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My Postpartum Was Totally Depressing

Photograph by Getty Images

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I became determined to stay as fit as possible throughout the following 10 months. The control freak in me felt anxiety about having something else, a developing fetus, dictate what happened to my body. Wanting to control the situation, ensure that I would have a healthy baby and also quickly get my pre-pregnancy body back, I became obsessed with working out, counting calories and documenting what I ate every day. Being hyperactive and into fitness, I was working out six days a week at the time. It felt good to control my body ... even if it would soon be controlling me.

For the most part, my pregnancy went smoothly. And I entered that labor and delivery room like a heavyweight champ. I air-punched my way down the L&D wing and into my room. I imagined camera flashes popping, my husband/manager/hype-man by my side with 50 Cent's "In Da Club" bumping in my head. I raised my imaginary gloves to the air, ass hanging out of the back of my hospital gown and got into the ring, er, the bed. Two hours later, I had the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen in my arms.

Pipe down, slugger! Postpartum was about to rope-a-dope my ass.

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The next few days, I worked hard to keep it together. I was in so much pain from the tearing, and an accidental puncture of my spinal casing during the administration of the epidural left me with a piercing headache. I wasn't sleeping well, my milk was not coming in and I felt strung out. I kept thinking to myself, "Pull it together, Andrea! Women from the beginning of time and all around the world go through this, and most under much less comfortable circumstances."

I also remembered how quickly I seemed to bounce back when I had my son. Sure it was 10 years ago and I WAS in my mid-20s, but still. When it came time, I didn't want to leave the hospital. I wanted to hide away there until I felt like my normal self. But I told myself that the pain would eventually go away; the hormones would start to balance out, and I just needed to keep it moving.

When baby Stella's crusty umbilical cord scab fell off, I wailed through the tears, "She's growing up way too fast."

However, my nether regions seemed to take forever to heal. Every step sent fire and brimstone down on Vagina Town. I had also managed to push my pelvis out of place during labor. I felt sciatica pain every time I put weight on my heels. And, I didn't feel the hormones balance out. In fact, they seemed to be more imbalanced as time went on. I didn't feel like myself—not for the next few weeks, or the next few months. It had been so much easier with my son. I gave birth to him during 2L law school finals, which I finished taking three weeks later.

Well, such was not the case this time. My hormones were holding my emotions at a high-security prison. I was dramatic on a ridiculous, Nicholas Sparks level. When baby Stella's crusty umbilical cord scab fell off, I wailed through the tears, "She's growing up way too fast." And then that raisin of a scab sat on our dresser for me to admire and cry about for the next week. Emotion would often come from nowhere, without a trigger. And needless to say, our house became a no Ghost, Titanic or The Voice zone. (Are you kidding me with those back stories, The Voice?)

Though I was going about my business with a smile on my face, my hormones were headlining nightly. I would experience severe panic out of nowhere. I could reason that everything was OK, but my mind could not make my body understand. For the first month, night after night I would just sit up in my bed and cry. And I really didn't know why. I felt like an ungrateful weakling. Get up! Stop Crying! Quit acting like a pussy!

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One night, my 10-year-old saw me looking devastated because I couldn't find the energy to make his traditional Valentine's Day sugar cookies for his class party. I felt terrible, as it was a way to make him feel special with a baby in the house. He looked at me with his sweet face and said, "You just had a baby, mom. You're beautiful. And, you're the best mom in the world."

From then on when I'd start to get down on myself for not being 100 percent, I'd remember his face at that moment. He helped me to stop being so hard on myself. I needed to let go and accept that this recovery period was longer than the first time. There is a lesson in the process. The last thing I would want to do is teach my children that they have to be perfect to feel normal.

My baby is 5 months old now. I can't remember what I did yesterday, where I put my sunglasses or the name of my postman, but that's OK. Having a baby is a beautiful thing. It's an indescribable experience that leaves you in awe and wonderment about the miracle of life. How truly amazing it is to watch your belly grow, and in just 10 months give birth to a fully formed, tiny human. It is a gift and a blessing, and there's no denying that. But it's OK to also admit that postpartum recovery sucks balls. Having a baby is no joke, and sometimes not feeling normal is actually totally normal.

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