I wish I knew more about what to expect in those first two weeks of parenthood. I went from being carefree and taking naps whenever I needed them to being up every two hours at night to feed the little angel who had a serious set of lungs to scream with.
Becoming a mother wasn’t what I envisioned at all. I imagined pushing a little bundle in a stroller while smiling at neighbors, cuddling with a baby who was sleeping soundly in my arms, playing peek-a-boo, and looking like my slim self in pre-pregnancy jeans. I was obviously delusional.
Within half an hour of bringing Jacob home for the first time, he started crying uncontrollably… and didn’t stop for a few hours. My husband and I listed all the tips the nurses gave us at the hospital: check his temperature for fever, see if he suckles on your knuckle to ensure he’s not hungry, make sure he isn’t too hot or cold, try burping him… When all of those things were ruled out and Jacob’s voice was almost gone from screaming so loud, I broke down.
What Have I Done?
I felt like my life was ruined. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how I was going to take care of this little baby. I was tired, sore, extremely hormonal, and thinking straight was impossible. And to top this all off, I was having a hard time breastfeeding him.
I was told by the nurses that it wasn’t supposed to be excruciatingly painful. So when I saw stars every time Jacob latched on, I knew something wasn’t right. By day three, my nipples were cracked and bleeding and my left breast was engorged and fire-engine red. Great!
Hope? I Don’t Have Hope
A visit to the doctor’s office lead to a mastitis prescription. My breast was completely blocked and infected. On top of being exhausted, hormonal and sore I was now fighting a high fever…and still had Jacob to tend to. I felt like I was living a nightmare.
While waiting for my prescription to be filled, a woman saw my miserable self with Jacob sleeping beside me in his car seat. She walked up to me and softly said “I promise it gets better, honey.” I looked up at her and was fighting back tears. I said thanks, but didn’t smile or anything like I normally would. The truth is, I didn’t believe her. I really saw no light at the end of this black tunnel.
What Do You Know? There is Hope!
Once week three came around I wasn’t waking up with the same feeling of dread. I found myself excited to peek into the bassinet and see my little angel. I noticed I felt a bit more confident as I was starting to understand more about what Jacob’s cries meant. I was also observing his body language and learning that when he pulled his legs up, he was gassy, when he sucked his hand he was hungry, when he yawned he was getting tired… Once I saw his cues and gave him what he needed before he started wailing for it I felt more accomplished.
Best of all, by six weeks we were on a great schedule that had him sleeping the night! My body woke up on its own because it was used to the 5am feed, but when I realized he was still sound asleep I wiggled a little dance in my bed. It was like the heavens opened and spilled the warm sun on my body after a long cold winter.
Today Life is Wonderful
Jacob is six months old now. And when I look back on those first two weeks, I don’t miss them at all. I will never forget the panic, fear, uncertainty and exhaustion I felt. I wish I was more prepared, but really, I don’t think anything can prepare a first-time parent for those hellish weeks.
I’m glad they’re over. And with how fun life is now, I can be that woman who approaches the new mom and promise her that it does get better.