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If our last night at the hospital when we roomed in with Dalton was any indication of what would happen when we brought him home, we may have left him there in the more than capable hands of the nurses. (After all, they definitely knew what they were doing and we had no clue!)
After being in the NICU for nine days, poor little Dalton had his days and nights mixed up. He would be wide awake after his middle of the night feedings and that meant when I put him down for bed he would cry and cry (and cry and cry). This inexperienced mom couldn’t figure out how to calm him down. I became stressed out because not only was I trying to figure out how to console this crying infant, but I was also stressed that my poor husband wouldn’t get enough sleep since he was now back at work.
Dalton’s room was so close to ours that there was no way Trent could escape his constant crying. Exhausted and frustrated, on night two of being up all night the panic attack set in. It started with tears (yes, both Dalton and I were crying) but turned into me gasping for breath. Thankfully the Lord told Trent to come check on us because it was at that point that he walked into the room. It was all I could do to hand him the baby because I almost passed out from not being able to breath. My precious husband was now consoling both his wife and crying child in the middle of the night.
The Lord had chosen me for this task but I felt so helpless and unqualified. I often questioned His decision and wondered how I would ever survive. Dalton’s constant crying frayed my nerves. I couldn’t understand why the Lord would call me to such a huge task that was stretching me beyond all of my limits!
After my panic attack I knew I needed help so I started asking my mom and sisters all kinds of baby questions. I had to find a way to console my child and get some rest for myself. I would take turns asking different people so as not to bother them with what I felt were stupid questions that most everyone would know the answer to.
Although He was there the whole time, the Lord showed up in a huge way. A dear family friend, who had also worked in the hospital nursery for 20+ years called to encourage me a few days later. She had known how difficult my pregnancy journey had been and wanted to let me know that even though I felt like it, I was not alone in my feelings. Within a few days she came over to the house and shared tons of helpful tips and tricks so that Trent and I would know how to console Dalton. I soaked it all in in hopes that a few of her tips would work for us (after all, each baby is different and what works for one likely won’t work for all)!
I was beyond ecstatic when our little guy went from crying after his middle of the night feedings to sleeping peacefully (most of the time). Oh what a huge difference this made for all three of us! (Don’t get me wrong, he still cried, just not as much.)
The Dark Days of Depression
Since I had dealt with depression during my surprise pregnancy, I knew there was a chance that I would battle with postpartum depression. It showed its ugly head shortly after we brought the baby home. My hormones were all over the place. I would be fine one minute and losing it the next…I did not like this roller coaster and wanted a ticket off! I’m used to being in control of my emotions and did not like the feeling of them being out of control.
Since I was breastfeeding every three hours, I felt trapped. Yes, I could have veered off of the three hour routine and demand fed Dalton, but I had decided that routine feedings would be the best for us. Sure, Trent was there to help, along with tons of other family and friends, but I was really the only one that could do the job. I had dubbed myself as the Milk Maid because that’s exactly how I felt.
When I was feeding, I tried to remember what my sister had told me early on in my pregnancy – the first few months of breastfeeding will be difficult but it’s only a season. I knew she was right but it was difficult to soak that thought in when I was in the middle of the “season.”
I was so overwhelmed and felt like I was in a pit and the shovels of dirt kept being poured on top of me.
Being depressed was such a helpless feeling and the best thing I knew to do was to start talking about it. I would talk to trusted friends and shared my deep, dark feelings. And even though I didn’t understand His plan, I would talk to the Lord and tell Him that I thought He’d made the wrong decision. I knew Dalton was my child but I felt like he was just a kid I was taking care of. How could I possibly be a good mother if I didn’t even want to be around my own child? How horrible was it that I was resentful when it was time to feed again? And the feelings went on and on.
A Light At The End Of The Tunnel
A month after Dalton was born, I could tell that my hormones were finally beginning to regulate themselves. When the dark thoughts came I was able to control them better. Along with the regulating hormones, talking about my feelings really helped too!
Even though the depression wasn’t totally gone, I was thankful to be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t tell you how excited I was at the thought of being “normal” again.