I have the cutest friend back in Provo who wrote a post about baby blues and postpartum. I wanted to use it as this week's "mom moment" because I think so many go through it and it's not talked about very much.
You can find her blog here. Thanks Meredith!
I just wanted to do a little post on a topic not spoken of often. I am not comfortable going into how it affected me personally, but the topic I'm referring to is Postpartum Depression. I had maybe 5 different drafts about this in a lot of different views and writing styles, but I continued to put it off because it's a hard topic to write about. I decided for my friends I better just post SOMETHING.
I decided to break up what I'm talking about by addressing some thoughts or stigmas about Postpartum Depression and Baby Blues. Let's see if I make any sense.
1. It DOESN'T HAPPEN.
Although in the back of our minds we know that Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression do occur in most moms, we tend to talk ourselves into thinking that it isn't happening to other people. Most moms are posting on social media cute little baby photos with captions that say "I love this baby!" and "Being a mom is the best!" but inside they are thinking "What did I get myself into!?" and "Take it away!" We have conditioned ourselves to think that all other moms are faring well and we silently suffer alone behind closed doors. There is this thought that moms should be able to bounce back and love life. One of the things I hated the most was when friends would ask, "How are you? How do you like motherhood?" Because how do you respond, "Life sucks right now; I hate it," and "Being a mom is horrible!" Nobody wants to hear that and nobody wants to say it out loud; to admit that you actually might not like being a mom. That you are not completely in love with your baby like you thought you should be. That you are not happy! And so outwardly all these moms are trying to put on a happy face for everyone to see while they are secretly suffering alone.
2. It's NORMAL.
I was always told that Baby Blues was a normal thing to happen. Pretty much everybody gets it. So when it happened to me, I just waited and hoped for it to go away. It shouldn't be a problem because it's normal! During those critical first weeks, moms are just suffering, waiting for this thing to go away and trying to hide how they feel. My doctor had me under the impression that it was normal UNLESS it lasted more than 6 weeks. Somehow anything before that timetable was normal and anything after it was not. But then in my reading I learned that Baby Blues average 3 weeks, so if that's true, shouldn't it be gone by 6 weeks? It is so confusing knowing what really is "normal" and how to handle something that needs attention even if it is "normal." Since when did "it's normal" mean "it doesn't need treatment?"
3. It COULD BE WORSE or IT'S NOT AS BAD AS...
This was a big one for me. It seemed everywhere I looked for information online I got one message, it's either "normal" Baby Blues or it's Psychotic symptoms. Everything was implying that you only need to seek help if you are suicidal or homicidal, or if you are having extreme hallucinations, extreme anxiety, or extreme OCD. So what happens to these moms who don't have that extreme Postpartum Depression? They don't recognize there is a problem at all! A mom might think that if she doesn't care if the baby rolls off the bed and gets hurt that it's not a bad thought because it could be worse- it's not as bad as thoughts of intentionally killing her baby. A mom might have anxious thoughts and not want anybody to hold her baby, but maybe that's normal for a new mom to not want your baby to be given to others. That sounds reasonable, it could be worse. A mom might be having hallucinations of the baby being somewhere he's not, but they happen when she's tired and it's not terrifying hallucinations so it can't be anything bad, can it? It's not as bad as hallucinating a dead baby, so it could be worse. A mom might be awake 24 hours a day, but chalk it up to adjusting to this life she didn't prepare herself for. Where does it become "bad enough" to need help!? That's where it's confusing, especially when your mind is not thinking straight anyway. I think because we have been told about an extreme part of Postpartum Depression that we brush off the less extreme aspects of it. And then we get confused as to if we are suffering depression or if we are overwhelmed and exhausted. If we don't know how to recognize even slight Postpartum Depression, how are we supposed to know when to get help? I'm the type who doesn't want to go to the doctor unless I absolutely HAVE to. So if my hallucinations aren't of anybody dying, then I'm fine, right?
Lastly, the timetable. As I mentioned earlier, I was under the impression the Baby Blues was before 6 weeks, depression was after 6 weeks. What I didn't know was there is such thing as depression beginning before baby arrives and even delayed postpartum depression. For moms who experience depression symptoms during pregnancy it must be horrible! Nobody knows that's possible, you're supposed to be so happy and excited. I wonder how many moms are hiding those unwanted feelings because they're expected to be full of joy at the thought of having a new baby. And then the delayed postpartum. You get past that supposed "time marker" of when depression is "supposed" to occur. You're so glad you're one of the women who don't experience depression. But a few months later things aren't right. But you don't know what it could be because you know you already made it past the depression mark. There's so much that people don't know about this stuff. There's nobody who understands and is accepting of all the weird stuff you're going through! Postpartum stuff sucks!
The further from Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression I get, the more I recognize the state of mind I was in. It's like climbing out of a canyon. There are moments you are higher than you were before so you think you're in the clear, then when you get even higher you realize you were still pretty far down that canyon and didn't even recognize it. It has sparked some change in who I am and the tendencies I am prone to do have only magnified. I am glad I have a husband you still accepts me even when I'm not the same girl I used to be. He really helps me as I go through difficult moments and hard days. It would be so hard to figure this out on my own.