The Postpartum Struggles Are Real

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

pregnancy heart on belly

When you find out you're expecting, you prep for 9 months to have your home ready to raise your new little bundle of joy and you prepare your body and mind mentally for the childbirth experience. But what they forget to tell you is to prepare yourself for the postpartum struggles that follow birth.

Diving into a few of the points - I mentioned in my birth story that I had uncomplicated pregnancy and a great birth experience, but things started to not become so easy a few hours after my sweet baby girl was born...

High blood pressure, massive headache/ migraine, above normal heart rate, shortness of breathe, tingly legs, allergic reaction to BP medicine and extreme fatigue (but that is normal, I just birthed a 6 lb. 7oz baby.)

The nurses tended to me regularly and ran test to ensure I wasn't going through post-preeclampsia (thank the Lord the test came back negative.) That first week was exhausting, but it was only the beginning of my postpartum struggles:

  • Milk production struggles

  • Blood pressure didn't want to balance to a normal rate

  • Headaches can be constant

  • Anxiety over so many things of my baby's safety

  • Emotions were everywhere, even when you are smiling to everyone you see

  • Tiredness just never ends

Milk production struggles

Breastfeeding wasn't as easy as the movies and blogs make it out to be. I cried when I couldn't get my newborn baby to latch easily, but the Lactation Nurse was determined to help me. Once she brought in a shield to help (who knew this was a thing to breastfeed?) it made the breastfeeding journey a little easier.

Right when I thought we could move forward because the Lactation Nurse has helped me, I learned my supply wasn't really in... Really? How is this possible? I just had a baby and I thought the milk would be flowing to feed my tiny little baby. But nope, it just hasn't arrived yet. It was like the milk truck got delayed in traffic or something...

At this point I was beyond exhausted, my emotions were everywhere and my husband stood by my side being the support I needed and told me it would be ok if Caroline went to the nursery so I could get sleep and they could feed her a little something.

I felt so defeated - like I just failed my daughter because I couldn't provide for her. Little did I know that these emotions were only the beginning of my postpartum experience. It took some time and work, but it became easier over time. (Check out my breastfeeding story to come.)

Blood pressure didn't want to balance to a normal rate

I never thought in a million years I would have high blood pressure at 28 years old, let alone after a healthy pregnancy. I put on 20lbs. during my pregnancy, thanks to a very healthy diet: I ate the cleanest and healthiest diet, I could have had my own veggie farm in my house. I drank so much water, I could empty Lake Superior. I practiced Yoga so much, I could have been the next Yogi.

Ok, maybe I didn't have that many veggies in my house and maybe I didn't drink the amount of water in Lake Superior and maybe I couldn't have become the next Yogi, but YALL when I said I was healthy, I totally was. I craved greens. I drank a bottle of water every 2 hours. I went to yoga class every Tuesday and made it a point to practice every evening at home.

I wanted to be healthy, I WAS healthy. Not only did I do all of this for my baby, but for me. I wanted to easily bounce back to my old self and to do this I knew I had to be healthy, so I did.

But I guess all of those things could not have prepared me for the moment just a few hours after birth when my doctor said "Amanda, we are going to have to put you on Blood Pressure medicine because it is to high for any comfort."

This was a hard pill to swallow - literally, it was because I HATE taking pills. But in all seriousness, it was so hard to hear that this was happening to me. It totally changed my perspective of who can have high BP!

The nurses brought me my medicine and I thought all was good. A few hours later they checked me and my pressure was high, my heart was racing my body was itchy, my legs felt tingly, I felt weak and all in all just not me. So the doctor came in to reassess me and it turned out I was having a reaction to the medicine... Really? Is this happening? I just had my baby. I should be cuddling her, loving her, focusing on her. But here I am, laying in the hospital bed uncomfortable, upset and just trying to stay happy and positive.

They straightened up my medicine and I BEGGED for them to let me go home, I was going stir crazy in the tiniest room in the hospital. But they told me they needed to get my numbers more balanced before I could go home... I cried... Cuddled my baby. Cried again... Kissed her. And listened to my calm husband that everything would be ok and that this was the best place for me to be at the moment.

After 4 days from the moment I walked into the hospital in labor, I asked if I could go home and I got a lot of hesitation. My numbers were just not where they needed to be in the morning... (insert tears.) So we watched some soccer, admired my little one and how adorable she is and then FINALY my doctor came in and we talked about everything:

  • How to read blood pressure numbers

  • Signs of preeclampsia

  • How often to check in with nurse

After that conversation I was able to check out and check in from home with the nurse/ doctor on my status. It took 35 days for my BP to balance to a normal rate and I was able to get off of the medicine. That was truly an unexpected journey, but I am so grateful for the staff, the support from family and the knowledge I now have on this medical issue for the future.

Headaches can be constant

Oh man, this was such a real thing. I've had them here and there before baby, but more when I was having sinus issues. The doctor said it was mostly due to my blood pressure issues, but man they were a pain in the you know what!

There is so much a women's body goes through after birth and the last thing I needed was a flipping headache!

One night when my husband was at school (he was in night classes getting his MBA) I had to call a friend to come help me because I couldn't not sit up straight and couldn't hold my baby the headache was so bad... I felt so bad, literally and figuratively. I was drinking so much water and eating the right amount of calories yet I had a headache I couldn't shake.

Once I got off of my BP medicine it got better, but it took almost 3 months for them to go away. Thank goodness we had so many family members come up to help us and friends who came by once family was gone. This was such a huge help on the days I just felt like I couldn't operate.

Anxiety over so many things of my baby's safety

I think I am going to have a full blog on this topic, but this was a serious struggle. I'll touch on the high level parts of this struggle, because it is just as important as the other hard things postpartum.

Growing up I had a fearless mentality of life and adventure. When my daughter was born, my world was turned upside down when anxiety struck out of no where!

Is she breathing? Is the swaddle to tight? What if the temperature is to hot and she has a heat stroke? What if the temperature is to cold and she gets hypothermia? She isn't making sounds in the backseat, did she choke?

These questions when she wasn't in my arms ran through my head all the time, but it was the middle of the night terrors that would shake me to no end during those few hours I would get to sleep.

Before I share my next high anxiety struggles, I want to note that my newborn NEVER slept in my bed, she was always in her bassinet in a proper swaddle.

There were SOOOOO many nights I would push my husband out of the bed and tell him he is smothering our baby... Other times I would wake up in a frantic searching for my baby under the blankets, fearing that she was in our bed... Other times I would think she is stuck under me...

This was all in my head. She was NEVER being smothered, because she was sleeping peacefully in her bassinet. She was NEVER stuck under the blankets, because she was sleeping peacefully in her bassinet. She was NEVER stuck under me, because she was sleeping peacefully in her bassinet.

My baby was perfectly fine, it was me, the mommy that was struggling with anxiety of my baby's safety.

These night terrors as I called them were constant and happened for almost 6 months. They were horrible. They were emotionally draining. They were so exhausting because it would ruin the short time of sleep I was supposed to get.

By some grace of God I found the strength to talk to my husband and we agreed it was time for me to speak to someone after 8 weeks of this struggle. And so I did and it was the best thing I have done for myself, because I am now 12 months post birth able to say my anxiety is in my better shape then 12 months ago. I'll note that I still have my fears (Is the bedroom temp right? Is she ok with the lovie? etc.), but I am now able to control these feelings with that help of opening up to my husband, reaching out to mom friends and asking Mother Mary to hold my hand and give me strength to be a strong mother to my daughter.

Emotions were everywhere, even when you are smiling to everyone you see

Women are emotional yes. But add postpartum emotions to the mix and WHOA things can get crazy! A majority of the emotions could be related to the fact that my daughter wasn't a big sleeper, which took a toll on me, but some of my other triggers were the words of others...

Once I was home with my baby, I wanted to be the best mother I could be to her. As I started to introduce my daughter to the world, the opinions from others started to roll in and it took so much for me to hold back my tears.

"Formula is better for your baby, your milk just isn't enough for her." Wait, hold the phones! So what you are saying is that I can't provide for my child? How on earth do you know this? Do you see the milk coming out of my breast? No. You don't. Did you weigh my child before I nursed her and after to see if she put on weight? No. You didn't. OK, so tell me how you know she is not getting enough milk from me?

"You should read more about vaccinations before you do it. I didn't vaccinate my 4 children and they turned out just fine and are healthy." Ok, this is a super touchy topic so I am not jumping into this can of worms. But I just want to say that this is a decision for the parents. And I want to (I did) vaccinate my daughter. We found a doctor we trust to care for her and we will follow his instructions on the steps we will take to vaccinate her at the months they are due.

"Your baby should be sleeping through the night, let them cry it out until they figure it out." So that may have worked for you and your family, but I am not ready to do that at 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, etc. We are learning how to be parents and our doctor said our daughter is sleeping the right amount of time for her age.

The list just goes on with the opinions, but these opinions is what triggered so many tears. If something was said when we were outside of our home I would normally bottle up my emotions, smile in the moment and say something kind to move the conversation on. Once we were in the car I would just let the emotions flow and cry for a minute until I pulled myself together. If someone said something to me at home, I would keep my cool in the moment, smile, try to change the topic and later go to my room a little later to have a moment to myself and cry.

My husband was always the biggest supporter of my feelings, he listened to me and said to not let these things get to me and that we are our family and we are doing what is best for our family. Seriously, these were the best words to here in those moments to help pull myself together.

Tiredness just never ends

Lastly, the hardest struggle was the tiredness... Our daughter was born a party animal. She loves to be up in the night and has never been a fan of nap time. We have told her how great sleep is, but she just wants to be a part of the party (her school teachers says she doesn't want to miss out on things.)

We went though a period where she woke up EVERY HOUR! Once I went back to work after 8 weeks, this sleep cycle depleted me. I'm sure the extreme tiredness can be attributed to my emotions in the section above. But it was just so hard to work 40+ hours week on 3 hours of sleep. I felt like a zombie.

I think what made it even harder was living 1700 miles away from family. There is a chance part of my emotional roller coaster was due to the emotions of not having family here for support, to experience the milestones and to just be here to be here with us. (Mom, if you are reading this please do not cry, I am just sharing my thoughts. :-) .) But not having family support down the street, or around the block, or a town over was seriously hard as we couldn't really take a breather. We smiled during every FaceTime call or visit from family members, but behind my smiles were tears because I wanted them to be here with us, to give us a hand or a break for the night or just a hug.

We were so desperate we started Googling night nannies and we were a little sticker shocked of the price that we decided we would suck it up and just push on to the day where she would sleep.

Eventually our baby girl learned how to sleep around 9 months and life has been so much easier, but there are still times when she wears us out when she runs circles around the house, pulling everything out of where it belongs etc. But that is what parenthood is all about right? Sleep deprivation. Just kidding. In all honesty I would do it all over again, because even though the nights were hard I was able to get some extra snuggles that I miss out on in the day when she's at school and I know there will come a day that snuggles won't be a thing because she will be to cool for mom.


Anyways. Being a mom isn't easy. The mom struggle is so real. And I think we need to share our struggles with others, because we are human and there is always another mom out there who has gone through the same thing as you (which is why I am sharing this.)

It's been 12 months and 11 days since I gave birth to my daughter and I am hear to say that:

  • Milk production --> I'm still pumping and nursing. We are transitioning to whole milk and I'm proud to say that I made it this far!

  • Blood pressure --> It balanced out to a normal rate after 35 days (praise the Lord.)

  • Headaches --> My birth related headaches ended around 2-ish months postpartum

  • Anxiety --> It's way better then what it was, but I still have my days. I have learned to open up to others to help me on those days.

  • Emotions --> I am a women. I have emotions. This is normal. But my waterworks show in the car/ bedroom has dried up. Yay!

  • Tiredness --> It was restored by month 11. I was still pumping in the night because I was so full... But I am doing great now!

My biggest advice to any new momma is to give yourself a break.

We are all human.

Motherhood real.

Motherhood is tiring.

Motherhood is raw.

Motherhood is beautiful.

Motherhood is love.

Motherhood is a blessing.

The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the love of a Mother.

-St. Therese of Lisieux

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