the baby blues.

I’ve been absent from the blog for a while now. I thought having a baby would mean I’d want to post All The Time. And having SO MUCH to post about. And those two things are in fact true – what I failed to factor in: the TIME it takes to sit down and blog isn’t easily come by anymore. And while there is SO MUCH to say – there really are no words that convey it.

But, there are millions and millions of words in our language and there ARE the words . . .

I’ve been suffering from the baby blues.

* * *

During the prenatal period, you’re pumped with info about postpartum depression and husbands are tasked with keeping a mindful eye open and spotting when their wives show signs.

But, in reality, the blues set in quietly and slowly and may not manifest into something that others will pick up on right away or requires professional support. So, what then? No, the baby blues roll in like a fog, undetected. They silently feed off of every doubt and vulnerability you possess as a new mom.

The fog starts the second you are wheeled into recovery from your c-section. You are told you can go see your baby in the NICU once you can feel your legs and stand up. That begins to be your one and only focus. As you struggle to keep your eyes open from all the meds, you sit and focus on wiggling your toes and shaking your legs to wake them up.

Then a lactation consultant comes to see you and you learn your very first job, right after you wake those legs up, is to start pumping so your baby has food. Your body failed in keeping your baby in until term, so like hell you’re going to let it fail and not produce enough milk for him.

So, you become obsessed with pumping.

From there – it all snowballs. It’s one thing after another – all things focused on baby. You start living in a vacuum and become disconnected from everything else around you. Even, at times, your own baby.

You start thinking a lot about your birth experience. You start feeling angry about how it went down. You start grieving for the first few days and weeks of your baby’s life that you missed so much of because he was in the NICU and you couldn’t be there around the clock. Every morning on your drive in to see your baby, it feels forced and surreal. Because, one minute you were looking forward to your baby shower, and the next you’re visiting your new baby, one you don’t really know very well yet, in the hospital. But, people don’t understand that or want to hear about that. You had a healthy baby! That’s all that matters!

So, again, you’re trained to tell yourself your crazy for feeling the way you feel. Why would you even for a second question the events that brought your beautiful, healthy baby into the world? Don’t be so selfish and greedy that you would be disappointed in your birth experience! Life isn’t fair, haven’t you learned that by now?

At your six week postpartum appointment your OB will ask questions about how you are feeling. At the two month well baby check your pediatrician will ask how you are fairing as well. Both will feel more like check-list items to ensure you’re not at risk of shaking a baby than a true invitation to raise your hand and ask, “this doesn’t feel right, can you tell me if this is normal?”

Soon you realize that sadness and anxiety is tugging at every fiber of your being. It makes you question WHY you decided to even have a baby in the first place. It makes you miss your old life. Your old you. It makes you observe other new moms with a watchful, envious eye – do they ever have these thoughts, too? Are they just as sad and lonely and anxious as I am? Their baby looks even younger than mine . . . how are they out in public and looking so at ease?

You even look at your husband with intense jealously. In the middle of the night, when you’re up for the second or third or fourth time, and he’s sleeping deeply and peacefully, you desperately want to wake him up and ask for help. But, you don’t. Because he has to get up and go to work. You are a stay at home mom. This is your job. You shouldn’t need help. It’s your own problem your baby isn’t sleeping, you can’t get him on a schedule, he won’t eat enough at a meal to last more than 2-3 hours, and every other thing that isn’t going according to the plan you had before you had this baby. 

So, instead of asking for help, you sit in the glider, rocking your baby and you cry. And you feel alone. You get the baby back to bed and instead of crawling back into bed yourself, you sit and cry some more.

As if you didn’t feel bad enough, you start to wonder if your baby’s fussiness is a result of feeding off your own stress and sadness.

Yet another item to add to the guilt.

And then you look down at your little bundle of joy – and he is smiling for the first time. He is looking at his hand for the very first time. He is cooing and babbling for the first time. The first time you know he is looking at you – truly looking at you – and he knows you are his mama and you’re the first love of his life.

And in those moments your heart melts and swells with pride and love and happiness you never thought was humanly possible.

You are reminded tomorrow is another day. He will do new things and make you smile and make your heart overflow with the greatest love in the world.

You forgive yourself for that day and assure yourself what you are feeling is normal. Even though you will continue to feel alone. 

You are not the first, or the last, new mom to feel like she is drowning under the weight of this new love. Even though you will feel like not a single person could ever understand.

You promise yourself that tomorrow you will ask for help. Even though you will likely won’t, because you don’t know how. Or when you receive it, you won’t know how to properly accept it. 

Then, when tomorrow comes, you decide to sort through all the clothes he’s already outgrown. You stumble on a preemie sized diaper in the back of his closet that somehow found it’s way home with you from the NICU.

Instead of feeling traumatized from the NICU experience, guilt from having a preemie, exhaustion from knowing you haven’t had a proper night’s sleep in four months . . . no, holding the little clothes and the diaper makes you MISS him being that tiny. Makes you MISS that time he was so brand new and you were getting to know one another.

You are reminded of how terribly fleeting time is. And how when you look back, while you will likely still remember the ache that the baby blues caused, still remember the isolation you felt, and the anxiety that consumed you . . . but, soon, it really won’t matter.

* * *

Charlie, you’re spunky and silly and sweet . . . you’re our stubborn little spitfire. Thank you for being patient with me while I find my way and settle into my new role as your mama. I suppose that’s why you babies don’t have memories – it allows us the space to figure things out.

I love you, baby boy, we’ll get through this together.

 

Comments

  1. Big hugs to you Alison. I have felt similarly with both of my babies. I think it’s part of the transition to parenthood for everyone. I’m here if you want to talk.

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