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.