So turns out all my bitching, fears, anxieties and guilt surrounding having a baby are not all totally normal. I went for my 6 week postpartum check in with my doc with a list of questions about exercise, baths, birth control(CUZ WE NEED THAT FO SHO this baby factory only making one unique baby and is now shut down for good) my last question was, “What’s the difference between feeling like you made a huge mistake by having a baby and postpartum depression?” My doctor thinks I gots the PPD because while some feelings of regret, fear, longing for life pre-baby etc. is normal, the repetitive nature of my thoughts indicates depression.It’s been a hell of a year. A year of huge life changes, a miscarriage, a move, adjusting to married life, pregnancy, a serious illness in the family and now we have a son. A son that I feel like I am already fucking up because I’m a failure at breastfeeding and instant bonding and feelings of love and joy. See? Those are not healthy thoughts. And while I am sure to screw up my kid somehow(I dress up my male dog like a girl which I think is totally fine) I may be being a wee bit too hard on myself. Sometimes you can’t tell what’s going on in a situation when you’re in it. Like, I think these feelings and emotions about motherhood that I am having are truth, when in reality I may actually have postpartum depression. The other day I got an email from Lucie’s List with some good information on symptoms of postpartum depression.
- You feel overwhelmed. Not like “hey, this new mom thing is hard.” More like “I can’t do this and I’m never going to be able to do this.” You feel like you just can’t handle being a mother. In fact, you may be wondering whether you should have become a mother in the first place.
- You feel guilty because you believe you should be handling new motherhood better than this. You feel like your baby deserves better. You worry whether your baby can tell that you feel so bad, or that you are crying so much, or that you don’t feel the happiness or connection that you thought you would. You may wonder whether your baby would be better off without you.
- You don’t feel bonded to your baby. You’re not having that mythical mommy bliss that you see on TV or read about in magazines.
- You can’t understand why this is happening. You are very confused and scared.
- You feel irritated or angry. You have no patience. Everything annoys you. You feel resentment toward your baby, or your partner, or your friends who don’t have babies. You feel out-of-control rage.
- You feel nothing. Emptiness and numbness. You are just going through the motions.
- You feel sadness to the depths of your soul. You can’t stop crying, even when there’s no real reason to be crying.
- You feel hopeless, like this situation will never ever get better. You feel weak and defective. You feel like a failure.
- You can’t bring yourself to eat, or perhaps the only thing that makes you feel better is eating.
- You can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, nor can you sleep at any other time. Or maybe you can fall asleep, but you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep no matter how tired you are. Or maybe all you can do is sleep and you can’t seem to stay awake to get the most basic things done. Whichever it is, your sleeping is completely screwed up and it’s not just because you have a newborn.
- You can’t concentrate. You can’t focus. You can’t think of the words you want to say. You can’t remember what you were supposed to do. You can’t make a decision. You feel like you’re in a fog.
- You feel disconnected. You feel strangely apart from everyone for some reason, like there’s an invisible wall between you and the rest of the world.
- Maybe you’re doing everything right. You are exercising. You are taking your vitamins. You have a healthy spirituality. You do yoga. You’re thinking, “Why can’t I just get over this?” You feel like you should be able to snap out of it, but you can’t.
- You might be having thoughts of running away and leaving your family behind. Or you’ve thought of driving off the road, or taking too many pills, or finding some other way to end this misery.
- You know something is wrong. You may not know you have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, but you know the way you are feeling is NOT right. You think you’ve “gone crazy”.
- You are afraid that this is your new reality and that you’ve lost the “old you” forever.
- You are afraid that if you reach out for help people will judge you. Or that your baby will be taken away.
Basically I could check yes next to all of them. But still, I can’t help but think this diagnosis is just another by product of modern first world life. When I think about old timey child rearing I just imagine how different it must have been. Like, if you couldn’t nurse your baby you just pass him off to the wet nurse or give him goat milk or whatever. Swaddle the baby and hang him on a peg on the wall and get back to churning butter. Leave all the weans with granny while you do the washing. Or even strap em’ to your back without worrying about hip dysplasia while you hoe the fields. Having other women in your home to keep you company and help with the workload.
Now it’s just one mom and one baby. Staring at each other trying to make sense of this new relationship that is feeling really one sided. The other side is just pooping, crying, spitting up, and making an endless supply of boogers that I have to suck out of his nose with the Nosefrida which is totally revolting. Husband keeps saying, “I can’t get anything out!” so I have to do it. It’s actually pretty satisfying in a vomitous way.
While I may hearken for the motherhood days of old(I mean except for the total subjugation of women thing) I am a modern woman living in the U.S. and I am very fortunate and lucky to have a lovely husband, a beautiful home and a supportive group of friends (even if too many of them are living in other states or countries) and I accept my diagnosis of PPD. My therapist and OBGYN are supporting my decision to try exercise and a folic acid supplement before we explore anti-depressants. Exercise was a very important part of my life pre-pregnancy and I’m hoping it will make a difference. I’m also praying that as Red Rasta gains weight from his diet of formula and pumped breast milk he will start sleeping for longer stretches at night. And that we win the lotto so I can have a night nanny every night.