The Morning Stroll

The Baby Blues: The Deepest Shade of Blue

July 3, 2015

In some ways, it’s like I was meant to be a mother. I never knew that I would be capable of doing things that suddenly became automatically instinctual. I felt compassion for her when she cried. I rarely became frustrated or angry with her. I worked to get her off the formula that they started her on when she was in the NICU, and then I breastfed on-demand. I would hold her on my chest, my eyelids thrashing sleepily, but feeling it was more important to comfort her than to curl up myself. I felt anxiety when I was a room away from her and I missed her when she slept in the afternoons. She was mine and I loved her.Baby feet on blanket

Then the other part of me felt like I was drowning. When I couldn’t soothe her cries, I took it somewhat personally, even though I knew I shouldn’t. I felt like I needed my husband to do certain things, like shush her and put her to sleep, which I both appreciated and envied. I felt jealous because it seemed he did it better than I. How could she not feel comforted by me? And the crying…in the middle of the night… I am not special, I am not the first parent to experience this and I won’t be the last, but my god, is it trying. The exhaustion, the volume of the screams, how they can wear on you.

Breastfeeding, too, proved to be a larger undertaking than I had anticipated. The painful breasts that came with it, the engorgement, the leaking all over the bed in the middle of the night, the pumping…oh my god, the pumping. And yet, I never once considered stopping or switching her to another form of food. So I felt a little bit like a prisoner to her and the pump, at their mercy whenever one needed to be fed or the other needed to empty. During this time, I thought forward to the rest of the one year I had planned to breastfeed her, and I felt a sense of dread. It was daunting knowing that my life was about to be dictated by a hungry baby attached to my leaky, swollen boobs.

Then there were the things that had nothing to do with the baby. Things that I felt I had lost and wasn’t sure that I’d ever get back. And I’m not even talking about things that some may consider trivial, like going out and drinking, or spending money on myself and things I wanted. I longingly looked out the window at the trees and the grass and the breeze, wondering when I would be able to actually enjoy that again, when I would be able to just walk out the door as I pleased without having to prepare 30 minutes beforehand and pack a bag. I wondered when I would be able to sleep again for a solid 8 hours, or even nap peacefully. I wondered when I could truly hush the anxiety and shut my mind off again. I knew it would come, surely as she grew, but it felt like things that used to be so simple now required so much thought.

Then there was my relationship. I think people would expect me to say that I lost interest in my relationship, that sex was not even fathomable in those first weeks, that maybe I didn’t even feel love for my husband. But this was actually the opposite. I actually felt more in love with my husband than I ever had, more attracted to him than ever before. And ironically, it was somewhat because of seeing him with our daughter, the way that he loved her, comforted her, sang to her. These things were so beautiful to witness. The other part of it was probably because of how much he was there for me and supported me during her birth, at the hospital, in the NICU. I felt his love radiating toward me, always putting me first. Always. He wasn’t this husband that I’d heard horror stories about. He was 100% the greatest person I had ever known, and he was mine. And that’s why I was sad, because our time was over. It was no longer he and I, doing what we wanted, loving, snuggling, cooking together, relaxing on our couch, picnicking outside. All of these things that I loved about just being with him felt infiltrated by this tiny person. Our dynamic was no longer he and I. It was now me and him and her. And that made me a little sad.

I cried every day after I gave birth for two weeks. I cried, mourning the loss of freedom of my previous life and who I was. I cried, mourning my relationship and all the time we would no longer have together alone. I cried when I was away from her. I cried at how huge and annoying and painful my boobs were. I cried because I was exhausted. And every time I cried, I talked to my husband, who listened to me and was more supportive than ever. He would help talk me through all I was feeling and reminded me to continue to be open with him, and that we could get through it.

And one day, two weeks after she was born, I stopped crying. I'm not really sure what it was but I just started to feel a little bit better. And with each day that came, the good feelings continued to grow. And then she began to babble. And then she smiled at me. And then she pushed herself up. And then she laughed. And breastfeeding got better, easier, finally enjoyable even. And all of these things contributed to this overwhelming happiness that still grows.

I didn't have postpartum depression; I had what is sweetly termed the 'baby blues,' and is a wild mix of emotions brought on by hormones and giving birth and breastfeeding. The baby blues are normal and are only supposed to last a few weeks like this, but it didn't make it any less difficult. I wasn't prepared for how I would feel and I think it's really important to discuss. It could be the difference between whether you can make it out, or sink further into depression. Having a good support system is, I think, essential. If I hadn't had my husband or my mom to talk to, I think it would have taken more time and more tears.

 

Photo by © {beth} a-dilly photography

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