About two weeks ago on a Monday, I had a meltdown. An honest to God, I can’t understand the world kind of meltdown.
The night before Baby J had cried for three or four hours straight. Nothing I did could soothe him. We bounced on the fit ball. We fed. We burped. We tried the Mamaroo. We tried the swing. I walked the floor with him. I sang. I massaged his belly.
You name it. I tried it.
Come the Monday, every little cry or whimper set me off. When he started a full on wail and entered what I refer to as “the red rage”, I handed him to David and had to walk away.
Tears were streaming down my face and I was shaking my head at nobody. And then I thought, what on earth was I thinking having a baby? What the hell was I thinking? Why did I think I’d be any good at this? I’m a failure.
There was a real feeling of regret. I truly wondered why I had gotten myself into this situation and wished I could go back in time. I wished it had all never happened…
Thankfully, this feeling was temporary. I cried for a few hours, showered, had a nap, and things started to right themselves.
Tuesday morning after a full night of sleep (thanks David!!!) I woke up, cuddled my little man and felt a hundred and eighty degree shift. I love my baby. I am glad I had him. I don’t regret my decision to have him at all.
Why, then, was the feeling of regret so damn strong just one day prior? Was I abnormal?
Here’s the thing. Having a newborn turns your life upside down. It’s harder than any job I’ve ever had, including when I used to work 60-hour weeks. It’s harder than any family drama I’ve been through. As my doctor said at our recent six week checkup, having a newborn is like having a parasite (he has three kids, he knows what he’s talking about)! At this stage, babies take and take and take. There’s not a lot in return. So far the smiles that we’re getting are probably gas. Guys, babies are cute for a reason!
On top of the demands that babies put on women, and that mine was putting on me, the postpartum hormone imbalance is no joke. I would sob at commercials (damn you advertisers, and yes, I will steer clear of Superbowl ads!) or laugh at the most inappropriate times. In the early days after having a baby, they call them the baby blues, a less severe version of postpartum depression.
A few days after that day, I met with some girls from my Birth and Babies class to go for a walk with our little ones. Strolling two astride down the pavement, I confided in one that I’d had such an awful day on the Monday and actually admitted to the feeling of regret.
“Oh, that was my Tuesday!” she answered.
What came next was the most overwhelming sense of relief. Other moms in the group agreed and I was finally brave enough to talk to others in my network.
“It may have been the first day you felt like that, but it won’t be the last,” confirmed my counsellor who has teenage children.
I finally felt normal, normal for having such a bad day and having the kind of reaction that I did.
I wish more women talked about this. While we don’t want to freak out other mothers unnecessarily, had I known to expect such an intense emotion, I might not have felt so bad about myself.
If you’re experiencing baby blues, know that this is completely normal, but engage your support network. Consider seeing a counsellor if you’re struggling to cope, bring in friends and family to help, get some fresh air and be kind to yourself. This too shall pass.
Have you ever experienced the baby blues, or know anyone that’s been through it? What helped you/them get through it?