A letter for your dad on your 5 week old birthday

A letter for your dad (and today you turned 5 weeks old).

Dear Husband,

Thank you for making Mother’s Day such a nice day surrounded by family.  Your gift of a nice toaster was perfect.  You worked super hard at making food for fourteen people and it was delicious.  The house was clean and tidy and the yard looked so inviting.  You restored our porch to a living space after it had served as storage during winter and spring.  The garden is nearly done and with some more nice weather we will be enjoying fresh veggies and herbs soon.

Here is the point of my letter.  1. I love you so much and miss you as we are so busy and crazy tired.  2. I am sorry that I am not the woman that I was prior to pregnancy and now postpartum.

I have been so disappointed in myself as I continue to strive to get back to health.  I would have never imagined that I would struggle like this.  The pain that I have been experiencing in my lower parts is just terrible.  I am glad that I have a doctors appointment so that I can ask about this.  Going to the bathroom is such a time consuming and painful chore.  I dread it and I also have a hard time trying to do that when it syncs up with one of the baby’s crying fits.  Between the cramping, the bleeding, the hemorrhoid, the treating/cleaning bathroom stuff has become a 10th level of hell for me.  I know you are probably tired of hearing about it and having it be an issue that impacts you, but I am really, really hurting and struggling with this and it frightens me as I don’t see an end in sight and I can’t have a moment without pain, which makes everything harder.  The swelling that comes and goes adds to that pain too.  I don’t know if that has anything to do with the anemia and my circulatory system not moving things around as well.  I think a lot has to do with my more sedentary mode.  Walking is nice, but when the baby is screaming, when I am so tired that I tremble, when taking strides hurts that lower area which is swollen and sore…it is a total catch 22.  I need to walk to alleviate those symptoms, but those symptoms are so bothersome that walking makes them worse (at least in the short term).  I have had to power through the on and off bad headaches and sore lower back.  And I know just from how hard you are working on everything that you are sore and have pain too.  It is just so hard for me mentally when I am trying to combat the constant ouchies while also seeing frustration and exhaustion on your face and there is nothing left in me to muster up much help for you.  I try to help as I can, but I feel like I am just so far short of being a partner to you.

I am doing my absolute best to try and be there for our son.  He has moments of sweetness and cuddling, but as you’ve witnessed he can be a total handful when he isn’t feeling well.  There are the endless diaper changes, the he is hungry/now he isn’t, the he is tired/fighting sleep, the crying/screaming/screeching, the need to be held, and all of the things that tie my hands up from being able to do anything else.  Add to that trying so hard to keep the pumping going and having to be tied up for the time that it takes to do that, which is time away from being able to care for the baby, I just get mentally crushed.  When he cries and I can’t soothe him, when he screams and I am trying like hell to get through the nightmare of a needed bathroom visit, when he is wailing and I have my hands holding the pump as time ticks slowly away to the ever lessening milk haul I just feel like an utter failure.  I want to cry, try hard not to, and have been better about not having a meltdown – even when I am super tired.  I remain steadfast that no matter how tired and frustrated the situation makes me I will not lash out at you.  I am also determined to stay as strong as I can be for you and for our baby.  But I feel like even my best efforts to be strong are not good enough.  I used to think of myself as strong.  Before you met me, I was such a strong, hard-working, goal-crushing person.  Right now I just feel fragile and I don’t identify with who that is, so I feel like the mentality of being someone strong is trapped in this trembly body of an old lady with all kinds of issues.  And when I see myself through my own harsh judgmental eyes, I just can’t believe that you can see me and still love me or even empathize with what I am going through.  As I have said, I just feel like a burden and a drain on you.  I don’t feel secure and that is all my own fear-based projection.  I have been spinning in the fear that the struggles of our lives shifting from married couple to first-time parents would result in our relationship taking a nose dive.

There is a lot of evidence that this transition does indeed negatively impact a marriage, unless the foundation of the marriage is strong.  I believe we are still good communicators, which is the first aspect that goes south.  I know when you are very tired the last thing you want to worry about is communicating with me.  Maybe that is where my fear kicks in because we are usually so great about talking.  Even though in the newborn/infant stage the baby must and will always come first, we still need to keep our marriage as a priority, which I feel like I am not doing so well.  I want to be more of a wife to you, yet I feel like my role as mom is just all consuming right now.  I love you so much that the idea of our awesome marriage being tested with all of this transition and stress worries me.  I have always believed our relationship was great because we work so well together.  But that was when I felt like I could bring more to the table…and I really hope that I will get back to that…which maybe I am obsessing over at the moment because I can’t wrap my brain around how in the hell that will work.  I will continue to just try and go one day at a time here as that is the way I am dealing with things right now.  It helps that I have help from you and the grandparents.  Thank you for the 7-10 sleeping shift.  It appears that may be one of the baby’s “witching hours” – which people claim they will grow out of.  The poor little guy is just trying so hard to grow and adjust.  I can’t imagine what it is like having his senses so overwhelmed by so many new sensations.

And now I have to change my diet in order to hopefully help him digest milk better.  I know it may seem like a simple thing, but it is just one more thing that I have to do as I am trying to do what I can for him.  It will be fine in the long run, but in the short term I will probably struggle a bit. But I will make it work and keep doing whatever I can.

Today I saw the doc who delivered for us.  It was my one month postpartum follow up.  I answered all of the questions for the depression screening honestly and I am borderline for that.  Of course I am.  I am just going to watch it.  Then I was examined.  I am still not back to normal and the uterus is still “swollen and enlarged.”  The hemorrhoid is slightly improved, so that is good news for now even though I am not out of the woods there.  I am also swollen so I am to cut back on sodium.  None of this was shocking news to me.  I was asked about my birth control plans….and I have no idea.  I guess I would do the IUD again, if mostly to limit bleeding and help my anemia.  But, overall, I still don’t feel anywhere close to my normal self and that is just frustrating as I was hoping I’d recover faster and our married life could be back on track…which has the implications that my typing that do imply.

Now that we are 5 weeks into being parents, I can say that it is way harder than I had imagined, but also was more emotional too – both the highs and lows.  When I see you in your super dad mode I just can’t believe how awesome you are.  I know that I am lucky because you are so present and engaged with raising and caring for your son, even when you are at the end of your rope for patience and energy.  I pray that you can see the same in me even when it is going on 2 hours of screaming at 4 a.m on my shift.  I love you and I am grateful for you.  We still do our daily gratitude ritual with each other.  I am so glad that we are keeping that going as I look forward to it.  Sometimes I wonder what you will say as I don’t think that I’ve done anything that you would recognize, yet we always find something for one another.

Well, it is almost 1 a.m. and the little man will want to eat soon.  We are still going on about every 2 hours for his schedule and I’d love to get 3 or 4 at night.  Hopefully soon.  Sorry for this poorly written and terribly rambling post.  I just don’t know how to encapsulate all that I feel when my thoughts swirl around you.  Fingers crossed that tonight goes way better than last night.  We all need rest.  I love you!

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