Friday, May 20, 2011


I originally wrote this post about six months ago, when I felt like I was just beginning to emerge from the postpartum period with Ada.  E Ben convinced me to wait to actually post it until I was all the way out, and that was probably a good choice.  It is much easier to look back on this period than to describe it while in the throes.

The postpartum period was hard for me. It was hard with Jude, and it was hard with Ada. I ran across this post recently, and it really struck a chord with me. Especially the part about feeling desperate for more sleep and wanting to escape.  I remember being angry with people who stayed up late even though they didn't have to.  I would have given anything for an early bedtime, and couldn't understand why other people would stay awake voluntarily.  My difficulty  postpartum is one of the main reasons that we're sure that two children is enough for our family. I was more prepared for the realities of postpartum this time, which helped, but having a toddler as well as a newborn makes it more difficult in a lot of ways.

I think that the majority of my problems were related to nursing and the implications of nursing with a borderline milk supply.  With Jude, I constantly felt like he wasn't getting enough to eat and it was my fault.  This really affected my mood.  Although I knew intellectually that I shouldn't blame myself, it's a lot harder to decide how to feel about something like this, especially with all of the physical changes in the postpartum period.  I shed quite a few tears and wondered if I was up to the task of being a parent.

With Ada, she got enough to eat, but there was never any extra milk which would allow me to have a bottle ready so that I could sleep though a night-time feeding or get away for a few hours for some time to myself.  As a result, I was exhausted and felt trapped by her needs.  It also didn't help that she was a comparatively poor sleeper and needed to be fed often throughout the night in the early days.  In both cases, once the kids started sleeping though the night and started taking bottles of formula, my outlook improved almost immediately.

Go read the post. Her words do a great job of describing what it feels like to struggle with adding a baby to a family.


Natalie said...

Wow, that woman's post was really powerful, and she really expresses the up & down feelings of postpartum very well. It truly is amazing how sleep (or lack thereof) can affect our outlook and coping abilities. Glad you are in the reflective stage now, instead of the midst-of-it.

LibraryHungry said...

I remember crying every afternoon as the sun started to set (early, because it was winter), because that meant it was night time, but I wouldn't be able to sleep. In the daytime I could handle it, because you're supposed to be awake during the day, even if you're tired. But at night you're supposed to be able to sleep, and I knew I wouldn't be able to, and lord it sucked. And I was lucky, because Adam was entirely bottle fed, so there was only about 10 days where we didn't share the nights 50/50.

I think that knowing it's a phase would be hugely helpful on the despair/hopelessness side of it, though not on the side of sheer exhaustion.