• Ashley Gunn

The "Baby Blues"

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

When we first came home from the hospital everything felt like a really thick fog. I was sleep deprived and not to mention completely overwhelmed. Pearl refused to sleep at night and only took short naps during the day. My husband would try to rock her to sleep every night and it would take hours to get her down. I had to nurse her at least every two hours when we first came home, sometimes as frequent as every 15-30 minutes. I spent most of those first few weeks on the couch with her or marching around the house holding her because she only stopped crying with movement, or when attached to my nipples. Breastfeeding was so hard those first few weeks. My nipples were cracked and one had started bleeding. Pearl cried- a lot.

Then she cried some more. Everyone that met her made a comment about how much she cried, which sent me over the edge every time they said it. "That's a loud baby," a stranger said to me at Target. It had taken me weeks to even muster up the strength to leave the house. I left the store and ran out to my car with her as fast as possible. Leaving the house was hard enough and it only made it worse when a stranger made even the smallest comment. My anxiety over her crying was through the roof. I remember there was a point where I felt like I had no control over this situation. I had been home for about two weeks and I remember looking out the front window and just crying. I couldn't even control my crying. My husband would ask why I was upset, wanted to know how he could help, and I couldn't even give him an answer. I was absolutely in love with my baby, thrilled that she was finally here, but still couldn't shake this overwhelming feeling of sadness. Where was the joy?

"It's just the baby blues." I kept thinking this to myself. It was on the pamphlet I took home from the hospital. They said to not be surprised if I felt sad or cried after coming home. The baby blues. I'm going to tell you right now that shouldn't even be a term. It sounds so cute and innocent, and I think it causes a lot of people to gloss over the horrible beast that is postpartum depression. I didn't feel like myself anymore. I could hardly enjoy anything. I felt like I would never have time to shower, eat, sleep, or be alone again. The worst part? I was SO irritable. Uncontrollably irritable and mean. Where this happy, glowing, confident pregnant woman once stood, was a irritable, nasty, anxiety filled, deflated, worn thin woman. I was hurting physically too. It hurt to stand up, walk, or even sit. I was sweating uncontrollably. My face was breaking out. My breasts hurt so much, especially the first few weeks while my milk supply was trying to even itself out. Using the bathroom was a nightmare. Thankfully they let me take a peri bottle and a can of Dermoplast home. I had to use the bottle with warm water to even pee comfortably, and then immediately spray with Dermoplast. This process was followed with ice packs, huge pads that I call "boats", and the famous mesh underwear from the hospital (which I kind of loved in a weird way). I could feel my body slowly healing, the bleeding was slowing, but my mental health was deteriorating more and more. I knew deep down, it wasn't something precious sounding like the "baby blues".

It all became too much when Pearl was about five weeks old and we had taken her on a trip to the beach with family. I was in the worst mental space I think I've ever been in, and I had no control over it. It felt absolutely horrible. I wasn't enjoying the things I loved the most like spending time with loved ones, or even eating a delicious meal! Olen and I argued for the first time in our entire relationship. It felt like there was someone else inside my body. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I felt guilty. Here I am with the greatest gift anyone could ever receive and I felt sad?! I knew then that I needed help desperately. I decided then and there to make an appointment for the day after we got home from the trip. When my doctor came into the exam room, I told her everything I had been feeling. The weight of the world seemed to lift off of my shoulders. The doctor gave me a very sympathetic look and said, "That sounds like postpartum depression." She reassured me that it was really common and wrote me a prescription for Zoloft. Olen picked up my prescription for me, while I waited in the car with Pearl. Studying her face while she slept in her car seat, I took in each little part of her. Her little eyelashes, her cute nose, her little lips. She was so sweet, and perfect. She couldn't help that she cries, or can't sleep, or anything like that. I knew I was doing the right thing by getting help. I needed to feel like myself, and be the best version of myself so I could be a good mom for her. That night I took my first dose of Zoloft and within a week or two I was already experiencing changes in myself and how I felt.

It wasn't a magical overnight fix. I started smiling again. I started laughing again. Her crying didn't send me into an instant panic attack. I had coping skills again. I started connecting with her in ways that we hadn't previously. We had fun playing together, and reading together. Breastfeeding became a lot easier. I started hanging out with friends again. Getting out of the house became a lot easier! The fog was lifting! I felt like myself again. Not only just like myself but my NEW self, as a mother. I had my follow up appointment and the doctor could see a noticeable difference in my demeanor. I felt amazing. Of course, I'm still wildly exhausted just like every other new mom, but it is so, so, so worth it. I sweat like crazy, which could be the Zoloft or just the hormones, and it is SO worth it. I had felt like a bad mother for experiencing postpartum depression. In this world of "highlight reels" and filtered images, its so easy to envision your motherhood journey as this beautiful picture perfect dream. Yes, parts of it are absolutely picture perfect but there are still dirty diapers, blow outs, screaming, crying, spit up, raw nipples, spilled breast milk, sagging skin, stretch marks, and hair falling out. For some mothers, like me, there is postpartum depression too.

There are still days where I wake up feeling a little sad, but it isn't that indescribable low feeling. It isn't a crushing weight on my chest. If you're reading this and your "baby blues" haven't gone away like they said it would, do not be ashamed. Don't feel guilty, or embarrassed. I have been pretty vocal about my experience because I wan't this to be as normalized as possible. Once I opened up about what I was feeling to some of my friends, so many of them urged me to seek help because they wished they hadn't hesitated to do so themselves. The more we talk about it, the more new moms will realize it's totally a THING that happens, and that they can get some help. Maybe it's just seeing a therapist, having someone to talk to, or being prescribed a medication. There is no one size fits all solution for postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. I've personally been on medication for postpartum depression for almost four months now and I'm glad I didn't wait another day to make that appointment.

It may not be picture perfect, but it's our own journey and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm figuring out how to be her mother everyday, just as she is figuring out her life as a brand new baby. I love every minute I spend with her and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

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