I Wasn’t Prepared for This… (Readying Moms for Baby Blues)

Before having your own child, did you feel prepared for life with baby? Let’s see… I personally did babysitting, working in church nurseries for years, teaching vacation bible school lessons, teaching music to grades K-12, and working in a day care with children from 6weeks-6 years. I thought I knew a lot about kids.

Before I had a child, I knew exactly how I was going to raise my own. I had patience, discernment, energy, and skill. After all, I changed about 20-30 diapers a day when I worked at daycare. I had seen every kind of poop there was, so no diaper change would scare me. I managed toddler temper tantrums with time outs and calmness. I lead circle time (learning activites) with enthusiasm and gusto. I was going to rock this mom thing.

Or so I thought.

I did not know that having a baby was going to hit me like a truck. It was and still is the most amazing thing of my entire life, but also the absolute hardest. I knew that I would be tired, but I didn’t know that I could possibly feel as exhausted as I did. I knew he would cry, but I didn’t know the full measure of frustration and despair I would reach while trying to calm him. I knew I would be nursing often, but I didn’t know that it would be near impossible to accomplish anything else for several weeks. I knew I wouldn’t get out much, but I didn’t know how stale the house would grow. I knew having a baby would affect our marriage, but I didn’t know how snappy and wretched I would become (praise God for a kind and patient husband who truly was my earthly “saving grace” for this time period). I knew there would be horomone swings, but I didn’t know that I would struggle immensely with feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and great darkness for quite some time. I knew there would be a lot to learn, but I had no idea how much.

Often, when a woman has a baby, we can become SO excited about the new life (and rightly so!) that we forget to provide support for the mother. As a new mom, I felt guilty for feeling frustrated, upset that I couldn’t get on top of things, and lost in the mass of adjustments I had to make. Wasn’t I supposed to be happy? Did this make me a bad mom? I knew I loved my baby, but why was I deparately hoping someone else would take him for a while?

Moreover, I couldn’t always identify why I was having these feelings or give myself permission to voice them. I couldn’t come to view this time in my life rationally. All I could see was the bundle of emotions- joy, helplessness, intense love, shame for feeling like I wanted a break, elation over meeting my baby, hope for the future, feelings of incompetence, the baby honeymoon, and the baby blues all at once…  I absolutely could not make sense of it all. 

I read in books that it was normal to feel this way. But nobody else was saying it. Why didn’t anyone take time to confirm what I was going through? Maybe I was just crazy, maybe I was a nutcase and a bad mother after all, and I wasn’t fit to take care of a baby. Thank goodness I had a few close family members who held me to my sanity, who let me talk without any judgement, who made me realize that it would get better with time, that this was just a brief season in my life…

New mothers need support. They need help identifying what they are feeling. They need permission to voice their feelings, their struggles, and their fears. And they need to know it’s okay to wade through the postparum period slowly. NO ONE has it all together. If a mom is struggling with true postpartum depression, she especially needs to know it’s okay to get help, and we should encourage her to do so.

No woman can ever be truly prepared for the changes a baby brings, but I think it would help a lot if we were willing to say to pregnant moms, “When you have this baby, things might start to get hard. Absolutely wonderful and amazing, but really hard. When that time comes, I’m here to talk.” We need to be there for moms emotionally both before and after the birth.

I would never trade the “fourth trimester” stretch with my son for anything. Nothing could compare to how beautiful it was getting to know him in those first few days and weeks. But I will tell you this- toiling through the immediate postpartum period has compelled me to want to help other moms facing it too. I encourage you to do the same.

Taking a moment to focus on mom, asking her how she’s feeling, allowing her to take a break, letting her cry and talk, giving her a chance to nap, validating her inner battles, not telling her how she should feel… All the while being quietly accepting, patient, and loving towards her… all of these little gestures can bring a little light to mom’s day and make a world of difference.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dac on April 6, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    You are SO right. And even hard times are easier to push through when you know that you are not the only one.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Guest on April 18, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Every mother and mother to be should read this article. I am certain they have all felt, or will feel, this way on some level.

    Reply

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