October is Depression Awareness Month, so amid posts on recipes for Halloween candy bark and Halloween decorations, I would like to share my experience with the baby blues and postpartum anxiety. As I’ve learned over the years trying to deal with my own anxiety issues, and especially after pregnancy and giving birth, caring for mental health is just as important and diet and exercise.
Bonjour, Bébé Blues
During the fun parts of being pregnant, like decorating a nursery and shopping for tiny clothes and having a baby shower, I also tried to be mindful of the possibility postpartum of issues like baby blues and the need for self-care. I am a tender heart (*cough* highly sensitive *cough*) and a worrier, so I knew being emotionally overwhelmed after Le Bébé arrived was highly likely for me.
While I didn’t really know exactly what to expect or exactly how I would feel after labor and delivery and the segue into motherhood, I wanted to be aware and somewhat prepared. L’Husband and I prepped freezer meals, stocked up on baby bottles and newborn-sized diapers, and got the car seat installed. We talked about communication and the division of labor during parental leave and beyond. We at least tried to do some homework and study before we took the exam, as it were.
Then Le Bébé was born and the emotional roller coaster began. A new life with a newborn is incredible, joyful, magical – and no easy feat, especially for an older first-time mom with autoimmune thyroid disease (le sigh). According to Healthline, “About 80 percent of postpartum mothers have the baby blues, which refer to a short period after giving birth that’s filled with bouts of sadness, anxiety, stress, and mood swings.” The baby blues cometh.
Let me tell you, I get why women cry so much after they have a baby: you are so unbelievably tired, and your head is so fuzzy, and you are so drained and exhausted in a way previously unimaginable, how could you not cry? Crying makes total and complete sense. I frequently joked through my tears, “I’m not sad, I’m tired.”
Symptoms of the Bébé Blues
Drawing on the Healthline article again, my symptoms of the baby blues included:
- Feeling weepy or crying inexplicably over minor triggers.
- Having mood swings or being especially irritable.
- Feeling restless or experiencing insomnia, even though you’re exhausted.
- Having trouble making easy decisions or thinking clearly.
Other symptoms (I was fortunate not to experience) include:
- Feeling unattached or unbonded to your baby.
- Missing parts of your old life.
- Worrying or feeling anxious about your baby’s health and safety.
For whatever reason, I didn’t worry about my ability to bond with or take care of Le Bébé. The worst was the insomnia (le why??!!) and brain fog. Like, taking out the garbage and picking out what shirt to wear are not le big deal, n’est pas?
So if (when) I had a meltdown about the dishwasher not being unloaded, I tried to remember I just had a baby. Regardless of how new parenting is portrayed in movies and television or presented via carefully curated and often monetized social media accounts, having a baby is actually a big deal for real people. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s easy. I can blubber whenever, wherever I want to (and did!).
Long story short: baby blues are totally normal and my feelings are valid. Please know caring for your mental health may be hard but is also nonnegotiable. People will support you and there are resources available online and in your community. Do not give up on yourself!
Next Time on the Blog: Postpartum Depression and My Cry for Help
Merci for reading and please subscribe and share!
À votre santé,
Disclaimer: The posts and information on Joie de Vivre are not intended to and do not constitute medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. Please consult a qualified physician or healthcare professional regarding your health.