On MSNBC anchor Katy Tur's first day back at work after a five-month maternity leave, she shared new details about the struggles she faced after giving birth to her son Teddy.
The baby was born in April, via an unplanned C-section. The surgery made it extremely difficult to breastfeed and impossible to sit up without assistance. Things only got worse when the surgical cut became infected.
Meanwhile Teddy, who had already been born small, was beginning to lose weight.
"Teddy was born healthy, but small, really small, 6 pounds and 4 1/2 ounces-small," Tur explained. "A few days later he got even smaller, down to 5 pounds and 15 ounces. He was in the seventh percentile. It was fine, so long as he gained it back, which meant that he needed to eat and eat and eat and eat, which was not so easy, not only because of the C-section but because breast milk is not the instant grab-and-go, ready-made meal you might think it is before you suddenly try to produce it."
To compound matters, Tur said that she was so exhausted that she "started to live a kind of waking dream" and began having hallucinations.
"I thought my mother-in-law was hiding under the bed. I thought a tall man was standing over me, speaking German," she said. "I was sure of it. I told the nurses, thinking that they'd understand, maybe even chuckle, and instead they sent a full psychiatric team to evaluate me."
Tur clarified that she "was and still am sane," but when it came time to leave the hospital, she found herself scared to be alone with the new baby.
"I was terrified on the day I had to leave the hospital," she said. "I was afraid to be alone with the new baby, afraid I didn't know what I was doing. Sensing this, one of the nurses pulled me aside when my husband was in the bathroom and said 'Don't worry, he knows what he's doing. You can lean on him.'"
Tur said that the nurse was right; her husband Tony Dokoupil was a major source of support during his month of parental leave.
"That first month, while I was still recovering from major surgery, exhausted and in pain, adjusting to my new self, Tony was there, changing diapers, bringing me food, letting me nap. Then he was back at work and it was all me," she said. "And yes, I figured it out."
After recounting her story, Tur advocated for paid parental leave for both parents, saying that she was only able to adjust to parenting because she and her husband had both been able to take significant time off.
"Nothing about this story is exceptional, except for the fact that I got a lot more paid time off to figure it out than the majority of moms in this country," Tur said. "Tony took more time than at least 70% of fathers out there...Parents need time with their babies. Babies need time with their parents. And moms need support. And if that support is coming from a partner, that partner should get equal time off."