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It took me a minute to decide which photos could go along with this post. These are the outtakes from the beginning of Sadie's newborn shoot we did when she was three weeks. I had seen a sweet photo of two siblings all wrapped up in a blanket like this, and wanted to try it. It did not go well. Sadie was screaming, and Eliza was wiggly, and soon they were both crying. While I was tending to the baby, Sam snapped this photo of Eliza with a tear running down her cheek, sitting on the bed and looking out the window. Every time I see that photo it breaks my heart. The whole series is a perfect illustration of our postpartum recovery.

My recovery was much more difficult this time, both physically and mentally. With my first birth, I had hardly any recovery period at all. Although the labor was intense, I did not tear and healed very quickly. I can remember walking around my hospital room on the second day, feeling so ready to get going. I always felt like it was such a blessing that my recovery was so easy that first time around, because I don't know how I could have possibly handled the shock of newborn life without a fully-functional body.

This time I did have some tearing, possibly because of the epidural. I was in pain. I was weak. I needed my pain killers, I needed help getting in and out of bed, and I couldn't sit down on flat surfaces for weeks. If I forgot to take my Ibuprofen, the pain would creep in so quickly it would bring me to tears. If I tried to do anything beyond laying in bed, I would be lucky if my energy and strength didn't completely give out before I made it back to that bed. It was absolutely overwhelming.

Those first few weeks were so full of pain. But, the physical pain was just the tip of the iceberg. I was dealing with some sad and dark feelings, and the physical pain only exacerbated the mental and emotional pain. Most of these feelings centered around that beautiful, little girl right there. I knew that I would probably feel guilt, and I knew that it would be hard for our life to change. 

But, nothing could have prepared me for the heartache. 

"I miss Eliza." That what's kept coming out. Every time Sam would walk in the room and find me crying in bed, that's what I would say. "I miss Eliza so much." Sam was being so helpful. He would take her out for half the day, to let me get my rest with the baby. Friends would come and whisk her away for playdates. And, I would lay in bed holding my beautiful newborn, crying uncontrollably because that was my life- whisking my little girl away to Fairyland for the afternoon. That was my life, and it felt like it was over. It felt like I hardly saw her at all those first couple of weeks, and when I did I was tired and stressed and constantly asking her to back off and give the baby space. Every night, after we put Eliza to bed, I would look at pictures of her from the last few months and slip even deeper. By the end of the night, my body and mind were a mess, and those feelings would overwhelm me completely. It was frightening to feel so deeply. 

I was scared. It wasn't just that I "felt sad." It hurt. These feelings were painful. It hurt in my heart, in my body, in my mind. It wasn't until I heard a friend put a name to it, that I felt like I could possibly control it. She called it "grief." I was grieving my family of three. I was grieving my life, as I knew it.

Once I had a "name" for it, it felt right. Instead of being frightened by those feelings, I felt like it was maybe a natural process. It also led me to slowly start reaching out to other friends, who may have had similar experiences. It was hard for me to admit to those feelings. I had a beautiful baby in my arms, one that we had waited and prayed for. I still had my beautiful daughter, sitting right beside me, begging for me to play with her. But, my heart hurt so much I couldn't handle it. I couldn't function.

I knew what postpartum depression was. But, I had never felt it. "Baby Blues" doesn't even begin to describe it. I can't say that I found an answer. But, I can say that I do feel happier and more at peace. I made myself take it easy. I made myself hold that baby closer, to keep the scary feelings at bay. I used that baby as a drug, drank her in to tell those hormones, "I love this baby. I wanted this baby."

I let my house go. I made myself take every single bit of help that was offered to me. We had meals from friends for weeks and weeks, and playdates for Eliza. I let Sam do everything, and tried not to feel guilty about it. He was the best support. 

I made myself get out of bed and take Eliza on a walk, even if just for five minutes. I sat down and colored with her, even if it just for five minutes. I ate lunch on the porch with her, read a book to her, watched a show with her. It didn't make it "all better." I did not find closure. That's not what I am hear to say. I am hear to say that it got better. It is getting better. 

And, I am here to say, "I do know that it is worth it."


  1. You are such a strong, beautiful mother. I can't tell you how touching your experience is. I am about a week away from having our second and have had many similar thoughts. Thank you for sharing and for being so strong. It is worth it and we have the most beautiful role to play in these sweet little ones lives. ❤️

  2. About two months after Theodore was born our book club read The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I didn't love the idea of reading a self help book but it was so much more than that. One thing you said reminded me of something we read in there. Or I read it somewhere else but I'm attributing it to that book. She said that you have to allow yourself to grieve when life changes or when what you thought was going to happen will now never happen. Or it was grieve for the life you had or the life you are now never going to have. But allowing yourself to grieve allows it to be real and worth your time to process it. We went through having a second baby and leaving the church at the same time. It was a deep dark lonely place. But allowing myself to grieve and then process means the other end is full of less guilt and more acceptance and love. Thank you for sharing your life with us on the internet. It's been a long time since we've talked, but I still consider you a friend of mine.