December Darkness

Hallelujah, we’ve made it to January–past the solstice! I am so relieved.

For months, I was dreading this December. Hoping it wouldn’t be anything like last December.

I should share that I have a mental image of the calendar year, as basically a single column of all the months (like this), so December is at the ‘bottom’ of the year. Kind of squished and desperate, trying to stay tacked on and relevant to the rest of the months. The dreary dregs. (The transition from December to January feels especially strange to me, as we suddenly move from the very bottom to the very top of a new year–it doesn’t feel very connected at all.) So when I think of ‘when’ we are, I also think of ‘where’ we are in the year column. My weird brain pictures are probably a factor in why Decembers in general can be odd for me, but last December specifically was really hard.

First, it took three weeks after my c-section to be pain-free, which was half of the entire month. (The babies were born on Nov 21.) Being unable to move freely, being physically unable to do much of the baby care, just being in pain was difficult. I didn’t like being so useless and helpless. I wanted to rest and to sleep, desperately, but I also hated the idea of being a burden, so I pushed myself a little and I shouldn’t have. I wanted to be stoic, and I did not want to be weak. But my body gave me no choice–the weakness was there whether I accepted it or not.

Second, I was definitely a little on edge and emotional. When I cried at my two-week OB appointment about why does everything still hurt (TWO WEEKS AFTER MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY HELLO WHAT WAS I THINKING) she kindly said, manage your pain and take those painkillers. Once the pain was gone, it did help to have one less thing bothering my physical self. My emotional self was still not totally stable though. I didn’t and don’t have any words or description for it either–I don’t think it was “blues” really, though there were certainly a lot of hidden tears. I didn’t feel ‘down’ or ‘depressed’ though, just emotional and overwhelmed. And frustrated at my body.

Third, I spent literally 20 hours a day on the couch. For several weeks it was because again, physically, I was unable to move much otherwise. But also, I was pumping every three hours, and we were feeding babies every three hours. Usually that schedule didn’t overlap. And I did try to hold the babies sometimes, and of course they would fall asleep, so then I would be stuck on the couch some more. Many times I had to decide–should I hold babies, or eat, or sleep, or go to the bathroom?

Fourth, because I was on the couch all the time, I couldn’t go anywhere (duh) which meant I didn’t have a support system. The internet was there, and I read every word of it that month, for something to do and for companionship. I didn’t know any other new parents, I didn’t have any friends, it was just the four of us and the freaking couch. Our house was an island of exhaustion and the world could have ended outside our door and we wouldn’t have known. (Well, unless someone else posted about it on Facebook.) What’s terrible is that even if I did have someone to talk to, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t actually know what to say or have anything at all to say. Which sounds kind of ridiculous, but really, are there appropriate words for the complete upheaval of your life that newborn twins brings?

And almost worse than the isolation, it was really dark. It felt like it was always night time. Part of that is that with two newborns in the house, there was no separation of ‘daytime’ and ‘nighttime’ – really, there weren’t even ‘days’, just cycles of three-hour feeding blocks. But of course most of it was just the December days being so short. Both things we had to just wait out and get through.

Obviously we went on a few outings that month–a couple trips to the pediatrician, I went to my OB once, we got a Christmas tree. So I did go outside a few times. But in general, my memories of the first weeks of life with our babies are of darkness, of overwhelmed and numb exhaustion.

And then, finally, it was January. We’d emerged from the first six-week scramble into new parenthood and I didn’t quite feel so overwhelmed anymore. Plus, our nanny started working with us. My biggest distinct memory of the month is going out for my first walk–in the sunshine. Moving my body, pain-free, just me, free, in the daylight. It felt so good to be out of the darkness. It really felt like a re-awakening. What a relief.


Fortunately, this new January is not nearly such a new me–life is better, calmer, no longer so exhausting and strange. I am so glad that we all made it through the dark December days intact and ready for another year together.

Happy New Year, Happy Solstice, Happy New Beginnings, Happy Re-Awakening to you. 🙂

8 thoughts on “December Darkness

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  1. I can sympathize. I always get depressed in January because all the fun of Christmas and New Year’s is done and it is dark when I go to work, dark when I get home and so cold (-35 today) and I can’t go out and do anything. It is horrible to be trapped in the house with three young kids and two dogs that are feeling just as trapped as you. But, like you said, I realize that it is a part of the year which means it is only temporary and soon spring will come. Still sucks though. I feel so bad reading about how your C-section has so negatively impacted your life. It is trite but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, or at the very least gives you a new found appreciation for what you take for granted. I really appreciate your post because I realize how lucky I am that my experience was a walk in the park compared to yours (both giving birth to the twins and the first month, they were born at the beginning of January last year). Best of luck to you 🙂

    1. Minus 35?!!! Yikes!! Trapped inside indeed! Hope you all get through it as quickly and painlessly as possible. 🙂 And yes, January is so dark and dreary, it’s never any fun. It does make spring all the more exciting, with its longer days and new greenery everywhere.
      I don’t think the c-section negatively impacted my life at all. I had to recover from the surgery, of course, and I was way too impatient and unforgiving of myself for that. But I understand that plenty of women have to recover physically from a ‘regular’ delivery. I’m glad you had a good/easy experience with recovery!

      1. I apologize if I misread. You wrote about the pain and the inability to so things and so I just interpreted that as a bad experience. I have never had a section myself and I was back at it two days after vaginally delivering the twins (at term) so guess I misinterpreted. Anyways, that’s great to hear 🙂 everyone definitely needs to cut themselves slack. Cheers!

      2. Oh–well yes, certainly, it impacted me for those first few weeks! But I never thought about it as “this c-section has ruined my life” or anything. 🙂 I had never had surgery before (and I’d never had babies before either!) so it was generally a shock all around. 🙂 That’s amazing that you were up and about in two days!

  2. I definitely have a more positive view of January than I have in the past, just because of the whole “we got married in January” thing – which was partly a reason TO get married in January, if that makes sense. but i’m so, so glad this december was better for you, and also that january’s here. i admit i’m a little afraid of the very beginning times once the baby arrives, but hearing that it does pass, and we’ll get through it helps, too.

    1. Yeah, that is a great way to have a lovely association with the month of January! Yeah, the beginning can be rough. But I think there are plenty of people for whom it’s *not* rough. I’m sure you’ll have a great support system with your families nearby! And of course, you’ve got all these internet friends who’ve been through this too–I’m sure I’m not the only one who will say please reach out any time you want. 🙂

  3. I’m glad to hear someone else struggled through those first six weeks too (especially post c-section). The first six weeks are just a blur and then I went back to work. I still feel like I wasted those 6 weeks with my son.

    Yes, this December was MUCH different (and MUCH better). Happy top of the calendar!

    1. Going back to work so soon must have been so hard! Those weeks really are a blur and things were so much better after we got out of that! Thank goodness for pictures and bad memory so we don’t have the details to dwell on. 🙂 Glad to hear that your December was also much better this year. Happy top of the year to you! 🙂

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