Last week, a colleague’s daughter gave birth to her first child and she told us that she was crying all the time, even when someone asked her how she was doing, she was starting crying. I immediately told her that I was crying all the time too! And it is normal and it is ok!
But why don’t we already know that BEFORE giving birth, so that we can be mentally prepared and potentially anticipate it? I certainly was oblivious to the existence of the so called “baby blues” and how difficult the first days/weeks of the postpartum period can be for a new mom, so now whenever someone asks me how it was for me, I am being honest and tells them that for about a week I was crying all the time.
First of all I had to learn how to care for a newborn when up to that moment, I had never even held a baby before. So I had to learn everything, from changing his diaper to changing his clothes, which I had to change too almost at every changing of the diaper because I wasn’t putting the diaper correctly so his clothes were getting wet and pooped every single time. It was taking me ages to do the whole changing thing, because I was afraid not to hurt him while putting his clothes on.
And not only that, I was also recovering from an emergency c section. Imagine recovering from a major surgery, because it really is a major surgery despite the fact that it is done so often nowadays, and also having to care for a newborn.
I was thinking that I was not a good mom because it was taking me “so long” to learn, which now that I look back, I do not know why I was so harsh on myself. I gave birth on Saturday morning and by Tuesday midday I was home with a newborn. Why was I not giving myself more time before wanting to do everything perfectly on my own I do not know, I blame it on the hormones and on my stubbornness.
On Wednesday, I decided that I needed help so I took my mom up on her offer to stay with us for some days even though her offer seemed ridiculous to me prior giving birth, because she lives down the road – so why would I need her to stay with us during the night too? My husband was amazingly supportive and he was doing everything from day 1 with our son, but I also needed my mom because she was the expert with babies and I needed her, especially during the night.
So for a week she was staying the night too, she and my husband were taking care of the diaper changing during the night so that they would give me time to get out of the bed (yes it was taking me THAT long to stand up when laying down with my incision), and they were placing my son on the right position so that I could breastfeed,which again did not come easy for me but I wanted to do it. They were encouraging me and supporting me and taking care of me so that I could heal and take care of my baby.
During the day, my grandmother was coming over and she was doing the dishes and my mom was ironing the baby clothes and my dad was giving me a pep talk about how I got this, I just needed to give myself time. I had an enormous support system and 10 days postpartum, I had finally started seeing that we were going to be ok and my uncontrollable crying and weeping had completed stopped.
My incision was feeling much better, I could move much better, I learned how to properly breastfeed and we were exclusively breastfeeding, I got used to waking up for the night feeds without a problem, I even learned how to put the diaper correctly. And I came to the conclusion that there is no such a thing as a perfect mom, but I can try as hard as I can to be an awesome mom.
I hope I did not scare the shit out of you if you are reading this and you are an expectant mom, because you can be awesome from day 1 and rock motherhood. But if you struggle like I did, know that it is ok, it is normal, it passes. Ask help and accept help. It is ok to accept help, you do not have to do everything by yourself just because you are the mom. Give yourself time to learn how to mother, because the day a child is born, the mother is born too.
Anthi Savva Radis
You can read more about Anthi here