When we graduated from college, I remember one of my classmates describing her Carleton experience as one of the most challenging experiences of her life. Prior to having my daughter, I would have had to agree with her. But really? The past two weeks have been particularly challenging for me.
The first week, my body was still such a mess that I could barely take care of myself let alone a newborn. Gus did most of the work that week. He changed diapers and stayed awake all night comforting Juliet. It got to a point where not only was I feeling awful physically, but my confidence as a new mom was starting to erode. I would watch Gus with Juliet and he seemed like such a natural and I was setting him as my standard for parenting. He would hold her 24/7, sing and talk to her, play with her, etc. Pretty much all I could handle was feeding her (and I was barely handling that) and trying to get myself to and from the bathroom.
The second week the breast feeding really was sending me to the edge. We had put a chair in the baby's room, but it was so uncomfortable to sit in for hours on end, which is what our marathon feeding sessions were ending up being. I had the laptop in there with me, but our wireless connection is screwed up and would need to be reset often. So if I happened to forget to reset it before I sat down to nurse (which was often by the way), I was stuck sitting in an uncomfortable chair for an hour plus staring at a wall with an infant attached to me. It got to the point where I literally did not want to feed my child and then I felt guilty because I didn't want to feed the baby. It brought me to tears for three days in a row last week.
Fortunately, I think we finally found a plan that works for us. It involves me pumping more often and Juliet getting a bottle every other feeding. Plus we've moved the baby operation to the family room where the comfy couch is located and at least you can watch Netflix on the TV. More comfortable accommodations and less nursing has done wonders for my mental health. I've been getting more sleep because Gus is bottle feeding through the night and that has also helped a ton.
We've made it to week three and I have been feeling much better. However, I did speak with a nurse practitioner yesterday about postpartum depression. She helped me realize that I have been setting my expectations too high. I am doing a good job as a mother and I am bonding with my baby. Just because I don't want to hold my daughter 24/7 or look at her and feel like she is my entire life, does not mean that I am detached or not developing a bond with my child. I love Juliet and I fully intend to keep her safe and feed her, even when I am exhausted and would rather sleep. She helped me see that this is enough and I am developing that bond with my baby. We decided that I probably am not in need of drugs to treat depression, but the nurse practitioner did recommend that I see a counselor, which can't be a bad idea.
So while the first two weeks were really hard for me, I think I'm starting to feel much better and I am enjoying my time with my little adorable one.