Leaving The Hospital
“Time to go home, yay! Wait they are letting me go home with this baby and no instructions? What exactly am I supposed to do to keep him from crying?” These were the thoughts that ran through my mind while I waited for my discharge papers from the hospital.
The nurse began to give me a list of instructions that did not register. I placed my son in his car seat, and he started SCREAMING! Automatic panic set in. The nurse explained that he was probably experiencing some level of discomfort because he was circumcised that morning (by my request). The nurse went on to say that he was probably peeing,and it was burning him. Why did I not know that would happen? That sounded like torture, my poor baby.
There I was, my new family headed out the hospital with a screaming baby in his car seat. People were already telling me, maybe he is hungry, maybe he isn’t in the car seat correctly, etc., there were a list of “maybes”. Little did I know that was the beginning of people interjecting with their unsolicited comments and questions on my parenting. However, that comes with the territory. I learned how to quickly dispel all of that by picking up my baby and nursing him, which in turn led to people walking away from me.
Breastfeeding was a challenge for me at first. I took a breastfeeding class in the hospital which was informative, but it would have been helpful if I took the class with my child or had more one on one assistance. I was discouraged that my milk supply was slow the first two days and for fear I was underfeeding him, I gave him formula to supplement. I woke up and it felt like I had heavy hot boulders on my chest. My breasts were rock solid, the pain that came with it had me in tears. I swore my breasts were going to explode and milk would fly all over the apartment. I ran to the shower and tried to manually express per my sister’s instructions, but the milk wasn’t coming out fast enough and then I came down with a fever. If you aren’t familiar with these symptoms, I developed a common inflammation of the breasts called mastitis.
If you recall from my birth story, soon after I had my son, I had a fever and couldn’t see him for 24 hours. Subsequently, when I became feverish again, automatic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) kicked in. I went to the store and bought a breast pump to speed up the milking process, took medicine for my fever and rested with a long nap. Once I recovered from the mastitis, my milk production was in abundance and my son was on breastmilk only.
Disclaimer: I was not aware that my son did not need more than the milk I was producing during the first few days of his life. I was under the impression that if he was crying, it meant he was either wet or hungry, which I now know is not the case.
My son was thriving. He was a good baby and he slept well; his father and I took shifts so we could both get rest. I slept when the baby was sleeping; and was fortunate enough to have family members come over and help when needed. When family stopped by, they made sure that I ate well. Since I was breastfeeding, they felt as though I was still eating for two. Which brings me to the postpartum body of a new mom; when I left the hospital, I was not expecting to still look 4 months pregnant. I woke up every morning, looking down waiting to see a flat stomach again. I remember putting on my pre-pregnancy jeans and still needed to tie elastic around the button and through the button hole. I did not like my postpartum body at all. I had stretch marks around my belly button and I swore I would never show my stomach again, which was a big deal for me at 25.
I remember the first time I went to hang out with friends, and I wasn’t the pregnant one out of the group anymore. It was to a barbecue and I was so excited to dress up and not be treated like a fragile egg since I was no longer on bedrest. I was sitting in a chair and I felt like I was starting to bleed. I ran to the bathroom and it was a complete crime scene in my pants.I remember during the car ride home I felt like I was completely bleeding out. For a week I would use two pads at once and I would have to change them every two hours. I doubled up on my iron intake and I waited for the storm to pass. I never ended up going to the doctor to have that checked out.
Disclaimer: Knowing what I know now, I should have gone to see a doctor because that situation could have been worse. A lot of women die from similar situations. As a new mom, I was doing a lot during that time trying to get my old life back by running around and trying to catch up for the time that I was pregnant. I am sure I placed too much stress on my body too soon.
Back to Work
When my son was 6 months old, I found a job and went back to work I breastfed until he was 9 months old and had the goal of nursing him for his first year of life. However, my milk supply started to decrease from the hustle and bustle of returning to work and all the woes that come with that. Then, when the lil bugger started to bite me that definitely ended the milk train for him. I did however have a freezer full of breastmilk from the days I spent expressing, that I would incorporate into the food I prepared for him (he was a big fan of pumpkin, fish and porridge).
Fortunately, I can say that I did not experience post-partumdepression (PPD). While I had my bouts of tears, confusion and sadness — it did not last a long time. There are so many moms, not just first-time moms, that experience PPD and I can’t imagine how hard that must be for them and their families. There is no way of knowing who will experience PPD but I know it is a real thing and should not be dismissed as being a phase. There is no shame in talking to someone and telling them how you feel; you’re not alone.
My birthing experience positively turned around and I can honestly say all that I learned a lot. These same experiences, in addition to other contributing factors, have encouraged me to become a Doula.