When I found out I was pregnant, I was acutely aware of the phenomenon known as postpartum depression or the “baby blues.” I worried that I wouldn’t feel connected to my baby when he was born. I told my husband to be on the lookout for signs that I was struggling when we brought him home. I was honest with myself (seeing as I have a hard time coping with major life changes and large amounts of stress) that the transition could be difficult for me.
So when I started feeling overwhelmed, emotional, and stressed out shortly after bringing my son home from the hospital, I reached out to my husband and my friends to say “I’m having a hard time.” But I didn’t define it as postpartum depression, because I wasn’t depressed. I loved my little guy, but his presence was completely overwhelming me some days and I felt out of control. My mind would race with thoughts of the future – the coming days, weeks and months seemed insurmountable and like I would never get the hang of being a Mom. And the recurring thought of “what if I can’t do this?” replayed over and over in my head.
My husband and friends were extremely supportive, allowing me to cry, vent and stress when needed. But I still couldn’t understand what I was feeling because I wasn’t SAD, just unable to come to grips with the day-to-day tasks ahead of me. Of course lack of sleep didn’t help, but it was so much more than that.
Then I had a conversation with a friend whose daughter is a little over a year old. I told her how I was feeling and she explained that what I was experiencing was similar to the baby blues, but had a different name: baby anxiety. Yep, that’s hitting the nail on the head. I was anxious about every decision I was making related to him, not to mention anxious about decisions I hadn’t even had to face yet but knew would be coming. Add to that my personality trait where I like schedules, plans, and systems, and it was a perfect storm of feeling overwhelmed, out of control, and completely incapable of taking the next step. And I noticed this anxiety always hit me around 6pm each night. My friend pointed out this was likely because the majority of my stress centered around his sleeping habits and patterns and added stress over not getting enough sleep myself.
She, like many friends before her, recommended I learn to focus not on tomorrow or next week, but on the next task at hand: the next feeding, the next nap, the next diaper change, etc. And as I slowly conquered each of these smaller tasks, I would gain more confidence on the whole that I could handle each day.
This conversation took place when my little guy was only about 10 days old. On Tuesday he will be 1 month, and thanks to the advice, support and encouragement from friends and family, today I’m feeling MUCH more confident in caring for my little guy by myself. Sure there are still tough moments, sleep-deprived nights and times when I just don’t know what he wants, but even in those times I know that I am doing everything I can for him to the best of my ability, and that is exactly what any good Mom hopes to be able to do for their child.
So I want to say THANK YOU to all of the friends who have taken a moment to ask me how I’m doing, or stopped by with food for my family, or sent me a quick text saying “I’m thinking of you today.” I never thought motherhood could feel lonely, but those first few days felt like I was on a deserted island trying to survive all alone, until I reached out and felt so many hands reaching back towards me.
We’ve made it 1 month little man, and I’m pretty darn proud of that.