The day your baby is born, you’ll start to hear it “Enjoy every moment” Everyone will tell you this. They’ll tell you how fast it goes and how each moment should be cherished, and every second is to be savored. I’m here to tell you that just isn’t true. And, it’s ok.
There will be moments that suck. Some will REALLY suck! Some will ruin your entire day! And that is normal!
The first two weeks after Avery was born were not at all what I’d expected. I was depressed and had anxiety that I never thought possible. While Dave was at work I’d be sitting home, crying and imagining every possible thing that could kill him. I just KNEW that he’d die in an accident and Id be a widow, with a brand new baby. If he took the dog for a walk I’d have a panic attack, checking the local news for reports of a “pedestrian and dog, struck and killed in Warwick” And then Avery would cry, and I’d think about what an awful mother I was. Dave would always come home safely, and I’d show my joy by starting a fight (I completely understand why marriages can end right after a baby is born. I wouldn’t have blamed him for leaving, in fact I’d have left myself if I could) A lot of people think postpartum depression means you want to drive your car into a lake with your baby in the back seat. I can honestly tell you, I never had a thought of harming Avery (though I do know women who have had those feelings, and it is very important to tell someone, and seek help if you DO feel that way) In fact holding and taking care of Avery was the only thing that made me feel “ok” I didn’t want to hurt her, I wanted to curl up in a ball, and never stop holding her. In fact I was terrified to let other people hold her. Dave included. I’d be overwhelmed from the day of screaming, dirty diapers, lack of sleep, but if I handed her off to him I was immediately sick to my stomach, sweaty, and screaming inside. I felt so out of control. But, I didn’t know what to do. I told him how I was feeling, but it is very hard for other people to understand these wild changes in personality. Especially for men, who really have no concept of these hormonal shifts.
Then I’d get a message from someone about how this was supposed to the most magical time in my life and that I’d better be enjoying every moment. I knew they meant well, but when you’re in the midst of postpartum depression, and dealing with emotions that you have never had before, and have no way to control, those words make you feel like a total failure. Why? Why wasn’t I enjoying this? What was wrong with me?
I think this is why so many women are afraid to come forward and talk about their postpartum depression and anxiety. We’re not supposed to feel this way. Society tells us that we have to be happy and enjoy. every. moment. We don’t hear enough about the NORMAL postpartum emotions that 80% of women feel. The first two weeks are a huge rush of hormones that our body and mind can’t handle. This often comes out as depression and anxiety,feelings of anger, questioning ourselves, and mood swings.
While struggling with these “Baby Blues” (sounds so cute, doesn’t it?) I received a message from a friend who told me that not every moment would be enjoyable, and that it was ok if I didn’t enjoy everything all the time. She had also gone through bouts of postpartum depression, and was passing on her wisdom to me. Her message was just what I needed to hear. It was a real turning point for me. It was ok to feel the way I felt, I wasn’t a failure. I was a normal new mom.
I started to feel better, my hormones leveled out and I was happy again. I was able to let other people hold Avery. In fact I was able to leave the room, and eventually the house with her in the care of someone else. My mind stopped spinning, and the anxiety went away. I was able to enjoy more moments.
But some moments still suck! When Avery pees all over me and the bed at 11pm. When shes screaming for an hour and a half, and working herself into a lather while driving home. When we’re about to leave for dinner and she spits up, exorcist style, all over my new shirt. I don’t enjoy those moments. But I do enjoy most moments. Like when she smiles and coos while I sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” or when she is soundly asleep in my arms. Watching Dave hold her and talk to her about the Red Sox, or give her a bottle. Those moments make all the sucky moments worth it.
New moms, you will NOT enjoy every moment. Some will be downright terrible. But, I promise the good moments will outweigh the bad ones. And, you are not alone.
If you think you are experiencing postpartum depression, do not be ashamed. Get help, talk to someone–a loved one, a counselor, a nurse, anyone. Let someone know how you are feeling. Don’t let it go beyond the “Baby Blues” While it is normal to feel some sadness and anxiety, if you feel that you want to harm yourself or your baby or if the sadness and negative feelings last longer than a few weeks after the baby is born, you need to reach out for help.