Monday, March 17, 2008

Day 12 with Jim and Living Through the "Baby Blues"

Well, we're all still here and still alive! ...much to my amazement.

Momma, Bo, and Jim are hanging out with Nana. She is leaving on Wednesday morning - we expect much crying and sadness. Of course, we aren't sure which of the 4 will be crying the most, but you should probably bet on it being me.

I'll try to post some more recent photos soon! I have a few on the camera now, but I'm not setup to pull them down right at the minute...

I'm mostly back to normal from the C-section. I can do mostly what I want, within reasonable limits - I don't pickup heavy things, and I bend and squat at the knees for any really low items, and I take the stairs only a couple of times a day, max.

I saw the OB today - he said all looks great with my incision! YAY!! We love great wound healing - we really do. I seem to be having a pretty fast recovery overall. I've been off pain meds since about day 5, with an added bonus that the withdrawals coincided nicely with the "baby blues". That, my friends, was a mistake... Not that I was missing the pain meds, but that I didn't keep taking them until the blues had passed! Geesh!

Oh, and why, oh why didn't anyone tell me that post-partum "baby blues" would be so freakin' kick-butt terrible? I mean really, these should be called the Baby Terrors or something! Baby blues is MUCH to benign for what I experienced!

I really thought I was going to go crazy for about 4 days. Had I re-read a description of the blues again during those days I might have had an easier time - I had a textbook case it appears. However, I was so "locked up" in my head that I couldn't get online, read a book, or even watch a movie. I did help care for the baby, but otherwise I was simply frozen with fear and anxiety.

So, I'm going to tell you all what happened to me - partly to record it, partly to work through it, and in small part I hope that someone will find it helpful...

Here is the textbook description from - "The [baby] blues affect 60 to 80 per cent of women shortly after labour, and many find themselves exhausted, unable to sleep, or feeling trapped or anxious. Your appetite can change (you may eat more or less), or you can feel irritable, nervous, worried about being a mother, or afraid that being a mother will never feel better than this."

As for me... I had 4 days of horrible "What have I done?" thoughts combined with anxiety and mini panic attacks. It seemed like scary issues were piled up a mile deep at my door. I couldn't imagine how I would take care of a baby; how I would give enough of myself, my time, my life to care for this little one 24/7 for the next X number of years. Let's just say that almost none of the fears were about "today", no that wasn't the problem, it was the rest of life and time immeasurable.

I could clearly figure out how to fix a bottle, change a diaper, or rock my baby to sleep. What I couldn't imagine was how I could manage to get him to daycare (note: this is 6 wks in the future at least), fix a toddler dinner he'd eat, get him off to school, or teach him to read.

There were times I wondered if there was some way to send the little one back from where it had come. Or maybe some way that I could pawn him off on someone, anyone. No, I did NOT act on any of these thoughts, and NO I do not want ANYONE to come take my little one. I love him very dearly! I would likely tear someone in two if they tried to take hime. Even so, these thoughts quickly passed through my mind, and you can't imagine how scary it was to feel that way.

At one point I was sure I was slipping into depression, because the only thing I could do was take a nap. For me, that is a BAD sign... I have been through a real depression, and I know the warning signals. Since I DID recognize the symptoms of slipping into someplace horrible I made it a point to talk to my hubby and mom about it. They were both terribly supportive and patient, and helped me work through the fear.

One trick my mom shared with me really worked miracles... When the fears started creeping up on me I was to pick a household job that needed doing and get off my ass to do it. No thinking about it. No stewing over the job. Just get up and do it.

Amazingly, this little mind/matter trick worked. By the time I had finished folding a pile of laundry or emptying the dishwasher I wasn't in the grip of the worst of the fear. As a bonus, my house got cleaner, which lifted my mood a little more. We all know how a dirty house can pull you down by making the work look bigger than it really is.

The next step out of the darkness was talking to other moms. I confided in my mom-friends about my fears, and they opened up about their own experiences. It was amazing to me that all of the mothers I know had been through this darkness too. They recounted, very frankly, the fear and pain, the "locked in" feeling of being so scared.

Some of the strongest women I know seem to have had the "baby blues" the worst... They got to the darkest parts, and were just as alone as me. I wonder if being a normally "in control" type person makes you more likely to be confronted by the "trapped" feeling. For me, and a few of my friends, the "What have I done?" fear seems to have stemmed from a realization that our lives were now owned by this little one we had created. How we missed that this was the end-game of being Mom, I don't know... Seems kind of logical to you now, doesn't it?

You might be asking... Does she really expect that this narrative of the blues will help someone avoid it? The answer is no. But, someone might just read this and in a dark, dark moment realize that one of their friends was there too, and there is a bright side on the way.

I now seem to be a good way through the fears, but I'm not convinced they won't come back from time to time. If they do, I plan to keep talking to my family and friends, relying on help, and cleaning my house until the sun shines again.

Hope you all find your way through too... And, if you have a "new Mom" friend, feel free to recount my story to her to help her out of the darkness some.


Michelle said...

I was so there. I could not for the life of me imagine why people would have another baby, except that they'd already ruined their lives by having the first. And time seemed to pass so painfully slowly in those early days.

It makes sense to me that Type-A personalities might get hit harder. Talk about not being in control! Also, I wonder if women who conceived after infertility have higher rates of PPD (anyone know this?). After wanting for so long to have a baby, it was really demoralizing for me to process just how hard it was in those first few months.

Stacie said...

Been there, too. It isn't a very nice place to be.

Gemini Girl said...

I have also been there. If you read back in my blogs when soleil finally came home from the hospital, and my husband had to return to work.. I would not stop crying that night. I didnt think I could handle it alone. But I did, and I still do. Its def something that every woman fears. bring on the pictures!

Kate said...

I really thought I was losing it for a few days and I had those "trapped" feelings, too.

Furrow said...

Oh, honey. I had that so, so bad. I was also thinking 18 years into the future and wondering how I could get out of it all. I felt so evil, and lonely, and unworthy. I swore that if I made it through, I'd never, ever do it again. But 5 months later, I'm already planning #2. Thank goodness things change. I wish women were honest about these feelings more often.

ms. c said...

Thanks for this post, Dawn. Some days, now that I am nearing the end, I start feeling the way you described... and the baby isn't even HERE yet!
I expect once it is the blues will likely hit, and I will be back to read this again to reassure myself that I am normal.
So glad that you are feeling better, and I can't wait to learn all about Jim and your journey through motherhood!