Holy cow, y'all. I can't believe how time has flown! It is terribly cliche, but there's a reason why people tell you "they grow up so fast!"
As amazing and wonderful as motherhood is, it is equally frustrating. I have suffered an internal struggle in one way or another since the day he was born. For the first month or two, I had the typical "baby blues" periods of crying and mood swings that come with hormonal regulation. The body dumps hormones in an effort to correct itself after the baby is born, plus new hormones are introduced as you bond with your newborn and as you begin breastfeeding. By 8-weeks postpartum, my husband and I realized that our son had acid reflux. If you are a mother of a child with acid reflux, BLESS YOU! The constant crying, uncomfortable stomach, inability to sleep, and constant putrid-smelling spit-ups prevented me from going anywhere. I rarely had visitors and I didn't go out for 16 weeks until the reflux passed. SIXTEEN WEEKS.
After the baby blues passed and I was still feeling miserable, I realized I was experiencing postpartum depression. There were days I couldn't console my son despite all the exhausting lengths I went through for his comfort. I got literally no sleep. If my son was awake, he was shrieking. If he was asleep, it was because I was rocking him or bouncing on the yoga ball. My nipples were cracked and bleeding from constant feeding and the pain of breast engorgement was more intense than I had ever imagined. Since it was absolutely necessary for my husband to function at work, I wasn't sleeping in the bed with him. We barely saw each other at all. Instead, I spent my nights in the nursery, laying on the day bed with my son. The constant holding and feeding my son in the same position caused nerve problems from the muscle tightness in my shoulder girdle.
On one of the darkest days, I finally got my son to lay down without me holding him and I actually got to crawl into bed with my husband! As we were snuggling and enjoying our togetherness, finally getting a moment of peace... we heard the baby cry over the monitor. We barely had 15 minutes together. I distinctly remember welling up with tears, feeling an overwhelming sense of despair, and saying to my husband, "I hate him." And I meant it. I loathed the binding contract that kept me tethered to this screaming sack of excrement. I abhorred the lack of personal care, not to mention severe sleep deprivation that I was forced to suffer on behalf of my son's well-being. I regretted becoming a mom but, at the same time, I felt intense guilt for not loving him.
I watched other moms (whom I refer to as "Mother Gaia" moms) get out of their houses and go to spin class, and I hated their stupid bodies for shedding the extra weight and looking fabulous. I watched them cuddle and love on their babies. When they talked about their issues with their babies, I scoffed at what they considered difficult. You want to know what "difficult" is?! Don't you DARE talk to me about your plebeian problems! When I tried to talk to other new moms about my problems, the most common response I got was "It's hard, but it's so worth it." That was my least favorite phrase to hear. I did NOT think that having postpartum depression was "worth it" and how the heck was that supposed to help me cope? I heard them say they couldn't wait to have more children... all the while, I hated my child.
It was the show Scrubs that introduced me to postpartum depression. One of the main characters has a baby and doesn't have the instant maternal bond with her daughter. That was me! I could relate! I actually had daydreams of giving my son up for adoption and having a mulligan of child-free life. I cried when my husband brought him to me for feeding because I didn't want to hold him anymore. I was DONE with motherhood and I cursed the gods for tricking me into wanting it. (Side note: click on the Scrubs link above and watch the clip. It's worth it.)
Once I realized that I had a problem, I had nurses from the New Parent Support Program on base come visit me at home just so I would get human interaction. My two best friends in Okinawa would come hold Alden for me so I could get a 20-minute shower. My husband would take my son for a few minutes or an hour so I could get some rest, and would bring him to me only when he needed to be fed. With the additional sleep and self-care, I eventually regained the sparkle in my eye and the luster in my smile. It's amazing what a few hours of sleep can do for the body, mind, and spirit. The clouds parted and I could see the proverbial light! The dark days were finally over.
And it kept getting better
Now my 8-month-old sleeps through the night with only one (sometimes two) night feedings. He has developed a personality and I can't get enough of him! I adore this little monster who giggles and waves when our cats enter the room. I love his yearn to explore his environment and his tenacity to pummel through obstacles. He is my best buddy!
So new parents, hear this! I don't care what your situation is, newborns are HARD people to deal with. The best advice I can give you is to buckle up and do anything you can to get some sleep. Write "THIS TOO SHALL PASS" on a note card and hang it where you can see it often. Talk to people, get out of the house, and get a pedicure from time to time. Once the newborn phase is over, you will enjoy being around your child. What a relief that is!
Click this link for postpartum depression support. Talk to someone, get the help you need, and feel better!