My son is 4 months old now. It seems like it was ages ago I just had him. Almost as if he should be a year old already! I know I had this with my first kiddo but it was stronger with this one - I'm talking about the desire to get into a "normal" routine and feel like I could go about my life almost as if I hadn't just had a baby. I feel like you go through phases when you finally have your baby. First you have the overwhelming joy, excitement, and astonishment that you actually grew this live being inside of you over the past forever amount of months. Then you go home and you start feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and frazzled (when did I last shower?). Most of the time you kind of start understanding how things work... baby cries a lot and there isn't always something you can do about it, showers are not very easy to come by but they have never felt better, you are amazed at how fast you can fall asleep when you feel accomplished knowing your little one is happily sleeping as well, and I am always amazed at how well I can hear. Then comes my favorite yet least favorite phase - the one where you decide that things are mostly normal again and you can go about life almost how you did before you had a new infant. You start making more plans, you start venturing out of the house more, you actually feel somewhat confident inviting people over to your house! Before you know it... you get so into "normal" life and routine that you soon find out you are EXHAUSTED!!!
One would think that I would be better at picking out what is wrong with me when I'm feeling off. I am a counselor so I'm pretty aware of criteria for certain mental illness disorders and what not but I should never assume that I should be able to pick it out on myself... how could I? I thought that since I had gone through slight postpartum depression with my first kiddo that I would be totally on top of it in case it decided to rear its ugly head again. Nope. No such luck. I'm weepy, I'm tired, I'm irritable, etc etc etc.... Thankfully I caught it at 4 months along this time rather than 6 months along so I pat myself on the back for that. I came across a great article that talks about the different stages of postpartum depression and I actually laughed reading it because I've almost used the exact same verbage.
- Denial: This must be what new motherhood is like. I’ll be alright. It can’t be postpartum depression, because I’m not mentally ill. I’m sure it will wear off soon. I just need more sleep.
- Anger: Nobody understands what I’m going through. Why me?! This is supposed to be a time of joy. I don’t deserve this. I don’t want to have to take medication. I don’t want to go to therapy. I shouldn’t have to call a doctor. This is not fair.
- Bargaining: If I just exercise more and eat better I’ll be fine. If I could just get to the point where the baby sleeps through the night, I’ll be okay. If I get closer to God and pray more, this will surely go away.
- Depression: I should just leave my family. I’m bringing everyone down. They all would be better off without me. My poor baby doesn’t deserve a mother like this. I’ll never get better so there’s no point in going on.
- Acceptance: What’s happening to me isn’t normal and I can’t ignore it anymore. It’s not my fault. It is okay for me to talk to a doctor. It’s okay for me to ask for help. I can take medication or go to therapy or do whatever is necessary for my health and that of my family.
Thankfully, I'm in the bargaining stage with hopes of not proceeding any further, but I have no problem seeking help if I need to. I have even heard the local hospital hosts a group for it. I will admit, exercising has made me feel better but it doesn't make it go away all the way. If you think you might have postpartum depression, check out this link for a online screening