the six Ps…
Post partum physical pain and parenting Peanut.
When I became pregnant I had a general idea of the unique obstacles I would face given my medical history. Socially, that’s the part everyone talks about, the stress of being Pregnant; being large, limited, and lugging a little one. What no one discussed with me, and I naively failed to research, was postpartum physical pain while parenting Peanut.
I carried Peanut high, so it was no surprise when I broke and bruised ribs by simply coughing or sneezing. Combine that with a natural child birth, and post partum physical pain was at an all time high. As a single parent with mental health problems, this had to be a very delicate balancing act. I could not let the post partum pain and preexisting problems prevent Peanut’s proper care. I know myself well enough to know what triggers my anxiety and depression, and what can keep it at bay. But when you throw physical pain in the equation along with being a new parent, things get more complicated.
I am not ashamed to admit I enlisted the aid of my primary physician, obgyn, pediatrician, physical therapist, and cognitive therapist to manage this. One thing this experience has reaffirmed for me is: being strong does not mean doing everything on your own, being strong means knowing when you need to ask for help.
Peanut just recently turned 4 months old, and at my most recent doctor’s appointment my doctor pointed out that Peanut was wearing a very color and theme coordinated outfit. As I held Peanut and rocked her back to sleep, my doctor said, earnestly, “you’re a good mom.”
This caught me off guard. She then continued to explain that most people who suffered the trauma I did during pregnancy and especially during my delivery, would have postpartum depression or worse; struggle to bond or connect with their baby. But I seemed connected and comfortable caring for my little cutie.
Now, I know that postpartum depression happens. It is actually pretty common. But it never once occurred to me. Negative thoughts about my Peanut never once crossed my mind. Even though I was certain it would be one of my obstacles.
It seems like there’s something about my preexisting depression and anxiety that helped me. I was so conscious of the possibility of postpartum depression that I made a strong effort to circumvent it in every way possible. I checked in with my doctors, enlisted a therapist for weekly sessions, and adjusted my medications. I was so afraid that it was inevitable, that I made it impossible.
Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky. And yes, even with all the work I put in, I consider myself lucky. But between the postpartum physical pain and parenting Peanut, I wish I had been told about the recovery problems. The bleeding, the pain, the swelling, the crying… Had I known about the physical pain and recovery as well as I was warned about the postpartum depression, I would have prepared as much as feasibly possible.
So why dont we talk about it? Why dont we openly talk about the bleeding, and the pain, and the tears, and the God damn swelling! We need to be more comfortable and open with discussing the ugly parts of postpartum. Not emotionally ugly, but literally physically disgusting and ugly. We are so bogged down with the stigma of losing our appeal if people see our struggle.
I struggle. I have scars. Emotional and physical scars. I get help. I get depression. I get anxiety. But I get HELP. I’m so tired of the stigma. The taboo of it all. Tell me about your ugly parts. I want to hear it. All of it.