Call it postpartum depression or call it baby blues...if you have it I guarantee you don't care what it's called. I needed time to get through it but I wanted to share how hard it was in the beginning for me so that others might not be as shocked as I was if it happens to them.
I will never forget the first moment I saw and heard Case. It was a moment filled with pure joy and complete exhaustion. I had endured almost two years of waiting to hold a baby in my arms plus 40 weeks of praying that this baby would survive and be healthy. The next few hours were completely surreal and I felt as though I was sitting in the corner of the room just watching everything happening all around me but I wasn't actually participating. The first attempt at breastfeeding went perfectly but that quickly transformed into a very frustrated and hungry baby. I wanted breastfeeding to work so badly and when it wasn't I became very frustrated.
During my three day stay at the hospital with Case breastfeeding never got easier. I can remember wanting to run up and down the halls shouting "I actually got a drop of milk from the pump into the collection cup". Yeah...it was that bad. I was eating oatmeal at every meal and as a snack in between because they say that builds your milk. I was doing everything but they just kept telling me, "your milk will come in. It is just delayed because you labored so long and then had a C-Section. Your body is trying to recover." Whatever! I knew it wasn't coming in. Before we left the hospital Case had lost a pound and not gained any back. He was starving. Every feeding ended in tears both from him and me.
Once we got home I only lasted a couple of days before I decided we needed to supplement him with formula. It's amazing what a difference not starving made in him. I continued breastfeeding first at each of his feedings followed by pumping. I was willing to do anything to make it work. I talked to lactation on several occasions. I met with lactation at the hospital again. They provided me with this breastfeeding torture device known as a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS). See picture below...
You clip the bottle of formula or pumped milk to your shirt and run the tubing to your nipple and somehow you're supposed to get baby to latch onto the nipple with the tubing in his mouth as well but not before you cover the tubing with tape that is sure to rip at least one layer of skin off of the very sensitive skin above your nipple. It's essentially a milk IV. More power to the women that lasted more than a week with this device.
I also attended a breastfeeding support group once a week. Now this group was led by a lactation consultant, so she knows what she's doing. During my first visit I got there early so that I could spill my guts out to the consultant and blubber all over her without an audience present. She was very calm and patient with me. She assured me that my milk supply could still improve (this was about 2 or 3 weeks out from delivery). She was sure he could be satisfied by the milk that I was producing so we began. The meeting lasts 1.5 hours and he spent the entirety of that hour and a half latched. About an hour in she told me to pull him away and burp him...fat chance when he is screaming because he wants more. She calmly told me to put him back on. I gave it another half an hour and she said to try to burp him again but when she heard his screams of hunger yet again she said it was time to give him the formula. Now when lactation ends your session with, "you need to give him formula" there is a good chance that you are failing at breastfeeding.
At this point I knew there was nothing more I could do and I needed to just let it go. I decided to breastfeed him and follow it with formula each time until I just couldn't take it anymore. Once I made this decision I started to feel more human. I stopped beating myself up about the breastfeeding and was able to actually begin bonding with Case.
My "couldn't take it anymore" came when the Raynaud's Disease set in. I knew it was over. I'd had more than I could take and moving to Florida to prevent my nipples getting cold wasn't an option. Thus began the life of a much happier baby and mommy.
Throughout my breastfeeding trials I pretty much spent most days in tears. I was frustrated that I couldn't give Case what he needed. I was frustrated that I looked at this baby and didn't feel connected to him. He was beautiful and the thought of hurting him never entered my mind but I felt like I was babysitting and taking care of him just out of responsibility. It was an awful feeling. Case pretty much didn't have a mom for the first few weeks of his life... he had a babysitter. I wanted to feel connected to him SO badly but a connection isn't something you can invent.
I spoke to my doctor about this at our 2 week post op appointment. She explained that she wasn't terribly surprised by my feelings. After losing Joshua and Caleb I most likely didn't become bonded with Case while he was still growing inside me like most moms do. While I truly did manage to enjoy the pregnancy I don't think I ever connected with it as more than a pregnancy. My bonding didn't begin until he was already here and it is pretty hard to bond with no sleep and a very hungry and unhappy baby.
This made sense to me but it didn't make it any easier. I chose not to go on any medications at this point. I didn't think it was necessary. I needed to rely on God to pull me through (I'm not suggesting there aren't situations where medication is a good option but I didn't think I was there yet). I spent a lot of time praying that God would make me a mom now that I had this baby in my arms. He is so faithful! He did just that. Today as I write this Case is nearing the 6 month mark and I can't imagine not spending every day of his life completely in love with him! God carried me through yet another trial. It was certainly an unexpected trial but not one that is foreign to many first time moms.
If you are expecting or are currently stuck in these BB or have PPD I highly recommend that you talk to someone about it. Ask God to bring people into your life that will help you make sense of your irrational feelings. I meet with lots of moms to babies that are about Case's age each week and I can tell you that even those who haven't experienced the loss of a baby dealt with this depression. Know that the first few weeks are about survival... yours and the baby's. Hang in there. It DOES get easier and the day will come when you won't be able to believe that you ever doubted the love you have for the tiny life you hold in your hands. As always, I'm here if you need to talk!