It’s a beautiful day! It’s 76⁰, the birds are chirping, the sky is so bright we don’t need a single light on, and there’s a lovely breeze blowing in the windows. One child is napping, the other is having quiet time. It’s as good a time as any to get some more thoughts “down on paper”.
We had Brayden in September 2008. He was every bit as perfect as I’d always imagined my baby would be. As I mentioned previously, I’d done a LOT of babysitting, so I knew babies cry/eat/sleep/poop. That truly about sums it up for the first weeks of life. What I didn’t know, was just how common PPD (Postpartum Depression) is. It’s not something I think I ever hear anyone talk about. Nobody gave me a little lesson on signs to watch for, nobody told me it’s perfectly normal to start to feel depressed after having a baby, nobody explained that our hormones go completely bonkers because we’d had a baby and that those hormones can have devastating effects on us personally. No, that did not happen. Instead, I’d heard all of the wonderful things about babies (with a few, “it’s going to hurt like crazy”’s thrown in). Sleep when the baby sleeps was a common helpful tip. One thing that would have really helped though, is to hear from women who ADMIT to suffering from PPD. It’s very taboo, that PPD discussion.
So, here I am, my beautiful baby boy & I, alone every day just about. We’d go through the typical motions that any new mom does. Sadly, I didn’t even notice myself getting depressed. I mean sure, I was completely exhausted (hello?! I just had a baby, that’s normal sweetie). I was still in quite a bit of pain (well no kiddin, you just had your insides pulled outside then cleaned off & put back inside!). But then, there was this baby; this perfect little gift from God. This baby was greatest gift I’d ever received. I had no idea what it felt like to love like this. Love really is different for different loves. I mean, the love I feel for my husband is so comforting, so intense, so safe. I always assumed my parents loved me like that, but slightly different because I was their child, of course. However, the moment Brayden was put on my chest, my heart started to swell. I can’t describe it well. I literally felt my heart hurt when they took him from me. A piece of me left with him; a piece I could never get back until he was in my arms again. It would be this way every time someone wanted to hold him. I worked so hard keeping him safe all those months inside my belly, and now people want me to hand him over? Seriously? I mean, logically I completely understood I should let others hold him. However, hormones know no logic. I didn’t want anyone taking him from me ever again. The nurses at the hospital took him & didn’t bring him back to me for 3 days! Why should I let anyone else hold him ever again? This all sounds completely loony, I know, but those hormones man, they’re no joke!
I got off track (it happens…a lot). So, my husband obviously had to go back to work. Here I was, alone most of the time, with my beautiful babe just a couple of months old. There was a problem though. He’d cry, and he’d cry and cry and cry. He wouldn’t stop! I’d pick him up, rock him, feed him, change him, sing to him, dance with him, beg him to stop, etc. You name it, I tried it. I remember very clearly a phone call I made. I called my Mom. I was hysterical. She put my mind at ease because moms can do that just by being moms. Unfortunately, that eased mind didn’t last. He kept crying. I began to weep. I felt like a complete failure that day. My baby was so unhappy and the one person who’s supposed to be able to make everything better isn’t making anything better at all! How was I ever going to be a good mother if my child didn’t find comfort in my touch? By the grace of God, I received another phone call. Admittedly, I ignored the phone a lot. I was fall-on-my-face tired and didn’t feel like chatting with anyone. For some reason, I answered this time. It was the County Public Health Nurse. I probably rolled my eyes thinking, oh great, she’s calling to tell me how awesome motherhood is when I’m in the middle of a crisis and I’m all alone! The real reason for her call, however, was simply to check in on me. Wow! Okay! Let’s chat! I started sobbing to her on the phone about how my baby won’t stop crying but he’s healthy and has been given everything he could possibly need. She urged me to put him somewhere safe (crib, pack’n’play, etc) and go outside for 5 minutes. Once I do that, my body temperature will change and therefore my whole mood will change. I thought, ‘yeah lady, that’ll fix everything, sheesh’. Well what do ya know? IT DID! It’s literally my favorite advice to give anyone with high blood pressure due to a stressful situation. I went back inside after about 4 minutes (it was NY winter, I had no coat, I couldn’t handle another minute! Lol). Guess what? He was sound asleep! I couldn’t believe it! God answered my calls.
One thing I want to stress to all people everywhere, is that we need to take care of women. I was lucky, my PPD ended pretty quickly after that. In total, it lasted about 4 months. I know some others who had no issues until 5 months after giving birth, or even a year. Any time our hormones change drastically, we’re at risk for PPD. That happens when we’re nursing, when we stop nursing, and just in general because of all the stress of having this little life completely dependent on us. Reach out to the women in your life. Don’t ask if a mom who’s got little ones needs a hand. SHE DOES! Of course she won’t tell you that, it’s not polite. Just take charge. Carry her bags for her. Call to get permission to come over. Bring a meal, or 3. Get the floors vacuumed. Unload the dishwasher. Fold her laundry. Bring her a cup of coffee or tea. Ask her if she minds if you take her older children for a play date (even if it’s in her own yard!). Women are (now) programmed to think we NEED to be able to handle it all. If we can’t handle motherhood on our own, we’re failures. Well guess what? That’s poppycock! (love unpopular words). It truly does take a village, folks. None of us are superwoman, nor do we need to be. In fact, trying to be superwoman will often lead to a mental breakdown, so knock it off, will ya? It’s time to step up & help out. Any mom of young kids could use a cup of coffee with another grown-up. Any mom of young kids could use a hand with the dishes. Any mom of young kids could use a night off from cooking. Random acts of kindness go a long way, folks. Men & women everywhere have the power to help moms avoid PPD. We’re an amazing mammal! Let’s reach out & take care of one another!
This entry may have been a little all over the place. I apologize. My brain starts going and I just tag along for the ride. It keeps life interesting.
Until next time…