“It will get better.” I lost count of how many times my husband and I heard that exact phrase in the first few months of life with newborn twins. It sure felt like a million. Still, I never believed it would get better. I just thought people were telling me some lie to help me get through the long days and even longer nights when in fact, I was suffering from postpartum depression.
For me, the newborn stage wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies with our “double rainbow” twins.
They were our second pregnancy, our first living children, conceived a month and a half after a devastating miscarriage. For us, the end of my pregnancy and the beginning of life as parents was “chaotic” if I had to explain it in one word.
I was admitted to the hospital and placed on hospital bedrest at almost 31 weeks pregnant, on my 31st birthday. Happy birthday to me! Due to high blood pressure and umbilical cord doppler issues with our “twin A,” I was only able to get up to shower, pee, and, if I left the room, I had to be pushed in a wheelchair.
In the hospital, I gained 20 pounds in one month. I lost almost all of the strength in my legs, core, and back. I learned to truly appreciate the family and friends that were always there.
Once home, our door was constantly revolving. People came by bearing food and gifts, in and out, in and out, something unheard of in these weird times that we are currently living in. While it was unbelievably comforting to know we were surrounded by so much love, I hadn’t slept or been in my own home for a month. I now came home, post-cesarean section, post-cesarean section hemorrhage, post a few days NICU stay for the girls, with two extra accessories named Evelyn and Sloane, and was just trying to figure out our new “normal” with my husband.
Wow, are we thankful for those people that kept coming.
My mother is a godsend and lived with us for nine weeks after we brought the twins home. I’m certain she struggled with seeing her daughter going through what I did and many of the “it will get betters” came from her. Those were the most believable for me.
My life as a mother revolved around feeding my babies, which ultimately would be the straw that broke the camel’s back and sent me over the edge into postpartum depression.
To give you an idea of my schedule in the newborn stage, I tandem breastfed the twins, then we supplemented both with a formula bottle to ensure adequate caloric intake, and then I would set up shop and pump milk for them…every three hours. I was living off of no sleep, and every mother knows how that affects you. On top of no sleep, I could tell I was slowly falling deeper and deeper into a foggy, unrecognizable state.
I cried when the sun went down because I knew that our night was just beginning.
As a NICU nurse, I have comforted plenty of mothers with postpartum depression, but, I wasn’t able to recognize it in myself. When I look back at pictures, I can see straight through my glazed-over eyes. I wasn’t myself anymore. I remember feeling so sad that everyone else was able to enjoy my newborn babies while I sat back and “took a break” to pump or sometimes even shower.
One day, I talked with my mother and told her how I was feeling, although she already knew because she’s a mother. Each time I closed the curtains to keep it dark, she opened them to remind me there was sunshine to see. Every time I cried, she was there to hold me. Every time I needed to hear it, she would tell me, “it will get better.”
After that difficult conversation, I called my Ob-Gyn, and he spoke with me for an entire hour. I remember pacing the driveway listing all of my worries, fears, and “failures” to him.
By the end of the conversation, a prescription for Zoloft had been called in, and a tiny weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Can you guess how he ended the conversation?
“Kathleen, it will get better.”
My “getting better” required medication for me. It required reflux medication for the twins, eventually ending our breastfeeding journey and a lot of tears. However, I can assure you I am here, almost three years later, to tell you, “it will get better.”
It will be hard again, but “it will get better.”
That is the rollercoaster of motherhood. Everyone was telling the truth.
To any new moms reading this, I assure you, “it will get better.” You are doing an incredible job. If you are suffering from postpartum depression or need help, reach out to those around you.