Becoming a mother for the first time is a huge undertaking that many women are not prepared for.
The baby blues and postpartum depression are so common among first time mothers. Struggling with breastfeeding and adjusting to life with a newborn are just a few of the things that can make a new mother feel overwhelmed. Most prenatal courses only scratch the surface of what real motherhood is like. But even armed with all the knowledge in the world, it’s normal for women to suffer from symptoms of the baby blues and postpartum depression.
For new mom, Jennifer, her first few months of motherhood were less than perfectly happy. From moving into a new home only days before giving birth to struggling with breastfeeding, Jennifer battled the baby blues and postpartum depression for months before becoming the incredible mother she is today.
This is Jennifer’s story.
*This post may contain affiliate links. This is a guest post and all opinions are those of the author.
First off I LOVED being pregnant. I was proud, excited, energetic and I loved going out and sporting my new bump.
My husband and I had also sold our house and had found our forever home that we were so excited to bring our new baby home to. But unfortunately, the house was a foreclosure and with it came a lot of complications. We did not get keys to our new place until 1 day AFTER our baby’s due date. We rushed to get rooms painted and the place cleaned (remember it was a foreclosure). We did the best we could before baby arrived and my son, bless his heart, arrived a week late which gave us some time to at least get dishes into our cupboards.
When it came to my delivery, I had a great experience. I loved the nurses and my doctor. We were the only delivery that day, so we had the maternity ward to ourselves with a private room. The epidural went smoothly and I felt great. We had family pop in and out to visit. I was really happy!
After 45 minutes of pushing our son was born and here is where things got different.
They put him on my chest and I felt in shock and not as happy as I thought I should feel. I tried nursing him and right away I knew it didn’t feel right, but I did what they told me to before they took him away to be cleaned and measured.
Shortly after our family came in, I faked a smile (everything was great) but deep down I was a little sad. Not long after, I broke down into tears, my husband and I both, actually. They asked us what his name was and I couldn’t even speak, I was bawling! Right after that I said I was going to be sick and everyone had to leave. Once they left I ran to the bathroom and couldn’t stop puking. “Why was this happening to me?” I thought to myself.
We made our way over to our private room with our boy and I had a hard time looking at him. The nurse came at night and asked if she could take him so we could get some sleep – I was never so happy! “Please take him away” is all I could think.
The next day we had some visitors come that we turned away. I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t feel like myself – I couldn’t wash my face, brush my teeth, comb my hair… I was a mess! I didn’t love myself at that moment and stopped caring.
My son wouldn’t latch and breastfeeding was hard!
I was so discouraged because we did the prenatal classes, I read all the books and the blogs and breastfeeding is supposed to be so natural and easy… so I thought. I really resented myself and my baby for not being able to do it. I pushed the nurses to help me and they did the best they could. I tried pumping but I wouldn’t get much and I was so angry! They eventually had to give my son formula at the hospital because of his blood sugar.
This is when the baby blues and postpartum depression really kicked in.
My husband was in and out of the hospital because he was meeting the furniture guys so we’d have a couch when we got home and then he was then supposed to meet with our satellite and cable guy (who never showed). Every time my husband would leave me I was terrified and felt so alone. “Please don’t leave me with this baby” is all I could think.
I remember feeling really sad and thinking “this is my son, he is my responsibility. What if he is bullied or gets sick or has no friends? What if he struggles in school? What happens when we’re gone? What happens when he gets old? Will he get married and have kids?” Every thought raced into my head. I looked out the window, saw a old man walking in the parking lot and I absolutely lost it! I cried uncontrollably that whole night until we were finally able to go home.
On our way out we had to fill out the forms and I think I was still in shock. I didn’t want to write down my baby’s name. I didn’t want him. I didn’t want to go home with him. On the car ride home my husband asked if I wanted to sit in the back with our son and I said no.
We then got home, I placed my son in his rocker and I refused to look at him. I broke down crying again and my husband asked me what was wrong. “I hope those are happy tears” he’d say to me and I would just reply with the same answer “I don’t know why I am crying”.
I literally cried for 6 days straight.
I would go to the bathroom and sit alone and cry.
I would sit on the couch having a conversation with my sister and then break down crying.
My brother and parents came to visit and they started talking about how quickly they grow. I got so mad at them for saying that that I began to cry and asked them to leave.
I struggled with breastfeeding.
The nurse came to visit me twice to help. She wasn’t able to help me and I resented her. I was mad at her and I stopped answering her calls and refused anymore house visits from her. I hired a lactation consultant to come. I resented her too because she told me my baby wouldn’t be as smart or as healthy etc., if I didn’t breastfeed. She made me feel like the WORST mother in the world.
When she left I burst into tears once again. I told my husband I was a failure and I was so angry! How could she tell me those things? What happened to fed is best? After two hours of nursing and nothing, I told my husband to go to the store and get formula and then I felt so ashamed. I didn’t want to give up though and I pumped whenever I got a chance. I tried breastfeeding in every single position possible. I read books, pamphlets, blogs.. anything to help me.
At one point I had friends visit and I was trying to breastfeed like I was a pro. When my son wouldn’t latch, I started crying, ran upstairs to our bedroom, locked myself in our closet and told my husband to ask our friends to leave. I felt so ashamed and like I wasn’t a good mom.
The last straw was when I was pumping for what seemed like HOURS. I had the littlest amount and someone was at the door. I got up to answer the door and spilled all my milk on the floor. I once again, broke down into tears, ran to the bedroom and locked myself in the room crying. I called my mom and she finally told me just to stop and that I was done.
I guess that’s all it took because after that, I strictly formula fed my baby and I was never happier.
I still had a hard time looking at myself, showering, brushing my teeth, or wearing anything other than baggy sweats and pajamas. I just didn’t care about myself. I felt like my life was over. “I have a baby now, I can never leave the house or have a life, what does it matter what I look like?” I had those thoughts all the time.
It took about 4 months until I started to feel like myself again.
I am hoping with my second on its way, that I am easier on myself. That I try and remember to love myself and that feeding formula is okay! If I am happy, my baby will be happy and I just need to have more confidence in myself.
I should also mention… I didn’t know anything about the baby blues or postpartum depression or maybe I turned a blind eye to it. I was so mad that the prenatal class didn’t talk more about it or the struggles or breastfeeding. I felt so blindsided by the course – it didn’t talk about real life!
I found talking to family and friends extremely helpful and I realized it is more common to have these feelings than I thought. I wish it was more the norm and everyone knew about it.
From going to the perfect pregnancy, perfect labor and then feeling like the worst mom ever because I hated myself and that I couldn’t breastfeed was the worst feeling! I have never cried so much than I had the first week my son was born. I really don’t want to experience that again, but now I know it is okay if I do and it’s normal, I’m not alone and I can get through it.
Jennifer is expecting her second baby in November 2018, and we wish her all the best!