I had a baby! It was hard.

21 Sep

Recently I spoke to a friend about postpartum depression. Did you go through this? She wanted to know. I can’t control these crazy emotions. Her words were so full of sadness my heart ached for her. Having a baby is hard, I told her, but it gets better. I promise.

I suffered from pregnancy-induced depression as early as my second trimester. I would sob for seemingly no reason. I would become enraged and throw things. I behaved so out of character that my husband became deeply worried. He became worried for me but also for the stress my emotions would put on the baby. He urged me to tell the doctor at one of my check-ups. I really didn’t want to. I was ashamed that I couldn’t keep it together, I felt as if these crazy emotions were my fault. With Anthony’s prompting, I finally broke down and told the doctor. Actually, I broke down and sobbed in front of the doctor and he figured out the rest.

The most important thing I found out by telling my doctor is that postpartum and antepartum depression is that it not just affects you, or the people you’re around. It affects the bonding process with your baby. Especially for a new mom, uncertain about how you’re going to take care of a brand new life form so wholly dependent on you for survival. The last thing you need is anything making that experience more stressful.

You know for sure that having a baby is going to change your life. You know that, and are even looking forward to it. But what you might not take into consideration is that your hormones are going to go wild. Suddenly you are sleep deprived, possibly recovering from a traumatic birth (my case), and you’re going to experience the worst PMS of your life. You are going to feel so much pressure about doing the right thing and you are never going to measure up to the pre-baby visions you had of yourself effortlessly vacuuming and breastfeeding at the same time.

And that’s okay.

I think a lot about parenthood and how it has changed me but also just about parenthood in general. I remember through a fog what it was like before kids. Parenthood is a mystery in that it must be experienced to be understood. There is nothing anyone can tell you that will give you a sense of what it is like, and watching the interactions of parents and kids as an outsider offers an incomplete picture at best. What it won’t tell you is how unrelenting parenting is. It won’t tell you about the oppressive weight that is having another being permanently attached to you. With a baby comes the responsibility of living to your highest aspirations for yourself. Your struggles become your baby’s struggles.

Being a parent means looking at the clock and discovering with a sinking heart it’s only noon and feeling like it should be 4:00 pm for the amount of hard work and effort you’ve put into the day.

Being a parent means holding yourself up to an imaginary yardstick of achievement on a daily basis and feeling like you’ve failed. Or even if you’ve done really well, you have that feeling that it wasn’t enough.

Being a parent means sniffing your baby’s head day in and day out and never, ever getting tired of the new baby smell.

Being a parent means I can’t describe the joy I experience when I hear by baby fart. I successfully made a being so complex she can fart.

Being a parent means I have moments of new mom wonder and awe on a daily basis. I stare at her and think to myself, “I made this. I created her. She was nothing and she came from me.”

When you first have a baby the hardest part is the fact that it’s a non-stop, full-time, 24 hours-a-day job. If you get no sleep one night, you can’t automatically expect to catch up on it the next night, or even the night after that. It’s moment-by-moment survival. You never get a break. You never feel like it will be over.

You’re not going to become who you think you are going to become. Once you’ve reconciled with that, you’ll know that that is okay, too. I remember one of the toughest realizations came when Anthony went back to work and I was at home with Isobel 24 hours a day.

I’m never going to be able to shower again.

This one thought destroyed me. It summed up everything about my life that wouldn’t be the same ever again, or at least not for many, many years. It was hard to let go and become the person I am now because I’m not the person I thought I’d be.

It’s okay if it’s hard. Sometimes if you’re doing it correctly it’s supposed to be hard. Some families handle the transition in stride, but it was hard for me. No one has a baby in a vacuum, and the complications of life surrounding Isobel’s pregnancy and birth were enormous. I was dealing with a lot of things simultaneously. And it was hard. And that’s okay.

If you are experiencing depression at any stage of your pregnancy or after the baby’s born, tell your doctor. They will not judge you. It is not your fault. If you feel this way it’s not because you don’t love or want your baby. Your doctor will know exactly what to do. It’s the best thing not only for you, not only for your family, but for your relationship with your child. I will admit right now that the transition to motherhood was difficult for me, and I relied on medication, my doctors, therapy and my husband and friends to get through it.

And that’s okay.

24 Responses to “I had a baby! It was hard.”

  1. asiajane September 21, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    Well said. I, too, experienced antepartum depression with my second pregnancy, and something like postpartum anxiety with my first. Having a baby is SO HARD! It’s better when we all talk about it. I hate the whole “mommy wars” crap that puts the focus on competition and that “invisible yard stick” instead of on supporting one another.

    • LittleBig September 22, 2010 at 11:58 am #

      I’d like to think I’m prepared for it if it happens a second time, but I really don’t know.

  2. sarah September 21, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    This is excellent.I was post natally depressed with both my boys.The hardest thing I ever did was to be a mum.My dream of being an earth mother fell in pieces around me and I hated everything about motherhood. The sleep deprivation broke me and the fact that I could not see anything to love about my son for a long time left me with hideous guilt.When I eventually saw my doctor, snotty and sobbing,she told me it was ok, that I had taken the first step to being ok.You are right. Get help.Its not anyone’s fault – just a combination of chemicals, high expectations dashed and sleep deprivation.I took medication and counselling and I am now a very happy fulfilled person who loves my children, and my life.Sarah x

    • LittleBig September 22, 2010 at 11:59 am #

      Thank you so much, Sarah. Motherhood is hard, but worth it.

  3. Amy September 21, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    I just wanted to tell you that you are so sweet and wonderful.

  4. Alicia September 21, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this. As much as I want to be “Super Woman Mom of the Year” I know it’s not going to happen. Olivia is 3 1/2 weeks old now and I’m realizing that I’m doing the best I can for both of us, but also realizing I will never think I do enough…and that’s okay.

    Becoming a mom has changed me! I see things so differently now that I have this little person. I can just sit for hours and stare in amazement at this little being Omar and I created, and who I carried around inside of me for 38 1/2 weeks. It’s AMAZING!

    • LittleBig September 22, 2010 at 11:59 am #

      Alicia, I think of you often.


  5. Noemi September 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    Ah shit. Now I’m all teary-eyed. Thanks for writing this.

    • LittleBig September 22, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

      I don’t know why that stupid email didn’t send. This was basically what I wanted to say. Let me know if you have any questions.


      • Noemi September 24, 2010 at 8:58 am #

        I figured this was the gist of what you were trying to email me. Thanks for laying it all out there. I really believe the drugs keep me from going too far off the deep end, so I’m sticking with them. It’s good to know I’m not the only one.

      • LittleBig September 24, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

        Feel free to email me at any time.

        Hugs hugs hugs

  6. Kia - FoodChiCa September 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    Thank you for writing this, parenthood definitively changes your life. The first days home both me and my husband were sleep deprived, it was very hard and I had a bad reaction to a narcotic a (***) nurse gave me, which lasted for days! This said, I am doing it for the second time and I am masochistically excited for it 😛

    • LittleBig September 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

      I’m excited for you, Kia! xoxo

  7. purplequark September 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    Wow, well said and well written.

  8. Adriana September 22, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    It is so reassuring to read this. After Wolfie was born, I experienced pretty intense depression, and my husband suggested like yours did that I consult my doctor. I couldn’t even bear to apply the word “depression” to what I was feeling, and it was unlike any other form of depression I’ve ever experienced. Intellectually, I recognized that was what was going on, but, emotionally . . . it took a couple months for me to accept. Even now, a year later, it is such a relief to read another mom’s experience and to know that it’s completely normal. I really appreciate your writing this. Thank you.

  9. MegaGood September 23, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    I am glad you wrote this. I feel like it will really help someone. I wish I had known you when this all went down.

    Knowing you now, I would never have guessed you had PPD. I am glad you got help with it and you have a supportive husband. You seem so happy with Isobel these days that it makes me excited to have a little walker and talker. I am always inspired by your mama stories.

    I am betting you will have an easier time next kid. Just a hunch. ((Internet Hugs))

    • LittleBig September 24, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

      I can tell I’m still recovering from the PPD, actually, it’s just that now I’m my normal self 70% of the time and my depressed self only 30%. I used to be my depressed self 100%. I was unrecognizable, even to me.


  10. laura September 30, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    this was really inspiring to read, and i don’t even have a kid yet. ❤ i'm so, so glad you started this blog.

    • LittleBig September 30, 2010 at 11:38 am #

      Well that’s about the nicest thing anyone’s said about this blog. Thank you so much, Laura.

  11. CeeCee June 28, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    Just wandering through, doing a little blog surfing.
    I, too, had PPD (16 years ago). Crippling. Frightening.
    I wish your post could be printed and handed out to each and every pregnant woman on the planet. It was so well written. So honest. So freaking true in every sense of the word.
    Luckily, I have a great husband too. I was honest with my feelings, only with him. It worried and frightened him. I sought help and my therapist (and Zoloft) saved my life.
    I’m glad you came out on the up side of PPD. Your daughter is beautiful and obviously has thrived.

    • LittleBig June 28, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

      Thank you so much, CeeCee. Even though you experienced it 16 years ago it’s obvious you still remember how frightening it was. I don’t think I’ll ever forget, either.


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