It is so odd how, as a mother, you spend the better part of a year looking forward to having your baby finally in your arms. For months and months, you feel that little baby kick you and hiccup, and you can’t wait until you can finally meet that little bundle of joy. You plan. You shop. You clean. You organize. You decorate. You dream. Finally, you have the baby and you instantly fall in love with the teeny little being. You think that life can’t get better than this. Then, a couple days later, you are in pain from trying to recover (no matter how you gave birth), you are sleep deprived, and you constantly cry all the time.
Or at least, that’s how it was for me. Recovery was worse than labor itself. Our baby girl was a great sleeper for a newborn, but I was still sleep deprived. I had lots of help. My husband was so incredibly wonderful, taking care of the housework, taking care of me, and whenever I wasn’t nursing, was more than willing to take care of the baby girl. My mother-in-law came to help, and then my mother came to help. Yet, there I was, crying...constantly.
I had my sisters, cousins, and friends warn me about the baby blues. I thought it was just a given that I would feel down for a few weeks, but when this hit me, it hit me hard. I had thoughts I never wanted to have: I wasn’t sure I was ready for this after all, I was sure my baby girl thought I was a monster, I was worried my husband felt neglected since I hardly even got to have a conversation with him, I was afraid my husband would get so fed up with me and leave, etc.
I found myself thinking the problem was just that I was too selfish, self-centered and wimpy. I figured I just needed to power through all this and get over it. No matter how much I tried to hold in the tears, or tried to keep a level head, I just couldn’t.
As if that wasn’t enough, I became overwhelmed with guilt. It was the guilt that kept me from really seeking help. I reckon that’s why a lot of mothers going through this are hesitant. The guilt is the worst part of this, and it paralyzes you. I hardly even talked to anyone. Even though I knew so many mothers I could talk to, I was certain the would all think less of me. Not until both my mother and husband told me I needed to see the doctor did I even consider calling.
I’m so glad I did though. My doctor asked me several questions. Was the baby sleeping well? Was the baby crying a lot? Was everything okay with me and my husband? Did I have enough support? Yes, no, yes, yes. The problem was hormones. Stupid hormones. Luckily that could be fixed. Yes, I had some guilt about having to take medicine (read:I had a melt down over it) but when I finally did, I was so glad. I felt so much better. I finally felt back to myself and was able to enjoy my precious baby!
I know that technically this should have been a post about postpartum depression, but it’s on my mind today so I wanted to post it. Also, part of me thinks that the two are almost interchangeable. Sure, many women are lucky enough to have just a few weeks of baby blues. For some however, the hormones take longer to adjust back to normal, and therefore deal with months of this. I really hope that any woman dealing with this can overcome the feelings and guilt enough to seek out help. You are not alone. You are not messed up. You will get through this. It will not last forever, and it’s so much easier to get through with help.
It’s all worth it. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was worth every moment in order to smile every time I look into my baby girl’s baby blue eyes.