Oh yeah. That might be the most accurate photo I share on here.
I initially went into the bathroom to get a normal mirror photo, but then Ana took an even better photo. A more accurate and honest photo if I say so. At 2pm in the afternoon, I am still in pajamas, unshowered, leftover makeup and ponytail, with a baby strapped to me, while I poop from cup of coffee number…I don’t know what number, I lost count.
The first couple days at home, I was the “I’m NOT going to let myself look like a blog of unwashed human,” person. Eleni slept, Ana didn’t have anything going on, family was constantly roaming through the house, so I showered and did my makeup, and found time to put on real clothes. The peaceful new baby time passed quick though. Suddenly we had soccer practice to go to, errands that needed running, Eleni started staying up more, and it was just me with the two mini monsters.
So, now you see my normal state.
So it’s been six weeks.
Six weeks to try and figure out our new normal and routines, six weeks of healing, and six weeks of trying to adjust. Some of it has gone great, other parts haven’t. But you know what? It’s fine. Anyone who tells you they are 100% prepared to bring a new baby home is only being half honest with you. They might think they’re ready, but in reality, nobody knows what the future holds and they have about as much of an idea of what’s to come as you do.
Take me for example.
I brought Eleni home knowing how to keep a baby alive. I brought her home knowing I had a somewhat traumatic delivery and healing was going to be difficult and long. I brought her home knowing I was predisposed for postpartum mental health problems. I brought her home, but I didn’t really know.
I didn’t know that my healing process was going to take THAT long. I’m still two weeks away from any sort of ‘go ahead’ for sex. The speculum check alone pulled on stitches and made me bleed, meaning I got silver nitrate on my lady bits. And that was after two previous checks at the OBGYN’s for problems with discomfort at my stitch site when I sat. Seriously, I looked insane constantly trying to rearrange myself to find any sort of comfort for the first 4 weeks. I didn’t know that 6 weeks out, I would STILL have swelling and varicose veins in my labia.
I didn’t know my postpartum anxiety would be worse the second time.
I am positive that I ended up with postpartum anxiety after Ana was born. It never left and I have always been more anxious than I was before having her. This time I got it again, but I didn’t realize how bad it would be.
At night when Eleni wouldn’t sleep, I bounced her on the exercise ball and cried because I felt so guilty about not giving Ana the same amount of attention as I used to. Carrying Eleni up or down the stairs or over pavement would automatically induce a reflex when everything tightened; my grip on her, my chest, everything, and I was TERRIFIED I would drop her and kill her on accident. I would be holding her and thinking about how amazing and small she was and some horrible image of a mother losing her baby would sock me in the chest and I was left with a panic attack and the horrifying realization that if it could happen to them, it could happen to me, and I felt guilty for still having my baby and being one of the lucky ones.
All the anxiety would stress me out and cause me to snap at a lot of the people I loved the most.
I didn’t know it was going to be that hard.
I waited it out to see if it was just the baby blues, but at my six week appointment, I knew it was time. I was scared to be honest about it, but I knew it was time to reach out. The only people I really told about it were Chris, my Mom, and my sister. They were the only ones who knew to some extent that this was a problem for me. But I told the doctor and now, with a low prescription for Zoloft which is pregnancy and breastfeeding safe, it’ll start to get easier.
I’m not trying to scare anyone, but I am trying to be honest.
This isn’t the stuff you’re going to read about on Facebook because it’s scary and it’s hard and when everyone is posting about how amazing and beautiful their baby is, your hardship inadvertently makes you feel some sort of failure that things aren’t that happy and beautiful for you too.
Except you do have beautiful moments too. And those people who post beautiful photos and words, they have some darkness too. They just aren’t sharing it.
My number one goal for you to take away, for anyone really, not just mom’s, is that this shit is beautiful AND hard. It’s okay to share both. I don’t ever want to be the one that shares the beautiful photos and spins this false reality for other people to compare their lives to.
SO! You’ve heard the hard part, now here’s the beautiful part…
Eleni is amazing. She’s everything I never knew I needed. She can hold her head up and LOVES to be held on your shoulder so she can see the world. She prefers to only nap in the carrier because she’s the worlds biggest snuggler. She smiles at you when you talk to her and likes to wiggle and squirm.
Ana always wants to hold her, hug her, and love her. When her patience runs thin with me, I don’t mind because her patience with Eleni is endless. Sure she might get frustrated about her lack of “peace and quiet,” but she will give Eleni her pacifier 1000 times over when we’re in the car. She’s the biggest helper in the entire world, even when she really doesn’t want to be. I’ve only received one angry drawing, and she’s still talking to me, so I’m counting it as a win.
Yes, I’ve totally given an enormous amount of screen time to get her to cooperate some days.
Chris is Chris. I probably take his forever calm and happy-ish mood for granted, but he’s a breath of fresh air every time he walks through the door. He takes the screaming, gassy baby so Ana and I can shower, he researches, buys, and uses the best bottles for breastfed babies so one day I can leave baby with him for a stretch to go do something alone. He is the gold that fills in the cracks of our days. He has been quietly supportive, in just the way he knows I need. He makes me feel beautiful when I feel anything but in such a foreign body. He’s been everything.
So six weeks has passed and it’s been like the rest of life. A mix of hard and beautiful, but like everything else, there’s no other place I’d rather be.
My journey is a unique one and I’m in it for every minute.