Baby Blues: A personal account

The smile on my face is only half-sincere. I had a beautiful baby girl, but my hormones were out of control, and I was sad.

Back when I posted about Lucy, I touched on the bout of “baby blues” I had after having her.  Now, this week, we celebrate 3 years of having our little Lucy with us, and I am reminded of that bittersweet time in my life after her birth.  Baby blues is a mild form of post partum depression, a condition that is gaining more attention in recent times, but not enough.  It seems to me that people are aware the condition exists, but there is still a stigma attached to it.  I know when I experienced it, I was ashamed and tried to hide it.  Then, as time went on, I would confess to other moms about how I felt, and more often than I ever expected, they would confide in me that they felt the same way.  So, today, I am going to share my experience, in order to help remove that stigma and offer a helping hand to any new mom who may be feeling overwhelmed and depressed.

My pregnancy with Lucy was not entirely fun.  I had horrible morning sickness for the first half, and then for the second half we were worried about a cyst that showed up on an ultrasound.  We made several trips to Iowa City for ultrasounds to monitor the condition, but wouldn’t know exactly what we were dealing with until after she was born.  It turned out to be a duplication cyst of her bowels, which was corrected with surgery and a week long stay in the hospital when she was 4 months old.  In the grand scheme of things, it was minor, but at the time we were quite worried and distracted by it.

Lucy was born early in the morning, a scheduled c-section.  No problems health wise.  I felt good.  Then the second night in the hospital, it was like my hormones went in to overdrive.  I was nursing Lucy and talking to the nurse on duty, I don’t even remember what about, when I burst in to tears.  I had no control over it.  God bless the wonderful nurses at Regional Medical Center in Manchester.  They were so good about it.  I will never forget Jessie, the nurse who stayed in my room and talked to me for most of the night that night trying to help me understand what I was going through.

I tried so very hard to suppress the overwhelming feelings of sadness and depression I was having.  We came home and I tried to pretend that everything was ok.  I wanted to be excited to have a beautiful baby girl to bring home to our family.  But it was uncontrollable and terrifying.  I never had any suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming my kids, but I was scared of what could happen if my mind stayed in the dark place it was in.

The first month or so with Lucy was hard. I took a lot of short afternoon breaks to try and regain control of my emotions.

I was tired.  I didn’t care about anything.  I was sad.  I just wanted to be happy again.  Lots of tears flowed.

I called the hospital and talked to the other nurse, Kristy, who had been so helpful to me.  I just didn’t know where else to turn.  I had told both my mom and my mother-in-law about it, but they were at a loss on how to help.  I needed to know that I wasn’t crazy.  Kristy put me in touch with an amazing woman with an organization called Parents As Teachers (PAT).  She had young children, and had experienced postpartum depression herself.  She reassured me that I was not crazy, that the baby blues were in fact quite common, and that I would eventually return to normal.  In the meantime, she encouraged me to reach out to those around me for help.

I found some solace in taking small breaks from the kids.  Justin, my mom, and my mom-in-law were instrumental in helping with that.  I also had a chance phone call with an old friend, and she told me she went through the exact same thing after her daughter was born just a couple months before.  I made sure to plan something to get me out of the house every day, even if it just meant bundling the kids up and going for a short walk outside.  The days passed slowly by, and bit by bit, I started feeling better.

With a lot of help, I came out of that dark place, and now my beautiful little princess is 3 years old.

I never doubted my love for Lucy or the rest of my family.  My experience was more of an unexplained feeling of sadness.  Of being in a dark place with no way to get out.  This has been an incredibly hard post to write, but I know that God put me through that trial so that I can share it with others.  If by sharing my experience, I help even one mom feel just a little better, it will have been worth it.

I am so incredibly grateful for those around me who reached down into that dark place and pulled me out.  To them, I owe much.

If you or someone you know is experiencing postpartum depression or the “baby blues,” please please please reach out.  Tell them about what you’re going through, I guarantee you will be surprised where you find help.

And, if you have gone through this, do not be ashamed to tell your story.  You may never know how much you help.

 

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for sharing Liz. You never know who you may touch by sharing your experience. And, Happy Birthday Lucy!

  2. Posted by Amy H. on December 28, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    You are so brave to post this. I haven’t had children yet, but it’s reassuring to know that there are posts like this one in case I would have the baby blues. My mother-in-law has depression, so I know how hard it is to help someone. I’m glad you made it through, and you were willing to share!

  3. Posted by Sharon Osweiler on December 29, 2010 at 5:15 am

    Liz,

    I certainly admire your ability to be honest and vulnerable on this topic. Just this afternoon I completed a two-day workshop called ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training). Up until now, I did not realize the statistics nor the deep repercussions of Postpartum Depression. Thank you for overcoming the stigma of this and, even more importantly, your willingness to write so eloquently of your experience and where you found support. Hopefully, other new mothers experiencing this will find hope and encouragement, too.

  4. AWESOME post. I had baby blues after Adam, too. But mine didn’t kick in too badly until I went back to work around 3 months. I am planning a post about it someday. I LOVE that you wrote about it, though…I feel the same way – we need to share our experiences in order to encourage other mothers to get help. So many people told me “it’s normal” but that discouraged me from getting the help that I needed right away.

    Will you link this up at my pregnant party???

    • Katie, as you learned, just because “it’s normal” doesn’t mean “it’s ok.” Sometimes we women just try too hard to tough things out, even at our own expense. It was a hard lesson for me to learn, and yet once I admitted that I had a problem, it was relatively easy to solve. Such is life, I suppose. I will poke around your blog and see if I can figure out what you mean by “linking up,” but I may need some help! 🙂

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