June 27, 2007

Postpartum


Today we will discuss markers of the postpartum time. I will tell you the things that, for me, announce its arrival, for the first baby or for the fifth, and maybe you can add others you've experienced or heard of.

Sometimes I feel like everything is going GREAT! I am incorporating this baby into the household SEAMLESSLY! It is NO BIG DEAL! It is like I am some kind of NATURAL! I could handle even TWO MORE babies! I have to tell the world that having a baby is not as scary as they think! EVERYONE should have babies! LOTS of babies! Babies are GREAT! I LOVE babies!

Other times I feel like this SUCKS. I can't do this AT ALL. Furthermore, NO ONE could, because this is NOT POSSIBLE. I am twenty steps behind. Everyone is crying. Everyone needs something, and I'm the only one who can provide it. I will never catch up. I cut off one hydra head and three more grow back. I have to tell the world that having a baby is very, very hard and that they shouldn't be alarmed if they feel like it is suckily impossible to cope with one.

Sometimes I feel soppily grateful to my husband. He is the only one who holds us together. He is the only one holding me together. I could never do this without him. He is so good. I am so lucky.

Other times I envy single mothers. I think about divorce. I wonder how I could have married someone so inconsiderate and insensitive and MEAN and YUCKY-SMELLING.

I feel waves of animal-like affection for the baby. I try to stuff him right up my nose, he smells so good. I snuffle his neck. I rub his hair on my cheek. I fiddle with his tiny toesies. I look at him and can't believe how lucky I am to have him. So many reasons he wouldn't be here! And yet he is! He's my BABY! SNUFFLE SNUFFLE SNUFFLE!

I worry that I don't love the baby yet. Other mothers describe feeling an instant connection to the baby as soon as the baby was born, but my babies always look like total strangers to me--and not very cute strangers, either. They could be ANYBODY'S baby. It feels weird to let a total stranger NURSE on me. I remember that I felt this way about each of my other babies, and that I always ended up loving them--but what if it doesn't happen this time? What if I never love this baby? Sure, I feel like squeezing him too hard and that's a good sign--but what if we never connect? What if I had too many children and he's going to suffer for it?

I feel rage at everyone. The cats: they are pick-pick-PICKING at the door at 4:00 in the morning, and it is possible I could accidentally kick them so hard I injure or kill them. I have to make a conscious effort not to. I do still "help them along" with one foot, but stop abruptly because it seems like it would feel so good to actually hurt them. Rage at the kids, and at Paul: I feel like saying ugly things to them, and I do say some. As with the cats, I have to make a conscious effort to stop. It doesn't always work. I hear myself saying the ugly things, most of them involving how much I have to do around here, and how little anyone else does, and how everyone else is driving me CRAZY. When the ragey feeling passes, I feel horrible. The ugly things I said are my fresh nighttime fret fodder. I suspect I'm damaging the children. I shouldn't have even had children. I'm a terrible mother. Rage at the baby: how can he be crying again? I do everything for him, EVERYTHING! And he has everything he needs, EVERYTHING! I've fed him! changed him! snuggled him! burped him! Now why can't he be quiet and needless for FIVE MINUTES?

I feel desperate and panicky for sleep, especially in the middle of the night. I feel as if I'm going crazy. I feel like I will throw up from lack of sleep. I feel like if I have to wake up one more time I am going to go out to the car and sleep there. I feel like killing Paul because he's sleeping and I'm not. I think about how the nice thing about dying is you wouldn't have this feeling of not getting enough sleep. I feel like hurting the nurse when she says sternly, "You're getting enough sleep, right?"--as if I might be ABLE to get more sleep but just CHOOSING not to.

I make plans to escape. I could go to a hotel, not tell anyone where I am. I could make up a dying friend I must go visit.

If I see a sad news story, especially if it has to do with children or pregnant women, I feel a weight descend on me. The world is a terrible place; we can't live here. Bad things happen all the time; bad things will happen to us; bad things will happen to my children. Slide-show of all the bad things that could happen to my children.

If I handle a knife, I imagine it somehow flying out of my hand and hurting the baby, even if I'm nowhere near the baby. If I walk past the railing, I imagine myself somehow dropping the baby down to the first floor. If I bathe the baby, I imagine somehow accidentally letting the baby drown. If I put the baby in the car, I imagine somehow accidentally leaving him in there. It happens every time: every knife, every railing, every bath, every car trip. Every time, it makes me feel like throwing up.

I feel like I can't stand to hear even one more stressful thing. Not ONE. If Paul tells me that he lost a contact lens, or that one of his teeth feels kind of ouchie, or that one of the kids has a funny-looking patch on his skin, I feel like I CAN'T COPE. I feel heavy and weighed-down, like I can't move or breathe. It is too much. I can't deal with it. I can't turn my mind to it. He might as well not tell me, because I am already at maximum capacity for these things; I can't think about anything more.

It feels especially awful as it gets closer to the time Paul gets home from work. All day long I might feel as if things are going well, but as it gets later I start picturing what the house would look like to someone coming home to it after a day at work. Clutter on every single horizontal surface, and creeping on up the vertical ones. Children everywhere, hyper or crabby or crying but all LOUD, with their hair uncombed and stains on their shirts and crust around their noses. Wife with matted-looking hair and shiny forehead and milk-circle-stained shirt, slumped despondently in a chair. Piles of laundry starting to smell like sour milk. Sheets unchanged since who knows when. Mess and noise and neediness EVERYWHERE, how can he STAND it? And picturing how bad it looks to him makes it look even more hopeless to me: everything needs fixing, and I can't fix it, and maybe he doesn't understand that this is a short-term thing, and maybe it WON'T be a short-term thing, maybe I'll NEVER get it together.


...Hey, doesn't postpartum sound like FUN??? And if I felt like the crazy/sad/angry parts all the time, I'd go to my doctor and get a prescription. But mostly I feel okay, and the more food/sleep I get, the better I feel. Thus the 144 muffins. Thus the sleeping in the recliner with the baby to make the baby sleep more/longer.

I think it helps to know it's a stage, and that it passes. It doesn't help much during an individual bad time: if I'm feeling weighed-down and crazy, it's not going to help to think, "Hey, this is just postpartum! I probably just feel like this because of my hormones!" But it's there in the back of my mind, this memory of Being This Way and then, later, Not Being This Way, and I think it improves things overall. It also helps when I hear or read about other mothers experiencing similar states of mind.

I notice there are a surprising number of people who say "no one ever told me" that the postpartum time could be rough waters, so let's make a big list, shall we? People want to be told; we will tell them. Fill up the comments section if you want, or make your own blog post about it and link to it in the comments section.

71 comments:

desperate housewife said...

Rough waters,indeed. At least I am bracing myself for the storm this time around, since I know it will be at least doubly as hard with a toddler AND a newborn.
I remember the first day Jim had to go back to work after Addy was born, and I just sat in the kitchen chair, holding this impossibly small baby, and sobbed uncontrollably for a very long time, thinking, "There is no way on earth I am fit to be alone with this helpless child all day." So know that you will probably have at least one emotional meltdown where the tears will seem to come from nowhere and never stop.

Michele said...

SO much of what you wrote was me postpartum. The similarities are amazing, although I only had my newborn twins, no other kids to deal with.
And yet, if you had made me read 1000 posts like this BEFORE they were born, I would have sniffed at every one and said "Poor woman. I wont be like that when MY babies are born."
Sigh.

Michelle said...

So glad I'm not alone. It took me literally months to feel that connection with my daughter, and I felt so guilty the entire time. I think that instant connection crap is BS. Having a baby is HARD and anybody who says differently is lying. Or had a nanny.

Sara said...

"Other times I envy single mothers. I think about divorce. I wonder how I could have married someone so inconsiderate and insensitive and MEAN and YUCKY-SMELLING."

Is it bad that this is how I feel every day?

I think I will write about the pp period too; it's such a unique one.

But also, on the smell of the baby, wanting to stuff them up your nose....I so get that. To the point where I may have just taken the tiniest licks of my baby's foreheads to get the full effect.....

Reading about you, and Sarah, and now Sundry....I really want a 3rd.

Sara said...

I'm reading my comment and it's not exactly clear that I was joking about the divorce thing....was a joke.

(at least most of the time)

Katie said...

I just had my first baby on June 14th and have had several uncontrollable crying jags the last few days. I've been so frustrated, so in love with him, felt like so much of a failure. It's nice to read these and know that these are very normal feelings. Thanks for writing about it.

Dooneybug said...

Oh man, I so remember those days (weeks, months). I had a really rough time of it with my son and I'm due with a girl in about 2 months and I'm so scared about how I'm going to feel after going through it before. Knowing how postpartum for me was last time is sort of preparing me but it's also scaring the crap out of me! I know it will pass but when you're in the thick of it, it seems impossible. But then I start thinking about how much harder it's going to be with TWO now and that they are just 15 months apart and how will I ever manage?

Kristin said...

The first place I ever read about feeling guilty about not loving the baby enough was in one of your posts, the mother's day one. I absolutely feel that way about baby #2 and have tried to not get too down about it, but it's hard. It really is good to know I'm not the only one who didn't immediately fall in love, so thank you! I thought after I gave birth to kid #2 I would have all these feelings of luuuuv, but mostly I felt like, "Whew I'm tired, and wow my butt hurts. Oh yes, that IS a nice baby. Now can I have a sandwich?"

Shelly said...

Oh my God, check to every last one of those! Especially the wanting to stuff the baby up your nose. Last night, I was kinda snorting/snuffling the baby's hair and it was awesome. Like baby crack. I like Sara's idea of licking the baby's forehead - I'll have to try that tonight. And the really awesome part is that if your husband is the stay-at-home parent, he will experience some of these symptoms, too. So part of it is circumstantial, not just hormonal. Sometimes my husband is just pissed at me, for not really anything. Or something totally inconsequential. Can't wait for this period to end. Sometimes I swear we hate each other and I know that's it's just hormones and adapting to the new baby. We have a really great relationship, we're just going through postpartum. : )

DiWriter said...

In the words of Professor Farnsworth from Futurama

Oh My Yes.

I love little C with all my heart and looking down at her in the bjorn right now I can't believe I get to keep this beautiful soul. But then I look at the clock and it's only 2pm, and I look at the laundry basket full of clean clothes, and the other basket of dirty clothes and the cats are meowing or shedding all over the bed, and, and, and...

I still have a moment of dread every morning when the door closes behind Kayakboy and I wonder just how I'm going to fill the day up and it's eleventy-billion degrees outside...

whoorl said...

Swistle, you NAILED it. Hands down.

Tessie said...

This was really SO spot on. I especially liked the part about thinking the nice thing about being dead was at least you could sleep. I TOTALLY had that same thought. Ha!

I think "panicky" is a great word to describe the feeling I had about sleep. I totally dreaded the evenings when I realized that there really was no "end of the day". It was all just one long 3-hour cycle.

I also remember having thoughts that I would accidently hurt or drop the baby. I couldn't carry knives from the dishwasher to the drawer because I would have visions of it slipping out of my hand and cutting her. I once read on Ask Moxie that this is a particulary commom postpartum fear, but I had never heard of it before it happened to me.

Anyway, the knife thing made me feel totally crazy. IF YOU HAVE THE KNIFE THING YOU ARE NOT CRAZY! There, PSA.

Swistle said...

Tessie: ME TOO ABOUT THE KNIVES! I should have mentioned it! One of my friends thought if she told the doctor she was feeling that way, he'd call Child Protective Services, but she finally told him and he was like, "Oh, yeah, the knife thing, totally normal." Isn't that WEIRD? I mean, that so many of us would feel that way that it would just be called "the knife thing"?

Kelli in the Mirror said...

THANK YOU TESSIE about the knife thing! I felt like a psycho! And I also can't walk with the stroller on the second floor of the mall because I have visions of somehow hurling the baby over the rail and that his head will smack like a melon.

And we wonder why nobody tells us this ahead of time?

This whole post is sheer genius.

Mommy Brain said...

Great post. I think there is some sort of built in memory loss that protects me from fully remembering the horrors of those postpartum days. Otherwise I would stop sleeping in the same bed as my husband. Still, much of what you wrote sounds far too familiar. And I "just" had twins. No other kids or pets. Oh, and a husband which is some days like having a third child and other days like having a helper.

Erin said...

Your description is right on. I felt SO AWFUL during the postpartum time, and I still feel a little shamed about it. Like I wasn't good enough, and people knew it (my Mom helped me out A LOT), and now people are expecting me to fall apart all over again with the second baby. And generally I'm a fairly confident person, so that time really shook my world. Lately I spend a decent amount of time feeling anxious about the postpartum phase, knowing it's around the corner and what if I'm not ready for it?

I'm going to be better prepared for those feelings the second time around, but I know that won't necessarily make them easier. Somehow it helps to know I'm not crazy, and actually I'm pretty normal. But dammit it is hard.

Jennifer Playgroupie said...

I really needed to read this today, Swistle. thank you, thank you, thank you.

You wrote EXACTLY how I've been feeling, thanks for letting me know that I'm not the only one.

Damn, and I only have 2!! You are doing excellent, just excellent if you are handling 5. I'm in awe.

Swistle said...

Jennifer Playgroupie: I think it feels about the same whether it's the first one or the fifth one. My worst time, though, was after the second one.

Devan said...

check
check
check

You've said it perfectly.

laughing mommy said...

My in-laws have this beautiful winding staircase at their house. I was terrified of falling down the stairs with the baby in my arms, and also of every single other person in the house doing the same thing. In my crazy vision the baby was the only one injured. I had to talk myself down from panic every time we were there.

I had the knife thing too. I also worried about forgetting to strap the baby into the carseat. I worried I would forget the baby in the car, or the store.

I felt like a crazy person because each time I needed to run to the store and the baby was napping a little voice in my head would say "Just go. She is sleeping in the crib. She will be fine and you can just hurry back." Then I would picture myself in the car driving 100mph in a 25mph zone to get home to her. I'd picture the house burning down and me not there to save her. I'd picture myself arriving home and the neighbors asking where the baby was... and they knew I had left her alone in the house. I truly felt like I was going insane because I won't even leave the baby in the car to run into the dry cleaners, let alone leave her alone in the house.

When I was in the worst part of sleep deprivation I would plot ways to escape too. One night I got in the car and drove away as far as I could get... and still make it home in 2 hours to nurse the baby.

I was so angry with anybody who said they were tired. Nobody was allowed to be tired but me. I was the WINNER of tiredness. If the baby was crying and I could hear my husband snoring I wanted to scream at him. HOW CAN HE SLEEP THROUGH THE BABY CRYING?! If anybody chose to stay up instead of going to bed when they had the chance they were an "idiot".

When I had my second baby I was bawling all the time that I couldn't care for my 3 year old because the baby was taking up so much time. No more long baths and beauty parlor time. No more playing puzzles on the floor. No matter how hard I tried to work special time in with my 3 year old the baby took up so much time there was nothing left.

The good thing with the second one (or 3rd ,4th ,5th I suppose) is that you know the tiredness will get better, the baby will eventually be less needy and you will feel better. That really helped.

laughing mommy said...

Thought of a few more. I'm extra crazy!

My second baby was very screamy at night. I would actually break out in a sweat when I noticed the sun was going down and I knew we would be up all night with a screaming baby.

I too felt panicky about sleep. I've felt like throwing up from being so tired several times.

jen said...

you forgot ceiling fans. Someone could lift the baby up to adjust him on their shoulder and suddenly there's pulverized baby all over the room. That thought .. well okay that's still in my mind to this day.

Didn't help that my in laws' summer house has low ceilings that I, at 5'3" could lose a hand for stretching, and I had a summer baby, and my father in law probably thinks I'm a little goofy.

anita said...

firewood. we heated our house with wood. i constantly had thoughts and dreams of the baby being crushed by firewood. had a dream one time i left him laying on the ironing board when i went to church.

Marie Green said...

I didn't have the knife thing nearly as often as the dropping the baby over the edge thing... or the drowning the baby thing. Just recently I was swimming with her in a lake and I suddenly had the perfect image flash through my brain of her slipping out of my hands and sinking to the bottom and me just letting her go. She's 9 months old! I'm wondering if some of the morbid, random thoughts like that are part of motherhood in general, but more exaggerated during the postpartum time?

Also, I have a good friend who lived in a 2nd story apartment with a balcony and she would not allow herself to go out on the balcony EVER because she was afraid she was drop the baby over the edge on purpose, just to see what would happen.

Anyway, this post was brutally honest, which the world needs more of. Thank you.

Omaha Mama said...

I've only done the postpartum thing twice, but both times definitely suffered from temporary insanity. The things you wrote about were definitely true. What I remember both times most clearly is suddenly realizing I was so LONELY. I stayed fine until my mom went home after a few days stay. Then I was so, so ALONE. Not just in my house. In the world.

Then of course the second time I felt that I had ruined my firstborn by having a second after she had several tantrums while I nursed. Those emotions were so hard to get over.

But then this fog lifts in just a couple of short weeks and life is back at one. I hope you get back to one SOON! :-)

Shannon said...

My biggest fear now is my two year old riding in someone else's car and getting into a wreck.

The husband thing...I'm so there with you. Wanna trade for a couple of days?

Why does it seem like the kids both need something at the same time? And the husband too? How can I deal with two kids and covered in puke and he gets puked on and hands the baby to me?

AND WHY CAN"T THIS TODDLER LEAVE MY KEYBOARD ALONE?!?!

Elise is almost two months old (how the heck did that happen) and I *think* I'm starting to see the light...until the husband mentions how he is going crazy from the dirty house and then I want to hand him the baby and the toddler and walk out of the house to that hotel you mentioned.

So, ditto, ditto, ditto.

laughing mommy said...

Anybody else so paranoid about hot drinks burning the baby that they won't carry the baby and a hot drink at the same time (or let anybody else either)?

Just me?

Kathi said...

This was such a great post. My postpartum experience was a lot like yours-I've only had one baby but after he was born, I felt completely blindsided with the sleep deprivation. I remember dreading the nights because I was nursing every 2 hours and they never seemed to end. For the first several months after my son was born, I was incredulous of people who had more than one kid--thinking why would anyone put themselves through this AGAIN? I remember getting so mad at my husband for sleeping all night and for him telling me had to "because he had to get up and work all day." I guess it also helps to remember that this stage will pass, even though when you're in the middle of it, it seems like it never will.

Erica said...

Thank Jeebus you wrote this post, Swistle. I think so many of us feel instantly validated by what you wrote.

Here's my $.04 (way more than $.02): First, telling expectant moms this stuff won't do any good. They don't have any concept of how bad it gets, nor will they be able to until they experience it for themselves.

Next, the knife thing. Dear Jeebus... the knife thing. I still have horrible, morbid flashes and Maddie's five months old. I doubt they'll ever go away. It's just nature's way of reminding us of how fragile children are and how large our responsibility is. Like we're going to forget it. Sheesh. But I do feel better knowing that I'm not the only one that thinks these things. At first, I thought maybe it meant that I had a latent desire to kill my baby.

Also, the husband thing. Alternately our life preservers and the devil's minion. It's still that way for me.

I once posted that the sleep deprivation got so bad for me that I considered suicide as a viable means of finally getting some damned rest. I also considered taking Maddie to the fire station because we'd made a horrible, horrible mistake and I did not want her at all.

I didn't bond with her until a month or two after she was born. At first, all they do is take, take, take. The relationship is totally one-sided. I didn't fall in love with her until she started interacting a little with me. Now? Now I love her so much that I'm scared my husband will find out that I love her more than I love him. To be fair, I love her more than I've ever loved anyone in my life.

Shelly said...

Another ditto from me on all that you wrote. That's been my life for the last 9 months to some degree or another (obviously worse in the beginning than now). So my question is - when does it go away? My kid is 9 months old and I still feel this way more often than not.

I didn't know other people did the freaky death scene imaginings either. What is UP with that??

Swistle said...

Shannon: I happen to know the Holiday Inn Express has a very nice continental breakfast.

Laughing Mommy: YES! I have the hot drinks fear too! Or if I'm cooking anything on the stove, I imagine it pouring down toward a child on the floor. UG! WHY??

Erica: I think you're right--I think "the knife thing" and other similar things are an overactive protection urge. Must it be QUITE SO OVERACTIVE?

Stacie said...

Holy scary inside my head you are, batman. Shudder. You really shouldn't be able to channel my immediate post-partum experience quite that well. We've never met. Clearly, it is a univeral experience. I kept reading going, "yes." Then again, "yes." And "uh huh."

Nellyru said...

Oh wow. This post and all of these comments are such a...a...RELIEF.
So glad to know that I wasn't just crazy or selfish when I was so sleep deprived that I actually had suicidal thoughts. How is that normal?? I know a lot of things are just a "normal" or "natural" part of parenting, but what the HELL? That just doesn't SEEM like it should be a regular part of being a new mom.
And somebody here mentioned not wanting to be on the second floor at the mall...my son is nineteen months old and I just had that horrible vision LAST WEEK of him hurtling over the balcony. Maybe those weird visions never go away? How bizarre we moms are. But at least we're all in this together!

Alli said...

I think this post pretty much defines exactly down to each letter how I've felt for the last 5 years (that's how long I've been pregnant or breastfeeding). I was literally laughing out loud and crying at the same time for your entire post. Glad to know I'm not crazy...or at least that you all are crazy, too. Thanks for helping me not feel so alone.

Mrs. Flinger said...

HOLY JEBUS! My own sleep deprivation has me off the computer and unable to stalk (GASP!) but HOLY COW, WOMAN, I AM SO BEHIND. Congrtats congrats congrats. But the post partum gig? Oh, sweety, I've done it all. Exactly. And the worst part is that while I'm excited about THIS baby, I'm still, um... struggling with having the one before this. *sigh* There is no end to mommy guilt.

nowheymama said...

Thank you, Swistle.
"And if I felt like the crazy/sad/angry parts all the time, I'd go to my doctor and get a prescription."
I'd just like to add that if a person feels super anxious all the time, they should see their doctor as well. When my first baby was born, everyone chalked my hyper anxiety up to new motherhood, and my doctor prescribed anti-anxiety medication, which did bugger all for me. It wasn't until several weeks later that I was correctly diagnosed with postpartum depression. It can sometimes appear as extreme anxiety (not eating or sleeping, etc.), not just the classic depression signs. Now, after having two children, I know that everyone feels off during the postpartum time, but if you really do not feel right, talk to your doctor.

I'm sure I'll be writing more about this in the coming months! :)

Tessie said...

laughing mommy: CHECK on the hot drinks thing. When I had my coffee I would even hold my arm out as far as I could away from her (not even HOLDING her), and mutter "hot, hot" in a totally mental voice.

Also, check on imagining leaving her alone in the house and DOUBLE EFFING CHECK on being angry when anyone said they were tired. Actually, I still have that one and she's a year old.

The great thing about this post and these comments is how SPECIFIC they are. I think many women are prepared for some kind of nebulous postpartum "yuckiness" but when you are validated that your specific thoughts (the knife thing, the balcony thing, the hot drinks thing) are common, it makes a huge difference.

Katie said...

Oh YES. The dreading of nighttime. I would lay down at night when the newborn went to sleep and just feel like crying because I was scared to go to sleep because I knew I would be woken up in just a few hours and I just dreaded it.

And, I was SO jealous of my mom who went into the guest room, closed the door, read a book and then slept all night. JEALOUS. I couldn't even picture a time when I would be able to do that.

And the husband and the dog all being needy. UGH. I don't think I have petted my dog in a year and a half. I just can't take another needy creature. And I only have one kid. You must be overwhelmed.

Thank you for writing about this. It is very important that people are aware that they may not fall instantly in love with their newborn. I think people feel a lot of guilt about that and they shouldn't! It is normal!

sufferingsummer said...

thank you so much for sharing your pp experience (and you have a lot so you are the one to share it!) I have only had one baby and my experience was similar. However I had had many (9) miscarriages before (without help or intervention at all) I miraculously had my daughter so when I went through these feelings I added a big heaping of guilt at feeling that way, I just kept thinking, shouldn't I just walk around in a state of blissful thankfulness all the time that my daughter even made it into the world! Thankfully I had a sister-in-law who had 2 kids (now 3) and she set me straight. Being able to know it is just a stage and that hormones are the culprit got me through it. Thank you again, I'm really enjoying your blog!

Sam said...

As someone who is giving birth in say, oh, three or so weeks, I am really very thankful for everyone's honesty. I've experienced my friends going through it - like crying as soon as it gets dark, the random fears - so I know it's normal. Not that I'm looking forward to it! I'm just hoping all the yummy baby crack moments will outweigh the scary moments.

Mandy said...

Wow, that was perfect. I felt like I was reliving it all again, and it's been almost 3 years for me. Those postpartum feelings are so powerful, though like you said, most of the time I felt fine, great even. I still get those flashes occasionally when I'm walking by a railing or see a knife. Just the other day I was peeking over the edge of the 5th floor of a parking garage looking at some construction going on below (I was at work so my son was nowhere near) and could clearly see the unbidden image of myself standing there with my son and showing him the big trucks below and then losing my grasp on him....ack. Not normal--but then again, so normal. You're right, no one told me about this.

laughing mommy said...

Swistle, I imagine hot food falling onto my kids too and do everything I can to make sure it doesn't happen. I point all the handles of all the pans on the stove towards the back. If I'm visiting someone elses house I turn THEIR pan handles towards the back of the stove. I don't even care if they think I'm nuts.

Have you read Babes In the Woods?

http://parentcenter.babycenter.com/general/1507909.html

All our efforts to keep the hot drinks and hot food on the stove from falling on the kids is worth it.

Penny said...

oh...these feelings are supposed to pass?

For me, things kind of went in reverse. First there was the adrenaline-pumping first few weeks when everyone waited on me hand and foot, and then everyone left and husband went back to work, and then daughter started doing more than just sleeping and eating, and the night wakings didn't stop until, um, NOW, at nearly a year old.

I'd admit to not feeling an intensity like I did before on the whole happy/angry/sad/lost thing, but I still feel it.

Diane said...

So much of what you wrote were things I experienced and didn't think were postpartum. I thought it was just crazy me! I still envision the worst possible scenario happening with my baby when I'm around knives or heavy traffic or hard surfaces - but I turned it into a sort of help. I let myself run the scenario all the way to the end, but I figure out how I'd solve it and how I would heroically save the day with my Super Mom powers. Then I can lay that thought to rest. Very good post!!!

Jenn said...

I remember when my son was placed on my chest after he was born and I looked right at him expecting tears of joy to spring to my eyes. The first (and second and third) thought I had was "who is this kid?" Then I cried, but not from joy. It was because I thought, "I'm a horrible mother...already, I'm a freak, what is the matter with me???"

I had conjured up an imaginary baby in my head for nine months and he came out looking nothing like this child I pictured. Then the harder I looked, I started to see my husbands nose and my eyes and lips.
I sang "Happy Birthday" to him on the hour of his birth the next morning and then cried because he was already a day old. I cried because I nursed him exclusively for a year and I could't wait to give it up and when he stopped I cried because of that. My son is now 2 1/2 and many days I still feel postpartum.
Sigh.

A said...

Yes, exactly. And I'm not adverse to medication.

TB said...

Whew. I don't know where to start with this comment. I was directed here from a link in my comments section after a post about this very thing. And count me as one of the people who had no idea how bad it could get. I can relate to every single word here, except for me, those feeling haven't just lasted a week. It's been six months. And I did finally decide I needed to try medication because things just weren't getting better.
Thank you so much for validating everything I've been going through. I've been feeling incredibly alone in this and incredibly guilty, especially because of the horrible thoughts and images of things hurting my son.
Thank you. You have no idea how your words have helped.

the new girl said...

Commenting so late on this one but boy, did you nail it, sister.

No one ever told me that it was so. seriously. crazy-making. I'm sending any pregnant friend to this post for a tutorial.

I often say that I'd take another labor and delivery (and mine were no piece of cake, really) rather than have to deal with the post-partum hormones again.

Anonymous said...

I had this weird thing where I felt I ran to run away *with* my baby. Like it was the two of us against the world, nobody else understood us or could help us. I was all on my own. I had weird dreams and fantasies where I was at a rest area by the side of the highway somewhere in the Midwest (I live on the coast) and I had driven there with the baby, leaving everyone else behind, to start a new life. Nobody knew where we were. I've never heard of anyone else having this, though. Anyone else feel they had to run away with their baby?

I second all of the experiences here except I never had the fear of injuring the baby. Used knives and drank hot tea while holding the baby all the time, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Mel

Spot on. I can't believe you managed to put that into words.

It brought it all back so clearly.

d e v a n said...

I just went through your archives to re-read this and loved it all over again. Thank you.!

Missives From Suburbia said...

Replace "cats" with "dogs", and you just described the first year of my postpartum life after my son was born. Dear GOD, I hope I don't go through that again with this kid.

(Loving the archives, Swistle!)

Anonymous said...

maybe one of the big things i see missing is the feelings we have about our person and consequently our relationship with food. i simultaneously feel like i need to reward myself with a piece of chocolate or bowl of ice cream (because at least that would make me feel better!) and like mrs. blob returns. when my husband cooks a fabulous meal all i can think is how it is making me fat!

Anonymous said...

we're at one week and one day today:
having some major (major for me) post partum issues but working thru them. working hard. it seems that i've been holding A LOT of anxiety in since i was preg (worried about miscarriage, worried about him coming early, needed a schedule c/s, then didn't need a c/s, almost needed an emergency c/s, then had an emergency induction, pushed for 3.5hrs., then the vaccuum, and THEN after all that, an emergency c/s and THEN a NOT great hospital stay), figures i'm feeling a little fuc*ed up right now.
working thru it slowly but surely, some days we have to take a half hr at a time, my mom and Robin have just been a tremendous support.
and baby Milan is JUST PERFECT. so that keeps me going.
crying is good, crying combined with mild wailing is EVEN BETTER. i need to get all this out.
just reading someone else say "sometimes i feel crazy" from someone else makes me feel not so crazy.
i totally feel this animal connection to Milan but not a brain connection yet. it's like loving him on a chemical level but not completely on an true heart level yet (like loving my husband), i mean i don't even know him! but he's been responding to my voice, and that's really special. i'm not just a food source!
thanks for letting me share, it's a big part of getting better.

Swistle said...

YES, I know what you mean about animal vs heart love. I feel that way too with my babies: an immediate snuffly animal love, but not HEART love for awhile---a few weeks?

I found warm food tremendously helpful, too. Spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, etc., with a big glass of milk If anyone is available to cook for me, I nag them to do it. Then I eat the heated-up leftovers for lunch the next day.

Dr. Maureen said...

Swistle, you are my GO TO WOMAN today. This post, particularly the "kids are easy no, wait, kids are impossible" thing, since that is basically the EXACT SAME THING I WROTE TODAY. So. I guess I'm still a smidge hormonal, yes? Do you happen to remember how long this lasts? Because I could do without feeling like the worst mother in existence.

Heather R said...

Thank you very very much for this post. My friend, Dr. Maureen, sent me this link and it's as if you have been reading my mind. I had no idea that half of those things were because of PPD-I thought it was just me!! I feel so much better knowing I am normal!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much,knowing that I'm not the only one,makes me feel much better.

bramey said...

I meant it when I told you how strange it is that you're in my head.

Jeezopete! I've never read a more accurate depiction of Postpartum.

Marci said...

I know this is years after the post, and I'm echoing what everyone else has said, but, YES! I thought I was nuts about the knife thing, and was so scared to tell anyone. The balcony thing drove me crazy. My son is 10 mo. now, and I don't have these feelings anymore, but when I read this, it all came rushing back. And it was such a releif to realize it is normal.

Anonymous said...

In England, the doctors treat post partum blues in almost all women BEFORE it can happen. I have a friend who was hospitalized for it, and they didn't really know how bad she was. She would hear voices that would not go away. When she came home from the hospital, the husband had another lady keep an eye on his wife, as she had been suicidal. (I won't tell you what she tried, it was so sad). Well, his wife snuck out of their house
late a couple of nights later, and she had
taken her own life in a strange way. They found her car on the side of the road. But it is not something to play around with if you are seriously having really bad episodes, go to a doctor, take medication and STAY on it.
Because the girl was 'religious' her idiot ministers thought she was sinning and treated her condition as a 'sin'. What a sick mentality that was towards that poor, sweet girl who took her own life. I would recommend going to post partum online sites and see what they recommend to remedy the solution.
I have had four children and if I was over water in a boat, I had the urge to throw a baby into the water. It was terrible and I am not that kind of person at all. It freaked me out! But it was kind of like when you stand on a high dam and you have the feeling that you want to jump off...that is the same feeling I would get with the baby and the water scenario. I know I wasn't crazy, and I didn't jump, and I didn't throw the baby into the water...it was just the stupid thought like the knives 'thing' with a lot of you.
Standing at the top of dams still scares me and I hate riding in any kind of a boat. I am sure there are other extremes us moms have encountered that the men don't have a clue.
Mine never did help much with the babies...never helped with the year of 'all nighters' taking care of the babies.
So, cheers to all of you moms out there...we all need to stick together. But please, get help if you know you are really bad off.

Flibberty said...

Three years later I'm reading this at the suggestion of the always wise, Jess. My baby is seven months old and I'm still having the dark thoughts and the worries of horrible, awful things happening to my baby girl. Does it ever stop?

Swistle said...

I still have dark thoughts and scary visions sometimes, and my youngest is three. I think it makes sense that we would have these feelings and fears---we really do have so much to lose now.

Becki D said...

I've stumbled to your party a bit late, too - but just in time for ME!

I'm going through my second round of Postpartum now...baby #2 is 5 weeks old today.

I will say, Postpartum is not *quite* as bad this go round as it was the first. I think mostly because I was expecting it this time. It was a complete and horrible shock the first time - nobody told me about the realities of sleep deprivation, or that getting started breastfeeding absolutely SUCKS, or that it was OK not to be filled with sunshine and rainbows and thankfulness instantly and all the time.

So thanks for putting this out there. Glad to know I'm not alone, again!

Claire said...

wow! whst an amazing summary of all the varied emotions, thoughts and feelings cone with postpartum. like you said- things no one tells you about. thanks for putting it out there.

skg said...

Thank you! I want to print this post out and laminate it for next April when my third baby is due. I'm not kidding. This is such a relief to read.
6 o'clock pm was always the worst time for me with both of my previous children. I'd hear people outside laughing and going about their regular business and I would feel so jealous. I couldn't wait to feel normal again. Thank you for writing all of this down. Another thing I dread? The bleeding. I was convinced I was dying after my second was born because of all the blood. I am not looking forward to that either. Oh I also felt like I was betraying my first born with his sister's birth. I kept looking at her thinking "Who are you?" What a great blog. Thank you for writing about life with five. You are very funny and I'm enjoying your writing very much.

NellaBean said...

This post was written just after the birth of my first son. My warning for those reading this years later is: The Poop. Your poop. The first poop postpartum. Yikes. Someone did warn me but I didn't believe her until it was me crying in the bathroom while my poor husband had to call the doctor and explain why I was crying. Take the stool softeners. Start now, mommies-to-be.

Rosie_Kate said...

Oh. My. Goodness. I could have written every word. Every word. How did you know? about the railings and knives and contact lens stress? Unbelievable.

My third child is 8 weeks old and I am just now starting to see a light... sort of.

I know this is an old post, but I'm glad I found it! Thanks!

andrea said...

I love this post. I wish I had come across it when you first published it, when my twins were just over a month old. Oh, how I could have used it. I don't think I discovered you for another few months, or even a year.
I just commented over at Lawyerish re all this. In addition to the persistent thoughts/near-compulsion of things such as dropping one of the babies over the railings, I had incredibly vivid and persistent imaginings of our car being t-boned every time we went through an intersection and killing the girls and I or some terrible combination thereof. It took antidepressants to get rid of that particular one.
Also, my girls were born a few weeks after Madeleine McCann disappeared and that deeply affected me. I recall looking down at them in hospital and feeling such intense fear that a similar fate would befall them.
Sigh.
It did all pass, of course, and now they're five years old and loud and energetic and clever and funny and they drive me CRAZY.

D on parade said...

WOW! This is sensational! I don't have little ones anymore and in fact am getting ready to head to the home of my son and his wife to help with my first grandchild. I am so happy I came across this because it brings back many memories (good and bad). We tend to forget how hard it is to raise these new people; otherwise we would all only have one! I wish I could tell you that it gets better, but really, it only gets different. You will still have days when smothering your husband in his sleep sounds like a great idea (jail would be restful!)or you really really want to leave your kids at the fire station (I don't think that "no questions asked" deal still applies when they are teenagers). You will have so many days when you want to just run away, but you will have as many if not more days when you look upon your family with such love; such overwhelming, almost painful LOVE that your heart almost bursts and you want to shout out to the world that those people belong to you! You will look back with smiles, tears and precious memories of poopy diapers, rocking in the quiet of the night, rosy cheeks from nursing, squealing uncontrollably at a fart, school programs,dance recitals, soccer games, football games, broken hearts and new love. Be honest with your children. They need to know that you are human and you don't always have the answer. You can tell them that you are confused or struggling with what to do with them or their problem. It's ok if you tell them that they are driving you crazy...you won't be the last person to tell them that. They will survive your imperfections and misplaced words and actions because they know you love them and would do anything for them. They know they can trust you to keep them safe and they will always have you.
My kids are grown and boy did I screw up a lot while they were growing up, but I look upon these two delightful adults who I adore and I can say, "I did good." You will too!

Anonymous said...

i have left a baby in the car seat on the kitchen table and pulled out of the drive with the other 2kids. I left one in the car after carrying groceries in and forgot to strap one of the infant car seats down so when I braked the seat tipped upside down baby and all! it's amazing they are all still alive!