My Postpartum Journey
Mommy Brain, Hormones and No help, Oh My!
We Aren’t in Kansas Anymore
In the Wizard of Oz, a tornado tears through Kansas. Dorothy and her dog, Toto, are swept away in their house and land in a magical place called Oz. The Tornado would be my labor experience. It was long, tiresome, and confusing. Even after being induced, nothing seemed to change. The Hospital was at maximum capacity the day I had my daughter. I had to wait over two hours for a labor and delivery room to become available. Unlike Dorothy, I knew well in advance that this Tornado was coming. A Tornado, I would later call my postpartum journey.
Dorothy waking up in a magical place was the first morning I woke up to our beautiful baby girl. It was magical but scary. Dorothy and Toto followed the yellow brick road to meet the Wizard of Oz while meeting new people along the way. I, too, had a yellow brick road of my own to follow.
While Dorothy ventures down the yellow brick road, she first meets the Scarecrow, who you later found out is a farmhand on Dorothy’s family’s farm. He is known as a clumsy farmhand, in search of a brain.
After I had Josi, my “mom brain” was all over the place. The lack of sleep and my body trying to recover from just giving birth for the first time was a tough adjustment. My husband would say, “where’s your brain, babe,” and I honestly had no response. I felt as though I was being pulled in every direction and had no clue where to start. I was confused, forgetful, and entirely not myself.
Dorothy’s 2nd encounter was the Tinman, also known as Hickory, a nurturing and warm-hearted farmhand, who had no heart but was still very caring. I was like the Tinman in a way because my emotions were all over the place. My postpartum journey was a nightmare for me, and it wasn’t until I did my research that I could find out why.
My research led me to an article, which you can find here. But to summarize, while you are pregnant, your body produces an obscene amount of Progesterone, also known as a woman’s sex hormone. This hormone helps your uterus grow your baby and prepares your body for childbirth. However, immediately after giving birth, your progesterone levels drop almost entirely, which causes you to have an imbalance. Another hormone affected during postpartum is Prolactin and is also known to affect your dopamine levels. Your dopamine levels cause you to feel happiness and excitement. Prolactin contributes to your milk production.
Since I was breastfeeding and pumping around the clock, I had extreme mood swings and decreased energy levels. So between no progesterone production, High Prolactin, and lower dopamine, I was moodier than ever. This caused me to lash out on those I cared about most. If I only had a heart during those early months.
Lastly, Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, also known as Zeke, a farmhand who acts tough but lacks courage. During my postpartum journey, I lacked the courage to ask for help. I wanted to prove to everyone around me that I had this. I finally had the beautiful, perfect baby girl that I always wanted, and my years of nannying were supposed to prepare me for this, but boy was I wrong.
Nothing compares you for having your first child. You can take all the classes, do all the research and buy the best products. However, your new day to day norm can be ruined by forgetting to pack that extra outfit or even a pacifier. I wish I had the courage to ask for more help and let the ones around me know I wasn’t okay. I needed all the extra support I could get, but lacked the courage to ask.
There’s No Place Like Home
Looking back, I should have clicked my heels together three times while reciting, “there’s no place like home.” I wish I had been easier on myself and not to allow my forgetfulness to break me. I should have allowed myself to understand healing takes time, and that time was all my body needed. I should have had the heart to understand the people around me were trying to help. Maybe then I wouldn’t have taken out my frustrations on them. And finally, courage, the courage to ask those around me for help.
However, despite all that, I followed my yellow brick road and realized that everyone’s postpartum journey is different. It’s our choice as Mothers to make the best of this postpartum phase. We can harp on the negative or embrace this phase in life. I learned so much during this time. My biggest take away would be remembering to not only take care of my child but myself as well.