Dirty Secrets Part 1: The Beginning Sucks

I have probably hundreds of little tidbits of information that if I told other people would cause them to gasp or give some other generally horrified sound (the over exaggerated gasp is my personal favorite though).  One of those secrets really shouldn’t be kept a secret.  In the first 3 months of my son’s life (ok maybe more like 4 months) I was really unhappy.  My son was not what we would call an easy baby.  He had (actually still has) reflux and on top of that he is what I would call a “velcro baby”.  He literally wanted to be in my arms every moment of every day.

Nathan refused to be laid down to sleep during the day in any sort of crib like device.  These devices were torture to him and he let me know this.  Oh he let me know.  As a function of this I held him.  I held him all the goddamn time.  I also cried.  I cried all the goddamn time.

I was told by my doctor all this crying was likely the “baby blues” and I took the Postpartum Depression test nearly every week of Nathan’s life in those first 4 months.  It always came up that I didn’t have it and as a function of that my doctor refused to even address the issue.  I started feeling like I was insane and just making it all up.  I tried to convince myself that it was the baby blues after all and it would pass.

I will tell you that the crying did pass but the feeling of not being quite right didn’t.  It still lingers sometimes and as a function of that I’m going for my first session with a therapist this week to discuss the anxiety and weirdness I feel.  So, why am I writing this here?  I’m writing this because it seems like while there is a great deal more information out there about PPD, it is a binary thing in the minds of many.  Either you are in maternal bliss when you come home with your child or you are seriously depressed and require immediate help.  I want to tell anyone reading this that the shades of gray exist and need to be addressed.

I probably should have sought help much sooner but I kept being told it wasn’t PPD so it would go away all by itself.  For me that just wasn’t true and it was frustrating to have my feelings brushed aside because my score on some multiple choice test didn’t come up in a certain range.  I felt like it was all in my head so that meant I didn’t go seek outside help.  I just cried and picked on my husband.  I felt like I was doing everything wrong, like I was a horrible mother for feeling this way.  None of that is true and I know that now but I could have saved myself so many tears and heartache if I had known that there were shades of gray between normal and PPD.

Now at least I know these things and can do what I need to do to fix this.  I also want you all to know I never blamed any of this on my son.  It wasn’t his fault that this was hard for me.  It wasn’t his fault that I didn’t feel confident as a parent.  It wasn’t his fault that I just felt off.  I do owe it to him to address is and to talk about it.  I owe it to him to tell others how I feel so someone else might have a better situation because of it.  I owe it to him and most importantly to myself to work through this even though it is uncomfortable and honestly just a little bit scary.

I promise not every post about my son’s early months will be all serious business but this one I felt like really needed to be.  I need folks to know about this both for my own sake and to help other new mother’s who feel like shit because they aren’t glowing with the motherly feelings.  If you don’t feel right talk to someone.  Even if everyone says it’s just the normal baby blues.  You know you the best and you’ll know when something just isn’t quite right.

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About Elaine

Mom, engineer, writer, gamer, gym rat. Ain't nobody got time for excuses.
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7 Responses to Dirty Secrets Part 1: The Beginning Sucks

  1. Mare says:

    I was unhappy – REALLY unhappy – for a long time with both of mine. It was kind of a revelation too for me with the first one that it sucked so bad. I thought because I had tried to get pregnant that there was something wrong with me that I wasn’t happy. Here’s the problem, though – how do you tell a pregnant woman it sucks? She won’t believe you. Also her experience is very likely to be different from yours, or differ from what she imagines yours was, so if you tell her about your experience she might stress herself out preparing for feeling way worse than she eventually does, or she’ll blow you off because maybe it isn’t exactly the same…there’s lots of reasons why it isn’t exactly a good idea to go warning the childless that having children that you want and love can make you feel like shit for months at a time. 🙂

    Here’s your next secret, but you may have already figured this out: if you have another one, it will also suck. But in a completely different way that you probably won’t be prepared for. 😀

  2. Elaine says:

    Mare, I think you are on to something about the pregnant women not believing you. I don’t think you can warn people about this shit before they have their kids. However, eventually they will start searching the web to find others that had their experience or something like it. I know I did that. I wanted to find people who didn’t just say babies were sunshine nuggets that pooped rainbows. I found some and they made me feel more normal. I keep finding stories like mine and they reassure me even more.

    Also, I do want another one and now at least I’m prepared for the suck. Hopefully I’ll have some coping techniques and the name of a good therapist on speed dial 😉

  3. Tiffany C says:

    I think you are awesome for posting this. You have seemed like an amazing mom, and it is even more amazing that you have not been feeling right all through it. Take care of yourself and thank you for sharing.

  4. barbex says:

    I actually don’t think that this is PPD but just the plain guilt thing women get implanted by god knows what. How it is all supposed to be amazing and wonderful and the greatest thing in life and the fulfilment of every woman’s dream and blah blah blah. And the truth is: You’re suffering from sleep deprivation and there is reason why that is banned by the Geneva Convention as a torture!
    Somehow we are supposed to know what to do and to “feel” what is right and the truth is we don’t! Somehow we got into our head that we should know everything about childcare AND feel wonderful all the time!
    The truth is, just like you said, it sucks a lot of times! And that’s okay! Don’t let expectations guilt-trip you!
    Everybody is winging it and just playing it by ear. I’m a mother and a lot of times I’m tired and annoyed and angry and bored. I refuse to let that guilt-trip me! I’m only human and while I have to control myself to not let my kids suffer it is still okay to have these feelings. Only human.

  5. Carolyn says:

    When I was in my late teens/early 20’s — before I figured out that parenthood wasn’t for me — one of the things that scared me the most was that complete change of your life and who you are. It’s natural that you’d be freaked out and depressed; everything you were before Nathan was born is now gone and amended to include him. I can’t believe the doctors wouldn’t take your concerns into consideration regarding the PPD, but I’m glad you’re getting treatment now.

    And, therapy isn’t so bad — I went for about 6 months when I was going through sheer hell in my personal life. I even had to go on antidepressants and it’s why I started running (exercise-generated mood lifting endorphins!). All in all, it saved me.

    You are a fantastic mom! Having this depression definitely does not change that.

  6. Justin says:

    I can’t comment on PPD, but reflux definitely sucks balls. I’ve got 2 on Zantac right now, and it helps, but it certainly doesn’t make it go all the way away. Nap times are hard. Very hard. Sometimes it’s just the “right” (quotes because I don’t actually know if it’s right, but it works and that’s enough for me right now) thing to do to let them sleep in a bouncy chair or a swing. People told me not to let them sit in one of those for more than about 30 minutes. Those people are crazy. Bouncy chairs and swings are a godsend. Granted, my experienced is colored by being outnumbered, at best, 2 to 1, but when my choices are “refluxy kid kinda OK in a bouncy” or “I just want the crying to stop dear God why won’t it stop in a crib” I’m going to pick the bouncy chair.

    Now that I’ve written all this I’m not certain what my point is, but it might be this: parenthood is hard for everybody, but as long as you’re trying then you’re doing it right.

  7. Elaine says:

    Carolyn, that was the thing I was having the hardest time with in the beginning. I felt almost like I didn’t know who I was anymore because things were so different. It’s gotten better as I’ve gotten my head around the new stuff but it’s still so difficult.

    Justin, I agree. First, the reflux does suck. Nathan went from Zantac to Prevacid which finally helped me. We are finally off the medicine but when he’s teething we occasionally have to bust out the Zantac at night. Second, I agree with you about the swing/bouncy seat. It’s the only way he would sleep for his first 5 weeks. People who give advice like that can kiss my butt because they aren’t here with my kid. More upright was always best for him until he could tummy sleep which really was the biggest help.

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