The day I left the hospital after placement was incredibly heart-wrenching. While the adoptive parents did all they could in order to make it as easy on me as possible, the pain that radiated throughout my entire body was unbearable.

I remember being pushed down to the car in my wheelchair feeling so much emptiness. My entire body and soul ached to have my sweet child in my arms as I exited that hospital. Without the support of my mom and the incredible hospital staff, there’s no way I would have made it to the car on my own. The days following placement and leaving the hospital were some of the hardest of my life. The pain I felt both physically and mentally took a toll; it’s something no one can endure alone. Below are some of the most crucial things that played a big part in getting me through these first few weeks.

Support

While some may not have the support of parents or family members, there are many people out there that can provide support and be your friend during this difficult time. Whether it’s another birth mother, a counselor, a doctor, or new friends, you need to find someone who can relate.

Support is one of the most crucial parts of making it out of the dark place you will without a doubt be in after placement. My mom took it upon herself to get me out of bed every day for the first week. She was willing to physically lift me out to bed if necessary and was a lifesaver on the days that I struggled the most. For those who don’t have the support of a parent, move in with a friend or have a friend stay with you. Ask them ahead of time to be there to get you out of bed every morning. Having someone to talk to and to help with the potential postpartum depression that can be added to the depression you will feel naturally is vital.

Pain Meds

The afterpains post-delivery are pretty intense. In order for the uterus to get back to it’s original size pre-baby, there’s going to be severe cramping involved. Your doctor will prescribe you pain medication before leaving the hospital, and it’s important to make sure you are taking them as prescribed for the first few days. Dealing with the loss of your child is painful enough, so avoiding the afterpains is essential. While it’s important to avoid any afterpains, be sure to use the prescribed medication responsibly. While it’s a huge lifesaver for a few days postpartum, remember that it’s only prescribed for afterpains and not for anything else.

Memorabilia

Take pictures during your hospital stay and keep them close by. I brought pictures of my sweet baby girl with me everywhere for the first few weeks and even had pictures of her on my desk at school and in my home for years afterwards. I also brought home the blanket I used for her at the hospital and slept with it every night. I could still smell her faintly and it was so soothing for me.

The adoptive family gave me a gift basket that included a cute little stuffed monkey that was identical to one that they were giving my baby girl. I slept with that every night as well. It helped me feel much closer to her.

Make Plans

I was blessed to have so much support from my family. My mom made sure to take me with her to run errands and other things for the first week after leaving the hospital. It’s important to get out of bed and leave the house. You’ll be able to think about other things and get some fresh air. While there’s nothing wrong with thinking about your child, it’s also important to be sure you’re not dwelling on it because that could result in severe depression.

Two weeks after placement, my aunt and uncle took me on a week-long, all expenses paid vacation to Hawaii. Not only was this my first trip to Hawaii, but it was the most relaxing and therapeutic trip I’ve ever been on. My aunt literally let me talk about my struggles the entire time and was a huge part of my healing process.  While this isn’t a realistic thing for everyone, doing something therapeutic—whether it’s getting a pedicure, massage, or even having a girls night—will do wonders. It will help you to get back into life, and while this is something that is incredibly hard to do, it’s important to do it. Not all at once, but gradually.

Help with Milk Supply

Stopping my milk supply was surprisingly difficult for me emotionally. I yearned to use my milk to nurse my baby, so it was really hard for me to take the necessary measures to get rid of it. After about a week, I finally got up the courage to start wearing the tight bras. This helped get rid of my supply, but it’s completely normal to be sad about it.

There is nothing anyone can do to prevent the pain and sadness that comes with placing your child for adoption, but there are most definitely things that can ease it a little. The number one thing that a birth mom needs after placement is support, and it’s important to find that support ahead of time. I needed that support and because of it, I was able to move forward in my life. It’s been 7 1/2 years and I’m here to promise you that it gets easier. Push through the first few months and, in time, it will get easier.