Baby Blues

Feeling blue when your baby is brand-new

Having a baby can be both exhilarating and exhausting. It can bring much joy, but it can also challenge you in ways you never expected. Soon after giving birth, many women feel weepy and moody. You may be blessed with a beautiful baby and a loving partner, yet you find yourself crying over things that usually wouldn't bother you.

You may also feel exhausted, unable to sleep, trapped, or anxious. Your appetite may increase or decrease, or you might feel irritable, nervous, worried about being a good mother, or afraid that being a mother will never feel better than it does right now. Rest assured: All these feelings — known as the "baby blues" or "postpartum blues" — are normal during the first couple of weeks after childbirth. In fact, up to 80 percent of new moms experience them.

Causes and treatment of the baby blues

After birth, your body changes rapidly. Your hormone levels drop, your milk comes in and your breasts may become engorged, and you may feel exhausted. These physical realities can bring on the baby blues.

Emotional factors also contribute to the blues. You may feel anxious about your baby's well-being, your transition to motherhood, or adjusting to your new routine. Your new responsibilities can feel overwhelming.

The good thing is that the baby blues aren't an illness, and they will go away on their own. No treatment is necessary other than reassurance, support from family and friends, rest, and time. Sleep deprivation can make the blues worse, so make an effort to rest whenever you can. Even a ten-minute nap can leave you feeling better.

When someone you know has the baby blues

Partners, friends, and relatives: The best thing you can do is reassure the new mother that many women feel this way after giving birth. She's exhausted, she's unsure of herself, and, if it's her first child, she's never done any of this before. No wonder she feels overwhelmed!

Just listen to her. Encourage her to cry if she needs to. Tell her what a wonderful job she's doing. Keep visitors to a minimum. Take phone messages for her. Tell her she doesn't have to send out thank-you cards now. Make dinner for her. Help her create a schedule and set priorities — things that must be done versus things that can wait.

Give her permission to take care of herself, too. Insist that she rest as much as possible, and volunteer to watch the baby while she naps. Above all, let her know you're there for her no matter what.

Baby blues or postpartum depression?

People often confuse the baby blues with postpartum depression (PPD) because they have common symptoms. So how do you know whether you're going through the baby blues or a clinical depression?

If you're in the first couple of postpartum weeks, expect some emotional upheaval. But if you continue to feel this way for more than two to three weeks after giving birth, call your doctor or midwife and seek professional support. The same goes if you have a history of depression, if there's depression in your family of origin, or if symptoms — such as negative thoughts or feelings of anxiety — are particularly troublesome.

I am willing to share this just because I want to spread the good message that my Tita Badette told me before, "It's okay not to be okay."

Baby Blues: I feel guilty putting those two words together. Especially when I look at the bigger scope of things…how so many people in this world struggle daily to get pregnant, keep their babies, have their adoption go through, or even foster a child.

And here I am with a healthy baby girl. I will say, though, it is a reality for so many more women than I ever knew. Some even find themselves struggling with postpartum depression. I hope that I can at least share my experience and let you New Moms know you’re not the only ones, and it’s okay… there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to get back to “You” for a moment.

We had our precious baby girl at 9:30am on Thursday, August 29th 2013. I remember that first night in the hospital, after 4 days of staying there and the struggle to recover from the surgery on the first 2 days, how it was ALL worth it! I couldn’t understand how anyone could ever feel anything less than this enormous amount of pure love! I looked over and saw Resa holding Anya in her unmatched hospital swaddle (lol, just need to point that out), and I felt so at peace and right where I was supposed to be. I knew this was what I was meant to be: a Wife, and a Mother to these two amazing people. Nothing in the world was ever going to change that or take that away from me…

We settled in, and the true test of parenting began! Anyway, that first week was tough, but blissful. You can’t see up from down, but are in such a state of disbelief and euphoria that this little beautiful soul is yours. Happiness just takes over, and your phone immediately fills up with videos and pictures of this little life. She is finally here! I thought, as she lay in my arms, depending on me for every move. That… is a wonderful feeling. There is some reprieve, although it is few and far between, but it’s manageable.

I knew that I had this little mood swings, when I realized that I haven't fully recovered from the surgery, and I realized the reality of how much responsibility I was about to have settled in. This little person is dependent on me. I remember that first night, the nurse telling me she needs to eat every 2-3 hours since he’s a newborn. I immediately mapped out in my brain the next 24 hours. I couldn't sleep at all at the first 2 days, and that was also because of the number of the visitors reached out the maximum on the day two. So, I was so tired that day. I was confused on how my life will turn out to? I was afraid that I won't be good enough for Anya, or whether I won't be producing enough breast milk to be given to her. But it was all common, until I felt something wrong with my own feeling that I felt so much jealous in my self of seeing Resa holding Anya, and looking at our precious newborn daughter in a deep love. This might sound weird, that I got jealous of my own daughter. But yes, that's what I felt and I won't be again ashamed of admitting it.

I have always been his apple of his eyes. He treats me like a princess, and I was the only one. But now when Anya came, that jealous feeling started to slip through the joyful feeling that I have. I couldn't control it, so I was crying with no reason on the day 6 we had Anya together with us. I honestly, confronted Resa to fight. That was so bad that I couldn't control my emotion, but then I realized that I need to put myself together and fix this. As soon as I realized that I this will gone very wrong if I didn't take it seriously, I talked to him over my feelings, and we try to fix that up. Resa realized that he hasn't asked me on how I am feeling with my post-surgery stitches, and maybe that was also one of the causes I have had a bit of a hard feeling on him. Sorry, baby.

I had a hard time of going back to work. Really hard.
I spent the last 2 months of my maternity leave to stock up breast milk for Anya, later when I needed to go back to work. I felt like I was a milk machine. But, luckily, my Mother was really there for me. She was the one who gave me that strength to carry on. On the breast feeding experience, it was quite smooth comparing to the other mothers who had difficulties until after months of breast feeding. Mine, was only occur until Anya turn the 2nd weeks.

Made all of these in Bandung and had to bring them to Jakarta with a big hope they won't melt

and Thank God, they didn't!
The first week on getting back to office was quite hard for me. I wasn't sure that I still wanted the career and everything. But my Mom said, let's just give it a try, I won't know if I never try. Hard was when I need to keep up on working and pumping for Anya at the office. That wasn't an easy adjustment. Truthfully, I was happy that I got to wear my office attires, those high heels that I have not been using for almost a year, and happy that I would be able to have interaction with people in the office, other than my family and my close friends. Because, you know, I need that.

My tired feet on my first few days of working. Yes I was tired, and I don't need a validation on this from anyone :)

Beside the fear of not being able to work properly for the company, I also develop the fear of being responsible for a human being. I was scared leaving Anya only with her new nanny at home. This feeling didn't just vanish as time goes by.

I didn't succeed on the first month of going back to work. I failed to manage my feeling. I felt so unhappy that time. To give you the whole portion of the story, I didn't get to sleep properly almost everyday. I was afraid that Anya won't get enough milk intake, so I prepared the bottles for her at 2 until 4 pm everyday, and to give you the whole picture of it, I didn't quite succeed in managing my time, between work and Anya. I got home at 21:00pm almost everyday, even though my boss was so generous and so understanding that she even gave me permission to leave early, but the traffic is always so bad here in Jakarta, where I live.

I went to the 2nd surgery only less than 3 months after my Caesarean surgery.
Just 2 weeks after my beloved sister in law has passed away, exactly on 20th of November 2013. I felt that something really was wrong with my body. I thought that I was only tired, because I was still adjusting with work and all that. But, the pain I felt that time was so severe that I needed to be bed rested for few days. I didn't go to work almost a week that time. I couldn't even walk properly. 
After being observed for hundred times already with 10 different specialists ( it was so tiring, it was so traumatic, and I tried to erase the whole memory of it), went through different blood tests, CT Scan, sonograms, rontgen, you name it ..went doing every suggestion from those doctors, for the whole week. I was so scared that something bad is really happening with my body. I have Anya now, and I really didn't wanna die. Really. This was not an exaggeration, but I was really scared.

On the 2nd of December 2013, just the day that my parents were planning to fly to Germany to visit my big sister(who was soon to give birth to a handsome baby boy), we went to the hospital, intentionally only for the seek of 2nd, no, 3rd, no ...maybe 8th opinion from a different doctor. I was so shocked that I was told to go through a surgery in mid night. Can you even imagine how I felt? I was basically told to leave my baby girl, to do a surgery, although (luckily, Alhamdulillah) what I had actually wasn't as bad as cancer whatsoever, but still, I was scared though. That night, I feel like everything is falling down. My parents cancelled their flight, and my Mom couldn't stop crying that night. Of course, I knew how she felt that particular night.

I stayed in the hospital for 3 days to recover from Laparoscopy surgery that I had that night. It turned out that few different complications, and infections were happening in the internal organs in my abdomen. Finally, I got to know what has actually been happening with my body after the previous week, I was being left by the previous doctors-curious of what happened actually. I even had pain killers in few different types and they didn't work a bit to lessen the pain I that I had felt.

The 2 night stay at the hospital has brought up the fear, the gloominess, that I couldn't even explain. I felt so gloomy up to the point I was crying everyday. Resa was doing his best to keep me accompanied. I was told to be fully bed rested in order to recover from the surgery for the whole 2 weeks. I spent my day only checking phones, and of course taking care of Anya. Also, because the nanny left just right at the night I went under surgery (but she came back few days after only to help taking care Anya for few days). Family and friends visited me, and when someone is coming I didn't feel gloomy, I act just as normal as always.

But then, I discovered that this gloomy feeling caused by the antibiotics that I need to take for the 6 days straight and because of that I couldn't eat (at all), really at all. You can't think straight if you don't get enough food in your tummy, right? Then, I lost around 6 kg just right after that. I felt lost, unloved, alone and at my wits end. It’s weird, because I have an amazing and supportive husband, a loving family and wonderful friends. But at that moment… I felt like NO ONE understood me. No one knows my thoughts, my fears, my wishes… heck, I didn’t even know my own wishes. Resa would say, “What can I do?” and I’d say, “I don’t know!” And it’s true! I didn’t know! I felt depressed that I couldn't breast feed Anya, and the stock of the milk is rapidly going down. I was so stressed that time. The only distraction was my phone, I tried to socialize through Path, Instagram, posting huge amount of Anya's picture just to keep me happy.

I tried to get back on my feet after being able to eat, and to feel better. Resa took me out for a dinner at a sushi restaurant after my doctor check up, to make me even feel better. So there I was back on my feet. But then, something happened, occured some Twitwar and Pathwar and I-don't-know-but-it-was-happening-so-fast. I honestly was quite disturbed by this incident. But then, I talked my feelings out to Resa, and also my best friends, and truthfully, they did a great job in order to make me feel better. But, I realized, I was the one who is responsible to make myself feel better. I feel hatred towards everything that disturbed me that time, but then I realized, if I hated someone of doing something, that was my problem. So, I was trying to just ditch the hatred and just move on with my life--do most important things, Anya, Resa, my family and friends, and my work.

But honestly probably that was one of those causes that has triggered the baby blues or the post natal depression all over again.

To have the feeling of fear having to be responsible of a human being that is my own daughter, no matter how many books you read, NOTHING prepares you better than the real thing.

One day my baby blues got the best out of me, I felt so low that day that I was in my most comfortable home dress, un-showered with sweats all over my body, because I needed to take care of my daughter and run some work from home (still in the bed rest period) and sweet loving little baby girl who couldn’t look at me and smile to make it all better. She was just too young. I started crying. I was feeding Anya and crying my eyes out. I felt like I had officially come undone. I imagined blissful days, tired nights, but quiet loving moments. I imagined a beautiful post-pregnancy glow that embodied me 24-7. But This was none of that. I didn’t feel like myself. Where was the super woman who always thought and knew she could do it all? Where was the organized  Me who had it all under control no matter what the obstacle? She was gone, and I thought… forever.

That day my breast milk production was still very low, I haven't yet fully recovered, I was so stressed out that I even browsed the best formula on the internet for my baby girl, I was crying whilst browsing. Maybe I stressed out too much because I wanted to be fully committed to breast feeding, and it turned out after just a night of a surgery, bam, I won't be able to do that anymore.

(But Thank God, even until now, I am still exclusively breast feeding and pumping for her. So cheers to that!)

Then I again, talked it out to Resa and gave him a kiss and tell him I was sorry…I was sorry for the weeks of losing myself. I was sorry for the weeks to come when I won’t be myself, and I am sorry I can’t do it ALL like I thought I could.  And it made me feel so much better.

A day after, I went out for a stroll at the mall and shop a little bit for Anya. It made me feel a lot better. I needed to go back to the "single me" who always have time to hang out with my friends, to shop for my self, to find some good shirts for my husband, and all.

For me, it was taking a minute to step away from the situation and truly appreciate the miracle of life and the blessing we have. We need to know that it’s okay if we don’t have that perfect post-pregnancy glow and the body to go with it that we thought we’d have. It’s okay that sometimes our milk production is challenged and we aren’t producing as much as we dreamed we would. It’s okay if we can’t do it ALL because…. we have already done so much! I needed to remember that hormones have a mind of their own, and I couldn’t allow that to anchor in my thoughts. The biggest thing for me was trying to do something I would normally do…Doing something for Me, the version of me I always knew and was.  I used to think it was selfish to be a new mom and ever think the word Me. But now I realize, there is no Anya without Me. And I want her to see the best of Me in hopes that he can grow up to be an amazing, wonderful happy woman who finds her own Me in herself. That’s what family and life is all about. Being whole with yourself, to be the best YOU for everyone else.

I chatted with my Tita who is now in Tanzania doing her bussiness based on her passion, and she was in quiet the same condition as mine. She told me that;

"It is chemical imbalance that is happening in your body, in your brain, you can't have control over it. Depression is a flaw in chemistry, not (your) character."

Every time I feel low, I always remember these words. I hope my post is a good enough one to read, although it's involving so many curhat. I hope nobody will get offended by my post, and to them who will, again, it's their problem. :)

One final words from a good friend of mine :

"Hard is hard, hard is not relative."

so ..it's okay not to feel okay. 


Maria Celina said...

I really appreciate this raw and honest account of how you felt as you approached motherhood and the things that come with it. I'm sure that those going through the initial steps of parenthood who stumble upon your blog may find comfort in knowing that they're not alone in the whirlwind of emotions that they may be feeling. Most of all, I applaud you for jumping back up and going strong against the battles that you faced on a daily basis, even as far as keeping true to how you really felt. If anything, the greatest fight in people is at times, honesty with self. Wishing you continuing happiness and smiles from your little family and the adorable Anya, especially as she grows into a sweet and wonderful little girl.

P.S. Great seeing those brown heels featured on this post!

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