If you’re a new parent...this could happen to you too.
Even when things go well. Even when you look like you’ve got it all together. Even when it’s “only” your first baby. You could feel like I did.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it was like back when Sawyer was tiny. She’s a rambunctious two and a half year old now, so it takes a second to cast my mind back to those first few months. What it was like. What I felt like. What I believed awaited me in the future.
But I have a few friends with new babies now, and being around them is triggering those memories. Their beautiful newborns are reminding me that becoming a parent is freaking hard. Even with one. Even with support. Even even even. You don’t need to make excuses for why you should be having an easier time with it all. Newborn life is a total trip; it’s absolute madness.
For those of you pregnant or expecting. Don’t let me scare you. It’s fine. It really is. And it passes. And you get to hold your perfect child in your arms and be encompassed by the most overwhelming love you’ve ever felt. I’m not here to tell you it’s not worth it. It is unequivocally the best experience of my life and I would never change a moment of it.
I just want to be a sounding board for you who are in the midst of it. Because I never thought I would feel the way I did. And in the moment, I didn’t even have a word for it.
But I felt, and was totally convinced, that I would never feel happiness the way I did before having a baby. And I was fine with it. I shrugged, thought, “I guess this is life now.” and got on with my relatively “easy” newborn experience. My daughter slept well, nursed well, wasn’t fussy as a rule. I mean, she did hate the carseat with a passion, but that would probably be my biggest complaint.
I was overwhelmed with love, both for her and for my husband who was such an incredible support. I was happy. I smiled, I laughed, I had a good time. But it just felt different.
You know that feeling you get, when you’re in the middle of a moment you just know is going to be a memory of “the good old days”. That overwhelming giddy happy feeling? Well I didn’t feel that for about a year. That’s the feeling I thought was gone.
And guys. I was fine with it. I was happy to trade it for my baby, for my happy marriage, for this life that I’d dreamed of and somehow built.
But in retrospect, that numbness, that lessening of feeling, the absence of joy felt in the same way it had been previously. That’s postpartum depression. It gets much worse, much, much worse than that, but it doesn’t mean that it still isn’t PPD. It is.
I wish someone had told me that I didn’t need to feel sad to have PPD. I wasn’t sad. I was just...less.
And I didn’t understand that until about a year after my daughter was born. And I felt that feeling again. The freedom of unadulterated, beautiful, overwhelming JOY. Honestly, it was probably after the first night she slept a full twelve hours.
Goodness it felt good. I don’t remember when it was, where I was, what was going on, but I remember tears. Vividly, I remember happy tears welling up as I realized, “It’s okay. You’ll feel like yourself again. You’ll get to feel all the things you used to feel.” It was like I’d been holding my breath for a year.
So I’m here to tell you, you will feel like yourself again. New parenthood is exhausting, rewarding, immense. It overwhelms your whole life, and for a while you might lose yourself. But try to hold on. To each other, to what you believe in, and to what makes you, you. Don’t give up the things that bring you joy. Travel, dance, paint, study, run, read, cook, FLY. Do the things that used to overwhelm you with happiness, and maybe you’ll avoid the “less” feeling that I had. Maybe you’ll be able to drop back into the happiness quicker than I did.
And if not? That’s okay too. I promise you’ll get there.
Founder, Beluga Baby
If you or someone you know is going through postpartum depression, please speak to your doctor. Symptoms can worsen quickly, and the best way to get the help you need is with the help of a medical professional. Symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety can be found here.Header image by Xavier Sotomayor on Unsplash
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