Faced with the “Baby Blues,” once again

Preface: What I’m about to share includes some very personal and somewhat disturbing thoughts I had during the first few weeks that followed the birth of both my girls. I realize that I may face some judgement and negative reactions, but I’m opening up anyways, with hopes of assuring other parents who may also be dealing with similar emotions that they are not alone, that they are not crazy (hormones are a bitch) and that these feelings are normal under extreme circumstances. The madness and chaos will pass, life will regain a form of routine and stability, you are strong enough to get through each day (one day at a time) and all of this will one day be  but a distant memory. Hang in there. Ask for help when (not if) you need it. It takes a village (especially when a colicky baby is involved), and that’s okay. Also, I apologize if my thoughts seem unorganized or scattered. This was really difficult to express while only on 5 hours of broken sleep (everyday for the past 6 weeks)…and…while having many interruptions, making this take a few days to compose rather than the usual few hours.

(All photos were taken during Margo’s 2nd week of life. She already looks so different now at 6 weeks!)

———————

baby blues

After dealing with a few very long months of screaming, crying and fussiness after birth from my first born, Mia, I had wished and prayed and hoped for a mellow baby with our second. I was reassured by many that “your second one is always easier.” How wrong they all were. I’ll get to Margo, my second child, in just a bit after a little back story on Mia.

I don’t necessarily remember the details of Mia’s “condition” 3 years ago, but I do remember how I had felt during the first few weeks after giving birth. Not only was I a new parent and had no clue what I was doing or what to expect, but I was dealing with a baby that cried all of the time while my body was surging with postpartum hormones. I wouldn’t say that I was depressed, but I definitely experienced the “baby blues.” I cried everyday, multiple times a day for at least 2 weeks. I spent a good chunk of time locked in my bathroom and on the floor, in tears. I didn’t know how to deal with a baby that screamed and cried all of the time, even after I had satisfied the checklist of reasons for why she could be upset: diaper change, too hot, too cold, hungry, overstimulated, under stimulated or in need of some snuggles. I was so overwhelmed, stressed, hopeless, helpless, angry, disappointed, confused and resentful (towards my husband for getting to be at work every day instead of home). There was a point during one of my bathroom pity parties when I actually thought to myself, “What if I just…leave? Like seriously, leave. What if I get into my car and drive away? To anywhere. And not come back. Can I do that? I think I can do that. I could seriously, right now, do that…and not care about ever seeing my baby again.” I truly thought, in that moment, that I could walk away and never look back. Part of me really wanted to escape because being caught up in that moment and in those never ending days and weeks, I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t see how any of it would ever get better and I wanted out. None of this was what I had expected or anticipated. I don’t think I’ve ever admitted to those thoughts here on my blog. I’m not even sure if I’ve admitted them to my husband or family/friends? I’m ashamed to have even considered leaving, but I wasn’t in full control of my emotions. I’m even more ashamed to admit that I, again, had disturbing thoughts cross my mind just recently when I was knee-deep in hormonal chaos with Margo, which I’ll get into in a bit.

DSC_2903-Edit

Three amazing years later of raising Mia (yes, life did get much better!), we had another daughter, Margo Blu (who is now 6 weeks old). Again, I was so hopeful that life with this little one would be different than with Mia. The first few days in the hospital had me fooled that they would be. Margo was mostly mellow, nursed fairly well and napped for hours. She seemed to be the opposite of Mia and I was stoked! I thought I would actually get to enjoy and cherish her newborn self, something I didn’t get with Mia. Oh, what a cruel joke that was.

Within a few days of returning home, Margo kicked up the chaos into full gear. She was constantly fussing and crying and everything I did to soothe her didn’t work, just like with Mia. Except this time, things were worse! At least Mia would relax during a feeding, but Margo has complete meltdowns during them. I’d say that 80% of Margo’s feedings look like this: Margo begins to show obvious hunger cues, I prepare a bottle (with formula…I gave up breastfeeding after 9 days which I’ll go into detail about in another post), I cradle Margo in my rocking chair and insert the bottle into her mouth which she eagerly sucks at immediately and within 3-4 seconds of sucking she lets out a scream. I rock her, burp her, try to soothe her until she calms a bit and shows cues of wanting the bottle again. I repeat the same process and so does she. Literally, she screams and shrieks (blood-curdling, by the way) between every few seconds of ingesting her formula. Sometimes, she screams so intensely that her red face turns white and all sound leaves her. Her scream actually goes silent. One time I thought she had stopped breathing! Paired with her screaming are jolts and jerks from her arms and legs, squirming, twisting and writhing from her abdomen and body. She tightens and tenses up and is in such obvious pain. I can hear gurgles and bubbles in her tummy and she lets out so much gas which also makes her scream. I know she’s hungry and needs nourishment so I continue to feed her, but I hate doing it because it’s causing her so much discomfort and agony. It takes at least 30 minutes to get through this. It pains me so much to see her go through this without being able to comfort her, and believe me, we’ve tried everything to troubleshoot this problem and to provide relief (expect another post about everything we’ve tried/used to try to “fix” her at a later date).

DSC_2957-Edit

During the first 2 weeks of this, I was a mess. I was trying to keep it together, to stay strong, but I was coming undone. I was trying my best to breastfeed but was failing and felt like a failure as a mother. My postpartum hormones were back, once again, and were getting the best of me. I was crying everyday, multiple times a day and was finding myself, once again, on my bathroom floor with the door locked. I was juggling and fighting so many different emotions, all while having the responsibility of caring for my three year old. And, I was still physically recovering from giving birth. I was heavily bleeding which required multiple pad changes daily and my “area” was very sensitive meaning I couldn’t walk or sit comfortably (or use the bathroom without pain). THANK GOD for my mom, who was staying with us at the time (she was here with us for almost a month!). I don’t know how I would have managed through those first few weeks without her. Anyways, the stress I was feeling from everything had me so torn up over whether or not I should keep breastfeeding or give up.  I lasted 9 days. I realize that this is a very short attempt but I kid you not, they were the longest and most troubled 9 days of my life. Remember those disturbing thoughts that I had mentioned, a few paragraphs earlier? Well, it’s because of those thoughts that got me to throw in the breastfeeding towel and turn to formula.

DSC_2960

I was so consumed with stress, frustration, self-pity and anguish and unable to see any end to it in sight. I knew that it took a few months for Mia to outgrow this horrid phase and I couldn’t possibly imagine enduring the same length of time with the chaos we were facing now with Margo. It seemed ages away and I doubted my strength to handle it until then. Here’s where my awful confession comes in: during one particular sob fest, with tears streaming down my face (yup, in the bathroom) I wished for us to fall victim to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). I wouldn’t dare hurt my child myself, I wasn’t that detached from reality or my sanity, but I was enough to hope that it would just…happen…one evening in her sleep, to painlessly and quietly be taken back to where she came from. I thought that if this was in the cards for us, I would be okay with that. That I may even be better off with this, and we could all go about our lives as just us three. Things were so great, we had a smooth routine and we were happy (and not walking zombies on edge all of the time) with just us three.

DSC_2923

I finally picked myself up off of the bathroom floor after a few hours and then secluded myself in my room and remained motionless in bed for hours more where tears continued to constantly flow. I felt horrible for having these thoughts and couldn’t bring myself to even look at my newborn let alone care for her. Both my husband and my mom were home and I let them deal with her. Neither of them knew exactly what I was going through (I didn’t dare confess these thoughts to them), but both could clearly see that I wasn’t in any shape to be up. Even now, they still don’t know what really happened that day. I can’t say the words out loud. But it was because of these terrible and shameful thoughts that brought me to the final decision to stop breastfeeding. I felt like the worst mother but I needed more help and more time and space from the baby so that I could regain my composure and sanity. I tried pumping so that others could bottle feed my breast milk, giving me that much needed break away but when the milk hardly flowed (probably due to the amount of stress I was under) I was constantly stuck on the pump giving me no actual break or rest. It just created more frustration, so I quit cold turkey. As much as I had wanted to successfully breastfeed, giving it up was the right thing to do. I felt immediate relief after announcing my decision and I’ve been in a much better place, mentally and physically, ever since.

DSC_2925

It’s now been 6 weeks since I gave birth to Margo, and even though we’re still not out of the woods yet with her “colicky” temperament, our days are better. Sure, Margo is showing signs of slow and gradual improvement (feedings are still an awful fight) which has given us hope that the worst is behind us. But…I think the biggest enabler that has improved my quality of life is my attitude. Now that my hormones and emotions have drastically settled (the last time I cried was a few weeks ago), I’ve chosen to be more positive and patient and accepting. Before, I think I was fighting the reality that we have a colicky baby and felt cheated from experiencing what should have been joy, with my newborn. I was sad, bitter and envious of everyone who has ever had an easy-going, calm and overall happy baby (which I thought was most people). After using social media (Facebook and Instagram) to seek help and advice from other parents, I discovered how common it was to have a difficult baby like Margo. I learned that even those parents who I had thought had “perfect” babies (via all of the happy looking baby photos posted to their social media accounts) actually went through similar beginnings that I was facing. I felt such a relief in learning that this was more normal than I had thought. I spent so much time searching for a “fix” and always coming up empty-handed, I was in a way, relieved to know that there wasn’t anything I could do. I could finally stop trying to find a solution (and stop feeling disappointed when nothing worked). All that was left to do was just accept and embrace my current reality and situation.

Embracing a crying and screaming baby isn’t the easiest thing to do, but after I did, life did get easier. If all I can do is hug and kiss and hold my child as she screams in pain or discomfort, then that’s what I’ll do. No, it’s not making her less fussy nor does it quiet her down, but I’d much rather her endure whatever it is she’s going through while in my arms, rather than alone in her crib. I know that in some way, it’s comforting her to know that I’m not letting her go through this on her own and it’s reassuring her that I’m here for her. I actually tell her every day as she cries, “I’m here, Margo. Mommy’s here. We’ll get through this together.” This is my job, after all. I have next to no time for myself anymore or for my household. But this is temporary. I’ve accepted the fact that I have no where else to be or nothing else to do that is more important than caring for my children. Once I embraced this truth, it put life into a clearer perspective where the “bigger picture” became my focus, rather than this small window of time that will some day be a distant memory. My 3 year old, Mia, has actually played a huge role in achieving this outlook. She started out similarly to Margo and look now at how well she’s grown. She’s amazing! Watching her everyday is like looking into Margo’s future. I know Margo will follow the same milestones and developments that Mia did and I can’t wait to experience each one. I daydream about the two of them growing and playing together and these visions get me through each day because I know that this is all worth it. We’re having to make some sacrifices now, but it’s all for such a fulfilling and special outcome that’s waiting for us around the corner.

DSC_2933

To any first time parent who is reading this and who is going through a difficult beginning with a child, and who doesn’t yet know from first hand experience, the greatness that is waiting for them around this ugly corner, please know that it is absolutely worth it. I guarantee it. Don’t lose hope. Don’t lose sight of the importance of your role. Don’t fight what you can’t control, instead, embrace it. The sooner that you accept your new role and reality, the sooner you will feel at peace with this new responsibility. You’re not alone and there are plenty of other parents who have experienced what you are going through, I am one of them. Don’t hesitate or be too embarrassed to reach out to them, me included. Just talking it out lifts weight from your shoulders and helps to get through each day. Take one day at a time, focusing on small victories rather than overwhelming yourself with the thought of what could be weeks and months of an uphill battle. Eventually, you’ll be on the downhill side of this and each day will get easier. You will smile again, laugh and dance again, sleep again, enjoy a warm meal, take showers and blow dry your hair, eat at a restaurant, take a day trip or vacation, grocery shop during the day with your kids rather than at night while your partner stays home with them, have a clean (eh, cleaner) home, and just feel normal once again, like you’re living rather than surviving. Until then, slow down, take lots of deep breaths, drink plenty of water, savor every minute of quiet and peace that your child gives you, memorize their newborn smell (you will miss it once it’s gone), steal as many kisses as you can and most of all, accept and love your child for who they are rather than dwell on who you wish they were (this is your child and you are their entire world).

I hope someone, anyone out there finds some kind of comfort in what I’ve shared. I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences, questions and even criticism. Leave a comment and help me continue this discussion with your points of view so that I and others can benefit from them.

bloglovin wash

vote wash3

Comments

  1. I actually wrote a similar post after having my daughter. The baby blues are such a strong, weird thing. Glad you have opened up. Writing can be very therapeutic.
    Claire recently posted…Fashion Friday: SwimOutlet.comMy Profile

  2. Oh how I know the feels. It’s so hard during the first few months, you are almost out of the woods though! Hang in there mama!

  3. I love that you opened up about such a personal topic. I know that isn’t always easy. I’ve already shared this with a few of my good friends and I know that they will be very grateful for your honesty.
    Kelly Lorene recently posted…My Thoughts on Trust | Thoughtful ThursdayMy Profile

  4. Oh man, I get it. Lucy screamed at feeding times constantly till she was about 9-10 months old. We ended up timing her feeds to be just before a nap so she had no energy to fight it. Eventually she gave in, but I know all too well the feeling of sleep deprivation coupled with frustration and a sick baby. It’s one of the reasons that we’ve been so hesitant to have another child sooner. Thankfully we both know (you with Mia, and me with Lucy) that it will end. Good for you to write it out. I think it needs to be talked about more.
    Courteney Rodda recently posted…21-52My Profile

    • Girl, you had a much more difficult time with yours. I feel silly for even complaining about my situation when I know things could have been MUCH worse!!! It’s hard to think about the rest of the world when you’re caught up in the thick of your own circumstances. But…I did try to take a step back from time to time to remind myself that what we were going through was manageable and that we’d move past it soon enough. And honestly, I did think of you and what you went through with Lucy, to remind myself of what real struggle and stress looks like. Thanks for sharing your experience. I didn’t know Lucy was a difficult eater for so long! And I feel ya on wanting another. Because Mia and Margo were both difficult newborns/infants…we’re most likely NOT having a 3rd. Which I did want.
      Misty recently posted…Margo Blue // A hopeful 2nd monthMy Profile

  5. This is beautiful, Misty. Gratefully, my postpartum hormones are long-gone, or this would have left me weeping in a pile of tears on my office floor. Thank you for sharing this. Thank you for being so brave.

    I think that all new moms of colicky baby have these dark thoughts. I mine — if I do and you do — then most of us probably do. In the beginning I used to joke every day with family & friends that if she didn’t stop crying, I was going to leave her outside for the bears. Meanwhile in my heart, there were a few times where I seriously considered putting her outside in the car for awhile just so I didn’t have to hear the crying… because headphones and earplugs didn’t work… I tried those to no avail! One time, in a fit of tears & hysteria, I told M. that I wanted to put a pillow on her face. Just for a minute. Just to make her be quiet.

    I didn’t do it — I never would! It’s so painful to think of, to admit — but we’re not in our right state of mind in those early weeks (months for many!). And the more I think of it, and the more moms I talk to about it, the more I realize that we’re not alone, not by a long shot. And it doesn’t make us bad mamas. Our babies are safe and loved and any dark thoughts that we have are passing, desperate, fleeting — understandable moments of weakness and exhaustion.

    I am really glad that our pregnancies & deliveries have run nearly parallel. Having you out there and knowing that we were in this together has meant more to me than I can ever say. I’m sorry that you went through this, truly, but I’m grateful that you understand. xoxo
    Dena recently posted…Spring Style // Jewelry for a CauseMy Profile

    • I’m so grateful to have been going through this with you, too. It has truly made me feel less alone. And thanks so much for opening up and admitting your experiences, here. I know this will help anyone else reading, who has felt the same way. Sometimes I wonder how babies can be released to moms so quickly, knowing that the mom will most likely be so overwhelmed with hormones and scary thoughts…shouldn’t a nurse or nanny be sent home with us to help with baby for like, 2 weeks?? That would be AWESOME! Anyways, I’m so glad we’re past this phase. Was…not….fun :( xoxo
      Misty recently posted…Margo Blue // A hopeful 2nd monthMy Profile

  6. Sarah Macon says:

    all so true and nothing to be ashamed of! I had the same feelings with my first, and carried terrible guilt because of it. No one should be left to feel this way, being a mom and caring for a family is hard enough to do with a sound mind, much less a sleep deprived, emotional one! Talk to your doctor, husband, friends, mom, it’s ok! Thanks for putting this out there because other moms need to see that it’s real.

Speak Your Mind

CommentLuv badge