New Motherhood Is Hard Enough: Say No to Visitors
By Contemporary Mother on September 12, 2014
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Until I had my son, it had never occurred to me that the first days, weeks, and months of being new parents would be sheer hell. I mean it. I don't envy any of you who are currently trying make it through the first two months of parenthood. It's difficult. Don't believe anyone who says otherwise. They're lying. It's beyond difficult. For us, it all started when we took our son to his first doctor's appointment.
When our son's pediatrician told us how much weight he had lost because I thought I was breastfeeding him, I broke down in the exam room. I don't think you're lactating, she said. That was enough for me to have an I-feel-like-a-horrible-mom-I-don't-think-I-can-do-this type of breakdown accompanied by an uncontrollable sobbing fit. It happens, his doctor said. It happens? Why was it happening to me? Not breastfeeding wasn't a part of my plan.
She told us that we had to get him started on formula. Formula! What good parents start their child on formula? Bad parents! Well, at least that's what I had always said before I gave birth, and here we were getting ready to stock up on Enfamil and bottles. Then, the very next day, my milk came in, and I had to deal with engorged milk ducks that felt like hard and fiery pebbles stuffed under my chest. I panicked and called my doctor. You have to pump every two hours, my doctor said. Keep pumping. Be aggressive about it so you increase your milk supply, she added.
In the evenings, after Jeremy would get home, I'd take long and cool showers. It was my only time alone. I'd sit there under the running water feeling numb while trying to remember a part of me that existed before I gave birth. It was as if I couldn't remember doing anything else with my life besides operating a breast pump and taking care of a colicky infant. Did I go to college? Had I lived in New York? I actually had the time to write? I taught college students? Was I able to enjoy a glass of wine while reading a decent book? What was it like to hangout with my friends? What was it like to sleep through the night?
Shortly after we would make it in bed to get some rest, we'd wake up to the cries of our baby. I'd reach for the breast pump to place the suction cups around my scabbed nipples, while Jeremy would warm the milk I had pumped earlier to feed our baby. We'd change his diaper and try to put him back to sleep. Of course, he wouldn't immediately go back to sleep. We'd rock him in his bassinet as he'd continue to cry. His incessant, relentless, high pitched cry. Then I'd start to cry out of frustration of not knowing what I could do to ease the unpleasantness of each passing night. Then, he'd finally fall asleep only to wake up again in less than forty minutes for us to do it all over again.
Of course, things didn't seem to get easier. Each day, I progressively began to produce less milk. I felt like I was failing at the one thing I should have been able to do as a new mother. I decided to meet with a lactation consultant, invested in herbal teas full of promises of increased milk supply, read a lot of books on breastfeeding, and continue to pump, pump, pump!
While we dealt with all of the craziness that had ensued our lives, our friends and family relentlessly insisted on visiting us to meet our son. Visitors meant that I had to look somewhat presentable by finding something decent to wear. Something that would fit my postpartum body and not make me feel like an overstuffed sausage link. Visitors meant that I had to put on a little bit of makeup to feel less insecure about the dark circles under my eyes. It meant that I had to quickly fix my hair and figure out a way to make it look like I didn't have a fuzzy animal sitting on top of my head. It meant that I had to pick things up off the floors with the very little energy I had to spare.
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