Postpartum: My Emotional Experience

Well, it has been about six weeks since my little bundle of joy arrived. It seems impossible that he was born that long ago, but it also seems impossible that is has only been six weeks. That was as clear as mud. Time alternately stands still and rapidly accelerates several times a day.

My time is measured much differently these days. I used to plan out my weeks, plotting which days would be devoted to errands and which days would be devoted to my current writing contracts. I would plan my late afternoons and evenings around Eva’s needs and dinner with my husband and Eva.

Now, my days are planned out hour by hour. There is an adorable, often screaming, little dictator in my life whose needs supersede all others’. His needs, whether it be a diaper change or a nap, are met immediately. I now prioritize my days based on what is most important to me at the moment I get him down for a long nap.

I choose between showering, taking a nap myself, eating, or working. On good days, I manage to shower and take him somewhere. Sometimes, I even arrive at scheduled events on time. Sometimes.

Today, I’m choosing writing. This means my shower will have to wait until this evening most likely. Eating lunch will happen around 3:00 pm. Working will happen sometime in the middle of the night. Once Eva is home from school, I will spend some time doing none of these things while we do homework, ignoring everything but the baby’s needs and my need to sometimes urinate (thank God for a strategically placed bouncy seat or bassinet for the moments in which I have to pee NOW).

My guilt in putting this little being’s needs ahead of Eva’s was grossly overwhelming initially. She has been my first priority for so long (over seven years now), it was a heart-hurting transition. I cried repeatedly in the first 48 hours home from the hospital because of my guilt.

Her needs are still being met, but now it’s primarily her Bubba (my husband) meeting her needs. For the first two weeks, all of her meals were prepared by my mother or my husband. All of her snuggling with me came in short spurts and she had to come to me. I couldn’t pick her up and hold her or swing her around. I wasn’t even the one taking her to school anymore, nor did I pick her up from school for two weeks.

Amazing how much upheaval comes with a c-section. Not being able to physically pick her up made the biggest impact on me. Soon, though, I will be picking all 50 pounds of her up again.

Surprisingly, Eva has transitioned to being a big sister with grace and love. I thought having a baby screaming so loud she couldn’t hear that episode of Pound Puppies or Wild Kratts she has already watched twelve times would annoy her. I thought that having to share me with her brother would frustrate her. Instead, she responds to his needs. When he cries, she tries to soothe him. When I need to sit for forty minutes to breastfeed him, interrupting time that was meant to be spent playing outside, she will bring me a drink of water and wait patiently. She will ask if I want one of her snacks. She will inform me from his cries what she thinks he wants. She spends time every afternoon trying to convince him to say her name.

I couldn’t be more proud of her loving care toward her brother.

She expects to hold him every evening. If he starts crying while she’s holding him, she gets annoyed with me if I take him away to soothe him. She feels fully capable of soothing him herself. If he’s screaming but I need to set him down, she will gladly hold him repeating “It’s ok, it’s ok” to him as I complete whatever task that required two hands.

As for the crazy postpartum hormones that are so famous…well, week two was the most intense. I cried if my husband displayed even a moment of frustration or impatience. I cried every time I breast fed (because it was pretty awful, like worse than the pain from my c-section). I cried the day my husband went back to work, too. We were fine without him, but the last two weeks had been so nice being all together. I still occasionally cry if we are having a long night without much sleep. Overall, though, I am doing really well emotionally, I think. Compared to last time with Eva, it is like night and day.

Breastfeeding has been the biggest emotional drain out of it all. By the second night in the hospital, my milk came in. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to satisfy my little man. He was starving! He had a perfect latch from birth, luckily, but it doesn’t really matter how great the latch when your baby is sucking you dry every hour of every day. I cried when the nurse suggested we supplement with formula.

My tears were tears of relief. I didn’t feel a moment of disappointment or inadequacy, which is exactly how I expected to feel when introducing formula. He only gets 1-2 bottles of formula every day now (I pump and freeze during those feedings typically), and I could quit giving him formula completely because my supply is sufficient. But, I keep giving him the formula. I like having a stash of breast milk in the freezer. I like sharing the feeding responsibilities with Eva (she likes to give him a bottle every once in a while) or my husband. Mostly, I like being able to give my poor nipples and boobs a break.

My plan to pump and feed almost exclusively from bottles is out the window. I can’t get enough pumping to completely replace the amount he gets from me when he breastfeeds. So, that isn’t really going to work out for me.

I didn’t get my VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I was disappointed, of course, but I feel that there wasn’t really any other option. He was trying to some out face first. It wasn’t just a brow presentation, it was nose, eyes and chin. The obstetrician tried to manually reposition him, but he wouldn’t have any part of it. The backward bend to his cervical spine on the ultrasound when the obstetrician was evaluating the situation was scary. I know babies are bendy and their bones aren’t solid yet, but oh man! The bend to his neck looked incredibly painful.

It has taken me four days to write this post. I’m hoping things even out soon with him learning to be a bit more content on his own in the next few weeks. I am a believer of crying it out, but I think the baby has to be old enough first. Right now, I feel like we are still establishing trust. I need him to trust that his cried will be answered and his needs met. I don’t think it is possible to spoil him at this stage. So, to try to foster a bit of independence, I put him in a bouncer or bassinet or his crib as often as possible. Fingers crossed that this approach buys me a bit more time for things like showering or writing or cooking.


14 Replies to “Postpartum: My Emotional Experience”

    1. Me too. I was really worried about the potential impact on her. She has had it pretty rough emotionally and taken some pretty hard self-esteem hits courtesy of her father. Last thing I wanted was to add more emotional turmoil. I’m so glad she has claimed him as her own and bonded with him so well. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome!

    1. I have only missed one day so far. Eva can usually keeo her brother happy long enough for me to shower (queen of the 5 minute shower these days). I’m pretty lucky to have such a good helper.

  1. Thank you for sharing more about your experiences. I’m glad to hear how well Eva is doing with her new little brother. I’m sorry that breastfeeding has been so difficult. Thinking of you and wishing you all the very best! ❤

    1. Thank you Julie Ann. Breastfeeding really haa been awful, but I promised myself I would give it at least two weeks and luckily it started to get better around the three week mark. That’s a post for another day though!

  2. Thanks for sharing. There are so many of us out there with similar experiences and it is nice to hear that not everything is roses from day 1; it’s hard work, this birthing babies!

  3. Oh wow! I can’t believe you had your baby! I feel as if it was just yesterday I was pregnant reading your pregnant post and yeah it goes by fast and MAN did I feel I could relate to exactly what you were mentioning about putting babys needs before Eva’s, I felt terrible watching my husband being the one playing with my daughter as I tried breast feeding my son, or when she wanted my attention but I needed to tend to my son and have my husband take her to the other room and read to her, I too cried and felt guilty but it goes fast and gets way better and easier and like a piece of cake. Everything starts incorporating into eachother surprisingly somehow 🙂

  4. I am so happy to read your update! I don’t remember if I commented on your birth story but I really enjoyed reading it as well.

    I’m glad Eva has really blossomed into her role as big sister. She is about the age my older sister was when I was born and I remember her being my friend, fierce guardian, and seemingly so wise. 🙂

    The emotional side of postpartum is a doozy! With tru I had some ppd issues and I am fighting this time to hopefully avoid it. Or at least catch it in time if it starts to happen again.

    1. Thanks for reading that tremendously long birth story! Ha! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      I’m so glad too. She has definitely claimed him as her own. I’m sure he will think she is the coolest sister and probably drive her crazy following her around.

      I did SO much better emotionally this time around. I remember sitting in my bed crying in front of my company for absolutely no apparent reason. I was definitely depressed but I think I was depressed before I have birth. This time has been so diffrent and more enjoyable. Amazing the difference a supportive spouse can make.

      I thought about you the other day as I was talking to Eva. She was sent home from school for a rash and she was being incredibly frustrating and her brother was screaming more than usual because his routine had been altered. All I could think was kudos to you for having two in diapers!

  5. Wow those first 4 paragraphs are the truth!! I could have written those words myself. And I was so touched by your stories of how sweet Eva is to the baby. Good big sis! 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading! Funny how we tend to have similar experiences but we don’t discuss them. Ha! As for Eva, she impresses ne daily with how much she loves her brother.

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