I used to not being able to understand why new mothers face baby blues. After experiencing it myself, I get it now. It is the overwhelming changes that shock us. It is not just your life that has changed, it is basically everything from your body to your emotions. Personally, I feel like nothing really prepares me for this.
The first month was really tough. It got saner only after two weeks for me. That was when I started to recover from the physical pain from labor and get the hang of breastfeeding. I didn't fall into depression and I owe it to my supportive loving husband and also my family who helps me along the way. Now that I'm four months in, I'd like to share with you the things that have kept me sane in the early weeks.
1. Don't take baby's cry personally
It's easier said than done, especially with all the raging hormones. Things really started to get real after we leave the hospital. The first night was really terrible. My baby cried on and off from midnight till four in the morning. It came to me as a shock. Even more so because my baby was such a sleepy head at the hospital. We always had to wake him up for a feed.
I was so tired and sleep deprived while he kept wailing through the night. I breastfed him for like hours but he still would not go to sleep. Sometimes when my baby cries and I cannot calm him down, I cannot help but feel inadequate. But in all seriousness, do not take it personally. Everything is new for you. It is only normal to be confused and oblivious.
Hang in there. As time goes by, you will start to figure out what your baby wants, even though not entirely.
2. Padsicles work wonders
I happened to stumble upon this from a Youtuber just before I gave birth. She was talking about things that help her after giving birth and she mentioned padsicles. You can easily google how to make padsicles. It really did help me through the recovery if you deliver vaginally. It was soothing and pain relieving.
3. Get some sleep when you can
Sleep deprivation is probably one of the key factors that causes postpartum depression. It was really hard for me to function and think normally with minimal amount of sleep. You are expected to take care of this little demanding human being while your body is still recovering from the delivery. Sleep is much needed but sometimes it feels like it is never going to come. Therefore, take some whenever it is possible.
4. Things will get better
I promise you, they really do get better. Your wounds will heal and your sleep will come. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Even though some days are really hard, just remember that this, too, shall pass. I tell this to myself every single day to keep me going. And, if you are breastfeeding, yes, it will get better as well as time passes.
5. Get and receive help
Before I had my baby, I thought to myself that I would want to take care of him by myself. I do not want people to intervene. However, as the time comes, I was very grateful when someone offers any kind of help to hold and carry him.
Seriously, stop trying to do everything yourself. It will drive you mad.
6. Look at your baby
Every time I look at my baby, I am reminded of how far I've come and that I have done something extraordinary. I mean, I freaking GAVE BIRTH. His cute little fingers and toes. His subtle smiles and frowns when he sleeps. These are the things you will miss when they grow up. Enjoy them while you can.
7. Cry it out
There will be times that you need to let out your emotions. Just do it. You’ll feel better afterwards.
8. Have someone prepare you food
With all that's going on, cooking is the last thing on my agenda. I'm so blessed that I don’t have to worry about preparing food. My mother in law cooked for me day and night to make sure I'm eating nutritious foods.
9. Talk to someone about your feelings
In my case it was my husband and sometimes my girl friends as well. There were times when my husband would shrug my melancholic rants off (I understand he was just as overwhelmed as I was), that's when I turn to my girl friends for some emotional support.
10. Korean Drama
It helps take my mind off the reality, which sometimes can be so overwhelming. It's always nice to go out of the real world for a little bit. I usually turn it on when my baby is sleeping. Basically, do whatever that can take your mind away from the reality for a bit to keep you sane. Play chess, dance around, whatever. For me it was Korean Drama. Goblin and The Legend of the Blue Sea to be exact. May you age like the Koreans, baby.
11. Hot shower
Those who know me knows that I'm lazy about taking showers. Sometimes I only take once a day; however, after having a baby, I am ever so grateful for hot showers. It's so relaxing and it's probably the only time I can be alone enjoying my me time. I also use this time to massage the breast to prevent engorgement.
12. Gotta love buttoned up PJs
When I was still pregnant, I didn't think much about breastfeeding. I didn't realize that it would be what I do most of the days, especiallyin the early weeks. So, buttoned up PJs are really essential. I was (and, am still) in them like all day long every day. I wish I could wear it out too.
I know this took a while, but you know, life just gets in the way. I am in every way still struggling to be a mother. Every night when my baby falls asleep, it's a sigh of relief for me. I survive another day. Every morning when I get out of bed, I tell myself, let's do this. I am trying to take it day by day, embracing all that happens in a day. Time really does fly. He's more than half a year old now and he grows so fast. He is looking and acting less and less like a baby every day. See the bigger picture, enjoy the moment. When you look back, the little peeves will be insignificant anymore.