My baby girl is now nearly 10 days old, and for the first week of her life I was floating so high on a wave of happiness, I began to wonder whether the granddaddy of postpartum symptoms, "the baby blues" would visit me or if I had somehow lucked out and dodged the volatile emotions of the post-pregnancy hormone crash. Over the past few days I have seen that I am in no way that lucky, and I have been a hormonal, crying mess for quite a few of my waking hours.
The good news is I am still head over heels in love with my little girl. And my husband for that matter. If it were up to me and I could make the real world stop, I would hide away with the two of them in a little cocoon for a week or more, not interacting with anyone or anything else. I just want the two of them near me every second and I want everything else to stay at a distance, just for a little while until I feel like me again. But alas, the real world continues to move whether I want it to or not and this is the first morning that Chad has been back to the office. I am actually doing ok with it, mostly because I know he is only staying half a day and then working from home in the afternoon.
The thing making this period of baby blues hard on me is the loop of emotions and thoughts that I just need time to cope with. Not long ago I wrote this post about how excited I was to finally meet my precious Snow Pea, but also about how much I would miss being pregnant. I had no idea just how much I would miss it though. It was my identity for nearly nine months. I don't think it's something you even realize at the time but being pregnant becomes a part of who you are and how the world sees you. It's a lot like leaving a relationship or a job, once it's over, you have to adjust to a new description of yourself, a new role and I miss having "pregnant" be one of my descriptors. I spent years trying to attain that role and I cherished every second, now I am sad to say goodbye to it. I miss being out and feeling that special glow of attention that the belly attracted. I miss talking with friends about the latest symptom or developmental milestone. I miss the special moments with Chad or by myself just rubbing my belly and feeling the life inside. When she was in my belly, I felt every squirm, every hiccup. Chad could lay his head on my tummy and hear every thump of her little heart. I was never alone. No matter what I did or where I went she was always closer to me than anyone had ever been. We were connected.
One of my favorite times of day the past nine months was our mornings together. Each day, me and my belly went for a walk and although I often used that time to catch up on phone calls with friends and family, it was also a special time for me and Snow Pea. I loved seeing my belly grow through my various workout clothes, loved rubbing my tummy as I walked, love the smiles I received from neighbors out tending to their yards as I strolled by. Even more special to me, I realized this morning, was my post walk shower. Every morning, I cranked the Journey station on my Pandora and serenaded my sweet girl with goofy 80's rock ballads, imagining how she would respond to them once she was born after hearing them in utero for so long. For the entire 9 months of my pregnancy I always felt that connection, I always felt her presence, but in the shower this morning I realized for the first time since she was born that I was in there alone. I could sing all I wanted but, Eliana, asleep in the next room, wouldn't hear me. It was a bittersweet realization because I absolutely adore having her in my arms but I also miss having her in my belly. I sometimes still rub my tummy out of a nearly year long habit and feel wistful at the absence of her presence there.
I think part of what makes me miss being pregnant so much though, isn't just the feeling of missing her, it's the way I made the transition from being pregnant to not. I thought I was over it. Days after her birth, before I even left the hospital, I was so elated and so relieved to have my sweet baby in the world, in my arms that I truly felt at peace with my unplanned, unexpected c-section delivery. She was here and that was all that mattered. But now that the dust has settled and the hormones have crept in, I feel robbed of the full childbirth experience and of the time immediately following her arrival into the world. I am planning to write her full birth story soon, hopefully when I am feeling less weepy, so I won't get into a lot of detail now, but I will tell you I was incredibly close to a vaginal delivery and everyone involved did all they could to make that happen, but it just didn't work out. And I am eternally grateful that she is here safe and sound, but I can't help but long for that birth experience and feel jealous of those that have had it.
The worst part of a c-section and what no one ever told me, is that as soon as the baby is free from your body, they shoot you full of drugs that leave you completely out of it, just short of comatose. Which means that I have only the vaguest of memories of those first few moments of her life. She was also born quite a few shades too pale with some swelling on her head on difficulty breathing, so she was taken to the nursery for care and observation and rather than spending those first hours of her life with her and Chad in our own little world, choosing her name and forming a family bond, I was alone and drugged while Chad tried to balance his time between visiting me and her on two different floors of the hospital.
Before you start to worry about me and my mental state, please know that I don't spend every second feeling this way. I am not feeling depressed or irrational. Just blue. It has only been two days of weepiness and it's not constant or overpowering. I do more than cry, I still smile and laugh throughout the day too. I am eating and sleeping and taking care of myself. I don't think there is anything wrong with me, I am just coping with the craziness of these hormonal changes while also coming to terms with a couple of valid, emotional changes. But I have a great support system and some decent coping skills thanks to dealing with the emotions of infertility and the crazy hormonal swings that come with fertility treatments, and this too shall pass. I am just keeping my eye on that light at the end of the tunnel, knowing that I am definitely not the first to have baby blues and that I will come through to the other side of them very soon.