Motherhood

MY POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE (THE FIRST TWO WEEKS)

There are so many things you can’t be adequately prepared for until you’re experiencing it when it comes to pregnancy, labor/delivery, postpartum, and caring for a newborn. For one thing, everyone’s experience is going to be completely different. And along those lines, you can read about different experiences, be warned about different things, and even watch friends and family members go through it…. but until you’re in it, there’s only so much you can understand.

I think we’re in a day in age where, thankfully, people are more comfortable opening up about certain things that just a few years ago would have been taboo, especially when it comes to the umbrella topic of motherhood. You can’t really open Instagram’s explore page without getting served at least one post that covers some kind of embarrassing, negative, difficult, or troubling thing about motherhood. You might have seen a nurse in an entertaining video answering the pressing question about pooping during delivery. Or a photo a husband snaps of his wife wearing a diaper in the hospital room. Or a staged photo of a mom slunk against the floor of the bathroom in tears with a lengthy caption about a tough moment with a toddler. Or a graphic in a pretty font with the differences between “baby blues” and postpartum depression. I also know I had way more open conversations with my friends who have children… one friend told me to buy a stool softener to take in the hospital, another recommended a line of products to help with recovery, and countless friends shared vulnerable moments they experienced.

I am so grateful these things are more openly talked about. I think it is a huge benefit for new moms and provides an outlet for moms to not feel quite so alone.

Despite knowing some of these challenges and as prepared as I felt, I was pretty knocked off my feet by the whole labor/delivery experience and even more so, the first two weeks postpartum. Everything was harder than I expected it to be. More challenging than I bargained for. And felt completely different than I imagined it would feel.

Overall, my labor and delivery was positive. I never assumed labor was going to be easy, but I don’t think I fully understood just how hard it was going to be physically and emotionally. Or what it would mean for recovery.

Okay, but before I go further, I have to say that I am writing this just over three weeks after I gave birth and I’m in a MUCH BETTER place than I was when I was in the thick of those ~first two weeks~. So if any of this freaks you out, the most important thing to remember (really about the whole process) is that it doesn’t last forever. I’m also writing this with my own experience, and know that yours might look completely different. And that I’m writing this as a Normal Person™aka I’m not an expert and I’m also a first time mom so I’m very, very new to this whole thing. I also have no idea how to accurately represent everything that happened… I feel like it’s a bit of a blur now that I’m looking back (which, frankly, is probably a good thing).

THE FIRST 24 HOURS

Looking back, the first 24 hours were some of the hardest. This totally makes sense, right? My body had just gone through serious physical trauma and in an instant I was responsible for another human.

I have a very, very hazy memory of the first hour after delivery when I was in the bed just holding this perfect infant. In my memory, Mike and I were in this little quiet bubble with our brand new son and I was blissfully unaware of everything going on around us. The room was dark, I was riding high on endorphins (and medicine), and I was definitely still in a bit of shock.

Standing up to get transferred out of the delivery room and into the mother/baby wing is when things started to hit me that I had gone through serious physical trauma. After laying down for about 32 hours and pushing with an epidural for the final two, I was off kilter. Everything hurt and I told the nurse I was going to either throw up, pass out, or both. I was begging her to let me lay down on the floor of the bathroom because I was so afraid of hitting my head, but she managed to get me into a wheelchair where I had to take another 40 or so minutes sipping juice and trying to get my breath back. I felt very dazed too, like I couldn’t quite wrap my ahead around what had just happened? That blissful bubble Mike and I were in just a few minutes before? It had popped. Reality was setting in and that’s when I started to feel a bit terrified for the physical recovery I knew I was going to have to endure.

The next 10 hours or so were spent in the hospital bed of the recovery room and I felt a bit swept off my feet. It was a revolving door of nurses, doctors, lactation consultants, and a handful of family visitors. I was overwhelmed, but I’m grateful we were surrounded by so many people because it helped keep the day moving. (That is, I had less time to panic or focus too much on how I felt physically.)

My legs and ankles got really swollen– way more swollen than they ever had been when I was pregnant– and I was very uncomfortable with the bleeding I was experiencing. Seeing the blood really freaked me out… it felt like way too much to be normal (though it was) and I was warned that I was extremely swollen down there (more than what was considered normal, so I was told). It was so disturbing to me that I didn’t want to move out of the bed at all. I couldn’t imagine how I was ever going to be expected to move normally again, honestly.

The lowest part of the first 24 hours happened right before we went to bed. I went to the bathroom and when I came out, I pretty much lost it. I was horrified by the blood, scared of the physical pain I felt, and (looking back) obviously riding a hormonal rollercoaster. I was also looking at this tiny baby I had only just officially met and thinking, “How am I going to be able to do any of this?!” I was really, really scared. It actually is making me tear up a little bit right now thinking about how overwhelmed and scared I felt because I want to be able to go back and tell myself that I AM going to start to feel better and that I AM fully capable of taking care of this beautiful baby. “You can do it!!! It’s going to be hard, but it’s also going to be the most incredible experience!” I want to say.

That night we slept with the lights on and I barely slept because I couldn’t take my eyes off Jack… I just wanted to be reassured that he was okay and I definitely kept checking to see if his chest was rising and falling still. As the sun started coming up again, I felt immense relief knowing we had “made it” through the first night and when the clock read the time when Jack was born, I sighed a huge sigh of relief. One day under our belts and I was a full day into recovery. Mentally, this was huge for me because I knew I was one day closer to feeling better. I still felt horrible, but I had at least 24 hours of “recovering” done.

HORMONES & EMOTIONS & ANXIETY

Pretty much from the moment Jack was born until day 10 postpartum, the hormones, and therefore my emotions, were out of control. This is very, very normal… but that doesn’t make living through it any easier. I felt completely out of control, which only added to my already heightened anxiety. As uncomfortable as I was physically, I also didn’t feel like myself emotionally. I could go from feeling completely fine to feeling completely underwater. In fact, I’d describe it as feeling like getting pulled out in a rip tide. The best thing to do is to not fight it and just know it was my hormones. Everything was intensified. I felt insanely happy, insanely sad, insanely overwhelmed. I also would find myself filled with rage, which really scared me because it usually takes a lot for me to get super angry. And I couldn’t even tell you what I was I was angry about!

As a highly anxious person, I was highly anxious about what my anxiety would be like after birth. I went into this with as many “tools” in my belt as possible, in case postpartum depression or anxiety was an issue. (Frankly though, these can happen to anyone so it’s worth being prepared just in case.) Most importantly, I had therapy already underway, which I had found immensely helpful during my pregnancy. During the day, I felt pretty good (you know, within the normal levels of “good” immediately postpartum), but my anxiety would come to a peak at night. It was easy during the day to stay busy and feel awake and well-rested (especially having family here and Mike working from home due to the pandemic). As dinner rolled around, I’d start to dread the sun setting and bedtime looming. And then when we eventually got ready for bed? I was a wreck all over again. For two weeks, I cried myself to sleep absolutely overcome with stress and anxiety about ~night~. Not that I’m an expert in this, but I think it had something to do with my hormone levels?

Thankfully, the heightened emotions and hormonal rollercoaster eventually started to taper off between day 10 and about day 14. Now (three-plus weeks in), I feel very much back to normal hormonally. My emotions are still a little heightened, though I would assume that would be the case with such a giant life change!

MY PHYSICAL RECOVERY

Despite reading so much about other people’s postpartum experiences, I was totally caught off guard by how challenging the physical recovery would be. Like labor, it was just way more challenging than I expected. My entire body hurt. I had broken a ton of capillaries in my face. Every muscle hurt like I had run a marathon without training. I somehow pulled a muscle in my right leg. Since Jack was wedged in my ribcage during labor, a nurse had to use a bit of force to press him out of the area and it was extremely sore as a result, making it difficult just to take a deep breath. My feet and legs swelled so much I couldn’t believe they still functioned. I needed stitches after the birth and everything was very, very swollen and tender down there.

It felt like I had been hit by a car. Almost all of my pregnancy ailments disappeared the minute he was born, which was a relief, but they were replaced by all these other physical issues. In any other case, if I had been in this much pain, I would have been nursing myself back to health on the couch. But instead, my own needs were coming second to this itty bitty infant. It was just a lot, though every day I felt a little better than the one before.

While I had stocked up on a ton of products recommended for vaginal birth, I ended up hating everything. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I actually found the mesh underwear and ice packs and witch hazel pads to be incredibly uncomfortable. At first I felt like I “had” to use all these products, but I realized it was only adding to my physical discomfort. I ended up buying my own pads (the hospital ones were awful) and just sticking them in a pair of maternity underwear. If nothing else, I felt like I could move a little bit more normally. Because I could move normally and didn’t feel like I was wearing a diaper or whatever, I swear it helped me take my mind off of what was going on down there.

Don’t get me wrong though, I still found the physical recovery to be pretty traumatizing. It was recommended that I not look at the stitches, but I was curious and used a mirror the day we got home from the hospital to take a peek. It was….. horrible and I cried for three hours. (I’m still not fully convinced I’ll ever be the same.)

BREASTFEEDING

I fully believe “fed is best” and I went into breastfeeding with an open mind. I wanted to try it, but if it didn’t work out, I wouldn’t get hung up about it. I would do what worked best for us, whether it was breastfeeding, formula, pumping, or some kind of combination.

I got really lucky with Jack– I didn’t really have to do anything, he had a great natural latch from the beginning. And we picked up some great tips from the lactation consultants at the hospital. It was a fairly smooth process– much smoother than I was expecting. But there were two things I wasn’t quite prepared for.

The first was that I was not prepared for the physical pain of my milk coming in. All very normal and I’ll know for next time… but the engorgement that happened for the first week after my milk came in was insane. The pain!!! Next to the stitches I got, this was the next most painful part. Ice packs and hand expressing helped a little bit. It was more just a matter of having to wait it out and try to nurse as frequently as possible to relieve some of the pressure. Again, all normal, I just didn’t know what to expect as a first time mom!

The next was something I only discovered after desperately googling. During the first week after giving birth, I kept getting these waves of anxiety. It happened pretty frequently throughout the day, though I couldn’t pinpoint  what I was anxious about. I would get a “pit in my stomach” feeling with a side of “impending sense of doom.” It was a little alarming honestly. As quickly as that feeling would arrive, it would disappear. It really did feel like a wave rushing over me and then receding pretty much immediately. One night, I made the connection that I was getting the pit in my stomach while breastfeeding and I googled “breastfeeding + pit in stomach.” A not-well-researched “condition” called Dysphoric milk ejection reflex (aka D-MER) popped up and the description fit what I was feeling to a T! Basically, researches think it’s a physiological glitch of sorts that causes a drop in dopamine when the milk let-down occurs.

There’s really not a lot you can do about it, but just knowing it wasn’t in my head made me feel better and I find it pretty manageable since the feeling passes so quickly. (And, again, I know what it is so I’m no longer alarmed by it.)

MOTHERING

I hope this didn’t come across as too negative. I don’t think giving birth is easy no matter how it happens and some parts are harder than others. On top of that, everyone is going to have a different experience. Despite all of the pain and unexpected challenges I experienced, I absolutely love motherhood already. It’s even more than I could have wanted and I’m overall really, really happy. Like, my cup feels like it’s overflowing in such an abundant way. I feel grateful beyond belief to get to experience this.

I’m sure my challenges with motherhood are far from over– in fact, I expect them. It’s just been so gratifying so far though. And my love for Jack can’t even be measured. It doesn’t feel possible that I only just met him. It’s unlike anything I could have imagined and I can’t wait for the rest of the journey!

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56 Comments

NS

Oh Carly! Reading this made me well up thinking about similar experiences I had when my child was born – it was recent enough that I recall it all so viscerally. It was months after birth that I felt like I finally came out of it with the heart of a tiger, and feeling like my body was forged in fire. I hope you will too. It takes some distance to appreciate the wonder and regain your physical strength and confidence. You’re doing such an important thing adding to this conversation and Jack is lucky to have you as his mum.

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Eve

I love this post…one of the most honest posts about postpartum that I’ve ever read, so thank you for that! I get D-MER too. Very strange isn’t it but as you say I don’t worry about it now I know what it is.

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Annaliese

I so appreciate you sharing your honesty in everything you experienced after giving birth. I am not at a point in life to think about having children, but I always enjoy reading about birth and motherhood experiences on blogs. I think it is so admirable when women are able to be so candid about the highs and the lows of motherhood like you are here! Glad to hear think are on the up and up!!

xoxo A
http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

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Bela

Hi Carly, fellow mom here.
If I had read these experiences before having Lucas I feel like I’d be more prepared for everything. Not saying that it’s all doom and gloom but reading real experiences like yours would have helped immensely. Three years ago Instagram and blogs were still overloaded with the beautiful imagery and not much reality. I would have loved to read this in my early days of motherhood to have someone to relate to.
So, thank you. I hope you continue sharing the good and the challenging.

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Carolyn

I can’t thank you enough for this post! I’m 4 days post-partum and following your pregnancy journey has been so helpful in making me feel less alone. I am definitely in the thick of it now and can absolutely relate to your PP experience. Thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability – Jack is lucky to have you!

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Shannon

Thank you for sharing this Carly! I had severe post partum anxiety for the first two months but now have the resources to help (therapy + meds + support group) and I finally feel like myself again and LOVE being a mom. This is such an honest perspective and I am so grateful that you shared it with us. You are so right, no matter how much you try and research beforehand, nothing prepared you for it. Jack is so precious and what a lucky little fella to have you as his mommy!

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Sarah

I had labor followed by an unplanned c section and delivered just a few days before you. It’s been really humbling to recover from this. I have other kids and I feel like I am being half the mom to them that I was before simply because I’m so sore and physically fatigued from everything I went through. Like you, I’d still consider my birth experience positive! I don’t think it’s bad to say any of this out loud and I applaud you for opening the conversation so honestly with this post. I processed my birth in therapy this last week and mentioned a disappointment I had in how I had handled an aspect of it and my therapist pointed out it was the first time I had done this particular experience, so of course it didn’t all go perfectly but I learned a lesson for how I’d rather do it if I did it another time. No plans to go for #4, lol, but for some reason, this thought has really helped me process any mistakes or regrets I feel I have made along the way. I’m doing my best, and learning for “next time!” I heard you mention this same idea in this post-so give yourself some kudos for your thought patterns. You’re doing great!!

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Ann

Thank you for sharing. Everyone has a different experience whether it’s good or bad and I am so glad there are people willing to openly talk about it. Talking about it lets others know that whatever happened to them that they are not alone in their motherhood journey. Take care of yourself, eat right, drink plenty of water, and walk. Please know that throughout this journey that there are people out there that genuinely care about you. That whenever you feel alone or lost just look up at the sky whether it be day or night take a deep breathe and know that while we do not know you personally we are there for you.

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Ashley Crotts-Chen

As someone who recently gave birth as well (8/1), I’ve been seeing your recent IG posts thinking “Wow what is wrong with me, she really seems to have herself together. Meanwhile, it’s a win if I don’t cry and/or get a shower today.” It’s validating to see you had similar struggles and are recovering too. Thank you for making yourself vulnerable.

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Mia

Yeah I gave birth recently-ish, and I had the same thought. I had an emergency c-section and swelled up like a balloon. In all the pictures from the hospital I look out of it and not at all myself. I felt bad about all the calm, glowing photos I see from other people. Carly, I totally appreciate you being so open about your experiences, but I think it’s worth thinking about how the photos you share are so different from what your initial experience felt like. To be clear, the photos are lovely, and you should be able to share them! But I think the Instagram version of the hospital experience is definitely part of why so many pregnant people are surprised by the intensity and messiness of the experience.

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Liz

Thank you, thank you, thank you. It is so helpful to hear about your experience. Glad you are past the first few weeks and enjoying your sweet boy.

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Alex

As someone who’s dealt with anxiety forever and is getting ready to start trying for a baby: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for sharing this. I cannot tell you how valuable it is to have a sense of what to expect. I’m certainly not anticipating sunshine and rainbows, but the fear of the unknown can be paralyzing. It takes some of the mystery away!

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Lyndsey

Thank you for sharing your true experiences. I appreciate your vulnerability and honesty. I have not yet gone through this season of life but it helps to have another account of what to (maybe) expect!

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Al

Oh Carly, thank you for sharing this! This is beautiful and made me a little teary eyed and thank you for sharing jack with us!

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Kate

I’m a few months post partum and this made me tear up. I’m so glad that you published this as I expect it will help expecting moms! I wish there was more emphasis on preparing for recovery. Recovery was harder than birth for me. Perhaps a post with the products that have helped you would be good? And people can comment their tips/recommendations similar to your registry post?

Funny you mention your feet and legs being swollen. My fingers and feet were swollen, which I didn’t expect. I actually saw a picture of you with your ring on postpartum and thought “how?!?”. Every body is truly different 🙂

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Bekah

Thank you so much for sharing! I’m 3 weeks out from delivery and it’s so nice to read about another’s experiences and what was helpful or not. Congratulations

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Gidel

This was INCREDIBLE. I am a long time reader and have loved many of your posts. Your motherhood journey has been wonderful to watch, especially as I’m four months behind you. This post (and your birth story) are a combination or beautiful and helpful and terrifying, but reassuring.

This post did not sound negative to me at all (maybe because I am pregnant and people feel like they need to overshare their horror stories with me). You honestly and frankly relay some of the realities of your experience, but sandwich it with “but it’s also this magical version of great too”. Which I just feel is BEYOND helpful! It is not going to be easy. It is not going to be pain free. But it is worth it and beautiful.

I really appreciate the time you take into writing these posts. I love your usual content, but honestly Carly, your pregnancy and motherhood content has been extraordinary.

You look absolutely gorgeous and radiant. I am sorry that you’ve had a tough time, but so admire the way you are handling it, especially celebrating those wins!!

Until next time xx

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Kelsey

THIS! So so on point and so great to have you sharing for all. Thank you thank you. You’re doing amazing!

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Alison

Thank you so much for writing this so honestly. I’m finishing my first trimester and just knowing what *could* happen is so helpful in getting prepared for what’s to come.

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Paulina

I love this!! I actually had my baby one day before you and I can relate to so many things. Thank you for sharing.

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Stephanie Becker

Carly- I am not a mom though I hope to be soon and I just empathize completely with your words. Unexpected is the word that comes to mind. I think I will like being pregnant, I think I will look forward to birth, I think I will know what to do in the days that come but who freaking knows!!! Thank you as always for your honesty. I was a full time nanny for twins from 9 weeks to 4.5 years and the only thing I learned for sure is that EVERYTHING is a phase. It’s simple but beautiful. Best of luck and warm wishes to you and your family.

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Catherine

Love this! I was blessed with an “easy” pregnancy (minus the whole pandemic part) and postpartum by far was the hardest! Thank you for sharing!

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Annie

Thank you so much, Carly! I am looking forward to starting to try for a baby but there are so many things about it that feel mysterious and scary. Thank you so much for pulling back the curtain – just knowing what it might be like, the good and the bad, helps me feel more aware and less overwhelmed. I am so proud of you, your writing is so beautiful and honest, and thank you again for everything you’re doing! Your blog is really important.

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Arica B

Isn’t it crazy how completely different you can feel after just a few weeks? This post brings the crazy yet wonderful first few weeks all back…I had the same type of dread over the approaching night and D-MER as well. Your description of it as a wave of emotion is spot on. I would feel like I was being sucked under or inside myself in a whirl of emotion. It would almost make me dizzy!! One thing that really helped me was having a glass of ice cold water with a straw next to me when I was nursing and when I felt that feeling coming on I would take a slow drink and just focus on the cold and the water and it would help distract my brain from the emotional feelings. Hope it helps!!

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SH

Carly- my oldest is 24 and so much of your postpartum experience sounds like what I experienced. Oh how I wish I had someone like you to read when I was in it. The stitches and swelling (fear of going to the bathroom for me too) were not what I was expecting, along with the hormonal waves of all the emotions. My oldest also had colic so that added to it. But if I had been able to read what you wrote then, it would have been such a comfort and would have helped me realize it would pass and I wasn’t a horrible mother feeling all these feelings! Anyway, thank you for your realness and I will save this to share with my girls if they ever have kids (more relatable than hearing it from mom.) Congratulations!!!

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Taylor B

I also discovered D-MER by intense Google searches. It was harder to deal with when it came to pumping, but finding funny shows or a book to look forward to while I pumped really helped that feeling!

This was a phenomenal post and I’m so so happy for you!

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MNM

I can completely completely completely relate to all this with my two postpartums. In my opinion, postpartum is way way harder than pregnancy. And I know exactly what you mean when you would be anxious about the ~night~, especially sundown. I started counseling because of it and it helped tremendously just to have someone talk me through the fact that as the sun went down it just meant that the sun went down. Nothing more, nothing less! You’re doing amazing. It only gets better but yes, those first two weeks (and more for some!) are bonkers. 😱

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Mackenzie

Hi Carly! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I have been following you for so long, it feels like I’m listening to a friend even though you have no idea who I am (haha). Im sending you all the positive vibes as you continue through recovery and through motherhood. I would love to hear about your feelings on people visiting in the hospital, the first week at home, etc. My husband and I are going to start trying this fall and im not sure why, but I have a lot of anxiety about people visiting in the hospital and at home at first as I don’t know how I am going to feel. I know everyone’s experience is different, but would love to hear yours!

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Kelsey

In my experience (7 weeks postpartum) we had family come visit at the hospital and it was awful – they all came while my baby was sleeping (and when we needed to try and sleep) and then that night she wouldn’t sleep for over 5 hours straight and cried and cried and we were exhausted. Sounds like Carly’s experience was different. I would go with how you are feeling at the time – maybe it will be great and helpful and you will appreciate it. Maybe it would be better to set a boundary and say not just yet. I think it’s best to be prepared for both realities and make the decision at the time. I wish we would have set a boundary though and said we aren’t ready just yet. Hope that’s helpful.

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Mackenzie

Hi Kelsey! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. That is what I worry about! You always hear of family visiting babies in the hospital and I even visited my niece/nephew in the hospitals years ago when they were born, but thinking about doing that myself… seems like a lot. Thanks again for sharing!!

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Amy

When I gave birth the first time, we had 2 hospital visitors. One, my husband’s aunt, brought me new pajamas and a beautiful white blanket for my son. I can’t tell you how many years later, I really appreciated those new pajamas! It was such a thoughtful gift from this woman who had 6 children who knew a lot more than I did about what was to come and obviously wanted to make me feel a little special or comfortable in the coming weeks. Back in the day, I had a roommate in my hospital room and she had at least 20 people visiting at once. It was so hectic and there was just a flimsy curtain dividing our spaces and they stayed for hours. I dealt with it, but I will never forget how when they all left, my roommate, who I didn’t really know well, just broke down and cried. I felt so badly and we bonded and I cried too because breastfeeding wasn’t working for me, and my own mother was such a proponent of breastfeeding and I felt like a failure. Now, it’s 14 years later and I look back at that time and remember that it was hard. It was worth it, but no one has it easy after birth, and especially those first few weeks. Your post brought that home to me, and I know it will help so many people!!!

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Tricia

The nighttime anxiety was awful for me, I hope you’re hanging in there. Also – the swollen legs and feet! I can laugh about it now, but I remember calling my mom last summer crying. I truly believed my legs would never look the same again.

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Gillian

Thank you so much for sharing all of this, Carly. You are amazing!

And to anyone reading: I’m a licensed mental health therapist in Minnesota and have undergone extra training in peripartum and postpartum mental health. What Carly is describing is called (I hate this term) the “baby blues.” It is limited to the first two weeks after giving birth, when a person’s hormones are changing really rapidly, and tons of anxiety and depression symptoms can occur.

1) The “baby blues” (again, hate that phrase — it’s so much serious than just the blues) should end around 14 days after birth. If you’re still experiencing mental health symptoms after that, please please please reach out to your physician, your ob/gyn, a therapist, or your child’s pediatrician to get evaluated for postpartum depression, anxiety, etc. You deserve to get help. You deserve to feel better.

2) While the “baby blues” are a common experience, you can get help right away nonetheless! Please don’t suffer alone. Help is here for you, and with help, you WILL get better.

3) If you have any thoughts of harming yourself or anyone else, please seek immediate medical attention — you are so worth it.

4) For more information, check out Postpartum Support International (postpartum.net/get-help/). You can call them 24/ 7 for help in English or Spanish. I can’t begin to express how awesome PSI is and how incredible the help they provide is!

Remember, as PSI says: You are not alone and you are not to blame. Help is available. You WILL get better. <3

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Megan

I’m about as far along in this first time motherhood journey as you. 3 weeks pp today. I’ve been really struggling after having an emergency c section. I’ve been watching your journey after birth and feeling so envious of you being able to go out and about while I’m at home laying on the couch unable to do much other than nurse my baby. But reading this journey made me realize that we are all struggling in some ways and to be gentle with ourselves. And it gets a little bit easier everyday. We’ve come such a long way in 3 weeks and just need to be proud of how we are handling motherhood and what our bodies have done for us. Much love to you!

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Jeanne

Wonderful post. So fearless and I know helpful to expectant first-time mothers.

So much of this rang true for my experience first time 30 years ago. No one talked back then. I was brutally open with friends and relatives and felt alone bc no one had a similar experience. Years later I learned many did but just wouldn’t admit it. We were under a lot of pressure to get over it and move forward. The way mothers go about it all now is much more heathy and, I would imagine, helpful.

As I read this, I kept thinking – what a wonderful thing she’s doing by being brave and honest, laying it all bare.

It’s really overwhelming and unlike anything else, but it is also wonderful. The dichotomy was intense. I think that was the hardest part for me. The wretchedness of the recovery and the anxiety that would come over me without warning all the while there is the most perfect little person lying in my arms, looking at me, needing me. Everything I hoped for and more against a backdrop of serious struggle.

Motherhood. ❤️

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Kelsey

Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m almost 7 weeks postpartum and despite plenty of research and conversations with friends was still hit like a ton of bricks with how tough physical recovery is (still struggling with it unfortunately, it sounds like you are improving which is great). Something from therapy that I find helpful in dealing with the duality of emotions in early motherhood is the and – I’m so in love with my baby girl and thrilled to be her mom and watch her grow AND postpartum recovery sucks and it’s so hard to try and recover from such a traumatic event while looking after a baby.

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JBL

Thank you for sharing! I recently went through post partum and this was an amazing recap I would have loved to have going into it myself! 💜

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Sarah

Omigoodness I could have written this myself after my first son. Everything was just such a shock!!! I remember standing in the shower sobbing when my milk came in and I remember the night dread.
I’ve had two babies since then and the second and third experiences were so different. It’s like your body just knows what to do the second and third time. Everything was easier. Everything hurt less. It was such a good surprise. And I ended up loving the nights because it’s the only time the house was quiet so it was so special.
So yes- birth and breastfeeding and all of it, such a total shock to the system the first time. And then just as shockingly, so much easier and not shocking the subsequent times. Motherhood- crazy beautiful.

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Melanie

Thank you so much for being frank and telling us your experience! Congratulations to you and Mike.

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LC

As a mother of a 5 month old, I cannot thank you enough for this post. I relate completely with everything you described here & wish that women were more free to openly express just how overwhelming new motherhood is. Saying the first few months is hard is NOT a the same as saying you don’t love being a mom or your child. It’s important we’re realistic about the experience & find ways to support new moms, especially in this crazy time. If there is anything I have learned in this process it’s that moms are AMAZING. Be well xxx.

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Wendy

My children are now 19 and almost 24 years old but reading this took me back to when I gave birth to them. I really wish we could’ve heard more about your actual delivery and also wish we could hear if and how you cope with sleep deprivation. You young ladies of today are so lucky that you have an internet community to swap stories and information with. Back in my day (the 90’s and very early 2000’s), all we had were either books or maybe a Mommy and Me group to share with and most new Moms were left feeling quite alone.

You sound very at peace with Motherhood and I am so happy for you and Mike. Jack is absolutely beautiful. You’re doing a great job. My only advice is to never forget that breast feeding is a supply and demand situation. The more you feed Jack (the demand) the more milk you’ll produce the supply. I breastfeed exclusively both my kids. My firstborn was breastfed until she was 17 months old and I weaned her off and my son weaned himself off at 1 years old. Both had close to no ear infections or any other illnesses. Neither used pacifiers and they both transition extremely well to sippy cups. We didn’t have any standoff about giving up the bottles. Also another piece of advice, whenever you do want to transition anything regarding Jack, do so during a three day weekend! It’s just easier if you know for sure that Mike is around to help you through it and it usually takes a baby at least 3 consistent chances to transition to whatever it is that you want to tweak or change. I wish you the best of luck and welcome to the wonderful Motherhood club!

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Denise Olsen

Thank you for sharing and your honesty! You are not alone. I am a mom and experienced some of those same things too. One day at a time:}

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Erica

I love reading other birth and postpartum experiences, even though I’m 5 years removed from that time in my own life. I was not prepared for the swelling – it really freaked me out. I had a c-section and it took a full 3 weeks until my feet were back to normal. Oh and those hormones. I remember sobbing to my mom when she went home wondering how I was ever going to do this!

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Lauren

I don’t think your post was negative at all— in fact, I found it really reassuring because I gave birth at the end of June, and seeing you up and about and looking happy and hosting visitors after Jack was born led to me comparing my own (very difficult) postpartum experience and wondering why I couldn’t get a better grip on things. (Comparison is the thief of joy, I know— I’m working on it). I appreciate your vulnerability here and related to many of your experiences. I dreaded every time I had to go to the bathroom in the hospital because I was so freaked out by the blood, and using the slippery ice packs that didn’t absorb anything felt so gross. When I got home I switched to my own pads and postpartum underwear and that helped me feel more normal too. I couldn’t wait to donate the bag of hospital supplies I came home with. I’m glad things are feeling more stable for you now, and it will only get better from here. I’m ten weeks out now and it’s a world of difference both with myself (physically and mentally) and with my baby, since we’ve been able to start developing a rhythm to our days. Best of luck to you on your motherhood journey!

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Sandra

Thank you for sharing Carly! You seem to be doing great! I appreciate the reminder that everyone’s experience will be different. Thank you for being real about yours. I’m so happy for you and Mike!!

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Emily

This is the most real postpartum post I have ever read. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. You are really driving powerful change. You should be really proud of yourself. And Jack is such a lucky (and darling) boy!

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April

Thanks for sharing your story. Reading your experience brought me right back to when I had my first child almost 4 years ago. I felt the same as you did for the most part and didn’t really understand what was happening to me but being apart of a mom facebook group really helped me feel like I wasn’t alone and feeling crazy for how I felt at the moment. The 4th trimester was rarely talked about then and I’m glad its gaining traction now because its good to get this out and be open about the experience. Childbirth is a wild ride that catches everyone by surprise. Since I’m now on my third pregnancy, I’m finding that each time is different. As I’m set to deliver baby #3 in a few weeks, I’m going into this experience with a completely open mind for birth and postpartum, and not going to make a big deal about anything, go with the flow and most importantly- give myself some grace throughout the process. I feel that its the nicest thing I can do for myself that will benefit everyone (I think, lol). Wish you all the best and again, thanks for sharing.

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CandiceZ

Very brave and I relate 100% to your journey. I had a very similar experience. You’re going through so much wonderful, terrifying, and tough.

I just wanted to assure you that while you will always now be an expanded version of yourself you Will once again Feel like yourself – whether it’s a month, a few months, a year, or a year and a half or whatever, it will happen. It’s just a Lot right now 🙂.

You are still You.

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Taylor

Wow. This is wonderful and I am so, so thankful for the honestly. I had my first baby girl back in April and wasn’t ever able to fully articulate the experience but you somehow did. So happy to hear you are feeling better. It’s a wonderful feeling when you finally emerge from the fog!

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Katie

Thank you for sharing Carly! I’m hoping to start our family in 2023 and I have always loved birth stories but my fav post is some Blogger’s experience of first PP poop- it’s terrifying + entertaining. I think being honest is so important, it helps to manage expectations. Low expectations = much more fulfillment/satisfaction. My mom can’t remember much of her labor, outside of a very rude nurse working a double who went through 3 Cath kits and told her “you have the wrong anatomy” *ahem* the issue was her being exhausted (there should be caps legally for consecutive hours worked for rns and drs) and it’s so unprofessional to say that… She remembers that decades later smh and she got charged for them all. 😂 As a nursing student myself, shame on that rn. And at some point, something went poorly and my dad had to gown up because potentially something was going to happen she doesn’t know what. My cousin had a C section after trying vaginal birth and has no clue why to this day.

We are taught that post partum there are BIG emotions due to hormonal shifts. It has to be intimidating to go from yourself/pregnant self to: responsible for other entity FOREVER. The commitment goes beyond a pet since the span of things is so long. So much is uncontrollable- the fear is logical to me. I’m glad you are doing better so to speak. The “curse of knowledge” (can’t unknow what you now know, but impossible to have known it prior)- https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_knowledge

I also think culturally/socially there is a deficit in the care of the mother who has just birthed- having to be taken care of physically due to the marathon of birth, questions tend to orient around baby vs your well being etc. It’s a huge role shift.

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Shannon Mahaney

I’m so happy for you, Carly! Jack is so lucky to have you!

Postpartum can be so hard. As someone who went through it, it gets better each day. And by the time he turns a year, you will feel like you’ve conquered a very large mountain!

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Jenny

Thank you for sharing this Carly! I had severe post partum anxiety for the first two months but now have the resources to help (therapy + meds + support group) and I finally feel like myself again and LOVE being a mom.

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Emily

This is EXACTLY why I delivered in a non “room-in” facility. The baby was better off in the nursery so I could rest, plan, schedule our nanny, day nurse and night nurse and most importantly HEAL and take time for myself (arranging for a in-room mani/pedi/massage/blowout the day we left was such a good idea). After 2 days, we went home. The hospital was too busy, too many needless interruptions (hiring a private lactation consultant to come to our home was a excellent idea and thankfully my milk dried up super fast- the LC’s the hospitals employ are just not a fit for me,-all of the preaching and rudeness-ugh). Hopefully your next will be easier, especially with my tips!

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