I don’t know how else to phrase it so I’m just going to go ahead and say that the first few days at home with Ella were horrible. You, read that correctly – ho-rri-ble. It was by far the most emotionally and physically draining time of my life. Let’s put it another way shall we? I would rather go through child labor every day for a month rather than re-live those first days one more time. It was that bad.
Where do I start? Maybe right at the hospital when my doctor came to my bedside on the morning after I gave birth and gently said, “The first several days are going to be rough. But it gets better.” Or that same night, when Ella cried for 3 hours nonstop. No, I think the true starting point of hell week was the day we were discharged from the hospital – 2 days after I’d given birth. The minute we were given the go ahead to clear out of the room, Ella began to cry. And by cry I mean scream in the most gut-wrenching and horrifying manner on earth. It was loud and it was shrill. It was awful. It was almost as if she knew we had been allowed to take her home and she was trying to warn someone, ANYONE, that we were rookies at this parenting thing and had no business being allowed to take a newborn home. Or maybe she was trying to warn us in the only way she knew how that the next several days were going to be rough.
That cry tormented us over the next few days. She would be fine one moment and then the next, she would refuse to breastfeed and opt instead to scream her lungs off. Hubs and I almost went mad. Emotionally we were beyond the point of fragile – I wept uncontrollably. I wept whenever I spoke (no matter what I was saying), I wept whenever I looked at her, I wept whenever I thought about her…I just wept. All the time. It was so ridiculous that after going through a hundred tissues, I started carrying around a TOWEL to wipe the tears away. Physically we were at a point of sleep deprivation that had turned us into zombies. And let’s not forget that I had just pushed out a human being out of my you-know-what so I was still recovering from THAT. I was an injured zombie (though zombies are by definition, injured, so I guess I was an ideal zombie). We were too tired to stay clothed – I was breastfeeding constantly so it made no sense at all to wear anything on my upper half and then for some reason, the elastic on my poor husband’s sweats gave way and they kept on falling. Our apartment became a nudist colony. A zombie nudist colony.
It was not until we went for Ella’s first appointment with the pediatrician two days after we brought her home that we found out why she had been crying so much – she was HUNGRY! Let me take this moment to say that colostrum is a huge fat disappointment. Breastfeeding die-hards call it liquid gold. Yeah, right. I call it insufficient. She breastfed nonstop and was still hungry! And I had been so trained to think of formula as the devil’s juice that I was determined never to go that route. My poor little girl took one sip of formula at the doctor’s office and slept soundly for hours. For the next 10 days (until my mature milk came in), I supplemented her feedings with formula and we never had to hear that cry again. Things have continued to get better ever since. I think of this as my first lesson in motherhood – you do what works to survive! I have a feeling that I’m going to break all the rules I read about and adopted before I had a baby – no formula and no pacifier are already out the window. It’s all about survival and adapting to different situations on the fly. Like a ninja.