I have found a few moments to myself here in the small dark morning hours. Recently my life has been saturated by a cute little 7 week old with crystal blue eyes and dark wavy hair. Her presence in my life has expanded my perspective on love beyond the limited borders that my heart previously knew. I find it amazing, this strong connection I have to her. I have no choice but to love her. With everyone else in my life, I have to at times make the conscious decision to love, but with her I just do. It’s this unconditional love that has overtaken me entirely and is completely different from anything else. I love my husband with every fiber of my being, and I am not saying that I love this child more than him, but this love is so overwhelmingly different.
I have learned so much over this last month and a half. First being that motherhood is the hardest thing that I have ever done. Secondly, breastfeeding is not as glamorously easy as books and pamphlets make it out to be, and third, I have never felt such pride and joy.
I barely remember the first two weeks of my daughter’s life. I never knew what true exhaustion was until after she was born. I do remember being in the hospital right after she was born, super tired from 17.5 hours of surprisingly easy labor, thinking to myself “And now I have to take care of this little thing?” After all of the preparations I had made during pregnancy, I was not prepared for caring for this child after the laborious ordeal of giving birth.
My new little family all passed out on the first night only to be awoken by the unfamiliar cries of this newly born child. My husband asked me what was wrong with her, naturally I had no idea so I told him check her diaper. Thank God for diapers with the wetness indicator. She had her first poopy diaper, and my husband changed his first ever diaper that night.
The days to follow were incredibly difficult. I had symptoms of postpartum depression the day we all came home from the hospital, so I started taking anti-depressants to combat it. I was super sore from using muscles that I never knew I had, and did I mention that I was tired? Also, nursing was not going at all as I had planned. We could not get a proper latch when we tried to feed, and my little one being slightly jaundiced seemed to never want to eat and nearly impossible to wake up. She lost nearly a pound the first few days of life which was very concerning to the doctor. I went to meet with a lactation consultant where we made major progress and began the painful journey of learning how to breastfeed.
I hated breastfeeding. It hurt, and I thought she would never learn how to latch properly. Books make it look so much easier than it is. Since we had such a rough start at it, I had to begin pumping after every feeding to ensure a proper milk supply. We rented one of those expensive Medela pumps from the hospital and I pumped for up to 30 minutes after every feeding. Feeding took me anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes, then add pumping for 30 minutes to that, also I was feeding every two to three hours. Since I was constantly milking, I not only felt like a prized cow, I barely had time for sleep. Fortunately my milk supply became abundant and most importantly my daughter gained her pound back plus some by two weeks.
I read an article one night while feeding that was encouraging to me. This woman had a rough go at it like I did, and she wrote about how she would tell herself not to quit on the hardest day and that she gave herself six weeks and if breastfeeding was still painful at that point then she would stop. So I decided to do the same thing. I wanted to quit so many times, but one day it became easy. There was no more pain, and everything just seemed to flow easily. I am glad that I toughed it out and stuck with it. I am also thankful for the creation of nipple shields, soothies gel pads, and lanolin. I could not have done it with out these things.
I am still tired, but I am getting used to it. At four weeks postpartum I had a major middle of the night break down. I just started crying, and could not stop. I am not proud of this moment, but I had no control over it. My dear sweet mother came over to our house and took the baby to the living room and let me sleep. I never wanted and probably never needed my mommy so badly, and I never realized how much I have under appreciated her at times.
Although the first weeks have been atrociously difficult for me, there has been far more joy than I could ever begin to describe. Seeing this little rascal smile at me when I just wake up makes everything worth it, every snot filled, spit up stained, tear drenched moment.