Guys, that first postpartum doctor's visit is terrifying. I sort of knew what to prepare for, but somehow I got myself all worked up to the point I was afraid to see my doctor. My post-delivery hormones meant dealing with a lot of anxiety, and I lost the confidence I had pre-baby. That all made speaking up for myself that much harder. So, surprise surprise, there were a slew of things I wanted during my first postpartum doctor's visit, I was just too afraid to ask for them. I wanted to be heard, especially by my doctor, but new motherhood made it damn difficult to advocate for myself, let alone ask questions or voice my concerns.
When I gave birth to my daughter, I felt really insecure. I didn't know how to be a mother, partner, or even myself. The anxiety blossomed into a full-blown postpartum depression that wreaked havoc on every aspect of my new life as a mom. So I was afraid of a lot of things when I saw my doctor for the first time postpartum. Would my doctor see through the facade I'd put on for everyone? Or worse, would he ignore the fact that I desperately needed someone to see me and hear me, so that I could take the steps necessary to get mentally and physically well for the sake of my baby, and me?
When I set out for that first appointment after I had my daughter, I had a list of things I knew I needed to ask for, but I knew the fear would prevent me from doing so. Now, when I look back, I wish I had the courage to ask for the following:
To Be Heard
By the time I finally made it to this appointment, I was already shutting down. It was partially from lack of sleep, and also the grueling adjustments that come with becoming a new parent. I wasn't really speaking to anyone, about anything, other than my new baby. In fact, most people didn't know how I was doing, they just knew about my baby.
My partner was equally tired and we struggled to even facilitate a conversation. I hoped my doctor would somehow pull all the thoughts from my brain and talk to me about them so I felt less alone.
To Be Seen
When my anxiety took a drastic turn towards depression, I didn't feel comfortable in my own skin. With bags under my eyes, I walked into that appointment disheveled and defeated. It felt like no one had noticed it was more than new motherhood affecting me. In fact, it was like no one noticed me at all. I desperately needed my doctor to see the things I hid, I just couldn't find the strength to ask for him to take a deeper look. It was too hard.
A new mom is going through a lot. Some of it is visible and obvious, but a lot of it is internal. There's so much healing to be done mentally, physically, and emotionally. I wanted my doctor to understand everything I'd been through, I was just afraid of looking weak if I asked.
It should be a given that, during my first postpartum doctor's visit, I'd receive some kind of compassion for going through the grueling process that is giving birth. I'm lucky I had a pretty great doctor who didn't need me to ask for a kind hand on my shoulder, or the acknowledgment of how tough the pregnancy was and how amazing it was I'd made it through.
I just wanted someone to acknowledgeI was doing a good job at being another human being's mother, despite never feeling good enough.
As a new mom I spent a lot of time alone, essentially isolated as I tried to figure out what worked for me and my baby, and what didn't. I desperately needed to feel like I was on a team; like someone had my back when I needed it.
My doctor wasn't responsible for my happiness or gaining my confidence back, but I hoped he'd offer to be there if I needed anything. Even if I never went for another appointment again, I was desperate for some camaraderie. I needed someone to remind me that I wasn't alone.
Hope For The Future
My postpartum anxiety and depression stole my ability to speak up, even when I needed something badly. I wanted my doctor to offer words of hope and encouragement, and to remind me it'll get better if I give it time. I'm so thankful he not only gave me a reason to look forward to the future, but recognized my depression and directed me to treatment. That, in and of itself, was all the hope I needed.
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