My Postpartum Story


Social media has created a reality in which everything is seen through rose colored glasses. I say this knowing very well that the majority of what I share on social media is the beautiful side of my life. As it should be. We take photos and document all the happiest of memories so that we can look back one day with fond nostalgia. Taking photos every single day and documenting at least one happy thing that happened to me is probably my very favorite hobby and I personally believe it's good for the soul.


On the contrary to sharing only the best side of life with the people in our bubble I realize there is an aching for connection. An aching to know that we aren't alone during our trials and that we all experience difficult seasons. Sometimes our hardest times can mingle with our most beautiful seasons as well.


All of these thoughts come to my mind as I share the first month of our daughter's life on social media. From an outsider's perspective they only see the cutest photos of our daughter and I've only shared pictures of myself with a crap load of concealer under my burning tired eyes. Only the ones closest to me know the sleepless nights and the tears I've shed in complete exhaustion. I'm sure many parents can assume that I'm tired because that is just part of having a newborn. I wonder though how many new moms really understand or talk about those first few weeks at home. I wonder this because I was prepared for much of what I went through, probably way more than others, thanks to my sisters and my friends and the fact that I loved talking about my pregnancy. Plus I read way more online stuff than I should have. There were things that I experienced though that I guess no one could have prepared me for, not even a doctor. I'm starting to believe that our early sleep deprivation is mother nature's way of making sure our early memories of the pain are a complete blur.


I'm writing this now because a part of me wants to remember the difficult side of the most beautiful time of my life. Life is such a paradox. During a time of my life when I realize my strongest prayers have been answered, and I'm holding this precious baby that my body created, I have experienced a pain that I've never known before.


Before I left the hospital several nurses and my doctor warned me that my body was going to become very bloated as I retained much of the fluids that were given to me intravenously during labor. They also sent me home with a prescription for pain medication that I thought I didn't need. I remember waking up the first morning at home, after maybe an hours worth of sleep, and I looked over at Ryan with tears all over my face. I needed the pain medication. The internal aching pain combined with sleep deprivation had gotten the best of me. He immediately ran to the drug store up the street to pick up my prescription and he started a log so that I would be able to keep track of what I had taken and when. That first week I sat on the sofa during the daytime hours only able to see my miraculous baby girl on my breasts and my feet that had ballooned up about four times their normal size. My daughter had begun cluster feeding the moment she took to my breast in the delivery room. I felt blessed that we were able to nurse so well, so soon, I'd heard awful stories about baby's that wouldn't nurse. The blessing was overshadowed within 24 hours when my nipples began to blister, crack and bleed. I'd also heard that the early days of nursing were painful, but again, I didn't realize how very painful. I'd clinch my toes when she'd take that first desperate latch and I'd sit back, breathe and watch my body continue to keep her alive. My uterus would contract and I'd feel gushes of blood leaving my body. The very blood that kept her alive. Again I'd continue to breathe and try my hardest to keep my eyes open, knowing very well that despite my discomforts that sleep was not something I could look forward to anytime soon. Thankfully Ryan was home and able to take care of me while I took care of our daughter. He'd bring me fresh water and make my meals. He'd take her to the bedroom and change her diapers. He cleaned the house and made sure I stayed on top of my pain medications. He'd send me to the bedroom while he'd hold Magnolia in his arms and try to keep her calm so I could at least stretch out my sore body and try to close my eyes just enough for a small amount of rejuvenation. Within a few days of being home, just as I had learned how to manage my pain and I became somewhat comfortable with the current raw state of my body I realized something else was going wrong. After taking a hot shower one morning I noticed a small itchy rash developing all over me. For a day or so I just hoped it go away. Then at dinner the next night I was in tears. My whole body was burning and itching and I was sure I was having an allergic reaction to something. The itch was worse than labor itself. I could not escape it and I couldn't stop it and I couldn't scratch it and make it go away. I called my doctor and got in the next day. I found out I had something called PUPPs, which normally pops up during pregnancy, but for some women it can happen postpartum. There was no cure, only time and steroid cream.


Our daughter cries for hours at a time. At first we just chalked it up to colic. The first two weeks of her constant crying was a complete blur. She was only calm and peaceful when she was nursing and if she fell asleep she'd wake up within 45 minutes to an hour, with a pitiful cry, and I'd nurse her again. The cluster nursing went on for weeks, and there was even one night after Ryan had returned to work that I went 36 hours with absolutely no sleep. I googled everything, I talked to all my friends and family, and I even mentioned it to her peditrician. Some would say it's not normal, and others said it was just part of having a newborn. The peditrician said she's "perfect"and they were happy with her weight gain, and we left it at that. Now as a few more weeks have passed, life is calming down a bit, but she still cries a lot. I suspect she has silent acid reflux and I'm trying to manage it the best I can before her checkup next week. It's really hard to see and hear her painful crying and be unable to help her. I at least can nurse her to calm her pain, but poor Ryan cannot do much. Although I will give him credit for getting creative and calming her down on numerous occasions.



This past month, our first month of parenthood has been absolutely everything. It's been full of the highest joys and some very trying moments. We've been high on life thanking God for Magnolia, all the while we've been at our wits end trying to figure out how to calm our baby. It's life, and it's our crazy life, and February 2017 is one we will remember forever. Despite the rough side of it all, we are obviously so very grateful.


I'm not quite sure why I'm sharing all of this. I suppose it's because I wanted to write something real and not just the pretty side of what is happening in our home. Another reason I felt like sharing this is because I'd venture to guess most women go through something similar when they are sent home from the hospital with a plastic bag full of ointments, pads and spray bottles and a carseat holding the love of their life. I'm positive one day I'm going to look back on this exhausting season of my life and desperately miss it. I'm cherishing the moments when I can't keep my burning eyes open any longer because I get to look down and hold the itty bitty fingers of my daughter, I get to run my finger around her fuzzy ear, and I get to caress her dark long hair. I get to smell her baby scent and listen to her breathe as she sleeps warmly on my chest, the only place she currently feels safe. Its all wonderfully difficult and I thank God for this experience.


*I started to write this post when she was three weeks old. At her one month appointment I talked to her Peditrician about what we suspect is silent reflux and we started her on probiotics. They have definitely helped. He also showed me the Happiest Baby on the Block 5S's and we do it every night if she is struggling to fall asleep. We bought a velcro swaddle wrap and usually she can't break out, although she has managed a few times. As Magnolia and I are getting to know one another I'm also learning that she really loves this great big world and she'll fool me with her big bright eyes. She will stay awake for hours just taking it all in and in the beginning we were simply amazed by her amazement. Now I've learned that all this stimulation is causing her to become overly tired and then leading to some pretty intense times when she cannot fall asleep. She literally fights me when I let her become exhausted. There have been many times that I'm doing the 5S trick on her and she will kick and scream and I have to simply breathe through it and tell myself that she is overly tired. I do this after a running checklist in my mind to reassure myself that she is not hungry, wearing a dirty diaper, gassy, or hot/cold. I've also learned the sounds of her cries, thankfully. The overly tired cry is definitely the most difficult for me to deal with because she is a fighter and it can take hours to calm her down. We still have good days and bad days, and great nights and awful nights. Just last night we were up until two am before I was able to get her to sleep anywhere other than on my chest.


My phone camera is full of photos. I'm sharing some here today, as this is my spot to document our life with Magnolia.










































This is just a slice of our life, and the most real post I could write about our first month with our daughter. 

Love xo 
Wen
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Wendy Correen Smith
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2 comments:

  1. Lovely to hear your story. I also felt that extreme dichotomy of emotions. It was such a long road to have our baby and I was so grateful to have him; however, that first three months of sleep deprivation and challenging feedings left me feeling drained, frustrated and pitiful. Then guilty for feeling that way! It does pass, and we get through as best we can.

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  2. I cannot tell you how beautifully refreshing it was to read this blog post. Somehow I found your blog in the final months of my pregnancy because I saw we were due around the same time. We had two miscarriage before this baby so like you, our baby girl was longed for and prayed for for quite some time. And then, she arrived. While we have experienced unspeakable joy and love like we've never known, we've also experienced many many tears and feelings of hopelessness as we navigate life with a new baby. The past few weeks I would see your Instagram posts and would tell me husband "look, they have a good baby!!" Because we've spent the last few weeks trying to keep our little girl from crying at all points in the day until this past week. It's been so hard and I was convinced I was alone and everyone else had these happy, easy going, content babies. Thank you for your vulnerability. Praying things continue to improve for both of our little loves in the coming weeks and that we can fully enter in and soak up and enjoy each moment- good and bad! ❤

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