One Secret Every New Mom Needs to Know After Having a Baby
As I held my crying newborn for, who knew how many nights in a row, I cried alongside him. It was 1 am and I didn’t know what to do anymore. “I’m sorry, baby. Sorry, you got me as a mom. I wish I could be better.”
My problem-solving mind began searching for a solution. I needed to find someone who was better equipped to care for him.
It needed to be a relative. I felt like a relative would love him more.
His dad might be a good option. But how could I leave the baby with him and sneak out with a bag? He would know I wasn’t coming back.
His grandma? Maybe. Grandparents love their grandchildren and they’ve had children of their own so they know how to care for them. But…his grandma had other grandchildren. Would she love my baby more than them? I couldn’t see that happening.
There was no one. No one would love my baby enough. There was only one person who would love him like a mother. Me. That realization hit me hard.
No More Baby Blues
These thoughts may be hard for you to read. How could a mother ever consider giving up her baby? To be honest, they’re hard for me to write. I love my baby boy so much that it’s hard for me to admit that I had those thoughts in the first few months. But those feelings came out of my own sense of failure as a mother, not out of a lack of love for him.
Luckily, when I got to the end of this line of thinking, I realized something was wrong with me. The baby blues were no longer the baby blues. At some point, I’d slipped into full-on postpartum depression.
Prior to having my baby, I’d seen postpartum depression as primarily a gimmick.
I’d notice other women at work roll their eyes when talking about a new mom on maternity leave who had “postpartum depression.” She was clearly just doing it to get more time off work.
But those feelings of absolute failure and hopelessness were not fake for me. I doubt they are for other moms either.
It’s Time to Get Help
There are a few key factors of postpartum depression and natural treatment options alongside medication that your doctor can prescribe.
If you’ve been struggling with:
- Feelings of persistent sadness or feeling like a failure
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Thoughts about harming yourself or your baby
And you’ve just had a baby, it’s time to get help.
A Few Facts
- Postpartum depression isn’t a choice & it’s not your fault
- It affects 1 in 7 women
- It can last up to a year after the birth of your baby
- If you have postpartum depression with your first baby, you are likely to have it after each pregnancy
Moving on Isn’t Easy
My husband confidently proclaimed his prognosis to our counselor. “She had the baby. It’s over. Now she needs to get back to life.”
Get back to life? Did he think I didn’t want that too? Did he think I didn’t want to take a shower when I wanted to, get a full night’s sleep, or sit down for 10 minutes to eat a meal without worrying about when the baby was going to start crying?
Luckily, our counselor answered for me, “There’s no getting back to life. That life doesn’t exist anymore. She can’t just go back to doing what she was before. Everything has changed.”
Having a Baby Changes Everything
This is true for moms, but often not for anyone else.
Becoming a father doesn’t require your body to change. A man doesn’t have to worry about breastfeeding his baby. His wife takes care of the baby most of the time and he’s only inconveniently called on once in a while.
His wife can become a burden during this time. He used to be able to watch TV, hang out with friends, and play golf every weekend. Now she needs him to help.
He starts to feel resentment towards his wife instead of understanding the new stage of life that they’ve entered together.
Having a baby is life-changing in many ways–some amazing and some extremely difficult.
Who to Contact for Help
- Talk to your doctor*
- Go to PSI (Postpartum Support International) to talk to someone immediately.
- Use the APA Psychologist Locator to find a psychologist near you
- If you’re worried about the cost, use Open Path Psychotherapy Collective to help you find an affordable therapist
Recover from Postpartum Depression Quickly with Natural Treatment
- Get some sleep
- Reach out to others for support
- See a therapist/counselor
- Join a Mommy group
- Talk to your spouse about how you’re feeling
Epilogue: Second Time Mom, Second Time Failings
I held my new baby tightly as I slowly rocked him, breathing in his scent, and marveling at his tiny features.
I need to lay him down, I thought to myself. My toddler was downstairs alone, wrecking more havoc than I could imagine, I was sure.
As I thought about all of the adjustments he’d made in the last few weeks, I had to keep myself from crying. My little boy, who had been my baby up until a few weeks ago, suddenly had very little mommy time, extra responsibilities pilled on his shoulders, and a brother who more and more he was realizing was not the fantastic gift we’d promised him he would be.
My heart ached for both of my boys. I couldn’t give my baby the same time and attention that I’d given my first baby and I couldn’t give my toddler the attention he’d once had. There wasn’t enough of me. I was failing both of them.
Feeling Like You’re Drowning
Postpartum depression the second time looked different for me. I knew how to take care of my baby. What I didn’t know was how to take care of both of them, simultaneously.
They both needed something at the same time all of the time and I wished there was more of me.
I felt like I’d robbed my firstborn of his infancy and like I was failing my new baby because I couldn’t give him the intense attention that I’d given my first.
So What’s the Secret?
A few weeks after my mind sought the solution of abandoning my baby, I realized I was the only person who would ever love my baby the way I knew he deserved to be loved. I was his mother and I was the person that he needed. Even with all my faults and failings as a first-time mom, I was the only mom he would ever have.
This was the thought process that moved me past the worst of PPD. So I want you to know the same. You are the most important person in the world to your baby and you aren’t a disappointment to him/her. You are the only person who will love your baby like you want them to be loved.
Postpartum depression is hard. So let’s all have a little more sympathy for moms who are struggling through this. And realize it isn’t a gimmick to get a longer maternity leave.
Share this post with new moms who may be struggling.
I understand this as a mom of 3. Good advice!