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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Postpartum Blues

It only takes briefly holding a soul fresh from heaven to feel sorely inadequate. She a holy celestial orb, Me a clutzy dirty rag. I wish I could shake the comparison, but I find it difficult with each passing sleepless night.

As I look down at my sweet daughter in my arms, I feel sorry for her because she didn’t get a very good mom. Sure, we’re both feeling our way through our new life together, but I’m the one whose thoughts meander into the dark woods while hers drift off to blissful sleep. (Ah, sleep. Perhaps, a chance to dream.) I’d heard of the baby blues, but, man, they suck when they are no longer just hearsay.

I’m still waiting for that moment, the one that takes my breath away and wraps me in soft billowy joy as greeting card poetry swirls in my mind heralding thoughts of adoration for my baby and refreshed role as mother. I look at my baby and think, "she’s cute," but I don’t have an overwhelming gush of adoration. I hear it comes in different time frames for different people. For some, it’s immediate love at first sight. For others, it comes after months of sharing a life and growing together, so I’m patient. With time, we’ll share inside jokes and create you-had-to-be-there stories.

I had heard PLENTY about the fears and pains of labor and delivery, so that’s what I had braced myself for. I had heard some about new parent exhaustion, but I had mistakenly thought my insomnia during pregnancy prepared me for the sleepless nights invited by a newborn baby. I had been warned to give breastfeeding an adjustment period, though I had not understood the painful learning curve required to do it. What no one mentioned was the after-party, the gamut of emotions that follow the big event. What happens when you get home and emotions escape like shrilling banshees out of Pandora’s Box?

Everyone is eager to share their labor stories, but no one mentions the real horror stories, the ones about when you get home with your child, you don’t sleep, you can’t think, and thoughts of inadequacy and frustration lead to anger and sadness. I suppose no one feels safe sharing that when surrounded by blow-up storks and well-wishers.

“You must be so excited!” I hear.

“Um, yeah, sure,” I mumble.

I’m not advocating being the wet blanket at the baby party, but surely, the temporary pain of labor is not as vital information as the longer linger of postpartum blues. What a disservice to women everywhere to pretend it doesn’t exist. It leaves many a mom to feel alien, wrong, and even, evil.

I’m completely aware that every woman is different and some may exude only sunshine upon giving birth, but I'm convinced that more often than not, there are women wrapped up in the guilt of their dark thoughts directed at the helpless and innocent creatures in their care. I am advocating that women release that guilt and the hushed tones of the non-Smurfy emotions they experience shortly after coming home with baby. I don’t think we need to each wear our emotional story like a morbid badge of honor, but I do think a frank and open acceptance of the matter would serve each of us better. Suppose that saying "I hate being a mother today" was just as acceptable as saying "I am having a bad hair day today"? We'd feel a whole lot more supported in our developing roles as mothers and actually feel... normal.

At 3 a.m., I sit awake, awkwardly feeding a hungry baby, and I daydream (nightdream?) of sleep. I have the blues today, but I'm learning they are normal and temporary. Boy, I can't wait to again feel Smurfy.

16 comments:

Marie said...

Oh Adhis, I feel for you. I do remember those difficult early days with my babies . . . I think maybe we forget at times how hard they were because we subconsciously try to “push back” those memories that aren’t as pleasant to think on?? But it is real and I think *especially* difficult with your 1st baby. It’s such an adjustment to get used to someone else being 100% completely and totally reliant on you for every need. And someone who is pretty demanding about it at that. I had a few ideas of things that helped me if you’d like to hear them, but I thought I’d spare you of an even longer comment unless you’re interested. In the meantime, hang in there! The relieving news is . . . it DOES get better and you’ll get there – You are a terrific mom, I watched what you did for your foster kids and KNOW that Adhis is a lucky little girl.

Aubrey said...

I too remember how difficult it was when Hailey was born. Its just one of those things that seems to be "taboo" to talk about, especially at a baby shower, or something, like Marie said, is subconsciously pushed out, because we'd rather remember the good times, than the bad. I'm sorry you're having a difficult "blue" time. I sometimes still have those days, where I feel totally inadequate, and the "I hate being a mother" days. Which I feel totally guilty about when I think about how much I wanted to be a mom when we were having infertility struggles. It does get better though, and you will have happier times. Newborns are wonderful and terrible at the same time!
Good luck! That baby is a very lucky girl!

Nathalie Smith said...

well, that's your problem right there- what the heck are you doing feeding her sitting up?! Let her lay down by you in bed, and kick david out(LOL).

I don't really think I personally ever felt like that, I just knew I was tired, so I said screw the sitting up and feeding at 3am she's coming to bed with me and it worked. I felt 10xs better.

Don't be afraid to ask for help, like have some one come over to hold baby while you take a shower and shave your legs. And DON"T clean your house when she sleeps! SLEEP with her,everyone understands.

I wish I was there to help you out sis. This period in your life will seem like a bat of an eye. It will go by soo fast you will soon be crying because she is getting so big. (I know right now you are saying not fast enough, I did too) Just say a little prayer when you need a little pick me up with your precious one. You both chose each other, you are meant for each other, you will make it thru.
Love you sis, hang in there, and you feel like you feelings are getting worst please tell someone that can help.

We're Wingin It said...

Adhis,
It is not you, it is the hormones. It definitely takes time for things to regulate. But it WILL happen.

Those first six weeks are so hard--it really is just survival mode. Everything is so good (baby) and so bad (raging hormones, recovering body) at the same time that it really is hard to interpret what is going on.

I think many times moms don't talk about depression or baby blues, or the times you want to lock your two year old in his room and hide in the basement because it is hard for people who haven't been there done that to understand. But once it is "out there" we can share our stories and talk about how we survived and what we learned.

I love how you wrote your feelings out in such a beautiful way. And I am sorry it is hard right now!

Sunni said...

Amen to what Sheree said. Your body spent 9 months building up levels of hormones that all went kerwhack in one day, and now your body, (and mind) has some serious readjusting to do, plus you're not getting any sleep, which makes me insane crazy emotional woman faster than anything else. Hang in there, and when this adjusting is over, you'll see what I do, that your baby is lucky to have you as a momma.

Katy said...

Everyone else has said it so well, but I just want to add my (cyber)hugs and support. We understand.

P.S. Thanks for visiting my blog. It was fun to see you on there. :-)

mom adhis said...

Just know that this little girl choose you for a Mom for a Very unique reason....YOU.
The blues come and go different on everyone so they are really hard to predict. The good thing is that you recognize the blues for what they are, Be a sured they will go way.
I send good feeling vibes your way. As happy and cheerful as Dolphines.
Mom
P.S. I'll be there on Thursday/Friday.

TheOrttFamily said...

Adhis, I just wanted to say I love ya!! Hang in there it will get better but just turn into a differnent kind of trial..haha you wanted the truth right?? hehe..I hope you don't mind but I am just gonna show up one day and NO you can't turn me away!

James and Heather English said...

Adhis, I think it really is important that you atleast recognize that they are the baby blues and are putting it out there so that us as your friends can be there for you. Thank you for that! I'm not sure what you would consider helpful right now, but whatever that is, I would love to do it. I would love to take your baby for a few hours so you could take a nap or even just a shower for heaven sakes! I know how it goes, some days that is a big accomplishment! If you aren't comfortable with that, I am willing to help clean, be a listening ear, whatever you need. You are a wonderful person and mother and just need to give yourself a break! I will call you soon. Hang in there!

Wendy said...

Adhis!
My heart aches with you. I think I cried for 3 solid months after Gabriel was born! Loved the baby, hated the hormones, lack of sleep, excruciating feeding problems... I echo what has been said, it gets better. SO much better. Otherwise we're all insane for ever signing up for it more than once! I'll be praying for you, because I know all too well how ugly it can be. But check you out, still writing in complete sentences. That's something. :) Make no mistake, that is one lucky baby.
Wendy H.

Christi said...

OK here's the fifth attempt at a post.

It really stinks when reality jumps up and slaps you in the face, huh? Postpartum blues can actually be a very "black" and dark time. It is a taboo topic and one that affected my life 3 times, getting worse with each one.

As I read the previous comments, I thought how nice everyone was to assure you that it gets better and it's just a short time. In hindsight, it is, but not when you are in the thick of the biggest internal struggle of your life. Here you are a woman in Zion, you are suppose to have children, to nurture them and to be happy doing it! So the question remains, why do you feel so alien to what has been deemed your natural calling? You're right, no one talks about it, no one addresses the issue with those who are expecting their first baby.

Most of us have been there and most of us have survived. My secret? A Hospital-grade breast pump and mild anti-depressant (talk about taboo!)
In truth, I don't look back on the birth of my children with joy and warm fuzzies. I think I finally start enjoying motherhood about 9 months into the venture. If you do the math that's 18 months of my life that I'm miserable and not "myself". Oh the sacrifices we make as mothers!

Adhis, be assured that you are not alone in this and there are numerous people, me included, that would drop everything to help you during this time. Take some time to reflect on what you need right now and then take the steps to get it. Use the resources around you! You are a great mother and you will get through this one step at a time.

Kristen said...

I've been sitting here speechless for a good 10 minutes now, not knowing what to write.

It's funny because some of the comments suggested doing things that made me feel worse and are opposite of what made me feel better. I suppose it's different for everyone. The universal answer is that we all love YOU (not just your baby) and want to help you get through this time!

I just thought of something funny, but not for everyone to read, so I'll email you. Oh goody.

James and Heather English said...

Hey Cutie, It's Mama Tenney here. I never experienced the baby blues, but I did experience sleep deprivation and used to think about sleep. Your baby is so cute and I really want to see her and you! I went to the library today and Deseret Book to find the book Marie Osmond wrote called "Behind the Smile" in which she talks about how she got through post partum. It was no where to be found. Maybe someone reading this has a copy and could give it to you. Let me know when it is a good time to see you and if I can I will run over. I'm also very capable of quite a few things - cleaning, listening, talking and yes even cooking! I love you and Dave and think you will do a great job. You have had enough practice, that's for sure! Call me. 766-8749. Love ya, Diane

Kikibug said...

WOW! I could have written that exact post after Judson (but not nearly as beautiful, and mine had more anger and cussing). It was the darkest time in my life and I hate admitting that when it was "suppose to be" the happiest time in my life. I am over it now, I understand it for what it was, as it seems you do.(I didn't understand post-pardum at the time which made it all the harder and honestly looking back mine was close to post-pardum psychosis). I also didn't bond with him for MONTHS and felt so guilty, but once he started laughing in an interacting I knew he had my heart for eternity.
The advice given is awesome and I would just amen to all of them. Especially the SLEEP when you can part.. let the house be dirty, let people come over and help you, talk talk talk to people.
This is why you will feel better soon: because you are TALKING ABOUT IT!! I didn't, I felt too guilty, but you bet your butt that I will talk if I ever feel that way again. I will NEVER go through something so hard ALONE EVER AGAIN!
You are SOOOOOOO LOVED! and for good reason!
PS. good news, I felt 100% different with Carma. Not even a tiny bit of baby blues... just some crazy sleep deprivation. I owe Donna Rice my life for saving me a couple of times.

Jenn said...

I don't know how this post got past me. I just want to tell you that YOU ARE LOVED. Not just by us here on this earth but also by many spirits in heaven. I hope things are getting better. Please do not even think twice about calling. I have a crib set up upstairs and little Adhis can come over anytime for a sleep over. Love Ya and we'll be praying for you.

Amannda Ashby said...

You've all ready been given lots of great advise, so here are my thoughts. You should write a book. You express things so well.

When someone is pregnant with thier first baby you really think someone is going to sit down and tell them how life fell apart as soon as they got home with thier most precious thing they will ever own. However, I would say that alot of women go through those very chanllenging weeks or months. If you don't actually write a book at least keep up the blogging I believe it was Hiedi Wakely that said you could turn your blog into a book!

Your Awesome!