Thursday, August 6, 2009

Postpartum 0-3 months: Pregnancy Nostalgia

So since this blog has primarily been about my journey through pregnancy, I suppose it is fitting that, even three months postpartum, I can still post about pregnancy! No, I am not pregnant again (no intention of that any time soon), but my emotions are still clearly linked with the idea of being pregnant.

First, I should say, I am completely in love with my baby. It really is true that a mom loves her child more and more every day. I ache when I am away from him. I look forward to nursing him, I am in bliss when I see his smile, and I can't get enough of his baby sounds and baby giggles. He is turning pages in books, he's been rolling over for months, standing and lifting his neck since the day he was born, singing, playing in the pool, still hiccuping, still crying, still cuddling. I have so much love for him that probably only other parents can comprehend.

But.

That is not to say I haven't felt other emotions. And while I may get into more of them in another post, for now, I'll focus on my feelings toward pregnancy.

As you all know, I loved being pregnant. I posted about it, I relished my belly, I took many pictures of my pregnancy body, I savored every moment that I could--I was not ready to end my pregnancy. When my water broke a week early, my first reaction was, "You've got to be kidding me. Now? Ugh." I wanted my last week. If I had had my last week, perhaps I would have gotten to that state most women talk about--the time when you are ready to get the baby out of you, ready to be rid of acid reflux and backaches and finally meet your baby. Perhaps. However, most likely, if I had another week, I still would not have been ready to part with my pregnancy. More of a good thing doesn't necessarily make you want to end that good thing.

While I was in the hospital with our baby, my emotions were completely tied to my little son. I was not thinking of being pregnant, but merely focusing on the present. I was emotional when it came to the baby, but this was no surprise.

What was a surprise was my emotional state when Mike and I first sat down in the car on the way home from the hospital.

We open the car doors and I see a towel in the passenger seat. The towel I had placed there at 3am, when leaving the apartment after my water had broken, "just in case." As Mike pulls the car out of the parking lot, my throat tightens up. My mind recalls the excitement of the start of labor. The quietness of the apartment we left in the middle of the night. The rain we encountered as we drove to the place of our baby's birth.

And then, I start to cry. And I mean, really cry. And I am not a big crier. Mike tries to comfort me, but he doesn't know how, and honestly, I don't know how to tell him to comfort me. I don't even know why I am crying. Granted, I know I have barely slept for days, I have a new set of hormones since I am breastfeeding, my life has changed forever, and I am now in one of the biggest roles I will have throughout my life. All these things can make any new mom cry. But these thoughts do not appear to be my triggers.

When we arrive at home, I see towels heaped together from when I took my shower before we left for the hospital. I see the wedge I used to support my belly in bed. I see my prenatal vitamins and dha. I see the baby bottle we used to write notes in to our womb baby. When we take our baby to the pediatrician's, I see my OB's office on the way. And these things all make me cry. I miss being pregnant. I miss it so badly that it hurts. I feel as though the love of my life ended our relationship and I am heartbroken.

I am overly sensitive to things Mike says, and when I cry or tell him how he has hurt my feelings, he gets defensive and short with me, and it makes me cry more. He doesn't know how to deal with an emotional Me. I tell him to bear with me and be kind to me because I don't know why I am crying and I do not feel like myself at all. He says he will try, but he is not used to this. He and I both escaped my pregnancy without dealing with an emotional hormonal woman. I felt like myself up until the end and it is not until now that I understand what some women may have been dealing with for nine months.

I pray to God to end this phase of my emotions quickly. I tell my friend that I do not like how I feel when I am reminded of being pregnant. My friends who have had babies tell me this will pass. That everyone is emotional at first, even if not in the same way. They liken my sentiment to the feeling of preparing for a wedding, then when the wedding is over and the marriage has begun. You are happy to be married, but all the planning and excitement of getting married is over, and so there is naturally a letdown. The day after Christmas.

I comfort myself in knowing this is just a phase. As with the end of a relationship, there is a time of sadness, but you always know that things will get better with time, and eventually, you will find someone else who you will love even more. I know I will eventually stop feeling this pain remembering the joy of pregnancy, but for now, it hurts.

Three months later...

I can say that time and God do work wonders for pain. I no longer feel out of control with my emotions and I do feel like myself again. I am well passed the crying-out-of-the-blue stage. I am reasonable with Mike once again and I am all around happy. I have always loved being a mom to my baby, but the joys I find each day continue to grow and grow. I am socially busy most weekends and many weekdays. Mike and I have dates out to movies and dinner; I attend a rehearsal and production of the theatre class I taught; we go to parties and events with our son (and he does well!); we take a family vacation to Vermont. We thank God every day for giving us a healthy, happy, strong, beautiful baby. I do not think or talk of being pregnant very much now.

But.

When reminded, I do still miss being pregnant. The past few months I have seen the onslaught of my pregnant friends reach their last few weeks pre-baby. When my good friend enjoys her pregnancy, I am so utterly excited for her to have her baby. I talk to her often and when she tells me she thinks she is in labor, I feel overwhelmed with happiness for her. When other friends complain about their aches and discomfort in being pregnant, I crave to feel that irritating acid reflux again, for my lower back to ache, and for me to feel the baby "all up in my ribs" so that driving is uncomfortable. I still tear up when I see pregnant women walking in town and despite my friends' third trimester complaints, I can't help but think silently to myself, "But you are so lucky!"

Yes, evolution and God have worked well to program my body for procreation! I am glad that the logical part of my brain would not allow me to attempt to get pregnant for another year or two, because I am not ready to handle a toddler and infant quite yet. I also know that a second pregnancy cannot be like the first. I will have my hands full with an active boy. I will be in a different place. I will know what I am in for during the newborn months. And I may not have such an easy pregnancy as my first.

But for now, thinking of my pregnant hard belly, the kicks and movements felt in my uterus, the special honor of exclusively housing a tiny life for nine months, the excitement of waiting to meet my baby--my eyes do still mist up. But now, thinking of those precious memories, through my misty eyes, I smile as well.

















9 comments:

Kat said...

Beautiful, beautiful, thoughtful, and honest post. I loved it! Thank you for sharing these thoughts and feelings. I really could relate to the way you were feeling after having the baby and missing being pregnant. I loved being pregnant too and I also get so excited hearing about other people's experiences with pregnancy, labor, and delivery! (I loved following along on the adventure with you and Mike). For me, it's hard knowing that I may not ever have another baby and may not ever feel those things again. (even though I have 2 amazing children!) I think there is sort of a grieving process involved in accepting that one part of your life is over and a new one is beginning. You are so lucky to have had such an enjoyable pregnancy. And you are right, the 2nd one will be different, but it will still be wonderful and exciting in it's own way. You seem like the kind of person who really makes an effort to enjoy things as they happen and be present in the moment, so I can imagine that you will make your 2nd one very special too. Congrats again to you and Mike. Can't wait to see you again soon!
PS- aren't those after-birth hormones CRAZY!! I burst into tears for literally no reason in the couple of weeks after having my kids. It really throws you for a loop :)

Tara M said...

Thanks for your comments, Kat. You put it very well and it's good to hear from someone who's been through a similar emotional whirlwind! Yes, we do try to enjoy the present, wherever it is at, which is why these feelings threw me for such a loop! But 7+ months out, I feel less intensely than I did at 3, and far less intensely than at 1 month out. But yup, it's still there. I guess now I can start thinking, "Hm...when will I try to get pregnant again?" And man, the time really does seem to be going by quickly!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on this blog post when googling "pregnancy nostalgia." You hit the nail on the head more than anything I have read about the topic. I have a 10 month old, but I felt exactly like you did for months after she was born, though it progressively got better. It is definitely still there, but it has improved. My biggest fear is that I will feel like this after I have a second and third baby! I comfort myself now with the idea that this was not my last pregnancy. What will I do when I do not have that?!

Tara M said...

Hi, Anonymous. It feels so good to know that we're not alone in feeling this way! I do have to say though, now my first child is almost 7 years old, and I have a 3 1/2 year old child, as well. So now I've been through the process of 2 pregnancies, 2 baby-experiences, 2 toddlerhoods, and more. I am happy to report that I did NOT feel exactly the same way after my 2nd baby was born. I did have some of the nostalgia, but #1 my pregnancy was a little bit harder, which helped with not having as strong of a desire to be pregnant again (by the end, it was really hard to walk for me) and #2 it honestly just felt different. THere wasn't as much time to think, to reflect on things. I was so busy with my 3-year-old, and the baby. The time passed by SO MUCH MORE QUICKLY. My 2nd baby was colicky, but the first 3 months went by so fast, it didn't seem that bad! The first 3 months with my 1st seemed to last an eternity. And the feelings that I had with my 2nd just disappeared more quickly. I was more relaxed from the start, slept better, and maybe my hormones went back to "normal" more quickly. I DID still comfort myself with the fact that I could have a 3rd if I wanted to. And that helped ease me through the first months and longer--as long as I wanted to have that comfort. But now, 3 1/2 years after my 2nd baby was born, I am actually totally content with just having 2. I don't like to close that door entirely (and there will be a part of me that will be sad if I don't have a 3rd--but also a part of me will be relieved to not have a 3rd also--it goes both ways), but I am fine with where things are. So! I don't know how you will be at this point in your motherhood, but for me, all of the emotional aspects were easier the 2nd time around. It's almost like we're designed to just go with the flow for as much as we can handle or what we need at the time. For me, I was meant to have a 2nd baby and I was overjoyed to get pregnant again. That pregnancy nostalgia just turned into happy hormones when I got pregnant (although it was tough when I was not pregnant after my first!). But now, I don't have the intense feelings as I did before, and it maybe is because I don't know if I could handle having a 3rd child right now. Who knows! But I hope that you will have the exact amount of nostalgia for the right time in your life! :) Blessings to you and your baby! You have so many amazingly fun moments ahead as your baby becomes a toddler! And as you see her turn into a big sister too when that day arrives! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for responding, Tara! It is reassuring to hear that you had a different experience the second time around. I am sure I know many other mamas who feel the same as me, but I have not felt comfortable bringing up my feelings. Of course I am so happy to have my sweet baby girl on the outside and I am so enjoying getting to know her. That said, there is something about the anticipation and attention of being pregnant the first time. I had a really hard labor (I started labor five days before my daughter was born and I was actually in the hospital 40 hours before she was born). I narrowly avoided a c-section, but did end up with an epidural, which was not my plan. Nothing about my labor went as I had envisioned it (ha!), so I felt like I was robbed of the experience. I knew that I was out of my mind when I was thinking back longingly to my time in the hospital! I am not generally an emotional person and I was not emotional when I was pregnant, so the crush of hormones and a pretty severe case of baby blues really caught me off guard. That said, when I first had my sweet girl, I could not imagine having any less than 2 more kids and I was looking forward to it in a way that was taking me out of the moment. Ten months out, I can definitely see that depending on what type of second pregnancy I have, two might be more than enough. Also, I am really enjoying seeing my daughter grow. I thought I was a newborn type of gal, but I do not think that is true anymore! I love seeing babies turn into real little people - it is awe-inducing. So, thank you so much for sharing your experience - it gives me great comfort to know that I was not the only person who felt consumed by nostalgia post-birth and I am so grateful that you responded with an update! Big relief :)

Tara M said...

Anon--Wow--your comment here sounds SO MUCH like how I was feeling! You wrote it so perfectly. Isn't it funny how we can find connections like this online? I was totally caught off guard also feeling how I did after I had my baby. I was prepared to take a while to recover physically, and that's really all I had thought about. As it turned out, it was a lot easier to recover physically than emotionally for me.

What a long and arduous labor you had! It is amazing that you avoided a c-section--kudos to you for that! Your 2nd pregnancy might not be quite as easy as your first, but there is a decent chance that your 2nd labor will be better than your first anyway! My second was 1/2 the time, and my 2 hours of pushing for my first turned into about 1 minute of pushing for my second! So it was easier in that sense (and I had an epidural for my first also--not my original plan either like yours, but hey, we do what we do! It ended up not working really anyway, and for my 2nd, I did not have one. So you never know!). You may have a much better experience the next time. I hope and wish that for you!

btw--I know sometimes we feel that we "must" enjoy the moment during those precious baby weeks and months. But I also think we don't need to feel guilty if we don't. I recently visited a new mom and she said she does feel guilty that she isn't enjoying this time like she thinks she should. "Everyone keeps telling me that this time will fly by so I should savor it all. But I feel bad because I just can't. I'm so tired and anxious and I don't know what I'm doing!" Not that you necessarily were feeling like that, but whatever feelings we have that aren't "in the present," sometimes we do feel bad--like we're missing out, letting these times slip by. But the truth of the matter is, those early months we are adjusting to so much in our lives and most of us are fairly sleep deprived (I was!), so as precious as those weeks/months are, for most of us, they do slip by. And that's probably how it was sort of meant to be--because at that point, the baby does sleep more, needs the basics of our love and care. For my second, I felt I was spending so much time with my 1st child (and that is a whole other story--how things change in having 2 children), and not doing all of the things I had done with my first during those first 3 months. But a friend reminded me that my baby really just wanted to be held, and loved and cared for. And I was doing all of that (my 2nd baby was basically plastered to my chest in an ergo a lot of the time! As i said, he was colicky and always wanted to be held, but since I had to do things with my 1st born, and have a hand or two free, the ergo saved us!).

Also--I found, and maybe you will find this too, that each phase, I thought was the best! I mean, other than the really difficult first few months of the emotional component. I really loooved holding my newborn and cuddling him etc. But then when he was sitting up and laughing, etc. that seemed like the best (awe-inducing, as you said!). Then when he was walking and saying a few words, that seemed like that best. Then when he was putting together sentences and asking thought-provoking questions, I thought that was the best! It just kept going and going! Now that my oldest is 6, I do miss those early times-while still enjoying the special things about this age (and yes, seeing those videos of my babies when they were 10 months old like yours makes me smile and tear up at the same time!). But missing those early times is probably why some people keep having more and more babies! It's how you can relive them! :)

Giselle Ortiz Ortega said...

Hi. I just had my second baby and my experience is a little different, with my first one I had a phobia of being pregnant hated being pregnant and I even avoided pregnancy because I had that phobia (tokophobia) I would sweat just looking at pregnant ladies and when I learned I was pregnant it was so hard. But once I gave birth, I was like wow?! Why was I so afraid of these and started feeling nostalgic about not enjoying my pregnancy.one year later I had a miscarriage which was devastating but after the miscarriage here I am with my second one. I loved this pregnancy but now one month postpartum I truly miss being pregnant.I do want a third one but in 3-4 years. When I see the reserved parking lots, maternity stuff I can't help to feel a bit sad. I just got here from my 6 week check up an I feel like crying! No more appointments lol. But what worries me is if I will be like this when I have the last baby, sometimes I wonder if I am out of my mind to now love pregnancy. How will I cope after I have the last baby in a couple of years.

Tara M said...

Hi, Giselle. Wow--it sounds like your pregnancies were wildly different! I am so sorry about your miscarriage--that is heartbreaking...And that would be so challenging having a fear of pregnancy while being pregnant. I had a very very very mild fear of pregnancy, before I was pregnant, but a more typical "I can't imagine that happening to my body" and thinking the baby would feel like a weird alien inside of me. Then one night, I had a dream that I was pregnant, and I LIKED the feeling of the baby inside of me, in the dream, and immediately, the next morning, I felt like I would be ok being pregnant. So strange that it all changed for me just from one dream.

Anyway, your situation was clearly much more extreme and diagnosed, and must have been so challenging--and then when it was over, you felt nostalgic after that you didn't enjoy it while you were pregnant. One thing I seem to find common in most moms--we tend to feel guilty about one thing or another...there are just so many things to balance in life, and so many experiences are NEW in being pregnant, being a mom of different children, all ages, all personalities. There are so many things we just don't know, as informed as we try to make ourselves. And for some of us, we kind of have to learn to let go and just be gentle, kind, and forgiving of ourselves--esp when we know our intentions are good.

But I digress! :)

Point is--so often we have to just survive in the moment, that we don't always have the ability to "appreciate" every single aspect of things. And that's okay! For your first pregnancy, I think it's amazing that you struggled with this fear, but got through the pregnancy. That alone is a feat! I can't imagine appreciating the pregnancy when I felt like that (I mean, hey, a lot of women don't like being pregnant anyway for various reasons, and that's ok too).

Right now though, I know you're in the pangs of this postpartum nostalgia and that is hard...so hard, and I totally ache and empathize with you. That last 6 week dr appointment postpartum is a big one! It sort of seals the deal on the pregnancy journey and it turns to the baby/mom journey. And I completely get your examples--the maternity parking spot, etc. The intensity of these feelings typically will pass 3-4 months postpartum--maybe not completely, but it will be less intense. I clung to that notion when I was in the midst of feeling that way--just trusted that this would not last forever!

I'm not sure exactly what causes some of us to have these intense feelings after we have our babies--it certainly doesn't hit all women like that. But it also certainly does hit a lot of us like this too. Know that you're not alone at all! There definitely is a reassurance knowing that you plan to get pregnant again. And after your last one...it is hard to predict, because, as you know very well, each pregnancy can be extremely different. Imagine what yourself from x amount of years ago would think of where you're at now, as you say! :) You could be like me and just not tell yourself that the baby is the last one! and just keep that window open indefinitely, until you just don't feel that strongly anymore! Deal with it later when less emotional! :)

But I have to believe that while there still may be nostalgia and that slight mourning from a pregnancy when it's over, when you feel your family is "complete," after the initial high-hormone/lack of sleep phase, hopefully you will have a peace about it.

Congratulations on your brand new little baby, Giselle! My best to you and your family, and family-to-be!!
~Tara

Anonymous said...

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm sweet body look at those tits, love to suck them while I got my hand inyour bikini bottoms and played with your c--t, enjoyed f----g your sweet arse but taking those bottoms off, laying you down legs spread wide open eating your c--t would be heaven, then I c-m in your c--t like I did your arse