Let’s get Personal. Part 3. Mama life: The Early Days.
Ohhhhh EEEEMMM GEEEEE! It’s the first day of fall. If you follow me on Instagram, you can see my first day of fall photo of Brynlee. I’m not going to even subtly try to pretend I don’t love dressing her up and taking photos of her. I am all about that noise. Fun fact… I bought that romper THE DAY I found out that she was a girl and have been saving it for that photo. Yep. I’m THAT Mom. #noshame
Alright. So let’s get back to the realness of early motherhood… I am 1,000% that Mom that just wants to talk about how amazing her daughter is all of the time, to ANYONE who wants to listen. You guys. She is literally the best. But let me remind you – I was NOT the girl who knew for a fact that she wanted to be a Mom. I still wasn’t even sure during my first few months of pregnancy. It wasn’t until I was about 4 to 5 months along that I all of the sudden felt ready. Up until that point I was like, “Well, we’re on this ride!”
When Brynlee was born those first few weeks were HARD. I loved her beyond belief, but everything changed so quickly and my emotions were ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE. As someone who has always had a pretty darn good handle of her emotions, THAT was weird. Hormones are BANANAS you guys. They do some crazy things to you. I was not prepared for that. I just wanted to feel normal again, emotionally and physically. I wanted to have a handle on my life again and I felt like it was completely upside down and sideways at the same time. I didn’t know which way was up for a while… I’m not sure my husband did either… but his support was unwavering. When I was a mess, he picked me up. When I just needed a 20 minute shower and the baby was screaming he said, “Go. I’ve got this.” When I cried uncontrollably, he wiped my tears and told me it was going to be ok and that he loved me and that I was doing a good job… and when I sobbed telling him that I just needed my Mom… he told her and let her come take over.
I had heard of Postpartum Depression, but I hadn’t heard of “Baby Blues”. For those of you that don’t know, the Baby Blues can punch you right in the face out of nowhere and hit you for 1-2 weeks after you have a baby. I was exactly 7 days postpartum when it hit me. I went to our Mother-Baby assessment that morning and felt fantastic. I filled out the form that asked me if I was feeling sad, lonely, like everything was my fault, and checked “No” on all of those boxes. I was so confident! I felt amazing. Then that evening, after feeding Brynlee I came down stairs to feed myself and this wave of sadness kicked me right in the teeth. My Dad was visiting and he and Randy were watching a movie, and I just felt overwhelmingly alone. My Mom had been there every day up until that point, making me food, cleaning my kitchen, and the night before even held Brynlee for hours so that I could sleep. But now my Dad was visiting, so my Mom went home… and I. Missed. Her. So. Hard. In my head, I knew that my feelings weren’t real (even though they were). I knew I was being ridiculous (I wasn’t). I knew everything was fine (everything WASN’T fine. Life was new and crazy and different!)… and I didn’t want to cry in front of my husband or my dad because I thought they’d laugh at how silly I was being (no clue why I thought this). So I choked back the tears and got myself some left-overs… and then I couldn’t control myself anymore. I sat down at the table, turned away where my Dad and husband couldn’t see me… and the tears just started rolling down my face as I ate.
I felt ridiculous. I knew I would be fine… I knew my hormones were just being crazy. I knew in my head what was happening, but I couldn’t stop it. I also thought my Mom would feel good knowing I missed her so much I was crying. So I texted her light heartedly telling her I missed her so much I was crying. Silly me… I thought she’d find it funny but she didn’t. She responded with, “I’m on my way.” I didn’t want to disrupt her or make her feel guilty… but knowing her daughter was crying and missing her was unbearable to her. So she packed a bag and came over.
I snuck away to feed Brynlee again without my Dad or Randy knowing I was crying. But then I asked Randy to come up stairs because I wanted to tell him my Mom was coming back… and I was STILL crying. I don’t know WHY I was so afraid that they would laugh at me… that was more of my crazy hormones getting the best of me I think… because when he saw me crying, he just threw his arms around me and told me it was ok. When he went back downstairs and told my Dad I was crying – my Dad immediately came up stairs to hug me too. They both just told me it was ok, and they loved on me. Then I felt even sillier, and cried even more. I literally cried for an hour straight. I finally stopped… and my Mom walked in the door. The second I heard her voice, I started crying again. When she walked into the nursery and saw me with tears pouring down my face, I just laughed and told her I was sorry. She grabbed tissues to dry my tears and told me she wasn’t going anywhere. She slept on the floor in the nursery with Brynlee while I slept in my bed and only woke me when she had to because Brynlee needed to nurse.
The tears happened every evening around 4:00 for about a week. Whenever the sun came up I felt light, happy, excited. And as it got close to setting, I would feel lonely and sad. Then all of the sudden it stopped… all of the sudden it was 4:00 one evening and I was anticipating the sadness, and it didn’t happen. My Baby Blues were gone and I was SO relieved. Little by little, I started having what I like to call “Mom victories” where one little thing got easier… or she slept a little longer one night… and my confidence as a new Mom was building.
I still didn’t want to be alone. I wanted anyone and everyone who wanted to visit, to visit. I loved having company over, and I loved having help. I was recovering from a really terrible cough that I had when she was born, the nights were lonely, my boobs were KILLING me from adjusting to nursing, and I felt like all I did all day long was nurse her… She cluster fed every evening for a while…Cluster feeding is when they want to nurse every 20 to 30 minutes for 2 to 4 hours straight… and at the time, every nursing session was 40-50 minutes long. To say I was sick of nursing, is an understatement. No one told me about cluster feeding either… or if they did, I wasn’t listening. I thought I was so prepared to be a Mom. After all, I was the baby whisperer you guys. When I photographed babies, everyone wanted to keep me because I was so good with their babies. When it came to my own I was like, WHAT AM I DOING!?!? HOW DO I MAKE HER STOP CRYING!? HELP MEEEEEE. It was like all of the tricks I had for other peoples babies disappeared from my brain, and were replaced with anxiety and fear that she would just magically never stop crying… ever.
And then that phase ended too. About week 6 things started to get a little easier. She started to naturally sleep better at night (thank you melatonin!) and wake less… and when she did wake, she’d nurse for 40 minutes (eye roll) and go back to sleep. I got myself a book light and decided to read when she woke me in the night to nurse… I had a little camp set up next to the rocker in her nursery, snacks, books, book light, water… and I just embraced the time. Then her nursing sessions went down to 20 minutes… then 15… and only 2 to 3 times per night… and I started really feeling like I had a handle on being her Mom. I started to anticipate her needs, and my new normal started to not feel so new any more – and just… normal. I was in tune with her, FINALLY. I started functioning just fine on 6 combined hours of sleep… Then I started getting 7… and by 3 months she was only waking twice at night, nursing for 10 minutes, and going right back to sleep… just in time for our first family vacation to Kauai… where I was 100% sure everything would be thrown off, and all of my hard work would go out the window…
We’ll pause the story here for now! Each blog seems to get longer 🙂 Next week I’ll share our journey to perfecting bed time, and all the ways our marriage has changed… and why having this baby is already the absolute best decision I’ve ever made.
Here are some images I captured from April to June…
Side note: Looking back at the transformation from month one to month two/three blows my mind. Is that the same baby!?
See you next week my friends.