I tried to prepare as best as I possibly could before my baby arrived. I watched documentaries and videos, took baby classes at the hospital, and read the books. I had everything ready—her clothes, crib, bottles, car seat, etc. Everyone I met kept telling me how being a mother would be amazing, and with each passing day I could not wait to meet this human!
Yes, motherhood is amazing and beyond my wildest dreams, but I have discovered by experience that there are very dark areas of being a new mom that completely caught me off guard from the very start. Looking back, part of me really wishes that someone, anyone, could have warned me beforehand of what those first few weeks were going to be like. So much happened over a span of three weeks, and even though it was only a short span of time, in hindsight it felt like an unending nightmare.
In this post, I want to focus on the physical pitfalls.
Immediately after giving birth, I didn’t notice having much pain. However, once I was transferred to a regular room, the epidural wore off, and the pain really began to climb. I had multiple areas of pain occurring simultaneously, and, as exhausted as I was, I could not sleep because the baby would wake up every 1-2 hours and the pain would start to come back up in between.
I had so much pain with nursing my baby. I didn’t realize it at the time, but because I got an improper latch at the very beginning, I was going to have exponentially more problems down the not-too-distant road. Simultaneously, nursing my baby triggered mild contractions/cramping in my abdomen, which was in fact my uterus trying to shrink back to its normal size. While in the hospital, I could not thank my nurses enough for being there and taking care of me. By the time I left, they had equipped me with an arsenal of ways to combat the pain and promote healing. They were my angels!
Before the baby came, my husband and I had decided that we would only feed the baby breast milk and avoid formula at all costs. This really left all the responsibility of feeding the baby on my shoulders, and so ensued the sleep deprivation from waking up and feeding the baby constantly through the night.
Remember how I mentioned that the baby did not properly latch? Within days of nursing, the skin was cracked and bleeding and eventually the entire top layer desquamated. Even with protective barriers and ointments, the damage continued until I noticed that the milk was actually coming out pink because my blood was mixing in.
I cannot tell you how crushed I felt when I had to start pumping and feeding my baby with the bottle to allow time for the skin to heal. Then, despite my best efforts, I went on to develop bilateral mastitis. I do not remember feeling so physically sick or miserable in my life. Finally, because of high fevers, my doctor had to start me on antibiotics for the infection. This all happened before I was even two weeks post-partum, and I felt so helpless.
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. | 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
All my expectations literally blew up in my face those first few weeks. I was faced with the very brutal reality that nothing was in my control. I felt like Job when his body was covered in sores. Before the Lord, I came to Him completely worn out and empty-handed.
Just as my baby was completely dependent on me,
I was completely dependent on the Lord,
desperate for His intervention, healing, and provision.
As the years have passed, I realize how powerless I truly am and how in need I am of my Savior. I need Him when I face life’s storms, but I am also learning that I desperately need Him in the mundane, day-to-day routine.