When you are at the hospital with your new baby, all of the nurses, the doctors, everyone, are constantly reminding you about postpartum depression and baby blues. They tell you what’s normal, what’s not, and when to seek help. All of your mom friends and female relatives will also remind you to “take a break,” and not try to do everything, that’s its perfectly okay to asks for help.
During the first two weeks of Colt’s life, I would cry inexplicably. Mike would ask me what’s wrong and I would have no answer for him. And I don’t mean that “nothing” that gets comically and stereotypically attributed to women, I mean nothing.
For the first time in my life I had no words, or thoughts, or emotions. I used to beg my brain to shut off at night so I could get some sleep. I hated that I would overanalyze a simple text message that simply said “K”. And right now, Mike asking me what was wrong and all I could do was cry more and shake my head.
There’s something about micro focusing your day into mere hours that leaves your post-baby brain complete mush. And it’s normal.
But just because it’s normal, doesn’t make it easy.
One day I found myself cooking dinner, waiting on something in the oven, holding my newborn against my chest, slowly dancing and crying while Patsy Cline’s ‘Crying’ played on my phone in my pocket. It was the only way I could express myself at that moment. I felt like Holly Hunter in Raising Arizona just after Nick Cage’s character kidnaps the baby, sobbing, she claims, “I just love him so much!”
The science behind it is that your hormones that have been ramped up for the last nine months are finally returning to normal. And apparently the only way they can do that is to force their way out of you by way of your tear ducts.
Once my little yellow baby had returned to his normal color and his weight had come back on, we were full swing into some decent routine. I was able to read Colt’s face and figure out what he needed before the crying would start most times, and my confidence as a mommy grew. We ate, we changed diapers, we bathed, and we slept fairly well. There were still the occasions where Colt would cry and I had tried all of the things and it just came down to him being tired or over stimulated and we just needed to take a break. With Mike back to work I knew that there would be some times that I would just have to let him cry while I took care of me, whether I was pumping, showering or pooping, well, he’d just have to wait. “As long as he’s crying, he’s breathing” I once read.
So why is it that today, 5 weeks postpartum, I find myself sobbing over the tuna fish sandwich Mike made me for lunch? As simply as I can put it, I’m tired. You know how during the week you can wake up at some ridiculously early hour, and drive to work and put in your 8 or 10 hours and then come home to do it all over again Monday through Friday and you just do it cause you have to? It’s just being responsible. And during the week I get up with Colt at night and let Mike sleep, and I spend all day taking care of his needs while simultaneously, absent mindedly, flipping the TV between Food Network and the Travel Channel. Then Mike comes home and I get a bit of a breather. That break is usually used to try to make my life easier later, by prepping bottles and washing dishes. I just do it because it’s being responsible.
The routine continues. Up at 1am, 4am, 7am to feed, change and pump. If I’m lucky, I can ask Mike to get up and take care of Colt while I pump so that we can get back to bed a little quicker. But last night I didn’t ask for help. Mike’s back was bothering him, I opted to go it alone. And Mike was nice and let me go back to sleep at 8 for a little while but it wasn’t long before I was handed a baby and told “He’s being fussy, and I have to go to the chiropractor.” “Okay.” And like that I was back up, baby in arms, and the routine was starting all over again.
And it’s when you begin telling yourself that “it’s your job,” or “mommy knows best,” that you really need to stop. All I could tell Mike was that I was tired. And it was true, 6 to 8 hours of sleep broken into 2-3 hour chunks, will leave you feeling tired. You’ll get tired of hooking yourself up to a pump, or latching a baby to your boob or even shaking that bottle of formula. Mike knew what he had to do, he grabbed the diaper bag, two bottles, the car seat and Colt and told me to take a nap. He knew what he needed to do physically, and before he left I told him what I needed emotionally, encouragement.
He needs to be my cheerleader, my caregiver, my rock. While those amazing baby blue eyes of my son speak a million thank yous, and remind me of why I are doing all of this craziness, it’s Mike that can help make all of this a thousand times easier with a simple “You’re doing great.”
I’m going to be okay. You’re going to be okay. And even though you’ve been told a hundred times, and given the pamphlets, really truly ask for help if you need it. Don’t take on motherhood all on your own, they really mean it when they say “it takes a village.” I’m not saying anything new, I’ve read this exact same blog post written by someone just like me. And maybe this post doesn’t help you, maybe you’ve read this before and you think “That’s not me.” Well, I didn’t take that nap. I cried, and then I grabbed my tablet and wrote this because just getting out my story is what I needed to remind myself that it was really going to be ok and that this really is normal.
Edit: What isn’t normal is when you can’t get out of bed and continue the routine. When you don’t eat, sleep or take care of yourself. If you’re having panic attacks, obsessive compulsive tendencies or overwhelming sadness, then you need to seek help. Click here for more information on postpartum depression.