There's an ugly, often misunderstood thing that happens to a lot of women when they have babies. (And sometimes men, too. It's not a gender specific thing.) We go through periods of "the Baby Blues." And sometimes, it gets a little worse than just feeling blue. Sometimes, it's a depression. Post-partum depression. And it's ugly. But, it's normal. (Or, if not normal, at least, common.)
I have had a bit of that post-partum depression with each of my babies. It's been a rough road, learning how to deal with it. PPD is different from regular depression in several ways. You have all the major depression problems, like sleep, appetite, and mood changes, but it's compounded by the feeling that you shouldn't be feeling that way because you just had a baby. You should be so happy and excited and full of love for this new thing, but you don't and you can't figure out why.
I got lots of advice when I was feeling that way. I just wanted to talk to someone who could say, "It's ok for you to feel the way you do. Everything is changing around you and you have really lost a lot of the control you used to have." That was the biggest thing for me. I didn't even feel like I could control my own body because I was nursing. I particularly remember one day when my oldest boy just didn't want to be put down and I had to take him with me to the bathroom so that I wasn't listening to him screaming from the other room. I couldn't even have those few moments to myself. I sat on the couch and cried.
I felt like maybe I didn't really love my baby, because if I did, I wouldn't feel the way I did. My husband had a hard time understanding why I wasn't happy that first time around. We were both new to it and didn't know much about PPD. I vetoed the use of the phrase, "You just need to..." because every time I tried to tell him how I was feeling, I would get a "Well, you just need to... read your scriptures, get up earlier, get out of the house, get out of your pajamas." The list was endless. And I didn't feel like he really understood or cared how I felt when he said those kinds of things. It took me a long time to feel like I knew who I was again and what I wanted out of life. It's really hard to be a mom. It's so new and so many things are dependent on you. A husband can't nurse the baby. He doesn't have to get up in the night. He doesn't have to deal with the crying all day or the poopy diapers or the inconsolable baby all day. Even if he's there with you, it's just not his job. And you still have all the other things that you did before as a wife. Everything feels out of balance and it seems like things will never be normal again.
It took me a long time to realize that it's ok to let things slide or to ask for help. It's ok to not have a clean house every day, or for the dishes to sit in the sink. Or to never get out of your pajamas. It's ok to do something nice for you, to say, "Take the baby and let me have a bath." And most of all, it's ok to feel what you feel, knowing that some time in the not too distant future, you'll feel more in control and more able to do what needs to be done.It's ok to tell people you are having a bad day and to let yourself be vulnerable.
Today, I'm feeling groovy. And it's nice. Things are looking up. I'm feeling a little more capable and motivated. I have new direction for the things I want to do. And I am so grateful to understand that my bad days aren't going to last forever and that people understand.
Friends, if any of you are in the same boat, please know that you aren't alone. Drop me a line and I'll be glad to chat. And remember. It does get better.