Friday, November 14, 2008

poetry and prose

Nobody really talks about the baby blues. No one really even mentioned it to me until the few moments after John Michael was born. Then Dad in all his wisdom gently suggested that I not be surprised if my euphoria faded a bit into what was often called the baby blues. I said, "Huh, okay." but inside scoffed that the happiest happy I had ever felt could possibly fade.

It happened gradually but suddenly and lasted only a couple of weeks that felt like a lifetime. I would reach to nurse him and suddenly feel too tired. "I've lost interest in him," I cried, and my mother took him from me and told me not to worry. I felt everything closing in on me. I felt sick and exhausted and told Michael very sincerely that I thought I might be dying. I felt certain I was the only person in the world who could care for that baby but I was far too weak and tired to actually do it. I loved him so much that I sat on Michael's lap and cried that he would grow up even one single day. But one night when I went out for Halloween candy, I felt that although I wanted to return home to Michael, I didn't want to return home to the baby.

That night was pretty much the last of it. It faded more quickly after that without so many excruciating episodes that we simply had to pray our way through. The euphoria eventually returned but was more grounded in reality now.

Two things I wondered then, "I was supposed to be a better person than this," and "Why don't women talk about it?" The first probably answers the second. I was an extremely emotional person all my life and had learned, I thought, to steady them and not ride the roller coaster quite so high or low with passing feelings. So I felt ashamed that I hadn't been stronger when he was born. I got over that eventually, truly believing that hormones do their own thing sometimes, and surviving it really is almost the best that we can do. And I talked with many women in those weeks who had been through the exact same thing. I think the main reason we don't talk about it is because it doesn't happen to everyone. I think we feel that if we suggest it, we will scare them. And if we don't suggest it, maybe it won't happen.

Charity was euphoric in the hospital with Nola Serenity. Giddy, achingly happy. She felt so glad to not be pregnant anymore, so happy the baby is finally here, and surprised - as I think we all are - by how perfect life feels with a new baby. In the first couple days at home she has hit some of those painfully exhausting moments when she wasn't sure she had the energy to do this. I told Mom to tell her it passes. I told her about going to bed early and trying to believe that the baby really will get taken care of even if you simply can't rise from the bed (which I know that she will). And I told her about the long drives that Don and Cheri suggested to us, and which really helped.

But I think Mom knew this is a wave you sort of just have to ride. Mom probably will tell Charity all those things, but she'll weave them in gently as it seems fitting to the moment. Too many solutions offered at once could be as overwhelming as the problem.

Today Charity sent an email that literally glowed with happiness. Nola is sleeping beautifully, and I know that with every hour of sleep, Charity's nerves will improve. I don't think she would like my sharing anything but the happy thoughts right now. But since she doesn't read blogs, I thought I'd risk it. I know from experience that when you write about your low points to good, kind people like those who read my blog - the next day is very often better. I couldn't help but take that chance for her.

It's funny. Almost all of us know exactly what it's like to cry half the night because the baby is. We know that exhaustion is so dramatic those first few days that it hurts. We know these things. But still we feel giddy when someone joins the ranks. I guess it's because we know the beautiful parts far outweigh the ache.


Anonymous said...

Man do I remember this "tired".
I agree with you, its so worth it.

Kathy said...

Tonight we took your advice and went for a little drive when the blues hit. A twirl through the aisles at Target did the trick:) And Ry & Char got to show of the baby as a perk.

You are right that we don't talk about this enough. We must learn to recognize it as part of the process for some mothers - probably most mothers - and help one another through it.

Molly said...

I, for one, am SO thankful that YOU talked about it. When the blues hit with Peter I remember bawling my eyes out when Jared left for work because I knew there was no way I could meet this baby's needs. I got through all that because you had warned me not to take myself so seriously. I don't thing I ever thank you for that, so Thank You!

And you are sooooooo right, the beautiful far outweighs the ache!

Cheri' said...

You're so right . . . nobody told me about the baby blues until they hit. Fortunately, my "encourager" husband helped me through those times, and just as you said, they passed.

Maybe Charity won't necessarily enjoy seeing it in your blog, but it's an important thing to write about. And she is extremely blessed to have such a caring and wise older sister, and a loving mother who will console her and wisely advise her when she needs it.

Thanks for opening up this topic. We really do need each other!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up, Serenity. My mom has warned me about that time and it's not exactly fun to think about. I guess the best advice I have heard is that it does pass. Thanks again and Congratulations!


Valerie said...

I cried my eyes out one day soon after Madison was born because I thought she and Kevin looked so beautiful together. I was still extrememly fat and puffy and decided I did not fit in with my own family. I think hormones are more powerful than we realize sometimes and we just have to wait them out!

Tracy said...

Great post, Serenity. And a great reminder to share these things with my daughter since she is due on December 10th. I'm going to print your blog out for her so she can read your words of wisdom for herself. It's a great thing to talk about because it's such a lonely feeling to think you're the only mother in the world that would have such feelings.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Oh new babies! So heavenly sweet! So overwhelming!

I love your post, partly because you write so beautifully, and also because I well remember those same exact feelings. It's so stressful not to feel like you "should" as a new mom. And you're right...I have no idea why women don't talk about this more! (Along with the physical discomfort after the baby is born--that was a not so nice surprise too!)
Hormones are tricky things!

How wonderful for your sister that she has a team of women behind her that can love her through it!
PS. Thanks for the sweet comment you wrote on anneandmay's blog today! I'm sending you a hug!

serenity said...

(You're very welcome, Becky, and thank you for the hug!)