed with a smile in her eyes and angels singing in the background as the baby let out a gentle burp and never spit up. That was my Plan. I cried while I pumped and watched William feeding Tesla formula. It broke my heart that I couldn’t do everything the baby needed. Because logic has no place in the mind of a woman with a newborn. We also spent time shuttling the baby back and forth to the pediatrician’s office for weigh-ins. It was hard, y’all. Really hard. William, my OB, and the pediatrician were all super helpful and supportive. My local La Leche League was also beyond helpful. And I can’t tell you how important my circle of friends was, thank goodness so many of them nursed their kids and could share their experiences with me. Tesla and I didn’t really get past the physical pain and in a good groove until Tesla was 7 weeks or so, and those were long-ass weeks.
Do I need to say that I wasn’t getting any sleep? Because I wasn’t (and still am not getting much, but it’s a lot better).
Despite all of this griping, Tesla has been a lot easier baby than Tobin was (because Tobin had wicked colic and Tesla hasn’t). And that made my mental and physical exhaustion even harder for me to deal with. Because I shouldn’t be so tired or have so much anxiety when my baby was a sweet easy-going baby. I *should* be hearing angels singing and enjoying my last-ever maternity leave. Instead, I was crying in the shower, trying not to yell at the older kids all the time, worrying about Tesla being kidnapped/turning into a zombie/dying in a freak accident, and walking around on egg shells with William so I wouldn’t lose my shit.
And then I lost my shit. It wasn’t anything dramatic. In fact, I knew I needed to talk with a counselor and visit with my OB about the possibility of medical intervention when I got my feelings hurt at work over an innocent event. Nothing that would have bothered me at all before sent me to my office in tears and thinking that everyone in the world hated me. Hated me. I work with amazing people who love me and would be sad to know how sad I was right at that moment. Anyway, it was the catalyst that finally made me contact a counselor and my doctor.
I also brushed up on the signs of PPD and anxiety. Shout out to Postpartum Progress!
I’m working on a different plan now. One that isn’t so rigid, one that cuts me a little slack. And one that allows me not to cry when I pick up a can of formula to supplement what I’m pumping during the day. I’ve gained back all the weight I lost during the pregnancy. It sounds great to say I’m two pounds lighter than I was before I got pregnant; but, it felt a lot better to say that I’d lost 20 pounds. My new plan cuts me some slack, right? So I have to just accept that I didn’t follow the plan, and all the weight’s back and now I need to get back on the bandwagon. Slack, I need some.
I feel better already.