A new child in the family. A loving family basking in the deep love for each other and their new addition. A happy time full of joy and wonder. That is how I envisioned my first weeks when I had my first baby.
The first few days were full of wonderment, but quickly thereafter, the hormones started to rollercoaster, and I felt my mood drop to depths that I never thought it would ever reach in my life. I was in the midst of baby blues, and being a physician, I knew the signs and symptoms; and in my heart, I knew what was happening, but I wanted to deny it… just a little… because I wanted to believe that I couldn’t be that weak of a person. I suppose I’ve always thought of myself as an optimistic and adaptable person, but the first several weeks after delivery was another story.
The tell-tale signs were there: tearfulness, fatigue, poor concentration, poor sleep (that’s a given for any parent with a newborn), the non-desire to be with people, the very small appetite, and mostly… I just felt down. The stress of planning my return to work 2 weeks post-partum made things just a little worse. The stress (and pain!) of breastfeeding (yes! It can be stressful for a new mom!) and figuring out how I was going to pump in the middle of seeing patients in the office daunted me. I was dreading every feeding with my child because my cracked nipples never had the chance to heal. I checked and double checked and she was in proper breast feeding form, but it still took a toll. I was tired, stressed, and at the bottom of the mood chain. I wanted to crawl in a corner and just not deal with it anymore.
It can happen to any mom. “Baby Blues” is really not uncommon, and many moms experience it in one way or another, some more than others. I’m not a big fan of the term “Baby Blues” used in medical circles, because I don’t feel it is the baby’s fault that we moms are feeling down; it is due to the intense pressure of the circumstances that we tend to roller coaster into such an emotion.
I feel that society also places such high expectations on moms that instead of encouraging them, sometimes it tires them out. For example: the constant drolling messages about “breast is best,” or “you’re not a good mom unless you breastfeed,” makes me a little angry sometimes. Yes, breastmilk is wonderful as much research shows, and if you can do it for as long as you can, kudos to you. If you choose formula because you feel that’s the best way you can feed your baby and bond, then great, kudos to you, too. I don’t see why we need to find ways to make moms feel guilty about their choices as children still grow up strong and healthy even if moms don’t or can’t breastfeed. In any case, society continues to place a watchful eye on moms and this makes the whole parenting challenge (especially for new moms) quite stressful… let alone all the hormone fluctuations, body changes and healing required from the trauma of delivery.
My main message for this post to moms out there who are experiencing that bit of a blue feeling: you are not weak. You are a mom, and a good mom at that. You are experiencing something that happens to many other moms known as “Baby Blues.” If you get worse, see your OB/Gyn or Family Physician because Post-Partum Depression is a real disease that can occur if baby blues worsen.
Sometimes it’s helpful just to get out there to mom groups to share your experience and learn from other’s experiences. Support groups are great, but if you had wonderful support at home (like I did), the blues can easily be a passing phase. I deeply appreciate all that my husband and mom-in-law did to help me during that challenging phase. I am a very happy mom now, and looking back, it was certainly a time of trials, tribulations, and change, and it was all very worth it.