Mommy Brain, Hormones and No help, Oh My!
My Postpartum Journey
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. I was induced but nothing seemed to change. The Hospital was so busy that 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, but I had no idea what to expect.
Dorothy waking up in a magical place was the first morning I woke up to our beautiful baby girl. It was magical but scary all at the same time. Dorothy and Toto followed the yellow brick road to meet the Wizard of Oz while meeting new people along the way. I too, had my own yellow brick road 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 really hard adjustment for me. 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 essentially wasn’t myself.
The 2nd encounter Dorothy had 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 transition was a nightmare for me and it wasn’t until I did my research that I was able to find out why. You can check out the full article here, in case you are interested in learning more. But to summarize, while you are pregnant your body produces a crazy 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 completely, 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 and 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 which caused me to lash out on those who 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 days, I didn’t have 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 suppose to prepare me for this, but boy was I wrong. Nothing compares you for having your first baby. You can take all the classes, do all the research and buy the best products, but your new day to day norm can be ruined by forgetting to pack that extra outfit for when your baby goes to the bathroom up their back. I wish I had the courage to ask for more help and to let the ones around me know that I wasn’t okay and needed all the extra support that I could get.
There’s No Place Like Home
Looking back, I should have clicked my heels together three times while saying, “there’s no place like home.” I should have wished to be easier on myself, to not let my forgetfulness break me. I should have wished to allow myself to realize I needed to let my body to recover and the heart to not allow myself to take out my struggles on my family. I should have wished for the courage to ask those around me for help, even though I was privileged enough to be able to stay home with my baby. However, despite all that, I followed my yellow brick road and realized that motherhood is different for everyone. It’s our choice as moms to make the best out of this postpartum phase. It is up to us, to take care of ourselves and not only our babies.