The term seems to indicate a frivolous bout of tears that can quickly be soothed with a pint of Blue Bunny ice cream. It hardly describes the traumatic plunge of emotions that can come at any time during post-partum recovery. I am fortunate to have an exceptional OB who forewarned me in depth about the beating my hormones received, and the retaliation they would most likely take upon my body. Thus, when my emotions hit rock bottom I was as prepared as I could be, but even that wasn’t sufficient. I would like to share a little bit of my experiences with my readership in the hope that it could be an encouragement to other new mothers who might feel alone in their hormonal captivity.
In the three weeks since the birth of my son, I have experienced about four separate days of hormonal depression. I am fortunate that each depression did not last longer than twenty-four hours. However, during those hours I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. The frightening thing about these times is that they come without warning – one hour I can be laughing and cheerful and the next hour flooded with doubts, fears, anger, frustration. Sobbing wells up within me, and I can literally lay on the bed for hours, just crying for no apparent reason.
Many of the doubts that assail me during these times of depression usually involve my ability to mother my child. I am certain that he is not bonding with me, that I am not providing enough nourishment for him, that I don’t have the intuition to provide the stability he needs. I am convinced that I am a terrible mother because it’s usually hard for me to stay awake when feeding him at night, and I am eager to put him back to bed so that I can sleep for a few more hours. This is followed by extreme waves of guilt when I hold my beautiful son, am flooded with love from my incredibly patient husband, see my cozy home, or am served by generous friends and family. How selfish must I be to remain in such gloom when I am surrounded by such blessings? And so the gloom settles down even more securely upon my soul.
Today was one such day – it actually started last night and carried over into my morning. This time around I held my tongue when my husband asked me what was bothering me because I have learned that the current state of my emotions isn’t a true reflection of who I am. This time I determined to ride the wave and come out on top when it passed. Accusations of failure pounded on my heart and mind; tears raged behind my eyes; darkness filled my heart. It wasn’t until I sat down with my Bible and read the truths of Scripture that the accusations, rage, and darkness began to subside. I realized that I have been attempting to mother in my own strength and that is why I am so exhausted. God gave me this child and it is only in Christ’s strength that I am able to be the mother he needs.
I know I am not the only new mother to go through post-partum emotional trauma, but I am sure that it shows itself in different ways for different people. It is not easy to be so open about my experiences, but I sincerely hope that by my doing so someone will be encouraged. If you are struggling, the following plan of action might help you come through it a little easier:
*Turn to God. This is the most vital thing to do. He knows your struggles and reading His word, praying, and journaling about them can help pierce that overwhelming darkness.
*Be open with your husband and allow him to help you if he is trying to. It really is a team effort and your depression affects him too.
*Adore your baby. That little one is the reason you are where you are. Looking at him/her will remind you that your suffering isn’t for naught.
*Go outside or move around your home. A change of scene really can help distract your mind.
*Do something. A load of laundry, drying the dishes, playing with the dog, writing letters – any task completed can you give you a sense of accomplishment that will lift your spirit.
Whether your baby blues are an excuse to eat extra ice cream or are a time of deep sorrow and depression, think of them as a reminder that your body is still recovering from bringing a brand new life into this world and is now shifting to sustaining that life. Take it in stride and ride the waves instead of letting them pound you.