I lay in bed next to my husband. Tears streamed quietly down my face, until choking them back became unbearable, and I began to sob.
Startled, he muted the game and turned to me. “Babe, what’s wrong?”
And I didn’t know until the words started coming out.
“I don’t know why I’m crying. I’m just so tired. I’m fat and feel ugly. We can’t have sex for 6 weeks, not that you’d want to anyways, I’m a cow. And my boobs are huge, but engorged, and I don’t know what to do with them. I’m just a factory, pumping all day, and bottling, and processing, and feeding the baby. And changing diapers, and rock-a-bye-baby, and bathing, and wiping, and zipping, unzipping, more wiping, and rocking, and Desitin I can never seem to get out of my nails. And then a knock at the door. And what ensues is worse than the loneliness I’ve felt despite being with this little person 24/7.
‘Where’s the baby?’
And everyone brings a gift… for the baby, of course. And it’s great, so nice, very sweet.
But it’s like I don’t even exist any more. And when they notice that I do, it’s just ‘oh no, you should do this.’ ‘You need to swaddle the baby like this.’ ‘You need to burp throughout the feeding or they’ll spit up the whole thing.’ And of course the baby spits up in that exact moment, ‘See?’. ‘You need to bathe them early it’s too chilly at night.’ ‘Bathe them before bed time, they’ll sleep deeper.’ ‘That’s too long. You have to wake the baby and feed it every 3 hours.’ ‘NEVER wake a sleeping baby.’ ‘When the baby sleeps you sleep.’
Yeah? I’ll just take a nap while the endless number of visitors are here waiting for the baby to wake up; and I won’t drink, eat or do anything else in the interim.
‘Cover the baby it’s cold outside.’ ‘Don’t cover her too much she’ll overheat.’ ‘You know so and so’s baby died of SIDS.’
It never ends! No one sees you, they only see everything you are doing wrong.
And then to top it off my body is a mess, everything has gone to shit. I’m bleeding endlessly, I can’t laugh or sneeze without peeing. ‘Do kegels,’ they say. ‘Oh sure, hold on. Let me just clench my vagina right now. Am I doing it right?’ But obviously I can’t say this. I can’t say anything without seeming like the monster that I feel I am slowly turning into. And I’m so happy about my baby, but I’m so sad, I don’t want to shed who I was, what if I don’t like who I become.
What if you stop being attracted to me because you were in the delivery room? What if in 6 weeks you are over it, and I’m still over weight and deformed, and we drift apart?”
He lets me ramble. I can barely see him through my tears and snot. I’m a mess, and I cover my face with the sheet. He pulls it down, and moves closer to me. He swaddles me in his arms and kisses the side of my face gently.
“I love you. How do we fix this? I don’t want you to feel this way.”
And in that moment, a darkness seemed to leave my body. I had been holding these feelings in for the past couple of weeks. I had felt like I had to deal with it alone. But I didn’t have to be afraid to share that it was too much, maybe more than I could handle. It was okay. And now I had someone on my side. And from then on with just a glance he knew to step in and take the baby, or change the conversation.
I still tried to do everything myself. I don’t like to ask for help. It’s a problem, I know. But just talking about my feelings and expressing myself helped me feel more normal, grounded even.
We made a point of being intimate, while we waited for the A-OK from the doctor, so the next few weeks weren’t so bad after all.
I didn’t have to be a superwoman.
And yet I still was.