Tomorrow, I will have a two-week-old baby boy. This time I knew what to expect, but that wasn’t the case with my first-born. Following my first pregnancy, I was knocked to the ground with an encumbering cloud of despair. It caught me by surprise with no warning.
Baby blues are too often the unsaid part of giving birth.
Today, I had a dance party with my husband and our two toddlers. We smiled, laughed and played. About an hour before that, I was crying watching Jane The Virgin. My hormones are all wacky. Both my husband and myself are able to give grace and humor to these fluctuations now that it’s our third time around. But for a first time mom, these alterations can rock your world.
Three years ago, I was sent home from the hospital with a little newborn. We were in disbelief that the nurses trusted us to care for him without their supervision. The weight of the immediate responsibility was outright overwhelming. I was instantly afraid to be alone with our fresh baby. For some reason, I didn’t think that I was capable alone. My husband and mother were forever around the entire first week. Then, time came for me to be isolated with our son. I burst into tears. It was all just too much.
Three years ago, I remember having intrusive thoughts. Thoughts like: “Does he even love me?” “I wonder when his smile will actually mean anything.” “He only likes me because I’m food.” And all of the What-If’s: “What if he doesn’t love me?” “What if he hates me?” “What if I drop him?” “What if he never sleeps?” “What if his pacifier gets dirty?” “What if I fall asleep with him?” My mind raced at 200 MPH 24/7. These anxious thoughts flabbergasted me as an already anxious person; everything was amplified. The highs were exceedingly high, but the lows were remarkably low.
[quote]I can vividly recall feeling so lucky and that our life was too perfect, there must be impending doom around the corner. I couldn’t enjoy the moment.[/quote]
Two weeks ago, I was reminded of my first journey with the baby blues. A friend bravely disclosed her tearful first week as a mom, explaining that she wasn’t warned about this part. This unsaid part of giving birth goes unsaid too often. It can fling new mothers into a self-doubt and make new dad’s question where their lovely wife disappeared to or if she’ll ever come back.
With the baby blues, things get sunnier after the first week or two. The gloom and fog lifts. A routine is discovered along with a new normal. Rational thinking and logic make it’s way back to the brain (somewhat… considering sleep deprivation). Life will never be the same as before, but it will be wonderful.
For more information on baby blues, here is a link from the American Pregnancy Association: http://americanpregnancy.org/first-year-of-life/baby-blues/.
Sometimes things don’t get sunnier, which should be mentioned at the postnatal checkup. Postpartum depression is more common than thought: from www.postpartumprogress.org, “According to the Center for Disease Control, 11 to 20 percent of women who give birth each year have postpartum depression symptoms. If you settled on an average of 15 percent of 4 million live births in the U.S. annually, this would mean approximately 600,000 women get PPD each year in the United States alone.”