Baby Blues…or something like that

This post is long overdue. I’ve been thinking about it for awhile. Part of me felt embarrassed to write it because for some reason I thought I shouldn’t have felt the way I did. Part of me didn’t really know exactly how I felt.

Now that I’m “normal” I can look back on Ryan’s first month and really see what I went through. It’s hard though, because it’s all a little blurry. I was depressed and that makes it hard to remember. Plus, I was on vicodin for the c-section and that made me pretty out of it a lot of the time (I was caught falling asleep mid-sentence, mid-conversation more than once).

Why was I feeling embarrassed to write this post? No one talks about the Baby Blues. I heard of them while I was pregnant, but I thought I’d never get them…. yea, just like I thought I’d never ever (ever.) have a c-section. Ha. The truth is that some 80% of women experience baby blues. So why wasn’t I hearing more women talk about it? All I was reading (on twitter and on other blogs) from moms who also had a baby recently was how their hearts were going to burst with love and they had never felt anything like it. So why did I feel nothing? What was wrong with me?! You can imagine that only added to the problem.

I really think my cesarean added a lot to this. Recovery was hard. Recovery sucked. To this day I’m still completely jealous of the women who take their baby out on the town just days after birth. I couldn’t even walk days after birth. When I finally could, it was a very slow and very painful wobble. I couldn’t turn in bed without pain, I couldn’t get out of bed without grimacing and sometimes had to cry out for Steve to bring me the pain meds. Forget leaving the house! I actually sat on that couch, with Ryan, for the entire first month. That also didn’t help the problem of baby blues.

Steve went back to work after the first week. He was working 3rd shift so he’d leave the apartment around 7pm (I think). I’d sob. I’d sit on the couch and sob until I could just take Ryan into the bedroom and sleep.

I held Ryan and I breastfed Ryan because I knew that’s what I was supposed to do. But did I feel that instant bond, that unconditional love, that heart bursting with joy? No. Of course I absolutely LOVED him and never wanting anything bad to happen to him, but I took care of him because… I had to. And then I’d cry about that. WHY won’t he let me put him down? WHY must he nurse all day long? WHY is he always crying?

And now? I MISS those days where all he wanted was to be held. I want them back. And today, that kills me. It kills me that I missed those days… that I barely remember those days… that it was blurry and I wasn’t all there… and mostly, that I’m not sure I gave him all that I could have, should have, would have… had I been “normal.”

People said I’d be annoyed with visitors who came over to help because they’d “help” by holding the baby when really I’d need them to help by cleaning and cooking. Wrong! I couldn’t wait to hand Ryan off to be held while I did the cleaning and cooking… I wanted to feel normal? I wanted a break? I don’t know. But I remember thinking–what are these people talking about?!

“They” say baby blues usually disappear after about 10 days post-partum. Mine definitely did not. I went to the doctor around 12 days pp for my check-up and they asked about depression. I hesitated and then said “I’m okay.” The OB stared at me for a bit and said that I could call any time for more help. I said, “I know.” Then she handed me a slip of paper to take up front for my next appointment. I looked down at it and she had scribbled, “PPDep.” I nearly started crying in the office. Post-partum depression?! No way, not me! I was fine!

On my way home from that appointment I stopped at Walgreens–seriously my first “outing” since Ryan was born (taken out of me). I got a basket full of goodies that made me somewhat happy… got to the checkout… opened my purse…. no wallet. I had left my wallet at home. I started crying, right there, in the store, and told the cashier I had no wallet. Part of me wanted her to say “oh hunny, I’m sorry, just take the stuff anyway.” Yea well she didn’t. And I cried the whole drive home. Maybe I wasn’t fine?

Steve was amazing. Incredible. I may have died without him. He did ALL the laundry and cleaning and cooking. Before he left for work every night he’d set up a tray next to the couch with water and food and the TV remote… it was so hard for me to get around, let alone with a baby who didn’t want to be put down. And what saved me during those nights when I just cried? Steve called me from work. Every night. He’d call almost as soon as he walked out the door and then he’d sit at work with his earphones in and even if we weren’t talking… even if I was falling asleep… he’d sit there on that phone just in case. It seriously saved me.

As I started to get better, I’d tell him: I’ll call you later. And I still did call him for awhile, but I was needing to less and less. I remember the first night he left for work and I DIDN’T CRY. I even tweeted it on twitter. It was a huge milestone. I was nearly jumping for joy (even though in a weird way, half of me still wanted to cry).

Then he’d be leaving for work and I’d be up (yea! off the couch!) dancing around with Ryan and I’d actually smile as Steve left.

By the time I had my 6 week check-up with the OB (yea, the appointment labeled with the PPDep), I was fine. I was great. They gave me a stupid survey where I had to circle how I was feeling, etc. and I flew through it. (Note to OBs: you’d probably learn more about your patient if you spoke to them in person about the depression rather than handing them a piece of paper and walking out the door).

I don’t think it was ever PPD. I think it was baby blues plus some. Plus c-section. Plus surgery trauma. Plus loss of birth. Whatever you want to call it. I can look back on that time and see how much I was affected. It really does make me sick and this post was really hard to write because I try not to think about it. I try not to think about that precious time with Ryan that I missed.

NOW my heart is exploding with love I’ve never felt before. Now I just want to watch him sleep and take 2034 pictures a day. Now I never want to put him down. And now I look forward to baby cuddles. NOW I know what being a mom feels like.

I read somewhere recently that when you give birth, a hormone is released that is responsible for that instant mother-child bond. The one that fathers have to work to achieve. During a c-section, that hormone is never released. So hello dads, welcome me to your world. I had to work for that bond too. And that made me feel a little bit better… like it wasn’t all me… there was a REASON. Even if that reason was that damn c-section.

Baby Blues ARE common and there is NOTHING wrong with you… once I finally brought up my “blues” on twitter, I got a pretty big response from women saying they went through the same thing. This was near the end of my depression (obviously, as I was able to admit it and talk about it) so I thought “where were all of you earlier?! why doesn’t anyone talk about this?!” I had felt so alone, I had felt so broken. (and that’s not including the psychological recovery from my c-section that I had to deal with AFTER this… that I’m STILL dealing with… although I am sure that contributed somewhat, unknowingly, to my baby blues.)

**EDIT: While baby blues ARE common, please seek help if you’re feeling depressed. What starts as baby blues can quickly develop into something more serious like PPD. Besides, you shouldn’t have to suffer and feel as alone as I did. Please talk to someone!**

Do you have stories? Did you get baby blues or PPD? Or were you in the 20% of overjoyed mamas?
ahhhhhhhhhhhhh…. I just took a deep breath. I think I held my breath through this whole post. Thanks for listening. And I write this only in hopes that other mamas who go through this don’t feel alone and know that it IS normal and it does happen.

19 comments to Baby Blues…or something like that

  • I probably didn’t start feeling PPD/Baby Blues until about 4 months after Owen’s birth. Suddenly, I was working full-time and missing Owen. I was stressed. I was angry ALL OF THE TIME. Angry at myself about my csec. Angry at Owen for not sleeping. Angry at my husband for walking the wrong way. By 6 months, I had admitted that I had a problem and my husband started approaching me differently and I started dealing with things differently. It was so hard.

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  • M

    Thanks for writing this! I had a very similar story. I had a c-section (but not emergency, like you…I had a couple weeks to try to get used to the idea) but was upset by it, especially what happened afterwards. I loved my son, but just went through the motions for awhile. I had to learn to have that kind of love and what you said, about the chemical not being released, makes a lot of sense. It took me about 6 or 8 weeks too. I’m hoping for a VBAC this pregnancy.

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  • I’m glad you’re yourself again, Em :) And very glad that I’ll have you to turn to for advice if (probably when) I’m in the position of having a new baby and the blues that apparently most women go through after birth. This post was inspirational!

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  • Oh and MAJOR kudos for Steve!!!

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  • I have had four births and on my last child birth i developed maniac depression, panic attacks, anxiety, and agoraphobia. All of which i had no sign of before i had my last son. I know how you feel. Although it went away for you its all to real for me ever single day. i have to live with the inability to leave my house. I also got worse with my obsessive compulsive disorders. I used to only have a mild aversion to germs but after my last child i couldnt even touch doors couldnt go anywhere without germx and washed my hands continuously. So i strongly advise to you that next child you have if you experience anything like that again to please seek help asap, so that you dont have to suffor in silence again.

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  • check out my blog! I have written a couple posts about my own PPD… http://littlemissemmylou.blogspot.com/2010/04/yesterday-was-interesting-day.html and also the posts prior to that

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  • Such a great post. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  • First off, huge hugs!! You wrote about this long before I could, emotionally and mentally.

    Mine is a really long answer and I blogged it awhile ago, so I will just link to that.

    http://heartsandhandss.com/2009/08/11/bonding/

    Thank you again for talking about this. It is so important and not talked about enough.

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  • I had a mix of feelings. I felt the instant bond, love and joy, but I was also overwhelmed and disoriented. I cried a lot of happy and sad tears. I’ve always been able to express and talk about my feelings, but I found myself completely unable to speak about what was going on. When I finally got the words out to my husband, it helped. I just needed time for the hormones to settle down. I’ve never experienced such crazy, intense flip-flopping emotions. I agree, it should be talked about more so that women don’t feel alone when they’re going through it.

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  • angelicme

    Thank you for sharing this. No one should ever feel alone! I admire your strength in posting this.

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  • Our first baby was a c-section like yours and I experience all of what you talk about! Do I think I had PPdep, blues etc…

    I have no clue what I had, but I know that I was in lots of pain (First thing I don’t deal well with pain that doesn’t go away), then I had a bladder infection (due to that stupid catheter that they put in me during the c-section) and on top of that I had a really bad mastitis and a severe crack nipples (So for both infections I was put on a high dose of antibiotic that made me feel more sick then the infection itself!!! lots of runs if you know what I mean) So that was only part of the problem all those health issue.

    Our baby was needy, part of her personality she wanted to be held 27/7 and would not sleep elsewhere then on me, Her father couldn’t even hold her at all, she was a mama only baby!!! Lets say I didn’t get any break for the first couple month of life with her!!! (Ps she is now 3 and still wants lots of attention from me!!!)She also nursed every 2 hours!!!! (I had to use a nipple shield for the first 4 month of her life to try to heal my sore and cracks)

    So health issue, needy baby what else was on the table, My husband was working night shift so when was home he was sleeping and I was always trying to make baby not cry so he would be able to sleep. we were only married for a month when we find out that I was preggo, so U was getting use to be a wife, a mother, a homemaker etcc all at the same time, lets talk about overwhelming!!!

    So I call the season of life after baby#1 was born a time to get use to it! it’s was stressful, painful, and not fun for the first part! But 18 months later baby #2 came along (vbac) things were much better, was able to walk and ENJOY baby instead of that default parenting that I was feeling with our first! and now almost 3 year later we are getting ready to give birth to baby#3 and will see how it goes!

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  • Yeah, I had ’em. I wrote a post that’s sort of similar to this one a few days ago: http://www.hope-springs-eternal.com/2010/04/it-aint-always-pretty.html

    I think it’s common to feel detached, sad, depressed when you are”:
    recovering from childbirth
    sleep deprived
    always hungry from breastfeeding
    have a baby attached to your boob almost 24/7
    have a husband that works 3rd shift.

    I especially sympathize with you on the last one. Josh works 12 hour overnight shifts at a prison starting at 7 PM. His first one was like, 3 days after Nellie was born so I was on my own. With a newborn. I would sit and sob. And sob. Aaaaand sob. Because I was hungry, because I was tired, because I was lonely.

    Things are better now, and in a weeeeird way I do miss those early days.

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  • I can totally relate. After I had my son, Luke, I really wanted to breastfeed. At first he did so good, then he had trouble latching on and would cry and cry. The nurse had my husband feed him some formula through a syringe and I cried for 2 hours after that. When we brought him home, I couldn’t even talk about breastfeeding with out crying. Basically, I fought back tears most of the day. I didn’t act like myself, to the point that my best friend didn’t come around as often as she would have liked because she felt like it was too much for me. It was probably about a month before I started feeling “normal” again. I too had a C-section and I feel that that is the reason for the troubles with breastfeeding. My milk never came in, I did everything right, I breast fed in the recovery room, I nursed on demand which the second night in the hospital I breast fed every 10 minutes all night because that’s what he wanted. I waited and waited for my milk to come in, the nurses kept saying “oh in a couple of days you will have so much milk you will be in pain” nope, never came, I pumped, it never came and eventually, I had to formula feed. I believe that something happens to your body when you give birth. That changes happen and when you have a c-section, that is taken away from you. I believe that your body needs to have that birth, in preparation for being a mommy. I totally understand this post, and thanks for writing about it. You are not alone!! And I agree, if someone out there is going through the same thing, see a doctor, you don’t have to suffer!!

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  • Thank you for sharing your story!

    Women need to speak up about baby blues, and mental healthy postpartum. They need a place of support, and to know these feelings are common, and pass, and that you can get help.

    Hugs and thank you.

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  • Kristine Brite

    I could write a novel, but don’t want to take away from what you said. From your story. I cried when Cora was alive. It’s like a bit of torture what your body goes through and then not getting any sleep. I was happier than I’d ever been, but would just burst into tears for no reason. I would be bawling and tell Ben it was so strange to feel a bursting heart and be crying for no reason. Maybe from lack of sleep? I think the baby blues are inevitable. Without sleep and all that our bodies go through, of course women are emotional after child birth. I also think everyone’s experience with it is a little different. Thank you for sharing yours.

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  • Thanks for sharing your experience Emily. I love reading honest post like these! Sometimes I’m scared out of my mind about becoming a mom and it’s nice to know that feelings even after birth of sadness are normal :)

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  • I had a natural birth, though he was taken from me and put in the SCU for 3 days as soon as he was out, and i didn’t get a single damn “warm fuzzy” hormone. :(

    I really wonder, if PPD/depression after birth is so common, than is it actually a disease in the way we think of it? Or is society set up in a way where we are supposed to be all love drunk and sappy from day one, and only a small portion of women actually feel like that, so the rest of us aren’t left to feel broken and “bad” at some level, even though WE are the norm?

    I dunno, i just think about it. I have always had depression, and I still had it after baby was born. I don’t really call it PPD because it’s always been there, and it wasn’t to the extreme where i wanted to hurt my baby… but I certainly was just like you explained.

    …. He’s 5 months old now and I’m still that way. It’s the the point now where for me, i feel like very little of it is depression itself, and it’s just how I am. I love him of course, but I don’t have that overwhelming love my-life-is-now-only-for-you type feeling most moms profess.

    While I was originally intending to be a SAHM, my depression was worsening very quickly and i distance myself more and more from the baby until it was decided to go back to school and have a career. Now that i feel like i’m able to have an identity outside of “mom” and reclaime the dreams of my own, i feel worlds better. I truly think part of it for some people is that society expects moms to view themselves #1 as moms and receive all their happiness are personal fulfillment from their children. And while some do and that’s great, I could never, ever be happy with that main identity. My own goals and dreams and passions do not magically evaporate when my baby is born and all i care about is him, as people for some reason expect them to.

    Not saying anything bad about those who’s #1 passion IS parenting at all, but society makes every woman feel like it should be hers, even if she “has to” go out and work, they should at least say things like “oh i wish i could stay at home!” For all the women out there who aren’t like that often are left feeling “different” and “wrong” on top of the normal hormonal rebalancing- like they must not love their child enough (since everyone has to love in the same way, i suppose) or that they must be crazy or a bad mom or would be outcasted horribly if they ever spoke about the fact that parenthood alone cannot fulfill them, etc.

    Whoa.. this got long. haha. But.. yeah. I feel you. We really need to get the word out about this sort of thing. Blog Carnival anyone!? Maternal Mental Health awareness month!

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  • Wow, what an amazing post! Thanks so much for writing this. I feel like I could have written so much of this post! And I *know* that the way I (and you) felt is/was normal, but it’s still so great to hear AGAIN that I’m not the only one who felt this way. Oh, and my first solo outing was to Walgreen’s too!! How funny is that? I actually went to buy sinus meds for my husband and took them to him at work b/c he wasn’t feeling well. I felt SO liberated to be out of the house, NO baby (my dad and step-mom were at the house). I’m sure I looked like such a slob but I did NOT care. Of course by the time I got home I was exhausted, flushed, and wanted to collapse! But I felt like a real adult person again.

    I want to share a couple things that might help someone else – right after my mom had left (she lives 1,000 miles away and stayed with us for the first 10 days), when I was in the midst of the “baby blues”, she said “You’re likely to look back on this period with mixed emotions either way.” Meaning, it was okay to be sad and not feel 100% in love with my baby, and the newborn period is a ROUGH adjustment for almost everyone, whether you have PPD or just regular ole “baby blues”. I also got some great advice from other people who told me that it’s okay to not be totally IN LOVE with my son right away. It’s a new person! We all have to adjust. And especially after a difficult or traumatic birth, the hormones are messed up (as you mentioned) and that makes it even harder. (A big reason I really want a peaceful homebirth next time!) But I still think about those early months and regret not being more “present” and enjoying my baby more. He’s a big, busy toddler now and when he’s falling asleep or feeling cuddly (rare!) I kiss his precious face and think about when he was a tiny newborn. I hope I can appreciate the next baby so much more from day 1, but at the same time, I am okay admitting that the newborn stage is NOT my favorite!

    To share my own experience: I definitely had the “baby blues” and honestly, probably some PPD. I denied it, though, because I didn’t feel sad/weepy (only cried a few times in those first 2 weeks, then not really after that). Instead, I felt ANGRY a lot – almost always frustrated, sometimes filled with rage – mostly towards my husband and also towards my baby sometimes. I never hurt my son, but sometimes I squeezed him a little too tight when I was trying to get him to quit crying and go to sleep, or put him down a little too roughly in the crib. I was so overwhelmed. It was a dark time for me. I started feeling better around 12 weeks, but the transition to being home full-time was difficult and my son continued waking up to eat every 3-4 hours at night. I felt like an exhausted, isolated zombie until I joined our local MOMS Club and made some more friends at about 6 months post-partum. That’s really when things started looking up for me.

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  • […] so so important and women don’t talk about it enough. After Ryan was born, I wrote about my baby blues–or whatever you wanted to call it. In hindsight, I had much more than the blues, but I was […]

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