"I have no idea why I’m crying all the time. My babies are doing so well. But every time I hold them to feed them or rock them to sleep I just cry.”
“Thinking of going back to work makes me feel panicky. I can’t imagine the thought of leaving my baby with anyone.”
“Whenever my baby wakes up in the middle of the night crying my first feeling is something happened to him. I have to rush over and see if he’s ok. My husband has to remind me that he’s just hungry.”
These are just some of the comments I hear weekly from real moms who had pregnancy complications and now have their babies at home, and some of the thoughts I had myself when my son came home after almost 4 months in the NICU.
The reality of high-risk pregnancies that no one talks about
The emotional effect of having a complicated pregnancy doesn’t go away just because your baby comes home. (Tweet that!)
When you’re faced with the fears of what could happen to your baby during pregnancy, the postpartum period feels light years away.
I remember thinking during my complicated pregnancy, “If we just get to bring our son home, we’ll deal with the rest when it comes.”
And boy did it come...hard. And when I least expected it, too.
Bringing home a baby after a complicated pregnancy doesn’t erase the fears and anxieties you felt before delivery.
A high-risk pregnancy is a crisis. For some, this can even be traumatic.
If you’re like most moms faced with pregnancy complications, a high-risk pregnancy creates anxiety, stress and worry that doesn't last for a day or two, but for weeks or months, which impacts your health and your baby’s health.
Your fears are no longer about what if something goes wrong. You’re reacting to something that's already going wrong.
And that’s what separates you from moms who are anxious during a healthy pregnancy, worried about something that could go wrong.
The result is your fears and worries are buried deep into your body and your mind to help you just get through the day.
This makes you believe that time and bringing a baby home is enough to help you eventually move on from what you’re going through now.
Unfortunately, as humans we aren't built to forget.
Our bodies are designed to heal.
Once life calms down, the daily sense of emergency has stopped and you start to feel like you’re falling into a rhythm, that is when the unresolved emotions from your pregnancy start to come back.
In my professional and personal experience, this typically happens about 3 months after your baby has come home, whether homecoming is a day or two after your delivery date or weeks after being in the NICU.
This can look like:
Crying while you're holding your baby
Waking up terrified something bad has happened when your baby cries in the middle of the night
Flashes of images of something terrible happening to your baby
Feeling completely scared of leaving your baby even if it's with your partner or close family or friends
Feeling angry when you hear of other women’s healthy pregnancy stories or birth stories that remind of you of what you wished you had
This could be a sign of postpartum depression or PTSD for some moms. But for all moms, experiencing this is a sign that you're ready to process your experiences.
Regardless of a diagnosis or not, this is your body’s way of telling you that you need to deal with everything you've been through to start to heal.
Healing emotionally from a high-risk pregnancy will improve your health, as grief, depression and anxiety can impact your physical recovery from delivery. It will also help you transition into your new role as a mother to your miracle.
Not healing from this experience prevents you from enjoying your family that you fought so hard for. (Tweet that!)
You may be physically present for all the all the special milestones like when your baby rolls over or smiles.
But you’re not completely emotionally present to fully enjoy them because you can't see through your tears or you want to hide under the covers because you feel guilty for what you've been through.
What you can do
For the pregnant mom
If you’re pregnant and reading this, know that this doesn’t have to be your postpartum reality.
I know how far away bringing home your baby feels when each day feels like a year. But the more support you get during your pregnancy, the more you’ll be able to truly, deeply enjoy that life that you’re fighting so hard for right now. You won’t have as much to process while you’re running on 2 hours of sleep and elbow deep in diaper changes. Now is the time to get ahead of it.
For the postpartum mom
If you've already delivered and what I shared in this post sounds like what you’re going through, take some time to remember that these symptoms are your body’s way of telling you you’re ready to start the healing process.
As an expert in postpartum support specifically for women who had complicated pregnancies, I can tell you there is still hope.
You can feel like yourself again and be the mom you always wanted to be.
Email me and let me know what’s going on and let’s find a time to chat.
What was your postpartum experience like after a complicated pregnancy? Share your story below! I would love to hear from you!