The “Baby Blues” is only one of the main post-birth topics I wanted to write about; mainly because no one ever seems to talk about it, even though 80% of new moms experience it. Thankfully, I read about it before I gave birth. It’s nothing to be taken lightly as it difficult to go through and will definitely take its toll no matter how much support you have. It’s important that every mom-to-be is aware of this so that if and when she does experience it, she knows that she’s not alone, that there is nothing wrong with the way she is feeling and that it is in fact, temporary.
We are all used to PMS and the fluctuation of our hormones every month. Then, when we get pregnant we have to deal with those fluctuations on a grander scale. Well, it doesn’t get any better post-birth. I like how Baby Center covers this. It states that the mother becomes “weepy and moody” but also: “may feel exhausted, unable to sleep, trapped, or anxious. Your appetite may increase or decrease, or you might feel irritable, nervous, worried about being a good mother, or afraid that being a mother will never feel better than it does right now.” I felt all every single one of those things. It started on my last day at the hospital. After they told me I could finally take my first shower since the surgery, I did so without any help. And that’s when it started. I looked down at my feet and realized they were so swollen. They never swelled when I was pregnant so it shocked me. And while showering, because of the pain, I couldn’t really bend down. So, I was unable to wash my feet properly. If you know me, then you’d know I hate being weak and I hate not being able to do something on my own. And the final straw was when I looked at myself in the mirror after the shower. That is when I broke down. I was at my thinnest before getting pregnant. And enjoyed every minute of my pregnancy. I even loved my body when I was pregnant because I felt good and didn’t gain that much (or at least it didn’t show). But that all was gone. And I was left with a scar (the wire covering it was actually much bigger than the scar itself so it just seemed to me at the time like a big scar), a huge belly (I looked 6/7 months pregnant post-surgery) and pain. I was so upset, and that was just the beginning.
Here in Kuwait, it is tradition that the woman would go stay at her parents’ house for 40 days post-birth. So, I was staying at my grandmother’s. Although this helps immensely, it is also very difficult. Or at least for me it was. I was used to going out and you are not allowed to go out during the first 20 days at least. I wasn’t used to the room and bed, so I had my husband bring me my pillows from home. And that’s another thing, my husband. I wasn’t used to being without him. He even slept at the hospital with me every night. But then I had to face 40 nights without him.
Mostly, I would be OK during the day. My aunts would come over in the morning and their chatter kept me occupied and stopped the thoughts in my head from surfacing. Then I’d have lunch with my grandmother. But as soon as the sun started to set, anxiety kicked in like clockwork. And the waterworks would start almost immediately. Even if they stopped in between, I would definitely be crying whenever my husband would leave for the night. So badly sometimes that he would end up sleeping over – which most people wouldn’t usually allow, but my grandmother made an exception to appease me. The first 2 weeks days were the worst by all accounts, baby blues, body image, post-surgery pain, sleep, breastfeeding and lack of it. Yes, breastfeeding was another factor that added to – and was affected by – my baby blues. I will talk about my experience in a later post.
Sleep was another issue. I couldn’t sleep properly. Despite the fact that my aunt’s gift was a night nurse who took care of the baby so I can sleep at night. I still couldn’t sleep well at all. And apparently, sleep deprivation can make the blues worse.
After the first 10 days, everything looked and felt better. My feet were no longer swollen. My belly had shrunk considerably. The doctor had removed the bandages and wire from my laceration, and I saw the scar for the first time – and it wasn’t as big as I thought. It was also no longer as painful. I slept much better after supplementing formula (more in a later post), and I was getting used to the routine and the house even when no one came around.
I was starting to feel content, relaxed and more like myself. And it only got better and better as time went on. All of you should know that these feelings are completely normal during the first weeks after childbirth. There is no treatment for it. It’s just something you have to go through. If your baby blues last more than a few weeks, then you could be suffering from post-partum depression and should seek professional help immediately.
When you’re done with your 40 days another test begins: the transition back home. And I knew that just like I struggled the first few weeks at my grandmother’s, I will struggle with this next transition. Maybe I will talk about it more if you all are interested.
Until the next post xx