Post-birth feelings

I am having a mix of feelings that really surprise me.

  • I am so happy that I have a daughter and a son.
  • I am proud that I survived an unmedicated birth.
  • I am happy that I seem to be recovering quickly.
  • I am happy and grateful to my body that I was able to conceive both babies and carry them to term.

But I have a lot of negative feelings too.

  • I feel a ton of guilt that I delivered early.  I see so many studies saying how important the last weeks in the womb are, and how babies born at 37 or 38 weeks have problems learning in second grade, etc. and the Apgar scores saying the baby is fine are misleading.  I’m afraid I did something wrong and that I might have damaged my baby for life.
  • I wonder if I followed the gestational diabetes diet and exercise regimen a little too strictly.  Maybe I cared more about myself than about the baby?  Maybe one year after the last baby was too soon to conceive again–though at my postpartum visit the OB told me that even six months would be fine.  I did not go in for a preconception physical since it had only been a year since the last pregnancy, which went perfectly.  In the year between pregnancies, I had planned to get fit again and lose weight, but my dad got cancer and the world collapsed.  The best laid plans…
  • I feel that my body broke down, and that this is kind of the beginning of the end for me. Part of this feeling is probably PTSD from both my parents’ cancer and the horrific loss of my father.  But all the literature out there about gestational diabetes is really scary.  My chances of developing into a Type II diabetic seem to be very high.
  • I feel humiliated.  I saw my medical records and the title is “elderly multigravida, maternal obesity syndrome,  gestational diabetes” and some other nasty things that I don’t feel like talking about.  I am married to a physician so I know that this is how records are kept, so that the doctor has the info about relevant conditions up front.  But it’s still embarrassing.
  • I’m embarrassed about taking two maternity leaves in two years.
  • I’m worried about the future of my career.
  • I’m worried what will happen when my husband goes back to work in two weeks, and when I go back to work in  ten weeks or so.  My husband was supposed to get six weeks of parental leave but his residency program cut it short.
  • I feel scared that after constant medical attention during the last weeks of pregnancy, suddenly there is nothing at all.

Well, hopefully putting all of this in writing will stop it from spinning around in my head.

I have been measuring my blood sugar occasionally even though the diabetes educator had said to just stop after delivery, and wait for the postpartum check.   One of the OB’s who rounded on me in the hospital told me it was particularly important for me to get checked because having GD with a second baby but not a first might mean that I had developed some sort of problem between pregnancies.  I am scared about the six week postpartum glucose challenge.  I just want to put all of this behind me, basically.  I’m not sure I will be able to.

In an odd coincidence my mom is in the process of being diagnosed as diabetic also.  It was found just as she was going in for cataract surgery.  She will have the surgery on my dad’s birthday.  He was supposed to have cataract surgery too–but between the eye exam and the surgery was when they found his brain tumor.  Bad memories all around.

I miss my dad a lot.  It’s coming up on a year.  I think maybe it is postpartum hormones but I am crying again, whereas I had stopped for a while.  He would have liked to meet my son.  In a moment of confusion very near the end of his life he had asked where my son was.  My mom said I had a daughter and he said he knew that–he was wondering where the second baby was–my son.  I hadn’t conceived my son yet–I would do so one or two months later, after his death.  I am an agnostic with little hope of anything beyond this world, but when the grief gets overwhelming I tell myself there were a couple of months after my dad died but before my son was conceived, so they might have met in whatever world is beyond this one.

I miss my dad, and my life before all these health crises and losses, and the end of my academic career, and things generally falling apart.  I guess though that if I could turn back time, I wouldn’t have my kids, so I am not sure what exactly to long for.

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