I was wholly unprepared for the chaos of the postpartum world. Sure, throughout my pregnancy I was worried about preeclampsia and gestational diabetes and toxemia and I’ve always struggled with anxiety and denial of depression but postpartum is supposed to be joyous. IT IS, DAMMIT! Postpartum quickly became a dirty word in my world. The dirtiest word.
WHY DID NO ONE EVER TELL ME ABOUT POSTPARTUM PREECLAMPSIA? I never stumbled over it in a blog post, none of my friends have ever shared their experience, my doctor didn’t mention it until she sent me to the emergency room 5 days after I came home with my bundle of
sleepless nights joy. Easily, I could have ignored the symptoms (and probably did for a little too long) because trying to keep a human alive with my bodily fluids is freaking hard as shit. Easily, I could have died. The internet is full of hyperbole. That is not hyperbole.
Preeclampsia is a condition that occurs only in pregnancy. So postpartum preeclampsia is a nasty little oxymoron. Who is at risk for preeclampsia? Uh, everyone.
- First time moms
- Anyone with high blood pressure
- Anyone with female family members who have had preeclampsia
- Women younger than 20 and older than 40
- Human women
Mild preeclampsia symptoms are basically pregnancy symptoms unless you’re a superhuman (I know, some of you are. Get over yourselves)
- High blood pressure
- Water retention
- Protein in your urine
Severe preeclampsia symptoms are insane and *sorry mom* fucking scary as shit.
- Severe headache
- Blurry vision
- Nausea and vomitting
- Belly pain
- Shortness of breath
So clearly, it’s something your doctor will keep a close eye on during your pregnancy and allegedly, if you have preeclampsia during your pregnancy it basically vanishes after you give birth. THANK GOD FOR THAT. So what if you develop these things AFTER your give birth? Allow me to introduce the elusive: Postpartum Preeclampsia. Only 600 women a year develop postpartum preeclampsia (lucky me) so I get it, chances were slim. Also, postpartum preeclampsia usually occurs within the first 48-72 hours after giving birth and lucky for me, I took the easy way out and had a c-section (note: sarcasm, relax), sitting me in the hospital relaxing for 5 whole days (also, sarcasm, but you get it now, right?). Okay, but then what? Who’s keeping an eye on you after you leave the hospital when your first doctor visit isn’t for SIX WEEKS? WHO IS TAKING CARE OF THE MOMS? I thank my lucky stars that my OB-GYN is amazing. I’ll recommend her to everyone until the day I die and may never leave New Orleans in my childbearing years because of her. She responded to panicked texts and calls from me and my exhausted husband for hours with advise, suggestions, and a calm voice before realizing we were in trouble and sending us to the hospital. What would have happened if hadn’t switched docs early in my pregnancy because my first was a complete asshole? “Hi, answering service, I’m pretty sure I’m dying. Call me, maybe?” I can’t imagine what would have happened if my husband’s grandfather/doctor didn’t say ‘your feet shouldn’t be that size’. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I didn’t trust my recently dissected gut that something was wrong. I just cannot imagine what would have happened. It chills me straight to the bone *enter stage right: POST PARTUM DEPRESSION AND CRIPPLING ANXIETY* — we’ll get there.
You know when you go to the emergency room and have to wait for hours? That doesn’t happen with postpartum preeclampsia because you might die. I’m not trying to scare you here. No, yeah, I am. Your vitals will be taken as quickly as possible and you’ll be ushered into a room where a nurse will immediately start pumping venom (magnesium) into your veins so you don’t have a seizure and subsequent stroke because your blood pressure is beyond dangerous. Your husband who has never been alone with a newborn is tasked with keeping her alive and happy without any boobs or idea about how to make a bottle of formula (me neither, at this point, not a husband knock). You’re now alone and someone is trying to x-ray your chest to make sure your heart doesn’t fail and even if the picture turns out OK, your heart is broken and you know it. The tears flow steadily as you pray to a god you don’t even believe in to save you from this failing body so you can kiss that sweet neck even one more time. It sounds a little dramatic, but y’all this was the scariest day of my life.
Postpartum preeclampsia landed me in the hospital for a full 48 hours, where I had the worst headache of my life, I couldn’t obsess over my tiny baby that I had been growing for 10 months, I ruined my breastfeeding flow which never recovered, my spirit broke because my body was broken, it kicked off months of postpartum depression because if my body was broken and now my mind was broken and how in the hell am I going to raise a human if I’m almost dead and basically crazy?!?!
Babies are so important and it’s right that we take extra special care of them when they appear but y’all, mommas are important too. Demand the care that you deserve. Don’t swallow that gut feeling that something is wrong. Usually everything is okay, but sometimes it’s not, and someone has to take care of the mommas, even if that someone is ourselves.
In response to a post about “How Not To Raise a Daughter”. I usually fall in line with the ‘Break the Rules’ mommyblogs, but this one threw me for a loop. Write your own rules, kiddo.
To my daughter:
Baby, quit your day job and be a mom full time if you want to. I’ve never been happier in my whole life than I am watching you get mad about not being able to stand up inside a cardboard box. If I had the privilege of doing that everyday, I couldn’t turn it down. If you can and want to stay home… do it. If you love your job with your whole heart and want to work, girlfriend, go back to work. There are so many people in your village that love you and your child, we’ll help you both grow as much as we can. It’s important for moms to be happy too.
You are pretty. You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen and I’ll tell you that until my last breath. You’re also smart and capable and I’ll teach you how to be caring and cunning and wise. Don’t let people tell you that beautiful is bad and don’t you dare think that beauty is everything. But dammit, you’re the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.
Be bossy. Be thoughtful first. Be smart and kind and do your best to change the way people think about bossy, but girlfriend, BE A BOSS.
I am human. I’m your mom and you probably will be a mom someday too and it’s hard. It’s messy. I am not without fault but man, I’m doing my best because I love you so much. Be human. Make mistakes. Admit them. Be humble. Always learn as much as you can.
Don’t listen to any list on any dumb blog. Be pretty and bossy and human all you want, baby. This world is yours for the changing.
Motherhood is the single most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life, I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I don’t think it could get better. But y’all, in a moment of vulnerability and honesty, this is how I feel today: some days are dark — existentially dark — full of ennui and irrational dread. Knowing the dark moments are fleeting, I swallow as deep as possible to try not to miss one moment of discovery and sweetness in my life and without becoming a cloud over the joy. I worry about being a strong enough example, a good woman, a good human. I fret constantly about being a provider financially (don’t get me started on emotional, spiritual, and passive support worries). I worry that my past is too broken for my future to recover personally and how that will affect my brood keeps me up at night. I hope that I can inspire and encourage my girl to be strong and brave by being inspired and strong and brave myself, but on dark days, I just hope the dread passes quickly, the inspiration strikes clearly, and that I find the ability to fake it if I fail, all while pouring with a heavy hand.
A brighter tomorrow, friends.
We have to have a talk, guys. Humans are jerks. Yeah, I’m probably talking to you. They speak before they speak. They hurt your feelings. They think that when they believe something to be true, everyone should believe that thing to be true. When it comes to babies, I’ve learned that the sanctimony is heavy and smells like shit, but not newborn shit, like full grown nasty toddler shit. When the next person tells you that they’re knocked up, planned or surprise, take a minute before you spew your careless opinions on the hormonal human who likes you enough to trust you with some very important information about their future and be sweet, dammit.
Response # 1: *whispers* They’re not even MARRIED
Trust me, I know. You’re the ones I worried most about for the first 9 weeks, when I should have been celebrating the HUMAN BEING I JUST CREATED. I sure do know what the Bible says about this sort of thing and thanks to my heightened senses, I can smell your disappointment before you even knew. I appreciate your concern over my soul and all, I do, but I’m good. I know that this is very hard for you to hear because your faith is so important to you, but I don’t believe the same things that you do, and it’s okay. I am good and kind and I am going to work really hard to make sure my kid is good and kind, because that is what’s right, not because the Bible tells me so. My soul is happy and while you may think that I have let you or your God down by taking a couple steps out of order, I’m not asking for your opinion. I’m asking for your support because I’m about to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m not asking for your opinion. Love me, pray for me, if you like, but please don’t judge me for this wonderful, amazing thing that is happening.
Response #2: Have you considered *ALL* of your options
I UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU’RE GETTING AT AND NOT ONLY DOES IT SUCK BUT SO DO YOU.
I made the mistake of trusting you with the secret of the biggest decision of my life earlier than I should have. My mistake. I’m scared and worried and excited and just dying to tell someone this life-changing news and I picked you. I’m a grown-up and a smart one at that, what makes you think that I’ve not considered my ‘options’? Not so subtly implying that I am not capable or do not have the resources to care for this thing that I’ve created is impossibly insulting. I am asking for your support because I’m about to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I am not asking for your opinion. Forget what I said about being good and kind, I am considering never speaking to you again.
Response #3: You think THIS is bad? Oh just wait
Yes, I do think I’m tired now. Yes, I’m sure it gets worse. Yes, I realize that labor will be hours of awful and then I’ll be up in the middle of the night, feeding, changing, cuddling, etc. right now, I’m so tired that I while I’d like to slap some common sense into you, it seems way too hard. I throw up after I brush my teeth every morning, I fall asleep before 8:00 PM most nights, I lost my taste for coffee and I’m freaking miserable about it. I’m sure it gets worse, but shut up and just let me feel lousy instead of feeling guilty about feeling lousy because I’m allegedly going to feel even lousier in 3 months, 8 months, 1 year, until I’m 45, whatever. Be kind and remember that the same hormones making my body revolt also make me cry over the dishwasher being full
DON’T MAKE THE PREGNANT LADY CRY, IT IS THE RUDEST THING.
Response #4: HOLY SHIT CONGRATULATIONS
Most importantly, most of you said this and my goodness, thank you for it! These were exactly my sentiments and exactly what I needed you to say. Thank you for being sweet and supportive and helping me to carry this really weird weight that is suddenly on my back. I needed you.
I’m having a baby. GET OVER IT!