Postpartum Feelings

I have a few more postpartum posts coming before I can move on from this period of being, this being one of them. I have been wanting to talk about this for weeks now, but have been finding it difficult to a) fine the time to write and b) I needed to clarify my thinking on it. But I want to discuss having postpartum feelings without having PPD.

A note: Postpartum Depression and/or Anxiety is serious and should not be ignored. There are many people able and willing to assist you if you feel you have postpartum symptoms that make it difficult to continue your day-to-day, have you considering self harm or harm to your child.

That being said, I have not experienced PPD. Even though being in the grips of postpartum life it often feels like everyone is watching to see if you are about to fly off the handle. The 6 week check up and even your infant’s early check ups are also about evaluating you. This makes me fidgety and makes me feel like I have to go overboard to be like, “I’m FINE, REALLY.”

Even when “fine” is relative.

Even when some days I fantasize about running away to a quiet space just to have an afternoon where no one is touching me or trying to get my attention over and over again while I’m taking, do you see that I’m trying to talk to daddy? Can you please wait your turn? Would everyone please SHUT UP FOR TWO SECONDS MY GOD.

Life with a newborn can be very hard. It is a massive transition and the little bundles of pure joy don’t make it easy. They actually do a lot to make it really really difficult. It also doesn’t help that once you become a parent  and you are a woman, a lot of people want to stick a giant sign on your head that reads MOM. I like being a parent but I would rather do without the sign.

All of this makes the time right after having a baby feel like a bad amusement park ride. That seems to never ever end. Maybe it truly never does and you just get used to the spinning and the funny way the world is now tilted. It’s exhilarating and beautiful and strange and can make you very sick.

Having two kids has been very hard for me. It is not easier the second time around. Having two is nothing like having one. Two months in and things are not easier. There are days I feel like I am drowning and completely unable to think one full thought in my own little head because of all the external demands for my time. Still being at home, often alone for 10-11 hours a day with an infant is very lonely. It is exceptionally hard work, physically, but it is also incredibly boring. My day is about killing as much time as possible in newborn-friendly ways. There aren’t a lot of options. And Fae didn’t help me out for the first 6 weeks of life with her deep hatred for the car seat and the stroller. I am sore from carrying her around, from my bones and muscles and tendons all coming back to life and sorting themselves out after pregnancy and labor, I am sweaty and sticky from the heat of another human, the juices of another human. This is physical, back breaking work. You don’t think carrying around 10 lbs is hard? Do it for 3 hours straight. Now carry around 12. Do it with a lackluster core at best, do it with stitches in your vagina, do it with incredibly heavy, aching, leaking breasts. Five days a week alone, 10-11 hours a day.

Postpartum life is hard for me this time around. With Gabe I actually really enjoyed my time off. With Fae I struggle. I live for the weekends. I apply to jobs instead of making lunch if I only have time for one because getting my autonomy back as a person out in the world means more to me than delaying a meal. I really really really love her, but my current home life feels stressed and frantic and like I can’t ever quite get my feet under me. And those things are not connected. My joy for her is not related to my struggle with this new life, the life of a family of 4 with two young young young children at home. And I have 0 guilt about disliking this postpartum experience. I love every smile I get from her, and I actively seek to spend my days without her in the near future. And when I do finally get a job, I will miss her terribly.

Life is messy and makes no sense. Feelings make us human.

10 thoughts on “Postpartum Feelings”

  1. Ach. I keep writing things and deleting them but just…. Yes.

    For the first two weeks of Oli’s life I struggled and felt like I had everyone’s eyes on me. I was afraid to complain or express the suckyness because I felt like there was no middle ground between being ecstatic all of the time or having people think I had ppd.

    Also – yes to how boring staying at home is!! It’s so hard to express how something can be difficult and tiring and soooo boring at the same time!! I can’t wait to go back to work and I often feel guilty saying so when everyone around me keeps telling me how lucky I am to be on, as one person called it, baby vacation. I am lucky I can afford to take the time that my baby and my body needs but that doesn’t mean that I am dying to have adult conversation that does not center around how Oli is doing.

    As always you have both reassured me that I am not crazy and conveyed it much more eloquently than I could!!

  2. Thanks for your honesty. There are far too many women out there hiding these exact same feelings. Thank you for every one of them.

  3. I can so relate to this. Though in my case I do have PPA. I avoid telling people that because I feel like everyone thinks I’m crazy. Before the baby was born, I think I thought of this postpartum time as nothing but blissful. Relaxing on the couch with a cuddly baby who sleeps most of the day. How hard could it be? And then I got here, and it is the hardest thing I have ever experienced. I started out with an infection after birth that made me super sick. I was in such rough shape physically, and emotionally I was a mess and crying constantly. The baby wouldn’t breastfeed, so I was trying to exclusively pump and failing. I made it a week before accepting that it just wasn’t going to happen. I had family members criticize my decision to switch to formula, claiming that I was just lazy and didn’t try hard enough.

    My PPA made me afraid to be alone with the baby once it got dark out, and my husband works nights. Even though I knew we were both fine, I couldn’t control my anxiety and I would sit there crying uncontrollably. So I packed up and took her to my parents house to spend the night. And then I felt like a failure for not being able to care for my own child without my parents help. I didn’t need their actual help with her, just their company. Two months in and I’m still staying there a few nights a week, though I’m getting better. I’ve faced some judgment from other relatives for that. Apparently not being able to cope on my own makes me weak.

    My baby is wonderful and I love her to pieces, but she doesn’t nap all day, aside from one or two 20 minute cat naps. So the days are long, and I find myself just trying to get through them and keep her entertained until bedtime. I know some day I’m going to miss this snuggly newborn face. But right now its so exhausting its hard to really appreciate it in the moment.

    1. This sounds absolutely awful. And double awful because of all the nosey ass holes who think they get to have an opinion about shit. I am so sorry people (and esp family) made you feel like a failure or like you were doing it wrong. You’re not doing it wrong. You’re doing what you need to do.

      It gets better. It gets so much better. Promise!

  4. So much that is true here. You don’t have to have PPD to feel all that is feelable after creating and then pushing out an entire human. Your body may be capable of it but that doesn’t make it a breeze by any means.

    I was a total mess by week ten after LB was born, exhausted beyond reason and realizing that I had to be functional in two weeks. There were moments I was so miserable I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it. Physically the first six months was so hard I’m not sure I would survive trying to do that again if I didn’t have fulltime help throughout. It’s certainly just as or harder than anything I ever had to do professionally.

    I wish we were nearer and could keep each other company. I know those days of Hold Me Forever Don’t Stop Moving so well.

  5. Britt–just wanted you to know your post resonated with me. I had a similar experience. I was convinced I was going to love being a new mom, I was going to breastfeed, go out and do things, it was going to be amazing. Then I had her two weeks early and was induced.

    It was so hard. I am a perfectionist, so used to being good at everything, why wasn’t I perfect at this? Why was it so hard? My daughter never latched so I would wake-up early to pump before she woke up in a never ending cycle where I hardly slept. She also had colic and kept crying. We then discovered a lactose alergy, and I stopped breastfeeding but felt so much judgement even though I fed her organic, lactose free (hippe) formula. Why was this so hard?

    It gets better. My daughter is 20 months now and my God life is better. Reflecting back I had PPA–I wasn’t depressed, I was extreamly anxious and worried all the time. So much so I missed many joyous moments. It gets better though. In the moment it was so hard to see that. I didn’t want to tell anyone how I felt, didn’t want to be judged. It’s only now that I see by keeping it I was doing myself and other women a diservice. I was perpetuating the idea that life with a newborn is so perfect and if you feel anything but then somehow you are a bad mom or you must be depressed–and even you do become depressed then somehow you did something wrong

    You are very much in the majority. Thank you Lauren for always being honest and writing these things that often as moms it’s hard to say.

Leave a Reply