Friday, May 05, 2006

Reality, and the reality of my head

I have nothing appropriate to say, all things considered. This should be where I start regaling you all with stories of Olivia's wonderfulness and my utter bliss and contentment, peppered lightly with a few cute anecdotes about the way I mistakenly put the ice cream in the microwave after a night of sleeplessness or the charming way she pooped on me. Perhaps the adorable way she pretends my nipples are a dog toy and she a spunky pomeranian. But. But.

I am not getting better at this. I do not feel stronger, more competent, more worthy, now that she has been with me for a month. I haven't made it through a day without crying and a generalized grief, without feeling overwhelmed and incapable of giving her what she needs. Don't get me wrong: I am amazed by her every breath, every gaze, every sigh; she is an extraordinary creature, and I love her overpoweringly. And loving her so much hurts like a knife. I wish I could explain it better than that.

I know that what I'm feeling is irrational. Maybe it's the exhaustion, maybe my thyroid is out of whack again, my hormones in disarray, but that doesn't really help. I can't talk myself out of feeling this way.


Anonymous deborah said...

This probably won't help either, but you are not alone in the way you are feeling. You've got lots of company.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Dramalish said...

Keep talking about this. And talk about it to people who can help. Your doctor, your husband, friends who can offer help around the house, etc.
It does get better, and you will feel more competent. You can do it. It's okay to want and need help.

I'm thinking of you and wishing you some relief.

1:26 PM  
Blogger persephone said...

Bugs, I feel silly telling you this, as (a) I don't know what I'm talking about and (b) I know you are well-informed, and have well-informed people all around you. But in case it helps.

Everyone has told me to expect it to be unimaginably hard at the beginning, and a month is not long enough for it to get easier. Maybe 6 weeks? Maybe 3 months? Not until she starts to smile at you, and goes a little longer between feedings, at least.

At the same time more than one medical professional has told me that if I'm feeling depressed for any longer than 2 weeks, I might qualify as having post partum depression. My therapist actually told me she doesn't want me to wait - she says to call her right away, as soon as I feel edgy or weepy, and maybe that way it won't escalate into anything worse. All of us post-infertiles are more at risk for PPD, it wouldn't be a huge surprise or anything to be ashamed of.

So while I should let all the experienced mothers weigh in, the message I've gleaned is that exhausted & overwhelmed & occasionally weepy is to be expected... but extended, generalized grieving is not. I don't think you're using those words lightly. And if that's so I wish you wouldn't try to power through this alone. Please find out if there is help, dear Bugs.

And know that we're thinking of you.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Mudbug said...

What Persephone said. We're here sweetie.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Carla Hinkle said...

Please talk to someone (when is your post-partum check up?).

It is totally normal -- 1 month is not at all long enough to get used to things -- but if it is PPD, you need to get evaluated and get help.

You can do this -- you're doing it! In a week or 2 she will smile at you and that always helps -- it's like oh yeah, THAT is why I wanted you!

1:53 PM  
Blogger Lindy said...

Oh, Bugs. Persephone put it so well. I really think you should talk to your doctor. And you don't need to wait until your postpartum check-up. To have cried every day for a month indicates something closer to PPD than average baby blues. You don't have to (and probably can't anyway) do this alone.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Mellie said...

Oh dear bugs, I'm sorry you feel it's not getting any easier. As the others have written - you're not the first new mom to feel this way.

And fwiw, I'm certain that you are completely capable of giving Olivia all that she needs right now, even if it doesn't seem that way to you.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Cherith said...

Hi there, lurker with a few word of, I hope, wisdom. Don't try to talk yourself out of feeling this way. It is normal and it is OK to feel like you do. The more you fight it, the more you feel guilty about the way you are feeling, the worse the feelings get. IT IS OK, YOU ARE NORMAL and it WILL get better, I promise. Allow yourself to move through all the different emotions, give yourself a break and (I know it is cliche but seriously) get as much sleep as you possibly can. All of your emotions are magnified when you are tired. You are a great mom and this is totally normal. You do not need to feel guilty for what you are feeling.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

Well, I don't know if I've ever posted on your blog before, but I just wanted to say that I think what you are going through is relatively normal - most of us just don't have the courage to admit it :) I have four children and if I'm perfectly honest I will say that w/ the first 3 it took me a good 6 months to feel like a normal person. With the 4th - well, he's 2.5yrs and I'm still not there yet. ;) Have a chat w/ your doc about this. Maybe some short-term anti-depressants aren't out of the question. I don't know you at all, so you can just tell me to go fly a kite :)

3:16 PM  
Blogger Susie said...

It's okay to feel this way. Keep talking about it, like Dramalish said. Don't try to talk yourself out of it, just talk to people who can help. It's going to get better. I promise.

Thinking about you, so much.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Sounds like PPD. I had it really bad and wanted to toss my annoying child through the window. It is okay, a lot of people have it. Tell someone. Just not Tom Cruise.

Good luck!

3:41 PM  
Blogger Anna H. said...

Love you, Bugs.

We're all here for you, sending you love.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please get some help. The early weeks of motherhood are tiring but it sounds like you are far beyond that, and you need to talk to a professional or two. Please don't wait till it gets worse. I've had five children, and I never felt the way you describe, even with twins, so I think it is out of the ordinary. There are lots of people out here in internet-land whom you don't even know, like me, who care about you a lot, but we can't help like a professional can. Please go and ask for help.
Thinking of you
Emma also Jane

4:32 PM  
Blogger Em said...

Please speak to your doctor.

With my first and second babies I suffered alone without seeking medical help - telling myself I "just" had the baby blues and wondering why the other new mothers seemed so happy and competent (crying everyday for a month is more than the baby blues).

Third time around I finally got help (anti-depressants and counselling) and it has made such a HUGE difference.

It *will* get better - but any help you get along the way will help it get better quicker.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Frances said...

Bugs, why not give your doc a call and just let someone there know you've been weepy and feeling overwhelmed - it can only help. does get better. Exponentially so. Promise.


4:43 PM  
Anonymous Adrienne said...

I'm sorry you're having a hard time. Definitely get your thyroid checked (I had pp thyroiditis which was awful) and possibly some meds for PPD? I remember feeling exactly the way you describe. I hope things get easier soon.


6:21 PM  
Anonymous christie said...

What everyone else has already said too....

It does get better, it's just impossible to tell how long it will take.... For me it was between 4 and 6 weeks so maybe, maybe, hopefully you're turning a corner...but I've seen other people that were closer to 6 months....

I agree this sounds like more than just the blues...find someone to talk to, there is help out there (and in here) for you!

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Leggy said...

Early infancy is a very stressful time for moms- your hormones are so out of whack. It is hard, but it shouldn't make you feel so helpless or out of control.

Please talk to your doctor about this. We're here for you.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Menita said...

Oh Bugs, you are not alone, not by a long, long chalk. This is the shock that no one prepares us for, indeed, I'm not sure we CAN prepare for it. I was the same when Polly was born, and I think I waited too long to tell my doctor and start seeing a therapist for PPD - once I did I felt better very soon, and also Polly was a little older and that helped too.
Moxie once called new motherhood a huge mindfuck, and that's exactly what it is.
A month is way too soon to feel a lot better in terms of competence, but way too long to be so miserable. I hope you are able to talk to someone who can help you catch your breath a little.
I hope Olivia smiles soon for you (it may be a few more weeks) - that was what kept me from completely going over the edge.
But yes, this part is very, very hard. Very.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Cass said...

Oh, honey. Thank you for posting this, since it's enabled us to say you'll be okay, and it will get better, and you should definitely talk to your doctor now so you can get some help getting to that point. We are all here, supporting you through this.

Thinking of you and sending loads of hugs.

10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are brave to be so authentic in your portrayal of this first month. Thank you for your honesty, and I wish you all the best--your daughter is very lucky, I would say. Kristen

1:49 PM  
Blogger swissmiss said...

Between your post-partum check up and has Olivia had her four week check with a pediatrician yet? please talk to one or both of the doctors about how you're feeling. Weepy every day I think might be beyond the range of regular overwhelmed, and that's coming from a person who has on occasion burried her head in the pillows to scream scream scream without scaring the baby so I know from overwhelmed. Keep an eye on yourself, please be careful.

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Alexa said...

Calling your doctor will at least give you some reassurance from a professional--either she will say you are doing great, this is normal, or she will be able to offer you some help. I think either way it will help you to know you are doing everything you can.
I (and alot of other people) are thinking of you. Olivia is lucky to have you for a mom.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Oh, sweetie, I am so terribly sorry to hear that you're feeling so poorly. After all that you've been through, you so deserve those unfettered moments of bliss.

It's hard to know with a colicky baby if you have PPD or not--colic can make the most well-adjusted mom want to put her head in an oven--but I definitely think it's worth checking out. For what it's worth, with my guy, while I've definitely had moments of the overwhelmed/incapable feelings, it hasn't been nearly so pervasive.

Please let me know if there is anything--anything!--we can do to help. I hope the doctor offers some good advice and assistance. Please know you're in our thoughts, and we're sending you lots of love.

12:34 PM  
Blogger K|nneret said...

What everyone else said. It isn't easy - I remember really hitting the wall around week 3-4 when I thought I should have it all perfect and together and blissful harmony and .. surprise!
Doesn't work that way, at least for me.

Please talk to your doc. This too shall pass, whether on its own or with meds. It WILL get better.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous laura said...

God, she really is a spectacularly beautiful baby. And I'm not just saying that. She really is.

I think that sleeplessness and exhaustion is certainly part of it. It's so hard to function on two hours of sleep, and you wouldn't be expected to do any other job with that type of rest (or lack of rest.) You don't have to explain it. Just ask for help, accept offers of help, and accept the fact that you are competent, you are able. It's a hard job.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How I wish I could write like that! I have two live children, and after each birth I felt exactly like that. All I can say is that you are normal and it will improve. Not as soon as you hope, and maybe not in the way you expect.

Enjoy the highs,and ask for help with the lows-- maybe it is PPD, for which drugs work wonders. Or maybe you just need sleep and adult company. Honestly, the first month is so hard in many ways, and for me it really took 3, 4, 6 months until I felt like I had a handle on things....but you will get there. And the bood news I can share (kids are now almost 4 and 19 months) is that the bad stuff fades and the good parts remain. You will always look at her and love her that much.

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Jeannie said...

I'm also a new mom and delurking to say -- you are not alone, I too have felt overwhelmed and sad and emotional over the past few weeks. It's normal, but as someone else noted -- you ARE doing this, and your wee one is doing well and that's what a good mom is all about. Take care of yourself, talk to people who can help you, and remember that it's not your fault, and you will feel better.

8:48 PM  
Blogger HomeFireBlue said...

Ditto what everyone else said.

It took me weeks with my first of yo-yoing between looking at him and feeling soaring elation and looking away and feeling like I could just die.

Keep sharing your feelings, see your doc, take deep breaths. One day soon all of this will be a distant memory.

Oh, and you'll be going to the grocery store with puke stains on your shoulder and dare anyone to say anything.

Hang in, Bugs!


3:16 AM  
Anonymous Laura said...

When my daughter (now 4) was born, it was like a dark curtain came down around me, and it stayed and stayed. I took care of her but couldn't really enjoy her (which broke my heart) or much else. It started to lift a bit after 8 or 9 weeks, and at 12 or so weeks I finally felt like myself again. Good luck -- it is hard, but you *will* come back to yourself. (And there's nothing wrong with getting some medical assistance to ease the process.) Please make sure you get sleep (somehow) and remember to eat... both will help. And help from others is definitely called for! It takes a village and all that.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Dee said...

I guess if your OB/GYN practice is anything like mine, they'll be seeing you soon for your six-week postpartum visit--but don't be afraid to call them and say that you're just not feeling like yourself. I did and my doc's office jumped right on things.

It did get better but it takes time. Please don't give yourself a moratorium on when you think you should start feeling 'normal' again. There's no timeframe, it's so very personalized...and so very normal.

I think I finally started to feel like myself, albeit a different version of me (me 2.0), after a few months. Maybe I'm a slow bloomer though. And seriously, Olivia's first intentional smile will help lighten the burden.

Until then, please don't be afraid to ask for, and accept, help.

2:37 PM  
Blogger bj said...

I was not clinically depressed, and felt completely overwhelmed by caring for an infant. It took me at least 3 months before I was not feeling constantly overwhelmed. I had expected 6 weeks to be the magic number, and in fact, things got a bit harder for me then.


2:49 PM  
Blogger bj said...

I was not clinically depressed, and felt completely overwhelmed by caring for an infant. It took me at least 3 months before I was not feeling constantly overwhelmed. I had expected 6 weeks to be the magic number, and in fact, things got a bit harder for me then.


2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please go see your doctor, you are not alone.

Amanda -

12:02 PM  
Anonymous steph said...

Bugs.. It's PPD.. it won't get better on it's own. It's not something you are doing wrong or a failing on your part. It's a chemical imbalance in your brain triggered by the physical changes of pregnancy and childbirth. PPD is a medical condition that can be treated, not a weakness or something that will pass after baby bugs starts smiling at you.

Please don't let one more day of your daughter's precious infancy pass you by. Call your doctor NOW.. don't wait for your 6 week checkup. You've worked so hard and waited for long for this time, and it's being ruined by a TREATABLE condition. Please give yourself the gift of self care.

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Lynne said...

I had a bout with depression a few years ago (not PPD, just plain old depression) and I let it drag on for months and months without seeking help. I eventually pulled out of it but, years later, I really wish that I had spared myself the misery and just gone to the doctor for help. My life would have been so much better then and I would not, six years later, look back at 2000 as the worst year of my life.
Please talk to your doctor, Bugs. This is not something that is likely to go away on its own anytime soon and you don't want to look back on the first few months of Baby Bug's life as the worst month of yours.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Mine slowly subsided in the months following G's birth but it wasnt quick enough. I wish I knew the answer but of course its never a quick fix just to tell someone to get on medication. I didnt get on medication and I did make it. I cried daily but after losing my father from a long tern use of antidepressents they of course were no option for me. I really hope you feel better soon and know it wont last forever and your not abnormal. Its the baby blues.

1:17 PM  

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