Lifestyle

The Truth About The First Day Of Maternity Leave Alone

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“Please don’t go, please don’t! Please!”

“Stay here with me.”

“I can’t do this alone.”

“You stay home, I’ll go to work instead.”

I was talking to my husband, but perhaps not out loud. Maybe I had said something in a whisper, maybe in my head, maybe through the pit of my stomach. I am not quite sure, it is blurry now with the smear of tears. If he had heard me, if he had really heard those things, I am quite certain he wouldn’t have gone off to work. But he kissed me goodbye and left.

There I was — alone — sort of.

I wasn’t unique, but I felt that way in the moment.

Alone.

Isolated.

Nervous.

Scared.

In pain.

Sad.

Exhausted.

It was my first day home all by myself with my newborn baby. I was terrified and sad. So sad.

Everyone I knew on Facebook and Instagram was so happy and in love with their newly formed motherhood life. Even those admitting a painful recovery just seemed so cheerful — glowing and grinning. They were so in love. They were so happy. Life was beautiful. The sun was shining. Everything was perfect. Everyone I had talked to before having my son said things like “just wait, you aren’t going to be able to get enough of it” or “you are going to be so happy and in love, nothing else will matter.”

Honestly, what had they been talking about? Or was it me? What the heck was wrong with me?

I hated trying to nurse — it wasn’t working, it hurt, it was hard. He wouldn’t latch. There wasn’t enough milk. He was hungry. Hungry. Hungry again. I didn’t feel bonded, I felt bitter. Frustrated. Pumping was even worse.

It was confusing to me why I was scared. I had been a babysitter/nanny through my teenage years and young adult life. I had held, cuddled, cared for, tens of (or maybe even a hundred) babies in my life. I had volunteered at a hospital for years, playing with and cuddling sick children with IVs in tow and tubes coming out of them. This now … this was nothing. Right? I blamed myself for these feelings, a spiral within spirals.

I was in such pain from my C-section. I was so tired from, ya know, not sleeping. My hormones were all over the place. I had no friends nearby — let alone friends who were home in the middle of the day. I was stuck inside wearing pads, grubby maternity garb, and could barely move my body without wincing in pain.

I didn’t feel like myself. Who the hell took my regular body and replaced it with this one? When would normal pants fit? When could I stop wearing these mesh underwear? Maybe I was showered, but probably not. When could I count on a good shower anyway?

Janko Ferlic/StockSnap

The night before I had cried around 2:00 a.m. while pumping in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet lid. I had dropped the cream I needed to make pumping less painful, and I couldn’t physically get it. I was stuck, pumping, suffering, sad. I had just sat there and cried and cried and cried. Now, I was just counting down the minutes until I had to try to nurse or pump again, counting the hours until I could take the next pain pill to ease my severe soreness. Then there was another diaper, another outfit change, more bottles and pump gear to wash. I had to eat more protein, more wheat, swallow more breast milk supplements, drink more water and tea. It’s all about supply, supply, supply.

Is this a bad dream? I wondered. Is this really how it all goes? Is everyone else lying?

Don’t get me wrong, my baby boy was (and is!) beautiful. Perfect. Healthy. Darling. Sweet. Amazing. I was in love with him. I was so happy to have him finally! To be with him, to hold him, to love him was wonderful in itself. But that fact wasn’t in isolation, and everything else was overwhelming. A dark cloud hung over us as we huddled in a chair together for a cuddle. I cried. Often. I sobbed, I whimpered. I googled things — searching anyone (anyone!) who felt the same as me. Was I the only one to feel like this? Was I the only one who hated this?

Andrew Branch/Stocksnap

It could have been a beautiful day, but I really couldn’t tell you. I was alone in my house … a hushed, dark place … other than the fact that windows were open and a baby was there, screaming most of the time.

I can’t do this.

How long will this last? When will this get better? I asked myself. I asked Google. I asked the no one around me.

Friends, it does get better. It gets easier. The sun will shine. The pain will subside. You will sleep again. Your baby will eat (breast milk or formula, pumped or nursed …). You will find new comfort in your new body. You will find friends. You will find a rhythm. Your own way. A bond. Happiness. It will come. And if it doesn’t, if it isn’t, if you can’t, reach out for help.

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