The differences postpartum between my first birth and my second are like night and day. Completely different experiences, mindsets, and feelings. I don’t even know where to start…
After Ryan was born, I was depressed. It was absolutely beyond the baby blues and although I was never diagnosed with PPD, I believe that is what I had. PPD manifests in different ways for different people. I wasn’t angry and I didn’t hate my child…. I was a zombie. There were just simply no emotions at all. Of course I spent lots of time crying, but otherwise I just… felt nothing.
Recovery from the c-section was hard. Steve went back to work right away, all of our parents were working, we didn’t have a lot of help. Steve was working nights and I remember sitting on the couch, staring at the wall (we had no cable TV), and sobbing. Steve would set me up with a tray of food and a drink before he left… and some nights, he’d sit with me on the phone while he was at work–we didn’t do much talking, he just silently stayed on the line… he was worried about me.
When I sat on that couch and sobbed, I thought…. I’m taking care of this baby because I have to, because it’s what I’m supposed to do. I rarely called Ryan by his name. I have very few photos from early on and the ones I do have were taken by iPhone, not with a camera. I didn’t feel a connection with him and reading about other new moms and how their hearts were “exploding with love” at their newborn made me think something was wrong with me. It made me feel alone.
And I successfully breastfed him through the pain only because I couldn’t handle to “fail” at something else.
It lasted a long time. I look back on that entire first year and it was a blur. I went back to work part-time at 6 weeks and that probably saved my sanity a bit, actually. I remember the most excitement of my day was walking down the driveway to get the mail from the mailbox… I waited for 3pm and it was all I looked forward to. On the days when the mailman brought our mail to our door because he had a package for us, I was crushed. What was I going to do now?!
I cried a lot, but I talked to no one. I felt so alone, but also felt like my feelings must be normal for a new, tired mom. Or I thought no one would understand. The only thing I DID talk about was the c-section… I talked about it almost daily to Steve, as I cried about it. It was like every day I remembered something from the labor or the surgery. Or I learned some new fact from the internet about long-term side effects. I was devastated (we all know that).
I know women with vaginal births get PPD, too. However, I do blame a lot of my depression on the c-section. It was traumatic for me, it changed my life completely and it consumed me for a long time.
I’ve moved on. I’ve done a great deal of healing–however, I will never forget. If I let myself sit and really think back to that day… I will cry. I will get angry. But I am doing so much better. And I am helping other women.
So… the second birth. I had a vaginal birth. Yes, I had her at home. Yes, it was tough and it was not my ideal vision of what birth could be. But I’d do it all again in a second–all 58.5 hours of it.
It was the most work I’ve done in my life–it was the most pain I’ll ever feel–it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. And it was, hands down, the most incredible, empowering, and moving thing I will ever experience. I’d do it all again without hesitation.
I bonded with Rebecca immediately, there were no connection issues. Things were great, I was happy, I was feeling like myself in no time at all. The difference from the first time is just amazing… I didn’t feel like myself for probably a year after Ryan was born. Looking back and being able to compare how I felt, I’m simply amazed a human being can just go on as a zombie like that for so long.
I DID, however, experience some baby blues this time! It’s really crazy how definitive those feelings were. I mean, I could tell you exactly what day and time they started. It was a week after she was born and it lasted for just a few days, maybe a week. I was very nervous the feelings would continue and I’d have PPD again, but thankfully the blues ended as quickly as they came. And this time it wasn’t like being an emotionless zombie, it was a feeling of being completely overwhelmed. I’d randomly burst into tears and snap at people around me–mainly Steve. He was incredibly supportive and amazing through everything!
Will there be a third??? Good question 😉
Did you feel the same or completely different after your births? If you had PPD, did you have it with more than one child?