Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hitting the Wall - postpartum hormones

I'm not quite sure what made me think about this today. I'm pretty far removed from these experiences in my own life. Perhaps it is because even the memories of those days are so vivid it's pretty hard to forget them for long.

I tend to be reminded of them when I am helping another new mom. When I am talking her down from the ledge, assuring her that everything will be okay, that this is all completely normal. I say those things, yes, but I never really believed them myself when I was in that place. When I hit the wall.

All of the amazing miracles that can take place during pregnancy require hormones. And a ton of them. Then all of a sudden, one day you give birth and most of the hormones aren't needed anymore. They go away, all of a sudden, and you hit the wall.

It's one of those things that people can warn you about, but you really and truly have no idea what you are in for until you experience it yourself. There's no denying it when it happens. Usually, it comes around about 48-72 hours after birth. I've often wondered why that is the day that most people are sent home from the hospital. Your milk comes in, you hit the wall, and they send you packing.

You go from the postpartum euphoria, of being completely in love with this baby and stuck in a surreal place of wondering if it is all really happening to being pretty sure that you have completely lost your mind. You cry about nothing. About everything. And. You. Can't. Stop.

You question whether you can really do all the things now required of you. You doubt your body's ability to make enough milk. You decide you are going to be a terrible mother.

Your husband wonders what exactly happened to you between an hour ago and right now. What is wrong? Did I do something? She was fine just a minute ago, really....

The good news is that, like most things involved with labor, delivery and having a newborn, you just have to survive it. Most women experience the hormone drop off and dissolve into a pile of sobbing goo. It's not just you. We almost all do it. It doesn't mean you are weak or unfit or any of that. It just means your body all of a sudden purged a ton of hormones.

Too bad you don't see it coming.

Funny thing is that after you've had a baby, you should be able to anticipate it. But you don't. You think that you'll be fine this time around, you know what to expect, been through it all before. Nope. It still happens. Fortunately, it's a brief period of time. A transitional thing. And it only lasts about a day. Then you get to go back to being blissfully happy with your newborn.

Just have to hit the wall first.

This, among other things, is one of the reasons I became a doula. I didn't have anyone to hold my hand through this time period, when I hit the wall the first time. To tell me it was all going to be okay. That it was hormones. That I wasn't really losing my mind. I like to believe that I can help other new moms through this phase. When I am helping a pregnant mom, I warn her about this. I know that I can tell her about it until I am blue in the face, but she won't believe me until she lives it. No one ever does. But I will be there, for during and for after that phase.

I love being a doula. It really is the most amazing job. I don't just help women have babies, I help them become mothers. Mothers who can dissolve into a pile of goo, and really be okay with it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts