Women talk about the joys of becoming a new mother. The moment you hold your child for the first time. The tears, the joy, the overwhelming amount of love that oozes from every pore of your body, every part of your being. You see this in movies, on TV shows, in books. Friends, family members, strangers inform you of this joy of joys.
So, when you are nearing the end of your pregnancy and awaiting the arrival of your precious baby, all you can think about is that moment of bonding. When the doctor/nurse takes that bloody and shat on 8 pounds of pure joy that was made with love between you and your hubs/partner/lover and places him/her gingerly upon your bosom. The moment that your 8 pounds of pure joy suckles on said bosom for the first time.
Every time you think of this moment, you are overcome with emotion. Your eyeballs leak gobs of tears. You start to sob from the joy of it. You cannot help yourself. This is a moment you are anxiously, patiently waiting for. The absolute best moment of your life. You are so sure of it.
Then it comes. The moment you have been anxiously, patiently waiting for. You pop that 8 pounds of pure joy out of your vagina. Well, you don’t pop her out exactly. It’s more like a ripping, tearing, pulling and stretching of your vagina to China and back so that the circumference of a small dinner plate with shoulders can get past your lady bits.
The doctor/nurse/whoever (you don’t really care if it’s the homeless man down on Main Street because you are just so glad the worst pain known to man is finally over) hands your bundle of joy over to you. The moment of truth is upon you. The moment you have been waiting months for. You make eye contact. Well, kinda. 30 second old babies really can’t focus, but you, umm, make eye contact and, and, wait for it…nothing.
Because all those movies, TV shows, books, family members and friends? Not one of them told you that you could possibly suffer from something called Postpartum Depression.
The LaMaze class that you forced your poor husband/life partner/other to attend so that you can learn stuff to help you during your labor and delivery? Stuff that completely goes out the door because all you can think of is getting this human out of you so that you can have your life back. They didn’t even warn you. Not. One. Word. Ever.
I hold my newborn as if the guy at the market just handed me a bag of potatoes. Actually, I was more excited about the potatoes because they were on sale. I look at my baby. I look at my husband.
He can see the look on my face, the blankness behind my eyes and because he fears that I could possibly drop his baby on the cold, hard, tile floor — the same floor that shares the afterbirth and whatever else that just spewed from my body — he takes her from me. And bonds with her. Okay, so she doesn’t suckle because that would be weird and a total waste of time. But they bond.
And so it goes. What are some other signs? I’ve broken it down for you:
1.) The “midnight” feeding that ended poorly for the unsuspecting nurse whose only crime is being on-duty during this crazed new mother’s stay. That and wheeling the new “breast-fed” baby into said crazed mother’s room while she’s TRYINGTOGETSOMESLEEPDAMMIT!
2.) The intense panic you feel when your visiting mother goes home after staying with you for a few days. “Please don’t go, mommy. Please please please don’t leave me. I promise I will make up for all the broken curfews, D’s on my report cards and sneaking out at midnight. I promise. What’s that you say? You didn’t know about the sneaking out at midnight part? Oh.”
3.) The night you swear that your sweet little angel is going to turn her head on her shoulders because you are pretty sure you gave birth to the devil herself. Or Regan.
4.) The times you spend on the phone with your new child’s pediatrician while you soak on a sitz-bath all but licking the wounds of your poor, sore arse that was ripped to smithereens so your baby could have life. Those times you spend crying to him. Begging what in God’s name are you to do with a baby? You have some experience, but you were twelve and was only paid a dollar an hour.
5.) The times you don’t want to hold her. After you nurse your baby, you hand her over to your husband, visiting friend or the homeless man down on Main Street (this last one is just a joke…don’t do that.)
6.) The same faded, stretched out elastic waist-banded “bike” shorts and breast milk stained t-shirt is your “go to” outfit for three months. Okay, so it’s really your everyday outfit but no one tells you about your fashion faux pas for fear of losing a limb.
I thought I was normal. I did. Didn’t every new mother have maniacal thoughts and act like a complete lunatic?
I make fun of my experience, because I decided long ago that humor is how I would deal with things that aren’t so pleasant. But it really is anything but funny.
Here’s the thing: Postpartum Depression is real. It’s actual. It is not satisfactual. It happens to more women than you think. If you are suffering from this, you are not alone.
The most important thing to remember is that Postpartum Depression is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. So, get on your high-horse or soap box or whatever works for you and scream to anyone who is listening and get the help you need. You will be happy you did. And so will your baby. And your husband. And your mother. And your neighbor. And…get my point?