I have five children. I had them in seven years. There were many days and nights, months and years, of “things being gloriously out of balance” as my husband would say!
I don’t recall ever feeling anything more than the “baby blues” with my first four children. According to the Mayo Clinic (2012), symptoms of the “baby blues” may include:
- Mood swings
- Decreased concentration
- Trouble sleeping
Typically, for the diagnosis to be in this category, any of these symptoms could last a couple of weeks. Postpartum depression, however, usually moves into more than just “baby blues.” Some of the symptoms can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Intense irritability and anger
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Loss of interest in sex
- Lack of joy in life
- Feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Severe mood swings
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Depression hit me square in the face after the birth of our fifth child. At the time, I really had no idea about any of this. I had heard the words but I had no personal experience so it just didn’t seem real. That all changed when our baby was almost five months old and I just could not hold it together any more. I had many of the symptoms listed above. I distinctly remember looking out my bedroom window one mid morning and saying, “What am I doing wrong? Why do I feel so sad, so frustrated, so angry, so lost?”
I had been trying everything I knew to do at that time–and trying really hard. I thought that God would just take it away if I prayed hard enough. While some people have their burdens lifted this way, I think most of mankind is allowed to be refined
as a result of their challenges; and that refinement would not happen if the challenge was quickly and easily removed.
What happened next is how God did
answer me–through another person
. I talk about it in this post
As I have pondered for a few days on what I might say about postpartum depression, I came up with three things that I wish I had known to do after each of my deliveries–and especially after my last one. What is interesting is that the Mayo Clinic article has some of the same conclusions!
1) Your body has just gone through a MAJOR event! Your hormones are going to be unbalanced. Drink more water and eat more raw foods. Find a doctor you trust who is willing to help you balance your hormones–and the more naturally he/she will go about it, the better off you and your baby will be! Find a really good nutritional supplement. Take it every day!
2) You are going to be sleep deprived. It’s just a fact. If you have other children, the amount of stress is going to escalate. However, how you cope with the loss of sleep and extra stress is something you can control. When someone offers to take your other children for a little while, let them! I will always remember a neighbor who came over and told me to take a nap while she took care of all five of my children.
3) In my opinion, the most important thing a new mother can do is to properly feed her emotional self. If a new mother believes that locking up her feelings–whatever they are–is just what moms do, she will pay the price. And so will her spouse and children. In this blog I have shared some tools and I will continue to share more. If I had only one to choose, it would be to write and burn. I would write down exactly what is going on in my head. I would not wait. I would not pretend it is just going to go away. It will not. It will rear its ugly head another day…or another year when you least expect it to.
And after you have written one day, take out a pen the next day and write 10 things you are grateful for. This is the filling in part. This is very important. Nature abhors a vacuum and will too quickly fill it back in with negativity. Fill in with light! This tool is called “Weed and Feed.”
I have not researched fathers and this subject. My hunch is that there are many men who feel left out of what is happening as the new cycle of life happens. It could be due to wives not explaining what it is like. It could be that they do not understand the very real effects of childbirth and how to support their wives. To you, I invite you to learn, seek to understand, and use the tools as well. Bottling up resentment or anger or anything else about the change in your life as a result of a new baby will not serve you well either.:)
Are postpartum depression and the “baby blues” real? Yes. Do they need to escalate? No. If my suggestions seem like a leap of faith–a walk into the unknown–trust. Trust that there is an answer. I have yet to mentor someone who has not had amazing results when they diligently follow the suggestions offered and really want to find healing.
It matters. It’s for more than just you…
Here is a SUPER video on how to get back to feeling great! If you are still feeling the ravages of depression, search this blog more for other KEY solutions. It matters!