Today I am offering up some raw honesty.
Everyone tells you the “baby blues” are normal. It’s normal to feel sad, discouraged, and a whole host of other emotions. But no one talks about it, so I’m talking about it today.
I believe that if you expect awesome things then things will be awesome, and the same goes if you expect bad things to happen. Because Kason and I planned for Kerrington Snow I expected everything to be blissfully wonderful. I set high expectations for our birth, our bonding, how much more I would fall in love with Kason watching him be a daddy. Why? Because of all the research we had done, and what everyone else posts on Facebook told me that was the way it was going to be. So I expected it.
I thought for some crazy reason that I would breeze into motherhood, and for another crazy reason it would be really easy for me. I’m here to share we had a rocky start, really rocky.
I truly believed that if I proclaimed in Jesus’ name that He would allow us to have the birth we prayed so hard for. I believed His plan was our plan and that was why He gave us such a desire for an alternative birth. But for some reason that I do not know yet, His plan was absolutely not ours.
I have always had a great fear of having a c-section, even as a kid I remember thinking, “I never want to have kids because I don’t want to have to have a c-section”. I was also scared of hospitals, I had seen too many loved ones die in them, so I wanted to give birth to Kerrington as far away from one as possible. If you have read our Birth Story, you know that my greatest fear came true.
One reason I wanted a natural birth in a birth center was because I would have had immediate skin-to-skin with her, with immediate breastfeeding. These two things have a incredible impact on multiple things such as regulating baby’s body temperature, heart rate, and creating that instant bond that I so longed for to name a few. I didn’t get any of this.
I also wanted a non-medicated birth because your body releases oxytocin the “love hormone” that acts as your body’s own pain management, and immediately after birth it releases more and creates a natural “high” that gives you a feeling an instantaneous bond to your baby and makes you feel as though you could literally do anything. I had also read that nothing else you experience in life will ever come close to that feeling. I wanted that feeling. I prayed for it and I yearned to be able to experience it.
We also wanted delayed cord clamping so she could get everything from her umbilical cord to get all the nutrients.
A couple years ago I shared laying some really big fears at Jesus’ feet about my family history of mental illness and the worry I would pass it along to my kids. You can read that post HERE. I absolutely did this and throughout my pregnancy this was still not a worry of mine.
However, after Kerrington was born I soon began to feel like my world was falling down around me, every fear I had about birth came true, then I started experiencing terrible thoughts and feelings that made me seriously worry I was developing postpartum depression.
I cried so much in the hospital for so many reasons. I didn’t feel bonded to her at all. I didn’t feel like her mama. I felt like I was going to visit and sit with this little person who could have really been anyone else’s baby. My heart ached for just a small feeling of attachment or bonding.
I became jealous of Kason because he got to see her first, he got to be with her right after she was born, he got to change her diaper first. Every time he talked to her, or held her (once we got to take her out of the incubator) I was jealous. Then I grew angry at myself for feeling this way. Why did I feel this way? Everyone else says they never thought they could love their husband more, but did the first time they saw them with their new baby. Not me.
I cried to Kason so many times as I battled and fought my way through those feelings.
I became very jealous (and still struggle with this) of other mamas on instagram who were able to have the births they wanted, I was also jealous of other women who were still pregnant. I was supposed to still be pregnant.
There were several times over the couple days following her birth that I swore I could still feel her kicking in my belly, that was possibly the worst feeling knowing she wasn’t in there anymore.
I remember the first time someone asked how old Kerrington was, and then followed my answer with, “You don’t look like you just gave birth!” I wanted to scream at them, “well I was supposed to still be growing for 6 more weeks!” What was meant as a compliment felt like a knife in my chest.
Because of my high blood pressure I was constantly asked if I had any headaches or chest pain. One time I answered my nurse with, “my chest does hurt sometimes, but I think it’s my heart, my heart hurts,” and then before I could finish that sentence I lost it with another ugly cry and could barely catch my breath. I was a mess y’all.
Thankfully, I have a good milk supply which came in almost immediately. I felt this was God’s mercy and His gentle hand showing me beauty in my pain. I was instructed to pump every 3 hours, starting the night she was born, and I never missed one single session the entire time she was in the NICU.
Finally, we were able to try breastfeeding, probably 12 days or so after she was born.Thankfully, we had great lactation support at the hospital, who I worked with several times, but I didn’t feel like it was creating a bonding time for the two of us like it was supposed to. I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t enjoy it either.
The first day we had her home, (we had gotten home the night before at like midnight) thankfully K was already scheduled to be off from work so I had set high expectations again for how the day would go. I romanticized in my head that we would “ooh and ahh” over her all day long, cuddle as a family, etc. etc. None of that happened. I can’t remember why exactly now, but I remember crying feeling so upset later in the afternoon about how disappointed I was in the day because nothing felt special about the day.
I soon began to feel like I was essentially just babysitting. I still didn’t feel like a mama. I didn’t feel bonded to her.
I worried something was wrong with me because everyone posts that they are so “in love” with their babies, but again I didn’t feel this way. I loved Kerrington so much, but I didn’t feel like I was “in love” with her. Does that make sense? So I worried about this and wondered if I ever would feel that way.
The second visit to the pediatrician which was 1 week and 2 days after she came home, she had only gained 1 oz. from the previous 7 days. The pediatrician told us she was supposed to be gaining 1/2 to 1 oz PER DAY. I felt like a failure. The pedi gave us Neosure which is a preemie formula that adds calories so they gain weight faster, I was to add it to my pumped breast milk. They did this in the NICU to my milk, but I stopped it once we got home because she kept spitting up a lot and I wanted her only on my milk, so when the pediatrician told me to use it I felt guilty because I hadn’t been using it.
I knew I was making enough milk, but the lactation consultants had me using a nipple shield so I wondered if perhaps she just wasn’t getting enough because of that. So again I went against her recommendation and didn’t use the neosure. I was also told to supplement her with pumped milk after nursing her to help her gain weight as well.
While my mom was visiting she drove us to Houston so we could go to a mom’s group the hospital lactation ladies held. At my first visit I was corrected on so many things I was apparently doing wrong with breastfeeding and I left feeling so discouraged, and really frustrated.
I ended up having a melt down that day or a few later because the NICU had given us certain instructions on feeding her (a regulated schedule, supplementing with neosure, etc) the pediatrician told us something different (don’t worry about schedule, feed on demand but no longer than 30 minutes, and still supplement her), and then the lactation consultants told us something different again (don’t supplement, and nurse as long and as often as she wants!) I yelled “who do I listen to?!!” to my mom in the midst of my freak out session, and something just clicked in my head that said to just listen to Kerrington and my own instincts. It was in that moment I think I finally felt like her mama.
Side note: There’s nothing wrong if you decide to give your baby formula, that’s your decision as your baby’s mama, but for me I desperately wanted and still want her to be exclusively breastfed. So I felt convicted to refrain.
Something else that I realized is that no one tells you is that babies don’t respond to you for a while. I had so much love for this little person that grew in my belly, but it often felt like I was trying my hardest to bond with a brick wall!
Then one Sunday afternoon everything came to the surface. I couldn’t get her to stop crying, which in my head was “you can’t make her happy”. In a desperate text I laid all that I was feeling out to two mama friends, and also sent a “I need help” text to Kason, since he was at work.
It wasn’t that I needed help changing her diaper, it was a communication that I needed real help with coping and dealing with the feelings I was experiencing.
He ended up coming home to check on me thankfully, and I cried for an hour to him about all my fears, even the really scary ones. He shared some things with me that he had been thinking as well, and it was in those moments I felt my heart finally begin to heal. I felt such a peace wash over me. I know it was the Holy Spirit.
Our journey immediately took a joyful turn. Kerrington now calms down when she can either see me or hear my voice, and she loves to watch me if I am folding clothes or talking from her daddy’s arms. Breastfeeding is now enjoyable, it no longer hurts (long story short I have restricted blood flow so it was toe-curling painful for the first several minutes during let down, and it still hurts occasionally but not near as bad!).
I have also made rule for myself, I don’t let myself play on my phone or do anything except stare at her while she nurses. I also pray for her as well. I fight occasional boredom to ensure I am fully present with her, even during midnight feedings! I am seeing her grow and flourish solely on the milk my body produces for her, which is such an incredible feeling. Thankfully she pretty much weened herself from the shield in one nursing session a while ago, and has officially doubled her birth weight of 3 lbs. 12 oz to 7 lbs. 8 oz.! Praise Him!
She has also started smiling at us which is just incredible! We are dreaming of the day rehear her laugh!
I am so grateful to seemingly be on the other side of the baby blues, those days were really hard. But I know the Lord carried me through it along with my patient and loving husband.
So there ya have it, my struggle with postpartum sadness, I hope with my sharing my struggles I can encourage just one person to know they aren’t alone.
Please do your research on what to look for if you think your baby blues might be leaning more towards postpartum depression, believe me I did. And get help if you need it, there’s no shame in it! Also pray, ask for guidance, and communicate with your husband or loved ones on what you’re feeling! Sometimes you just need to get things out and off your heart and cry for a bit in order to feel better.
Did you struggle with baby blues? I’d love to chat with you about it! Let’s punch the need to be perfect in the face and share our struggles and vulnerabilities with each other. We’re all human 🙂