In a recent post, I mentioned the possibility of starting another blog, one entitled Blue Green Mama. While I don’t intend to start another blog, the title is worth a post, because it alludes to postpartum adjustment issues.
Ironically, I started reading blogs, and later writing my own, because of a blogger who wrote very openly about her own struggles with postpartum depression. Yet, when my blues set in 2-3 weeks postpartum, my initial reaction was denial. I’ve taken psychology classes, my mom’s a social worker, I’m somewhat familiar with the depression screening inventories – nope, not me. Sure, there are some pretty low lows, but sometimes I feel okay, and I’m still getting out of bed in the morning, and semi-functioning, and I’m an exhausted new mom . . . this is normal, right?
Normal only in the sense that many women experience some form of “baby blues,” but not in the sense that it’s okay, or just something I had to struggle through on my own. However, in my denial, struggling through it on my own is more or less what I did for several weeks.
Gabriel’s smiles finally snapped me out of my denial. He started smiling around nine weeks, this adorable little grin, yet I found myself so emotionally drained that I often couldn’t return those smiles, and that made me feel even worse. Until that point, I didn’t think my problem affected anyone other than me, but now it limited my ability to interact with my baby.
I contacted Mother-to-Mother, a local postpartum adjustment resource, and started to realize that maybe I didn’t have to feel this way – I only wish that I’d made the call earlier. After calls to various counselors, wading through insurance coverage issues, and some deliberation, I settled on seeing an “out-of-network” counselor who came highly recommended.
I’m pretty sure (and this is not just the denial speaking) that I don’t have full-blown postpartum depression, but some degree of postpartum adjustment disorder. Either way, there is help available — I don’t have to feel this way. I started counseling last week, and while it won’t happen overnight, things ARE going to get better.
Well, I’m not one to toss around the N word – “normal” – but I don’t personally see how anyone could just sail through such a massive transition without feeling at least some level of depression. I mean, no matter how much you may want the “new life” that you’ve just signed up for, there’s still the “old life” that you’re leaving behind, and there’s gonna be a grieving process no matter what. I experienced something very similar when I first quit my job. It totally threw me for a loop because I was expecting to feel nothing but happiness and bliss as I entered my new “permanent vacation” lifestyle, so I was pretty shocked by the complete existential crisis that the whole thing provoked.
Don’t get me wrong… I know having a baby and quitting your job are not even close to the same thing, and I wouldn’t pretend to know how you feel, but I’m really glad that you’re getting help, because suffering in silence won’t do anybody any good. Hang in there, I’m pullin’ for you!
There’s definitely a parallel, as far as both events being major life changes that you might think you’re somewhat prepared for, and then, when it hits, you’re caught completely off guard.