Never Again

There was a question on Reddit recently: “What’s your ‘thank god that’s over with and I never have to do it again’ thing in your life?” It didn’t take long for me to work through an answer.

​Easily, t​he newborn phase of parenthood. I love ​Leon now and I loved him as a baby, and ​as this blog verifies ​he was​​ always 100% planned and 1​,​000% wanted, but looking back on it I had some ​pretty ​serious postpartum depression.

​It ​started out difficultly because ​Leon was in the NICU for several days. Instead of taking that time to rest and recover from a major abdominal surgery and trust ​my son in the care of great nurses, ​Minh and I woke up every ​three​ hours to visit and feed him, then come back and pump extra milk, then maybe sleep for an hour. We did that around the clock for four​-and-a-​half days. I remember laying on the couch in my recovery room ​after ​eating takeout, thinking ​This isn’t how ​my life is supposed to be. I should be home with my baby by now. It was ​definitely ​that night that the Baby Blues hit. I would consider it one of the ​Top 5 worst days of my life because of how hopeless I felt. When would we be able to go home? When would I feel normal again? Why do I feel this ​sad?

Once we got home, ​everything felt like a nonstop fire drill. ​Minh​ was a champ and took the night shift so I could recover, but I was still so stressed from the newness and not knowing what to do. ​I felt like I didn’t even have time to go to the bathroom, let alone eat or shower. ​Minh and I requested no visits from anyone including family for ​three weeks — a decision I don’t regret, as extra people ​in the house ​at that time would have just stressed me out more, but it meant that it was just us getting used to this new dynamic.

I felt like everything was different. Everything (aside from the new baby) was the same though, so ​I couldn’t articulate what was wrong. For example, it was like I came home from the hospital and all the furniture ​in the house ​was slightly misaligned — so much that everything seemed ​wrong and​ it wasn’t my house…but so slightly that I knew ​rationally​ that it was just in my head.

I was so delusional that at one point​ I hallucinated for a couple minutes and couldn’t figure out where I put ​Leon. He ended up being in his swing, but to this day I’m not sure how he got there. I honestly remembered him being in my arms. Scary ​stuff, and it should have been a red flag that I needed backup immediately, but I just assumed I was sleep deprived and that type of thing happens to everyone.

As I wrote in April of last year:

After Leon came home, I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t know if I’d ever feel that sort of love for him. I spent ​several nights ​Googling “when does having a newborn get easier” and ​​​poring over the forum threads in the ​search ​results. I knew I loved my baby based on my reaction to him spending time in the NICU; he was fragile and innocent and didn’t deserve to be sick. ​And part of me was excited that he was finally here. But​ there was definitely a part of me that was resentful of the fact that I ​now had just a few minutes to stuff a sandwich down with my left hand while bouncing and swaying him in the carrier. That after struggling through a painful feeding, I had limited time to pee, shower, nap, or do anything before we’d have to wrestle through it again. That I would be so sore — not just from my c-section, but from mastitis, cracked nipples, strained neck muscles, constipation, clogged ducts, ​etc.​ That I would go days without venturing outside, ​but the effort required to get Leon ready (combined with the fear of a public meltdown) made leaving the house completely unappealing.​​ That I would be so tired I would literally hallucinate and forget where I put my child.​

​I knew having a baby would be hard, but I didn’t realize how hard.

As I mentioned, it stressed me out to think about taking a newborn anywhere, but eventually ​I was able to load ​Leon in the stroller and take a walk around the block every afternoon. I looked forward to our daily walks because it was like a little reminder that outside the prison of my house, life goes on and things would be normal again soon.

I​’m a million times better now — sleeping through the night, a new psychiatrist, and going back to work works wonders — but it’s something I definitely never want to go through again. But hey, we made it through!

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