Because it’s not often talked about, I want to talk about it. In the event that you come visit me in the days following the birth of our 3rd child and you see me looking sad or crying on the couch after such a joyous occasion, here’s why.
There’s a period of time shortly after you give birth that is commonly referred to as the “baby blues”, or the “weepies” as I like to call them. This is a much less severe kind of postpartum depression (PPD). PPD is very real and more serious and lasts much longer. The weepies are usually pretty mild and temporary. The cause is likely the crazy hormone changes that happen during and after pregnancy. In any case, I’ve had the weepies both times and fully expect to have them again this time. For me, it usually centers around the sudden realization that life has dramatically and irrevocably changed and there’s nothing I can do about it.
After Gwen was born, I realized that it will never ever just be “the two of us” again (referring to me and my husband). That season of life- childless newlyweds- was over. Forever. And I mourned the ending of that time. Don’t get me wrong, we were THRILLED to have Gwen in our lives and she brought so much joy and happiness, but I was still sad about the ending of a very sweet chapter in our lives. Those feelings coexisted. Also, breastfeeding in the beginning is hard and my nipples hurt a lot, so I was also crying over that.
After Ivor Baby was born, I mourned the ending of life with just 1 baby. Gwen was my baby, and we very quickly had another one all of a sudden. I was sad that it wasn’t just me and her anymore. And I cried the first time she cried while I was nursing and I couldn’t tend to her right away. And those who were home to help me weren’t responding quickly enough (for my liking), because with just 1 kid it’s much easier to drop everything and go to them right away, which is what I always did. Again, while unexpected, the birth of Ivor Baby was just as happy and joyous an occasion and I can’t imagine life without that little guy and looking back I wouldn’t change a thing about the timing. But for a brief period of time (during the weepies) I felt so sad for Gwen. Turns out, she was just fine, and it was ME who had the hardest time adjusting to her having a new sibling.
THIS time around I think it might center around Ivor Baby and making him a middle child. Will I have ruined his life forever?! Not only will he be the middle child, but the only boy, surrounded by sisters. And he won’t be my baby anymore 🙁 And we’re also going to be outnumbered, my husband and I. I will no longer be able to say “you take Gwen, I’ll take Ivor”. One of us will always have at least 2 at one time. Or 1 will be ignored/put on hold. Ahhh! Putting one of my babies on hold…I want to cry already.
The good news is, like I mentioned earlier, those feelings of sadness are temporary. You adjust and life goes on. That doesn’t mean you don’t still experience difficulties or ever have sad moments again- sleep deprivation definitely fuels that fire. But that brief period of time where you’re just sort of overcome with sadness and cry for no reason (or for specific reasons like I did), will come to an end. And again like I said before, postpartum depression is a lot more serious and not as temporary. I haven’t experienced that so I can’t tell you exactly what it’s like. I’ve only heard 2nd-hand from moms who have gone through it. All I would say there is to find someone to talk to, including your doctor, and get help. There’s no shame there and it’s a lot more common than you might think it is. You’re not alone!
So if you come across a mom who just had a new baby and she seems a little sad, don’t be shocked- have some compassion, patience and understanding. Get her some coffee or a donut and a hug. Between actual hormonal changes going on inside our bodies and the huge life transition that is bringing a new life into this world, it can take its toll. But our beautiful families are so worth it.