Nobody really talks about the baby blues. No one really even mentioned it to me until the few moments after John Michael was born. Then Dad in all his wisdom gently suggested that I not be surprised if my euphoria faded a bit into what was often called the baby blues. I said, “Huh, okay.” but inside scoffed that the happiest happy I had ever felt could possibly fade.
It happened gradually but suddenly and lasted only a couple of weeks that felt like a lifetime. I would reach to nurse him and suddenly feel too tired. “I’ve lost interest in him,” I cried, and my mother took him from me and told me not to worry. I felt everything closing in on me. I felt sick and exhausted and told Michael very sincerely that I thought I might be dying. I felt certain I was the only person in the world who could care for that baby but I was far too weak and tired to actually do it. I loved him so much that I sat on Michael’s lap and cried that he would grow up even one single day. But one night when I went out for Halloween candy, I felt that although I wanted to return home to Michael, I didn’t want to return home to the baby.
That night was pretty much the last of it. It faded more quickly after that without so many excruciating episodes that we simply had to pray our way through. The euphoria eventually returned but was more grounded in reality now.
Two things I wondered then, “I was supposed to be a better person than this,” and “Why don’t women talk about it?” The first probably answers the second. I was an extremely emotional person all my life and had learned, I thought, to steady them and not ride the roller coaster quite so high or low with passing feelings. So I felt ashamed that I hadn’t been stronger when he was born. I got over that eventually, truly believing that hormones do their own thing sometimes, and surviving it really is almost the best that we can do. And I talked with many women in those weeks who had been through the exact same thing. I think the main reason we don’t talk about it is because it doesn’t happen to everyone. I think we feel that if we suggest it, we will scare them. And if we don’t suggest it, maybe it won’t happen.
Charity was euphoric in the hospital with Nola Serenity. Giddy, achingly happy. She felt so glad to not be pregnant anymore, so happy the baby is finally here, and surprised – as I think we all are – by how perfect life feels with a new baby. In the first couple days at home she has hit some of those painfully exhausting moments when she wasn’t sure she had the energy to do this. I told Mom to tell her it passes. I told her about going to bed early and trying to believe that the baby really will get taken care of even if you simply can’t rise from the bed (which I know that she will). And I told her about the long drives that Don and Cheri suggested to us, and which really helped.
But I think Mom knew this is a wave you sort of just have to ride. Mom probably will tell Charity all those things, but she’ll weave them in gently as it seems fitting to the moment. Too many solutions offered at once could be as overwhelming as the problem.
Today Charity sent an email that literally glowed with happiness. Nola is sleeping beautifully, and I know that with every hour of sleep, Charity’s nerves will improve. I don’t think she would like my sharing anything but the happy thoughts right now. But since she doesn’t read blogs, I thought I’d risk it. I know from experience that when you write about your low points to good, kind people like those who read my blog – the next day is very often better. I couldn’t help but take that chance for her.
It’s funny. Almost all of us know exactly what it’s like to cry half the night because the baby is. We know that exhaustion is so dramatic those first few days that it hurts. We know these things. But still we feel giddy when someone joins the ranks. I guess it’s because we know the beautiful parts far outweigh the ache.