What to look for when the baby’s finally here, but you’re just not happy about it
The happy activity buzzing around you feels more like a TV dream sequence.
The baby, your baby, wriggles in your arms.
Though your friends and family are cooing and smiling over your shoulder, tears well up for you–again.
You can barely manage a smile or a word. You’re so tired.
You’re irritated by all the baby talk, so drained by all the pressure.
Staring again at your “bundle of joy”, you realize you feel nothing like joy at all. You feel like this is all just one big mistake.
You also know this can’t be right.
What is happening to you?
First, you should know that your feelings might actually have a name: Postpartum depression (PPD).
Second, give yourself a break. You’re not making it up, you’re not crazy, and you are not to blame.
Postpartum depression is significantly more physically intense and emotionally taxing than a few days of the “baby blues”.
In fact, “the blues” doesn’t even seem to describe the dark and maddening symptoms that can overwhelm the weeks and months after a woman gives birth.
If you are unsure whether PPD is the real barrier between you and your baby, examine these five most common and exhausting symptoms:
1. Do you feel physically out of order?
Insomnia. There are no naps when the baby sleeps. There is no rest when you mom comes to help. You may feel that sleep is so far out of reach that you’ll never close your eyes again.
Loss of appetite. Nothing looks good or tastes good. In fact, food hasn’t even crossed your mind.
Overpowering Fatigue. You can’t believe how tired you are. You don’t have enough energy to get dressed, let alone change diapers, or bathe your baby.
2. Has a fog settled over your life?
Lack of focus. Decisions and concentration are beyond you right now. Conversations are hard to engage, books are hard to read, and names are hard to recall.
Disconnection. The whole world seems somehow “out there”. You feel like you can’t connect with your baby, spouse, and loved ones the way you want to.
3. Is emotional numbness plaguing your relationships?
Baby bond trouble. You keep waiting for a wave of maternal love and protectiveness to wash over you, but it still hasn’t come.
Withdrawal. Your response to your partner and loved ones has ebbed to almost nothing. You’re not interested in their lives and share very little of yourself with them.
4. Are you constantly swinging between emotional extremes?
Anger. Do you lash out at your family? Do you resent your baby?
Sadness. Do you feel crushed or immobilized? Is your crying out of control?
Hopelessness. Do feelings of failure or being trapped consume you? Have you seriously contemplated escape?
5. Have anxiety and panic become constant companions?
Panic. Sudden attacks of inadequacy and worry overcome you. You actually have a physical response to the fear, possibly hyperventilating or becoming nauseous.
Fear factors. You worry all the time that you could hurt your baby. You’re afraid to be left in charge. You call the doctor repeatedly for reassurance, but never feel better.
Please understand, postpartum depression is not merely a sad period of adjustment. If you recognize a need for help, don’t be afraid to reach out right away to ensure your own safety and that of your child.
Talk to your partner, someone you trust, or an experienced therapist and reclaim your happiness. Find your true self again.
Rediscover your bundle of joy.
Read more about Depression Therapy.