Confessions of a first-time mum l Baby Blues and Post-Partum Depression (PPD)

The only thing I feared before getting pregnant was labor and delivery. It was really the scariest thing in the world to me. When I became pregnant, it became real. I was going to have to give birth at some point ! How did that happen? Did I not know how babies were coming out? I did. I just didn’t want to think about it yet. Little Sixtine was wanted from day one, and although it is always a surprise to read “pregnant” on a Clearblue stick (I say that like it wasn’t the first time, but it was), we were very happy to be pregnant. I thought, ok. I am pregnant, and in nine months, we will have a baby. I will be radiant and happy, just like pregnancy is “advertised”. It is the best thing in the world.

A few days after finding out, I started to get really sick (click here for a detailed story) and felt isolated and lonely. What was happening to me? My days consisted in lying down on the couch and throw up. Hyperemesis gravidarum. Doesn’t sound fun in Latin, nor in English (severe sickness) or French (hyperémèse gravidique). It was really hard on me and my husband. I didn’t expect that. I never really thought about how pregnancy would feel. I wish the real face of pregnancy had been explained to me. Why did my pregnant/mum friends or acquaintances had never told me about it? I was not prepared. After weeks and weeks of sickness and isolation, I became depressed as I wasn’t enjoying my pregnancy. It didn’t last the entire time though, and as the sickness decreased a little bit, I started showing and Sixtine started kicking. There, there was something amazing happening inside me. But the ninth month was hard on me and I would cry at night from exhaustion and insomnia. I wanted this baby out of me quick. I wanted to get control back of my body.

And then she came, beautiful, healthy, and sweet, exactly as I had pictured her. My mum had made it to Canada to come visit and help during our first week with baby and my husband had a couple days off; I enjoyed the help taking care of our new baby. But then, the feeling of isolation came again. Homesick I was before pregnancy but becoming a mum on top of it didn’t help. I wanted to be with my family, my friends at home (the French one) and share this little person with them. I used Skype, and Facebook but it wasn’t the same. I spent my days alone with a baby who needed me at all times – who was going to take care of me then?

Little by little, the baby blues – which didn’t last more than a few days- became what I now know was Post Partum Depression. I didn’t know that it was at the time, I just felt lonely, teary, isolated, and beyond tired. So tired that I could barely get out of bed in the morning. My husband started feeding the baby in the morning before going to work to give me extra time to rest and I started thinking that I wasn’t the mum that she deserved, (and a really bad wife if you ask me) but I didn’t want my depression to affect her in anyway, so I sang, and danced for her, and did anything a perfect should do obssessing on early education. I didn’t want her to see any difference but I felt that we were too connected and that somehow, someway she could feel my distress. And I didn’t want that. After a couple talks with my husband, we thought it’d be best for me to go home early, and spend some time with my family to get better.

The craziest thing is that, as soon I knew I was going home, I started to feel better. I knew what it was: I could do something about it. I thought I’d see someone to talk about it but I never had to. On my second day home in Paris, I felt the sun on my skin and smiled. A true, honest smile, and felt the tears coming as I felt good again. This is all I needed, my baby, my family from home and the sun on my face. I felt instantly better. I don’t feel the need to see anyone anymore and feel great. My daughter gets to go out everyday, meet people, and I feel like I have found myself again. The only thing missing is my beloved husband but he will be joining us in June.

I will go back to Prince Edward Island a different woman.

I know Baby Blues and PPD are taboo subjects or else why had I never heard any of the pregnant women I know talking about it? Maybe I was the only one. I want to say that finding out what was going on helped me on the recovery process and that it is ok to not feel good when you are pregnant or just had a baby. It will get better.

If you feel adventurous and have gone through/or are still going through it, please share. It is good to know we are not alone !

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Comments

  1. I went through the baby blues, it was pretty bad. I was lucky though and it didn’t turn into anything more than that. But I was at home, I had my family close by. I can see how easily it can turn from baby blues and negative feelings, to more, when you’re tired, isolated and feel so very overwhelmed. I did a write up about it too a while back and I found it to be pretty therapeutic.

    I am so glad that you are feeling better though. And maybe before you leave Paris, you can have your mom book a visit to PEI so that you have something to look forward to?

    • Thank you Ana. I figured it was PPD because they say Baby Blues only last a few days and I was sad for longer than that. My sister is planning to come visit in August so that is something exciting. And I am planning to find work as well which should make things better. Thank you for sharing !

  2. westendbaby says:

    I also had a bad case of the blues… Not being at work was a huge shock to the system for me and I found myself as the only one of my friends to have a baby and in the horrible position of having post-delivery complications that prevented me from doing anything more than taking a quick trip to the shops for six weeks.
    i think that people don’t talk about it because it seems somehow ‘ungrateful’. It’s as if you have created this amazing thing and then you can’t even be happy about it, or at least as happy as you think you should be, so you keep it all to yourself…. The baby blues were bad for me…. I can’t imagine how bad real postpartum depression must be…
    Glad you are feeling better these days….

    • To be honest, I wasn’t diagnosed. I just assumed that is what it was because it lasted longer than a few days. I had an episiotomy and bad breastfeeding experience which didn’t help…so I can see how post-delivery complications would make you feel down. As for the ungrateful feeling, I know exactly what you mean. I always tried to keep in mind that my daughter was healthy and it was the most important thing but it doesn’t take away the sadness !
      Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. When expecting my third child, I was talking with a group of expecting mothers, many of them first time moms, and this topic came up. In retrospect I feel guilty about not sharing the reality of my own post-partum struggles. Only recently have I realized why I wasn’t completely honest.

    After my first child was born, I can honestly say I felt good. Didn’t even really experience the baby blues. After a rocky first week, he was a realitively easy newborn, slept 5 hours from the get go. I also had family in town to help me out which makes a huge difference.

    It was after my second child was born that things got really bad. Born only 17.5 months later, I definitely had my hands full. But having two young children wasn’t really the problem. My daughter turned out to be a very difficult baby. Not colicky but she cried all.the.time. (Terrible eczema that literally made her miserable in her own skin). She would not take a bottle which meant no substitute feedings. She would not tolerate being held by dad (or even looked at by him) so I had to take care of her without much of a break. People volunteered to help but I was selective of whom I would subject to her incessant crying. Her tenacity was not for the faint of heart. She stopped crying only when asleep or being bounced on an exercise ball. The saving grace is that by 6 months she did sleep through the night, but still refused a bottle. I ended up taking her to work with me until about 9 months old when she was eating enough solids to sustain her until I could feed her again.

    Then I got pregnant with our third child. Surprised, I went into full survival mode. Only after the birth of our third child another 18 months later do I recognize the fog I had been living in.

    I did not mean to intentionally mislead these other expecting moms. At the time I was not able to admit to the depth of the PPD I was experiencing. A public admission at the time would have brought my world crumbing down and I needed every ounce of strength and resolve to bring this third miracle into the world. Looking back I see the grace that carried me through that dark time, but I also see the reality of PPD and now am in a position to speak freely about it.

    • Thank you so much for doing so Jen. I understand what you mean when you say you couldn’t publicly admit it – I was only able to do so once I felt better. The guilt and shame that come with it makes it hard to share with others.
      You have three children and I want to say: “Bravo.” I am impressed. I could barely take care of myself when I was pregnant so with a toddler, I would have needed extra help for sure.

      Thank you, thank you.

  4. bellissimom says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. This is something that is on my mind quite a bit right now. I have a case of the baby blues for sure. Crying, frustration and a lot of anxiety. I also have a girlfriend who had her baby about a week after me and she is going through the same thing. We chat about what we are feeling and for both of us it is the montony of the schedule. The constant feeding, burping, changing leaves you with no time for yourself. The lack of sleep certainly does not help either. Adjusting to this new life where I don’t have the social interaction that I am used to, where I am tired all of the time and then all of the frustrations of breastfeeding on top of that is very challenging. I find myself wanting to cry often and that is just not my norm at all.

    It is really important that there is a dialogue about post partum and the baby blues. As you bring up it is a bit taboo and I feel like it is a subject that is just kind of swept under the rug because everyone is so excited about the baby. I too am super excited about the baby but what about the mom?

    • I know exactly how you feel right now as I felt the exact same not too long ago.
      I think babies are wonderful little things but it is life changing – it takes time to adjust.
      Sharing how you feel with someone and taking one day at a time should help…good luck and all the best to you and your cute little one. xx

  5. leahtrav says:

    I’m so happy that you are home (in France) and were able to find your smile again. Are you worried about coming back to PEI? Worried about your post partum depression returning? I joke to my husband that if I go home (to Alberta) for a visit, is he worried that i might not come back. And he says “a little”. LOL

    • Hehe that is probably what my husband would answer as well !
      I really don’t think it would. I am actually excited for the new challenges awaiting for me in PEI and I never thought one second that I wouldn’t return. This where my real home is. I just think I needed to get out for a little while. Thanks for the love Leah !

  6. Thank you so much for writing this post. It has inspired me to write about my own experience in a hope it will help other mums realise they are not alone. I got the baby blues really badly in the hospital and when I got home. I just couldn’t control my emotions and felt so overwhelmed and useless as a mother. My husband was an incredible support and I couldn’t have got through it without him. I think being away from family does have a big impact as I live in Melbourne and my family in the UK and just not having that support around me was incredibly hard. Even now, 14 months later I still struggle with my mood, but I’m seeking help and its the best thing I could have done. Just talking about my feelings is really helping me to cope better. You are not alone and it’s so great you could share your experience. Thanks again 🙂

    • I am glad this post was somewhat useful to you. I tend to think that I wouldn’t have felt this way if I had been living in France with the support of my family around. I missed them too much and becoming a mum was such a life changing experience that it shook my world not being able to see my family. They also missed my wedding. So I totally understand what you mean. It is not easy but it gets better for sure. Thank you for taking the time to comment and looking forward to reading your post. x

  7. Bonjour! You could not have described better what happened to me: words by words, sentence by sentence, I have felt exactly the same as you. And like you I felt so lonely, being appart from my family who lives in France, nobody came to visit us at the hospital while our son was born (because he was 11 days late they had to go before his birth).
    Like you, I assume now that it was a DPP but while I was in it, I did not want to say it aloud or “recognise” it until after a big discussion with my wonderfull husband who told me “you are suffering from DPP, you have to say it aloud and you will get better and we as a family will get better”: he was right, I was sad and distant and tired and feeling guilty, and letting him take care of our son for hours. I felt like such a bad mom. I feel better now, we have moved to a different country and time has passed.
    Thank you for this wonderful article xx
    (you will recognise my email address as we have just exchange some emails about helping for the cultural exchange).

    • Hi, it is nice to see you around here ! I actually read your blog a couple days ago and thought your son was a really cute boy ! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. It makes me feel better to know that someone in the same situation felt the same because it is hard to be away from home in times like these and just like you, I did feel painfully guilty to feel the way I felt. We also are thinking of moving but nothing is set in stone and it wouldn’t be for another three years at least. Anyways, I am really glad you came and took the time to comment.
      Will talk to you again soon !

  8. I don’t think I have ppd but I’ve made no secret of the low I’ve felt in the last 6 weeks since I had Shy.. Most of my blogs mention me in tears at my wits end!

    • I am sorry to hear that. Becoming a mum is such a life changing experience (I am repeating myself but it is so true), it is going to take time to adjust. It is been six months since Sixtine has arrived and I am still learning every day. I assumed I had PPD because it lasted longer than the few days of baby blues they talk about. It is a very barbarian/scary word but really, once I was able to put a word on how I felt, I started to feel better.
      Good luck with everything – will go over your blog and give it a little look ! Thank you for dropping by !

  9. Hi this is my first comment on your blog! 🙂 I really enjoy reading your writing as our babies are about the same age. I also suffered from depression and was formally diagnosed with postnatal depression (this is what we call it in Australia) at about 7 weeks. With hindsight and reflection, I think it was mainly due to the isolation of being a new mum with a non-sleeping baby and the high expectations I had of myself as a mother. I started crying more and more each day, feeling overwhelmed like I wasn’t coping, didn’t want to leave the house but felt miserable in it, felt guilty & shame for feeling this way when I loved my baby so much, everything reminded me of what a bad mother I was and how she deserved someone healthy who could take better care of her, having trouble sleeping, had a panic attack because I couldn’t sleep, lost my appetite and all interest in my usual activities, the emotional pain was ineffable and terrifying. I tried many times to just “pull it together” and “toughen up” since all new mums have to cope with the stress of a new baby so why couldn’t I? In the end, recognising I had an issue and talking to my doctor helped – I started antidepressants, went to sessions of therapy and took some sleeping pills to break up the insomnia. It took about 2-3 months to totally get better. I identify with what you wrote about finding myself again. I think this is an important subject for new mums as there is no need to suffer in silence and we need to be kinder to ourselves. I understand the fear of sharing because I think we are scared that we will be judged as ” weak bad mothers” and also, the guilt associated but the reality is it’s a tough unrelenting new experience and life is not a glossy magazine. I’ve been sharing my experience with all my new mum friends so at least, they know they are not alone in finding it incredibly difficult. Thanks for writing about it! 🙂

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