The 100 Days Of Darkness

100 days of darkness

 

Not long after I had Zain I shared this Instagram post and received so many comments, texts and emails from women saying they were feeling or had felt the exact same way that I was taken back. For some reason, I had felt like I was the only new mom that felt this way and maybe I should be ashamed. Then my friend Rachel sent me this article titled ‘The 100 Days of Darkness with a New Baby’ and I couldn’t have felt more in tune with something.

There seems to be a lot of talk about postpartum depression and the warning signs after delivery but not a lot of honest talk about all the other hard feelings that may be normal. At every turn, I was terrified I may be depressed and would spend time googling symptoms and asking Trevor or my mom if they thought I was.

Looking back now, from a much less tired place I think I was just experiencing everything that comes with having a newborn. I had not truly realized how hard it would be and although people love to say ‘It’s hard but don’t worry it will get better’ let’s get a bit more specific.

I went into pregnancy ready. I had wanted to have a baby for so long and suffered through a miscarriage and fertility treatments for this miracle. I had spent a lot of time around my nieces and nephew and felt confident with what I thought was experience.

When my water broke it was a bit of a shock. I probably wasn’t mentally prepared for him to arrive since everyone had repeatedly told me I would probably go past my due date. The last thing I expected was to deliver early.

After a long few days of labor and delivery, we were wheeled up to our room with Zain and left with some really helpful nurses that checked in from time to time.

 

Holy Shit. It’s just us and this baby. What do we do? 

 

Everyone had told me to send the baby to the nursery so I could get a few hours of sleep. Interestingly enough, our hospital didn’t have a nursery and I didn’t know that since our hospital tour was scheduled for the next week. (Pro tip: schedule your hospital tour earlier than 36 weeks) I’m still not sure I would have sent him but having him with me that first night was rough. Getting used to breastfeeding was a challenge and the lack of sleep really started to kick in. On top of trying to navigate your way through caring for a newborn, you are constantly awoken by nurses and doctors coming in to check on you and the baby.

 

‘Hi, my name is Sally and I am from Rush Patient Relations. I wanted to come in and see if there was anything I could do for you?’

‘Umm, yes. GET OUT’

 

There are a slew of tests they have to perform on your baby and between those and figuring out how to nurse, it honestly left me with what felt like very little time to connect and enjoy Zain. I desperately wanted to get home.

When the tests were done and we received those magical discharge papers, I finally felt a sense of relief. The ankle monitor was cut off and we were out the door! Just kidding, it took 3 hours to get all the paperwork ‘organized’ for us to leave and I was about to lose it. When we finally headed down that hall, my baby boy in hand I just couldn’t wait to get in my bed and feel normal again.

 

Hmmmm, think again.

 

Once we were home, the shit really hit the fan. Round the clock feedings, engorgement and endless crying can really take a toll on a person. I felt every emotion in the book: resentment that no one else could feed him but me, confusion that I couldn’t figure out why my baby wouldn’t stop crying, anger that I couldn’t get some sleep—you name it.

I said and thought things like “Maybe I had so much trouble getting pregnant because I’m not cut out for this mom thing” and the list goes on.

I think a lot of times women are pressured to feel this immediate and strong bond with their baby, be in a blissful state and just go on with life as it was. The truth is, your life will never be the same and that is something that took me a while to realize. I remember having a long talk with my mom in the middle of the night and she said to me ‘I think you haven’t realized that your life will never go back to what it was’ It was like a lightbulb went off. I could release all this pressure I had put on myself to get back to ‘normal’ and finally embrace this new life. 

Everyday I think I couldn’t possibly love Zain more. I often tell my friends ‘I love him so much now and I wasn’t sure I did in the beginning’ with a laugh. Most often, people respond and say thank you for being honest! I think it’s okay that it took me time to get the hang of this mom thing and realize how much I adored this tiny human.

Now, when my girlfriends have babies I always try to reach out in those first few weeks with some real talk. I almost always get a sigh of relief back and a thank you for making them feel less alone.

Everyone will tell you to just buckle down and wait for those first 3 months (or 100 days of darkness) to pass. I wish I had better advice to give but it really proved to be true. Once Zain grew out of his gassiness (thank god!) started eating less often and allowed me to get more comfortable breastfeeding, life greatly improved. He started sleeping for longer stretches and although we still have our bouts of ‘rainy day Zain’ as we lovingly refer to him on cranky days, I’m much better equipped to handle them.

I think it’s important to share the up’s and down’s of life, especially this stage of parenthood we are currently in. It’s a crazy journey that we are figuring out day by day but I wouldn’t trade being Zain’s mom for anything in the world. It is by far the most amazing accomplishment of my life and I feel so lucky every day.

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  • I love this post, Shaheen! I have a handful of friends who are new moms and I’ve heard a lot of things along these lines from them. I’m bookmarking this post to read again (if my eyes still open!) in a few months. 🙂

    • Thank you so much Britney! It’s so nice to chat with other women about their experinece. I hope you are feeling well and getting excited 🙂

  • I nodded the entire way through this post! This is EXACTLY how I felt when I first had Finn. I remember thinking “What did we do?!” and grieving for my old life. It started to get better at 3 months, once I went back to work and got Finn on a schedule, and once I stopped breastfeeding at 8 months, I felt like motherhood was less of a burden and more of an adventure! Thank you for being so honest!

    • Yes! Grieving my old life and still trying to be grateful for my new life was a struggle! I’m so glad to hear that about breastfeeding too – it’s far less of a burden than it was but still runs my life haha.

  • Heidi

    Sounds like the same experience I had with the first one. Every evening for about the first 6 to 8 weeks, he would scream and cry for an hour and a half to 2 hours, probably from gassiness or just general adjustment to post-womb life. Rather than letting my husband take him for a little bit or putting him down and letting him cry for a few minutes to gather the remnants of my sanity, I held him through pretty much every minute of those times, thinking it was solely my role to comfort him. It’s hard when you’re in that moment to remember that the little ones have systems that are adjusting to their new world. I couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t get comfortable at night and blamed myself for not divining what he needed. There were times when I blamed him because it was like, what more can I possibly do for you? I just had #2 and although he wants to be held all the time, he usually stops fussing when he feels my touch and there is more trust or comfort there. I’m trying to get through the gassy nights (mostly nights) and wait for him to learn that night time is for sleeping. It’s been a little easier the second time, having gone through it once before and because #2 is an easier baby to comfort. You get through it….you just do.

    • I totally understand that. I would get so frustrated during that gassy stage but never be able to walk away. I even find myself struggling with that now when he has off days. Good to hear about #2 although I’m unsure at this point that I could handle that haha!

  • Rebecca

    Totally agree with this! Those first few months are so so SO hard. I also had a tough time wondering when things would get back to “normal” which, of course, never happened! Your whole life is different. I also ended up becoming a stay at home mom and although it was what I chose, I couldn’t help second guessing that decision a lot in the early months. We are actually trying for baby #2 now and I’m really realllllllly not looking forward to those early days (although maybe it is easier with baby #2 because you know what to expect?). My son is 21 months now and he’s so fun and funny and as sweet as can be. It’s crazy to look back and think I didn’t want to send him to daycare because he cried so often I thought the workers wouldn’t like him as much as the other babies. I’m glad things are going better for you, it just keeps getting more fun as they get older (even when the tantrums kick in). Your little guy is adorable!

    • Oh, I’m so happy to hear that and I am already begging him to laugh every day haha! I can’t wait to grow with him and I totally hear you. The thought of doing this again seems crazy but I think you quickly block out those tough times. I’ve heard it’s easier the second time around but you will have to keep me updated on that!

  • Loved this Shaheen, I’m going to need to read it again in a few months, but nice to hear a really honest story! You’re a great mom and doing amazing, so happy I have a good role model/teacher!!

    • You are so sweet Blair! Thanks for always being a listening ear and I can’t wait for your baby boy to arrive. We have so many fun adventures in our future 🙂

  • Beth Blair

    All.of.this!! SOOO soo true- I wanted my old life back for so long and it took me so long to realize- it never was coming back, and I learned how to love my new life. On some morning alone with my newborn son on maternity leave it finally all clicked- I think the fog started to lift, and I realized everything I was feeling was normal, it was ok my birth story wasn’t what I had dreamed of- and I could embrace our new normal. Thanks for your honesty.- and sharing of your ADORABLE son. He really makes me smile and stare every time I scroll through my instagram feed. When I was pregnant I struggled to find blog posts that didn’t make having a newborn look like breeze so I often just thought I sucked at it, until I dug in and found blogs online that were real and honest. Also side note- my husband was a third year medical student when my son was born- such bad timing but oh well! I think your husband is also in medicine so I’m sure you can relate.

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