Are you experiencing the baby blues or postpartum depression after having a baby? You’re not alone.
Having had two boys within 2 years of each other, my unexpected daughter–born within 17 months of my last child–was overwhelming. Yikes! But the joy of having a daughter was huge because I knew this would have to be my last child. I had previously had great difficulty carrying a child to full term, plus had one miscarriage and one tubal pregnancy that ruptured. To say that I was tired of hospitals is an understatement! I had been in hospitals once or twice every year for the first seven years of our marriage, and it was stressful for me and my husband. Yet despite all this, I was still surprised to experience the baby blues.
I brought my beautiful daughter home in December. Christmas was filled with warmth, beauty, and love. I had two wonderful boys and now a daughter. I was on top of the world; but something happened. I slowly began to lose all those good feelings; in fact, I became disagreeable and angry. I would cry when alone.
One evening in January as I was sitting waiting for my husband to come home for supper, I looked at the large picture window and thoughts of how the window would look if I threw something through it went through my mind. I could see the thousands of minute shards of glass in all sizes and shapes moving through the air in slow motion. It took on a kaleidoscope effect that made the pieces turn, reflect colors, and show patterns. It was a beautiful sight in a seemingly evil way.
As I watched this imagined act take place, I remember thinking, “I’m in trouble!” I recognized that this was not a good situation I was in, but I couldn’t understand how I could be so sad and moody and irritable with all the blessings that I had. I felt very unsettled.
I reluctantly went to see the doctor and broke down into tears while telling him that I didn’t understand this. I said:
“I should be on top of the world with my little daughter, but instead I’m sad, irritable, plagued with mood swings, and I can’t seem to concentrate.”
He gave it a name – baby blues heading toward postpartum (also called postnatal) depression. I was relieved to know that I wasn’t losing my mind and that someone truly understood.
I learned that symptoms of the baby blues include:
- mood swings
- trouble sleeping
- sadness, and
- irritability, and may be caused with hormonal imbalance.
Postpartum depression may start out as baby blues but becomes more intense and longer-lasting. Postpartum symptoms include:
- loss of appetite
- intense anger
- lack of joy in life
- feelings of shame or inadequacy
- severe mood swings, and
- thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
Untreated postpartum depression may last up to a year or two. Fortunately, my depression was treated early on with medication and counseling, and my daughter today has three handsome sons of her own. What a joy they all are to me! Thankfully I received help before things got out of hand.
I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t sought treatment. Would I have really thrown something through that window? Would I have used those shards of glass for hurtful reasons? My advice is to get help quickly so that those baby blues won’t turn into the more destructive postpartum depression. Then you can enjoy that adorable little child that has come into your life with all the love you possess. Don’t lock your feelings inside! Seek help!
For more information you can read Get the Facts from SPI (postpartum.net). They also offer a chat helpline from that site. You can also read about Risk Factors (what makes a woman more likely to experience postpartum depression) at the Mayo Clinic website: mayoclinic.com.