A Reminder To Check On Your New-Mom Friends
Wake up! It is just you and the baby after a horrible night’s rest. Baby hates the crib, craves your warmth. You are exhausted, you give in, bring the little one closer, and the baby gives you a little bit more time. Gee, thank you for those 13 minutes, you think sarcastically.
Big slap to the face, baby is up, and that means so are you. Alone in the house with an infant and two dogs, you are overwhelmed. Everyone is at work except you. You cry when the baby cries. Have you fed the baby? Have you changed the baby? Have you changed your clothes in the past few days? Have you eaten? It’s one o’clock in the afternoon and you haven’t had breakfast.
Did you do enough tummy time today? Have you talked to the baby enough today? Did the baby just roll over? Crap, the camera was facing you that whole time! SLACKING!
The baby peed on you. Well, you have to change now. So you do. The baby spits up in your hair and on your clothes. Forget it. You are just too tired to change again. You cry. You feel like a failure.
You aren’t working, money is tight, but daycare is too expensive. The house should be clean, dinner should be ready for your husband. You didn’t even play with the dogs today, even though you have been home ALL day. It is the least you can do, right? You cry.
Your empathetic little one cries too. You want to pull through, but you can’t stop the sobbing. You yearn for adult conversation, you get excited just to go shopping at Sam’s Club on the weekend with everyone. You watch the buses go by because you know your husband will be home soon after that, and you just need a break.
But what kind of mother needs a break from her own child? A failing one. Would the baby be better off without me? Am I doing enough?
With all the excitement after birth, you felt fine after the baby was born. You were just so happy to have the baby earthside and strong. You filled out the short questionnaire they provided at your first postpartum visit and the doctor read it over quickly and decided you were fine. But inside you were screaming for help, for someone to look at you, for someone to see you.
Many offered to take the baby, but you felt the baby was too young, or would be hurt or neglected without you. Your anxiety took over. The baby had to be in your presence.
Tears, anger, and resentment become your constant companions, but you think, “Well, the doctor said I was good.” But no one tells you that 3-5% of new mothers will experience symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. No one said that 50% of women who developed postpartum depression began experiencing those symptoms during pregnancy. No one said that half of men who have partners with postpartum depression will go on to develop depression themselves.
You find out all of this after. After you’ve reached your breaking point. After you are already standing at the edge of the cliff.
When people say check on new parents, it is not a joke. It isn’t a suggestion to take lightly. Seriously, check on them. Their whole world has changed while yours has stayed the same. They feel alone. They feel invisible. They feel scared. They feel desperate. Encourage them to talk to someone, even if they aren’t exhibiting the signs. It is when you forget and move on, it is when you decide for yourself that they are fine, it is when you stop noticing them that they need you the most.
— From a mama with postpartum depression, from a mama with severe anxiety, from a mama with OCD.
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