Baby Blues: I even feel guilty putting those two words together. Especially when I look at the bigger scope of things…how so many people in this world struggle daily to get pregnant, keep their babies, have their adoption go through, or even foster a child. And here I am with a healthy baby boy. I will say, though, it is a reality for so many more women than I ever knew. Some even find themselves struggling with postpartum depression. I hope that through this blog today I can at least share my experience and let you New Moms know you’re not the only ones, and it’s okay… there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to get back to “You” for a moment.
At a P & G event in NYC a few weeks ago I mentioned my baby blues, and (with my mommy brain) I talked about having it 4 days after Cam was born. Well, that’s not true. 4 days after Cam was born I had my first company come to visit and provide some relief. The baby blues didn’t settle in until 17 days later…September 29th to be exact. I remember the day like it was yesterday! It’s hard to keep everything straight in my head, and I remember afterwards thinking I said the wrong day, but I let it go. Well, go figure, the press runs my story, Haha. In their defense, I mixed up the days. So, before I begin (in case you read that article) I just want to clarify: 4 days after= relief, 2 weeks after= blues.
My Baby Blues Story
We had our precious baby boy at 6:54pm on Wednesday September 12, 2012. I remember that first night in the hospital, after 14 hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing, how it was ALL worth it! I couldn’t understand how anyone could ever feel anything less than this enormous amount of pure love! I looked over and saw Nick holding Camden in his perfect hospital swaddle, and I felt so at peace and right where I was supposed to be. I knew this was what I was meant to be: a Wife, and a Mother to these two amazing people. Nothing in the world was ever going to change that or take that away from me…
Well, that was until my hormones started trying to get back to normal and the reality of how much responsibility I was about to have settled in. This little person is dependent on me… ME! I remember that first night, the nurse telling me he needs to eat every 2-3 hours since he’s a newborn. I immediately mapped out in my brain the next 24 hours. When he would eat, which side I would start on, and what “hold” I would use for each feeding to get the maximum efficiency. Well, that was my first problem (I came to find out later…There’s no perfect plan. Life just evolves). Anyway, I was doing sooo well! He was eating right on schedule. I even woke up in the middle of the night right before he spit up, and I felt like my maternal instincts were right on track.
Then all of a sudden 9am rolled around. I didn’t hear him cry (because he didn’t), and I didn’t wake up…because who sets an alarm the next morning after giving birth!? I immediately sat up in bed and had a panic attach. What happened?! I was screaming at myself, Why didn’t he wake?! Why did my maternal instinct not kick in and wake myself to feed him. He must be STARVING! I’m a bad mom! I proceeded to take him out of his bed and feed him. Tears were rolling down my checks. My hopes and dreams of being the perfect “natural” mother were shattered. I know this sounds so dramatic, but that’s how you think in these moments. Everything is so heightened.
We got to go home Friday September 14th. It was just me, Nick and baby Camden. We settled in, and the true test of parenting began! (I would like to take a moment and commend single and working parents for all they do and sacrifice. You are truly amazing human beings, and I respect you so much!) Anyway, that first week was tough, but blissful. You can’t see up from down, but are in such a state of disbelief and euphoria that this little beautiful soul is yours. Happiness just takes over, and your phone immediately fills up with videos and pictures of this little life. He is finally here! I thought, as he lay in my arms, depending on me for every move. That… is a wonderful feeling. There is some reprieve, although it is few and far between, but it’s manageable.
Then week two comes. This is when I noticed a swing in my emotions. At this point I was sick of feeling like a milk machine. I loved my bonding time with Camden. Some of my favorite memories with him were when we’d lay in the bed in the twilight hours and just quietly stare at each other. I knew he knew I was “Mommy” and I knew one day we were going to be best friends. I’d find comfort in his coos and fresh baby scent and the way his tiny hand would lay across my chest. Those were some of my favorite memories. However, there were rough times, too. When we would have company over, and he began crying of hunger it was the same routine: I was called over, he was handed to me, I was given my “breast friend” (the BEST breast feeding pillow in the world), a burp cloth, my phone set on the clock app (to know how long he was on each side), and a bottle of water (to hydrate). Then I would head off into a different room. On one particular day, I remember it was 1pm, and the whole family was upstairs. I was isolated down in my bedroom. Then when Camden was done eating, I wasn’t able to lay and cuddle with him, which was always something I loved to do. I had to give him back to all the well wishers who wanted to hold him and love him, and I sat and waited for the next feeding, where I would do it all again. Instead of cherishing the moments I had with Cam, I was constantly thinking about how I would have to give him up at the end of the feeding. My brain was working overtime. I had so many questions and needs and wants, but nothing I could ask of anybody visiting… Except maybe a mom.
And this is where my blues set in. I never thought a mother who hasn’t been there for me over the last 13 years would come back haunting me when I was at my lowest moment. I think it’s just fear…The fear of not knowing what I’m doing. The fear of “messing up” this little boy. The fear of being responsible for a human being and not knowing any “life” experiences to compare moments with him to. No matter how many books you read, NOTHING prepares you better than the real thing. I felt lost, unloved, alone and at my wits end. It’s weird, too, because I have an amazing and supportive husband, his loving family and wonderful friends. But at that moment… I felt like NO ONE understood me. No one knows my thoughts, my fears, my wishes… heck, I didn’t even know my own wishes. Nick would say, “What can I do?” and I’d say, “I don’t know!” And it’s true! I didn’t know!
On Saturday September 29th, my baby blues finally got the best of me. I was in my maternity leggings, un-showered with throw up on my shirt, hives ALL over my body (another lovely post pregnancy perk I got) and a sweet, loving little boy who couldn’t look at me and smile to make it all better. He was just too young. I started crying. I was feeding Camden and crying my eyes out. I felt like I had officially come undone. I imagined blissful days, tired nights, but quiet loving moments. I imagined family dinners with the 12 casseroles I prepared ahead of time, and a beautiful post-pregnancy glow that embodied me 24-7. But This was none of that. I didn’t feel like myself. Where was the super woman who always thought and knew she could do it all? Where was the organized Vanessa who had it all under control no matter what the obstacle? She was gone, and I thought… forever.
As I was crying, Nick took Camden, I got in my car, took a drive around the block, put my sunroof down and blared the radio. One Repulbic was on, Feel Again. I had never heard the song at the time, but loved how it made me feel. I went to Starbucks, came home, took a shower, put myself together and came upstairs to give my husband a kiss and tell him I was sorry…I was sorry for the weeks of losing myself. I was sorry for the weeks to come when I won’t be myself, and I am sorry I can’t do it ALL like I thought I could. And it made me feel so much better.
For me, it was taking a minute to step away from the situation and truly appreciate the miracle of life and the blessing we have. We need to know that it’s okay if we don’t have that perfect post-pregnancy glow and the body to go with it that we thought we’d have. It’s okay that sometimes our milk production is challenged and we aren’t producing as much as we dreamed we would. It’s okay if we can’t do it ALL because…. we have already done so much! I needed to remember that hormones have a mind of their own, and I couldn’t allow that to anchor in my thoughts. The biggest thing for me was trying to do something I would normally do…Doing something for Me, the Vanessa I always knew and was. I used to think it was selfish to be a new mom and ever think the word Me. But now I realize, there is no Camden without Me. And I want him to see the best of Me in hopes that he can grow up to be an amazing, wonderful happy man who finds his own Me in himself. That’s what family and life is all about. Being whole with yourself, to be the best YOU for everyone else.
I hope you realize it’s important to take time for you, and never lose track of yourself. YOU are what makes this life beautiful and unique. Don’t lose the Me in life….
I hope this was helpful for those of you who asked, and I hope it raises for awareness about baby blues. I had never known anyone who was sad after having a baby (or at least they never mentioned it), and I never thought it would happen to me. Especially since I wanted to have a baby more than anything! I wish I had some knowledge on it so it wouldn’t have taken me by complete surprise… So maybe sharing my story will help give all you expecting mamas a little bit of a perspective on it.
Please leave me some comments expressing your own experiences with Baby Blues so we can all help come up with ways to defeat them and enjoy our little miracles together! As always, can’t wait to read…