I've been wanting to write this post for a while. But I just haven't been ready. Please be gracious.
Postpartum....the things they never tell you! I read lots of books about pregnancy, delivery, etc...but nothing could have prepared me for postpartum. I obviously knew of postpartum depression and know people who have dealt with it. But I honestly thought that after you have your baby, you were either depressed or you weren't. I didn't realize the thousands of different emotions you could have in between.
I think that's why my postpartum emotions (as i like to call it), were so confusing to me. I didn't feel depressed at all. I didn't have any thoughts of hurting Paige or myself, but I did feel things. Different things than I had ever felt before, and I just didn't really know how to process or express them. I figured that since I didn't feel depressed, I was fine.
Ya'll know I didn't want to be induced, let alone a C section. I still feel 100% that how Paige was born was the right way. I have no regrets about being induced, trying for the epidural, or having a C-section. Looking back, it's probably the only way she would've ever come out of me. I know this logically.
I wasn't emotionally or physically prepared for a C-section. I knew people who had them, even close friends. So I knew I would be sore for a while, that it was major surgery, blah blah blah.......I wasn't too worried because I was in America and had my mom (super servant who loves thru acts of service!). I figured I would take it slow and be fine. My doctor kept telling me that my hormones would be all over the place and I would cry at commercials and get easily upset at Daniel for no reason at all.
But that didn't happen. I wasn't really emotional or all over the place. I cried about 3 times. And mostly it because I was just tired. I didn't feel all sappy or out of control.
I want to be real about my emotions. I wish someone had talked to me about postpartum, specifically c-section postpartum before i had Paige.
Here is my story:
The first time I saw Paige, she was being carried out of the operating room to get all cleaned up. I realized she was perfectly healthy and downright beautiful and I cried. I was so thankful she was healthy. About 30 minutes later, they brought her to me to nurse and do skin on skin. I knew she was my daughter, but it felt strange. I was shocked at how strange it felt to hold and see her. I didn't bond immediately with Paige. It was a daily process. We had to get to know each other. I think it was because I didn't deliver vaginally. I didn't push her out. I didn't see her come out of my body. Someone just handed her to me and told me she was mine. It was very strange. Obviously I had been pregnant for almost 10 months so I knew a baby was inside of me. But it was so weird to not see/feel her being delivered and all of a sudden she was there.
A few days after we brought Paige home, she had a night of crying, fussing, and refusing to go to sleep. I laid in bed the entire time (6 hours to be exact) watching (and bossing) Daniel take care of Paige. I told him what I thought she needed and what to try. But I didn't do anything (other than feed).I felt completely paralyzed-I couldn't move. I feel awful that I didn't even try.
A few days later I realized why.
Because I felt like I was unable to birth Paige on my own (getting the epidural, having the c-section), I felt that I was unfit and unable to be a mom to her and take care of her. I felt so inadequate and weak. Not like, I'm a first time mom and I'm still trying to figure things out. I truly felt like i was incapable of being a mom. I was unfit and didn't have what it took. Because I had tried to have Paige vaginally and was unable to, I was afraid to take care of her, to console her, to love her-fearing I would fail in those areas like I felt like I had failed at childbirth.
I had to force myself to hold her sometimes. It took a conscious effort to bond with Paige and to be vulnerable. Not because I didn't love her. But because I felt like I wasn't good enough to be her mom. I was afraid to get close to her just to let her down again. I felt like I had already let her down by not being able to have a vaginal birth. In my mind, everyone else was much more capable at loving her and caring for her. I felt like I was on the sidelines watching.
I felt like I hadn't earned my child.
I was talking to a friend on the phone about 2 weeks or so after having Paige. My friend had also had a c-section and put into words exactly what I was feeling. It was so freeing to realize that someone else knew what I was feeling and I wasn't insane. She put the perfect words to what I had been internally struggling through. I talked to another friend later who shared very similar feelings as well after her C section.
I felt that because I didn't push Paige out, I had taken the easy way out (even though I did labor for 13 hours). My c-section was necessary, yes, but it wasn't an emergency surgery, because she was breech or in danger. I had friends who had c-sections because of breech or other complications. I saw theirs as necessary. I didn't see mine that way (at the time.) Because I did choose the c-section I felt like I was telling Paige I couldn't hack it. I didn't have what it took, so I took the easy way out.
I felt so guilty.
When people asked about the delivery, I felt compelled to tell them the whole story so they knew that i had tried. I needed to justify my decision and the c-section. I assumed they were all judging me for not being able to hack it. Probably no one was....but I had convinced myself.
I felt like a bad mom.
For weeks, i felt that every move I made, every decision, ever little thing I did was being scrutinized. I felt my family, friends, and strangers were watching me like a hawk to try and make up their mind if I was a good mom or not. Sadly, there were a few things that people said/did that didn't help the situation. A few "harmless" remarks made me feel like the worst mom in the world, and that I should just give up. I convinced myself that Daniel wished he had married someone else. Someone who would be a good mom to his children.
When I tried to share with other people, everyone said "well you got a healthy baby and that's all that matters." FALSE. Having a healthy baby was the most important. In the big picture, Paige's health was more important than my emotions and struggles. By a long shot. But I don't agree that it was "all that mattered." I know that people meant well with their words, but each time I tried to share and heard the same lines, I felt more isolated and misunderstood. I read an article that said yes, having a healthy baby via c-section is important, but it's still okay to be disappointed with the birth itself. Which is how I feel. I'm beyond thankful that Paige is healthy-especially with the kidney situation. But I have to allow myself to feel disappointment that her birth didn't go like I wanted or planned. Those feelings are too strong and too real to disregard them. I can't tell myself that she's healthy and to get over it. I need to experience the raw hurt and disappointment that came. I would've loved to have an all natural, vaginal birth. That's not what happened. I had to walk through and work thru that valley of emotions to get to the other side.
The first several weeks I struggled. Hard.
I felt that if I left Paige's side, someone would think I didn't love her. If I left the house at any time without Paige, I felt guilty and judged the entire time. I thought that a good mom would never be able to leave their newborns side. And that clearly made me a bad mom. I knew i needed to just breathe and have a little alone time. I logically knew that it was probably healthy for me. But the guilt was so heavy.
After that initial conversation with my friend, and realizing i wasn't crazy for how I felt, I started to read c-section postpartum articles. I was surprised and thankful to read many women felt the exact same way I did. It was so reassuring and comforting to know that I wasn't alone or the only person to feel the way I did.
I did talk to Daniel a lot about what I was feeling. I'm so glad I did. I generally process everything internally, then talk about it after I know how I feel. Daniel listened to me. He could not relate to what I was feeling. But he was supportive and reassuring, and prayed for me. He loved me through it.
It's still very fresh though and not too far below the surface. Someone was telling me the (vaginal, natural) birth story of another friend, and it was difficult to hear. I was so excited for my friend who was able to have the birth story they wanted. But it was a huge reminder that i didn't.
I think time was/is a huge healer for me. Time to process my emotions, time to heal, and time to bond and fall ridiculously in love with Paige. I was wounded. But I feel healed. I no longer struggle with these feelings. They are still there sometimes...but they are no longer a part of my daily thoughts. Each day they get further and further away as I choose the Truth.
I daily had to choose Truth, and not lies. I know the enemy used my vulnerability and raw, open wounds to try and take me down. Sometimes I felt like he was winning. Maybe at times, he was. I read this very timely post by my friend, that hit a little too close to home. It's timing was perfect for me. But in the end, I chose Truth. I know that Father created Paige to be my daughter. He chose me to be her mom.
I was chosen.
Not because all the good moms were taken and I was what was leftover. But because I am the best mom for Paige. (even now just writing that sentence was difficult. Because it doesn't always feel true, i have to continue to believe it.)
I love Paige. Each day I'm amazed at how deep my love is for her, and how I cannot imagine my life without her. I feel bonded to her in a way that only a mother and daughter can be. My heart aches with love for her.
Thank you for listening to my story. I hope that if anyone else has gone thru this, or going thru it now, know you are not alone. It's okay. You were chosen too.