After the euphoria of having a healthy baby girl, I came home to wonderment, delight and joy. I was in awe of what I created. Even more, I was completely amazed at what a good baby she was—sleeping and eating just like they said a perfect newborn would do. And although I had felt it the first time around, eight years ago with the birth of my son, I really hadn’t expected to revisit with the postpartum blues.
However, about a week after my baby girl was born, I started feeling sad. Increasingly sad for no justified reason. And so I started doing something stupid—I started justifying the emotions. I wanted to understand why I felt sad and didn’t accept ‘hormones’ as an answer. Like a delicious dish I wanted to recreate, I started going into my head to try to figure out the recipe for the sadness.
I knew I was fortunate. I knew she was perfect. I was healing fine from my cesarean section. It was only ten days postpartum, but yet I felt like I was at the bottom of a very dark cave and couldn’t see any light no matter which direction I turned. I still loved my baby girl and didn’t want to feel disconnected from her. But I wanted to understand these tears.
I would go into the shower for an hour at a time and just cry. Tears that would flow like they were from the showerhead and when I turned the water off, the tears kept falling. I felt so guilty—why was I so sad? I tried to legitimize the tears. I tried to understand why I was so sad.
I wasn’t mourning the end of the pregnancy—I was happy to be done. I was coping fine with the sore boobs and the restless nights. My son from a previous marriage was feeling fine with the new baby. My partner couldn’t be more supportive. My family and friends were all happy for us. But I just wanted to cry and cry. It didn’t take anything special to set me off either.
I head-tripped about why it was all so sad? I missed myself somehow in this whole process. Almost a year of a difficult pregnancy has ended and yielded this amazing creature, a culmination of two people’s love. I felt out of control but didn’t know what I needed to be in control of … I didn’t know what the future held—for my career—or for my growing family. All these unanswered (and unasked) questions; and I felt lost. I felt alone. I just felt incredibly sad and I didn’t feel like I had a right to be.
I read all the things they wrote on the Internet. Postpartum blues. Mild and rapid mood swings. Tearfulness and crying spells. Sensation of being overwhelmed. Depressed, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping. Feelings of inadequacy as a mother and difficulty bonding with the baby. All normal they say. It’s not you, they tell me—it’s the hormones.
But it didn’t make me feel any better. I scrutinized what was making me sad—and somehow it made me sadder. I found all the reasons that I was sad and none of them were hormones. Doubt, guilt, confusion. I met all these great feelings in my journeys inside my head, inside my soul. I felt so hard and wanted so badly to numb those sad feelings but hold onto the happy ones. What would make me happy, I wondered?
If not two healthy children, what would it take? I was a selfish bitch. I wanted too much—I always wanted too much. But when I asked myself what else I wanted, nothing else came to mind. I didn’t want anything. Nothing would make me feel better. It was like I wasn’t strong enough to feel happy. The sad just took over and I felt like I should be stronger. Stronger than the postpartum shit.
A summer ahead of me and it seemed so vague—nothing planned, nothing answered—a blank slate and my hands were shaking as I held the chalk to draw my own life outline. There was no one to blame but myself. My boyfriend said I was too hard on myself, but I didn’t see it. I wanted more from myself. I should be grateful not weepy.
But alas, I wake up and feed my baby and put my baby to nap and try to feed myself and try to nap sometimes. I talk on the phone and try to feign a smile. I wait the days for normalcy, whichever routine I create. Maybe that’s what my body wants—some semblance of routine. I wait for the hormones to leave my system.
How do I usher out a deluge that’s internally flooding my brain? I wait for nature to take its course. These hormones that supported the growth of a life inside of me. These hormones that help me feed my baby. These hormones that are supposed to level out and bring my body back to normal. I wait.