I realize I now have an almost three month old (what the flying duck is that about, by the way?) but I'm about to bring it way back to the first few days after giving birth. Aka the absolute craziest, scariest, roller coaster of a week I've experienced thus far in life.
There are a ton of things you'll read about on the mommy blogs and in the random Facebook articles entitled "10 Things You Didn't Know About Giving Birth" leading up to having a baby. I was all prepared for the diaper-sized postpartum pads and the every three hour feedings and the stool softeners. I read about all of it.
The one thing I never saw mentioned, though, were the baby blues.
Sure I saw plenty on the possibility of developing postpartum depression, but I was entirely unaware that 70-80% of all mothers experience the baby blues. That's a staggering percentage! I went into birth knowing postpartum depression wasn't the norm but I certainly didn't realize that having the baby blues actually was. I just thought you were either depressed from the start and for months on end (PPD), or you were not.
I never realized that the majority of moms feel symptoms of depression for a few days and then go on to balance out and be just fine afterwards.
For those who are also unaware: the baby blues are way less severe than PPD. They come on two to five days after giving birth and can last up to two weeks. Anything that goes beyond that point is usually then characterized as PPD. Mood swings, unexplained sadness, irritability, anxiety, impatience, and crying for no reason are all symptoms of the baby blues. And just about every new mom will experience some or all of them. I can't emphasize that enough.
I wish someone shoved that bit of knowledge in my face so I could have been more prepared for the onset of some of those symptoms instead of freaking the eff out wondering what was wrong with me.
Mine started on the third night after having Aurora.
While it was happening I was completely clueless, but looking back now, I can pinpoint the exact start of it all. It was our last night in the hospital. Rori was asleep in her bassinet and Trev was asleep on the little couch that turns into a bed. I walked out of the bathroom (after having changed one of those diaper pads for the eleven hundredth time) and should have wanted to curl up in my own hospital bed and get some much needed sleep. But the thought of climbing into that bed alone was just about the saddest thing I could have ever imagined. So I nudged Trevor awake and through tears pouring down my face, I asked if I could snuggle with him. At 2am in his damn couch turned tiny bed.
He asked me what was wrong and I muttered "I just love her so much." because I felt like I needed to have a positive and happy reason to be upset. I mean, I just gave birth to the most precious thing ever, how could I not be crying tears over something happy?! And while I absolutely did "just love her so much", that wasn't the reason I was crying.
It was because I didn't want to be alone. It was because I felt sad. It was because I had no idea why I was feeling both of those things in that moment and I was terrified that I had postpartum depression.
But I sucked up my emotions and tried to bury them because I was confused and felt like maybe it was just the exhaustion of giving birth making me crazy.
Except for then it happened a few more times the next day. I would just start bawling my little eyes out for no reason. I cried the entire walk from our hospital room to our car when we were discharged. I cried on the way home. I cried when we got there and Trevor left us in the living room to go take a shower. I cried when he told me to go take a nap in the bedroom while he took care of Rori because the thought of being all alone in there devastated me.
And then the next day rolled around, the Monday when he had to go back to work, and I basically lost my damn mind with the amount of tears I shed over that.
I cried to the lactation consultant at Rori's first doctor's appointment when she was four days old. I cried to the cashier at the place where I picked up my breast pump. I cried to Trev's mom and my mom. I cried to my best friends. I cried to my grandmother. I cried writing captions for my Instagram posts. I cried to myself because I was so scared I had PPD. I cried to Trev and just kept saying "I don't know why I'm so sad. I just want to feel normal again."
And then after four days of crying, I stopped.
The clouds opened up, the sunshine poured in, and I felt like my old self again.
Those four days were the scariest of my life. I remember feeling like my emotions would never balance out. Had I known in the beginning that it was just baby blues and that they'd go away in a few days, I probably would have been WAY less scared through all of it.
Looking back now it all seems so minor because it really was for such a short period of time. And I think that's probably why we don't read much about it The sadness goes away so quickly that we forget about it and don't think about warning other pregnant moms that it will most likely happen to them too. But I felt the need to because, good lord, when you are actually IN those first few days it feels like a century of depression passes you by.
I only ever experienced the sad symptoms. None of the anger, anxiety, or fatigue. It almost feels like someone has died in your life. You try to go on living life and doing all the normal happy things but there's still this dark cloud of sadness hanging over your head that doesn't let you actually be completely okay.
Sadness along with never wanting to be alone were my two main symptoms. If I could have glued Trevor to me so that I never had to be even an inch away from him, I would have. And when he had to go to work I wanted other people around me. Anything to not be holed up alone at home in my sadness.
And that's pretty much how I survived it. I invited lots of people over to come visit, I got outside in the fresh air, I talked to anyone and everyone about how I was feeling, I STOPPED GOOGLING, and I let time take its course by balancing out my hormones and thus making me "normal" again. And after just three or four days of feeling that way, I was back to my old self.
So for all you soon-to-be-mom's out there: prepare yourself for this postpartum craziness and remember that it's totally normal!