I Thought I Had the Baby Blues, But It Was Something More
byHeather BurdoJun 27, 2017
Photograph by Twenty20
My son was
born just over seven years ago. I still remember the day. It was a scary moment
because of my C-section, but after that I just couldn’t get enough of my new baby. I felt a bond right away.
A few weeks
flew by, and everything was still going great. After those first few weeks,
though, I was getting some bad anxiety. I remember thinking, “This must be
normal after giving birth. It'll be fine.” Little did I know, it wasn’t
going to be fine. The anxiety eventually got so bad that I was afraid of
anything happening to him. (My normal mom worries quickly became too intense and
too much to handle.)
It was as if I
couldn’t control my anxiety. I was scared to death of him ever getting hurt,
and I watched everyone’s move, making sure they did everything right. These
anxious feelings were so overwhelming and exhausting, and it was starting to get
the best of me. Unfortunately, I fell into a depression. This wasn’t
just baby blues. I felt this depression and anxiety for at least two to three years,
with the first year being the worst. I remember I wasn’t even eating for a
while during the first year. I was just too depressed.
I quickly lost myself,
and I wasn’t the person I knew anymore. I felt that although I was
with my son, I wasn’t mentally with him. What I thought were the baby blues turned out to be postpartum depression.
So what's the difference?
Baby blues are short and never last more than two
weeks. If you experience anxiety, depression
or are just feeling down in general for more than two weeks after delivery, according to clinical psychologist Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D, it’s
time to get some help. With up to 80 percent of moms experiencing
some sort of stress or weepiness after their baby is born, you’re certainly not
alone. I wish I had known that.
PPD, on the other hand, is the most common postpartum mood disorder. Approximately 15 percent of mothers deal with PPD. It’s
not your fault, and you did nothing wrong to cause it. PPD is thought
to be caused in part by a major hormonal drop after giving birth. That hormonal shift
will affect your neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) and send you on an
emotional roller coaster, or so it feels.
One of the
major pieces of advice I wish I had taken was to nap when my son napped. Why? Because sleep deprivation is one of several factors that has been linked to PPD. Don’t get me wrong, my husband was my
rock through this process. He would have gotten up with our son in the middle
of the night, but I chose to wake up before he did because he was the one going to work in the morning. I was thinking of others
before myself (a common story with moms). But if you have the help, take it. Let others wake up,
if they're willing to one or two times in the night.