With all the happiness and blessings I thought it wouldn’t be prudent to end with rainbows and stardust. Because even with the best birthing experience comes some disappointment and baby blues. And I want to be real about that.
Society, as a whole, puts a lot of pressure on mom to have “her perfect birth experience” and when she doesn’t (because she won’t) there can be a lot of sadness, regret and anger. Even when things do go “perfect” (as in Amelie’s case) there can be problems afterward or those rotten post-partum hormones can lie to you and throw you on an emotional roller coaster. To illustrate…
We had a great first night with Amelie, she was calm, quiet and nursed like a champ. Then came day 2. She was still calm, quiet and a good nurser – but she was having trouble regulating her temperature. She had to be placed in the warmer several times (blessedly the warmer was in our room).
The nurses explained that low temp can be a sign of Strep B in newborns. They took her blood that morning but the results wouldn’t be in for 48 hours. Her temp was consistently low all day, the nurses explained if she had a low temp once more they would take her to the nursery, hook her up with IVs, and start antibiotics as a precautionary treatment. Thankfully, after one last time in the warmer, her temp stayed up and they didn’t have to take my baby. Although we did have to stay an extra day awaiting her bloodwork results.
FYI the cultures came back negative, she didn’t have Strep B. So it all worked out but it was a very scary day. Strep B is rare and complications even more rare. But it can be very dangerous.
By Wednesday afternoon we were home with our blessed bundle. I had shed a few tears at night in the hospital, missing my 4 year old Bram and knowing he had cried missing me. Other than that I was in good spirits and feeling great physically.
Then came day 7 – Crazytown as I like to call it. I cried all day. I managed to pull myself together for an hour when my mom visited but other than that I spent the day fighting tears, wiping tears and telling God how mad I was at Him. Why?
Remember this is Crazytown.
1 -Her Birthdate. Remember how I hoped that Amelie would be born on my father’s birthday, June 4th? She was born at 11:09pm June 3rd. We missed it by 51 minutes.
When labor started the evening of the 3rd I was so hopeful. When I was in such pain and ready to push 51 minutes “early” I could have cared less when she was born, I just wanted labor over and her safely out and about. But those Crazytown hormones creep in and…
Suddenly I was sad, heartbroken and MAD that God would be so cruel as to bring us so close to a dream only to snatch it away. It felt so mean. I was born on my great grandmother’s birthday and have always felt a special connection to her through that.
I felt my girl had been robbed of that connection with her grandfather.
And I told God so through angry tears. “How could you? 51 minutes! That was so unfair, so mean! You’re GOD, you couldn’t have worked that out??”
I told you. Crazytown.
2 – Her Name. I shared that we couldn’t decide on a name. In fact, we didn’t give her the name Amelie until day 2. We just couldn’t decide. We eventually settled on Amelie Dawn – a nod to my Grandma Lee and Shane’s Grandma Dawn. My grandma had recently lost her battle to cancer and Shane’s grandma is currently in her final days with cancer. We wanted them both to have a namesake.
On day 6 we took Amelie to see Shane’s grandma. While there, we learned that Shane’s cousin also has the middle name Dawn. And that was all it took. The next day I was a mess.
“We named our baby the wrong name! How could Shane not know his cousin’s middle name is Dawn?? Now it’s too late. We can’t change her name now that she’s already been named after someone! What have I done to my baby girl??”
And it went on like that. All. Day. I went back and forth between the name and birthday issues. I kept myself sequestered in my room, taking care of the baby, crying and crying and being angry with God.
Shane asked me if we needed to call the depression number the hospital provided. That suggestion just made me (you guessed it) mad. It had only been one day of Crazytown after all.
The Other Side
Thankfully it only really lasted that day. I had a few flare-ups and tears in the morning the next two days but the non-stop crying went away.
I have a huge respect for those who experience full blown post partum depression. One day of that feeling is all I want. Because it’s real. It’s not in the mother’s head. Whatever is bothering them is a true concern. And even if there isn’t an issue – if they just feel sad and mad – they’re true feelings that cannot be controlled. It’s hormones.
There were a few things I did which I think helped snap me out of my funk sooner rather than later. My tips for dealing with minor PPD and doing what you can to come out the other side:
- Talk. I shared my issues with my husband and mother. I felt ridiculous being so upset about a birthday and name. Feeling ridiculous about it made me realize I wasn’t thinking rationally and I needed some input. In addition to sharing with hubs and mom, I even worked up the nerve to put out a tweet. The advice and concern I received from Shane, my mom and online gave me a healthier perspective.
- Cry. The more I fought the tears, all the more wanted to come. Just giving myself permission to cry and letting the tears fall (and fall and fall) helped. The release of it makes a big difference.
- Sleep. It’s true. You need to sleep when baby sleeps. Sleep is such a critical part of good mental health. The dishes and vacuuming can wait. I promise.
- Own you anger. I’m of the belief that it’s okay to be angry with God. He knows we’re human, he created us. He knows there are many things we won’t understand and as humans that can make us scared or angry. He’s okay with it. Really. He can handle our puny anger.
- Trust there is a reason. Along with my angry tirades at God I confessed that I knew he Had a reason I didn’t understand. I told Him I didn’t like His will but understood He had only good planned and His way is better than mine. Trust Him.
- Think positive. While you’re crying and angry, remind yourself of the positives. There are always lots of positives – the most important being your health and that of your baby. I thanked God for my health and Amelie’s health. I told myself that God felt Amelie was so special she needed her own birthday but knew it would be fun for her to be born so close to her Pappy’s b-day. I assured myself that we settled on Amelie Dawn because we love the name and significance, that is what was important. Stuff like that – whatever happiness you can squeeze in.
If you experience PPD, tell someone. Don’t suffer in silence. Seek out the help you need sooner rather than later. You’ll thank yourself later. Getting better sooner means you’ll be a better mom to your children and wife to your spouse.