Disclaimer: I’m just a mom, not a doctor! If you think you will hurt yourself or your baby, please call your doctor.
This is a touchy subject, especially for moms who just had their baby. It snuck up on me, that’s for sure. I was blessed with a regular spurt of Baby Blues, not to be confused with post-partum depression, which needs treatment. On my hospital bed in recovery I couldn’t sleep from all the excitement (or maybe it was my throbbing lady bits), and I found myself looking at my husband and baby, feeling content as they were both sleeping peacefully… and suddenly with no warning what-so-ever an overwhelming sense of sadness swept over me, or maybe it welled up from somewhere inside me. Either way I started sobbing, tears and snot, the works. This happened a couple of times during the hospital stay.
I want to paint this picture for dads as well as moms. I felt so bad after every mood swing, which resulted in really dumb arguments with my husband. He was so understanding. We laugh about it now, but he was smart enough in the midst of the storm to give me extra attention, a little more space when I needed it, he helped with baby, and then whamo! I would explode or implode, depending. Sometimes I would get upset and take it out on him and other times I would get upset and turn it all inward and just weep. My husband knew the baby blues are all hormonal, but it doesn’t change the reality of those darn emotions.
We arrived home from the hospital and while I was in the bathroom, my husband, the baby and my mother-in-law were downstairs in the living room ooh-ing and aah-ing over baby, when the unthinkable happened: the cap to my cortisone fell to the floor and rolled under the bathrooom cabinet. A scary place with an endless abyss underneath – if anything rolls under there, I never see it again.
Through the web of emotion and hormones swirling around in my mind, somehow my cap under the sink meant that my husband no longer saw me or cared about me and would only want to swoon over baby and show him off to his mom and then forget all about me. I weakly called out for my husband, I think I wanted to prove he didn’t care about me so I half didn’t want him to come upstairs. He came bounding up the stairs and was so worried about me. He fished under the scary bathroom cabinet for the cap to my cortisone and held me.
One time baby was crying inconsolably and I felt that finally my incompetency had caught up with me and that this mothering thing wasn’t going to pan out, I just held him as he cried and I cried with him. Tip for mothers of newborns: if they are crying, breastfeed. And do everything in your power to be able to breast feed! Studies show that breastfed babies actually end up with a higher IQ. No lie.
Aside from convincing your husband to help, these little things helped me and baby get through the hardest days.
Think of Baby
If you are blubbering and crying you probably should let someone else handle the baby, or try to step out of the room. This is totally preference, but if you sit and cry while you hold your little guy (or girl), all that emotional stress is going to affect him (or her). If you are breast feeding and can’t get away, that’s life. When you do have the option of letting it all out on your own, you’re little one will have more peace.
Repeat This Phrase
The baby blues can really cripple you, but if you convince yourself of one fact and repeat a simple phrase to yourself over and over again, it can help you laugh at yourself even in the middle of a good cry: It’s only hormones. Now, admitting that it’s only hormones doesn’t make the deep and sudden bouts of sadness from washing over you again and again like so much ocean, but it can keep you sane. Mentally preparing yourself even before the baby comes is my number one piece of advice. Say to yourself, “It’s only hormones,” and be ready to see the humor at how crazy you become.
Spend All Your Time with Baby
An equally effective thing that I did was take my sister’s advice. Spend all the time you possibly can cuddling, singing, talking to, admiring your beautiful baby. In my case, when I wasn’t connecting with him, even if it meant just cutting his finger nails, I was sleeping. Do not let some well-intentioned friend come into your home ready to “help” you with the baby and they end up cooing and playing with baby while you do the dishes. Anyone who really wants to help will do your dishes or your laundry or cook for you while you sleep and cuddle, sleep and cuddle, and repeat. This works on a number of psychological and emotional levels. Love is a powerful combatant against random self-pity, whether you’re post partum or not!
Thank goodness my experience, although intense, my baby blues were short-lived. It was all over in about 3 weeks. I hope that my tiny bits of advice find their way into your stay-together-and-don’t-fall-apart file.
What are some tips that you can share for post-partum moms?