What I Wish I’d Known Before Becoming A Parent – Baby Blues

Admittedly, I was forewarned about the baby blues; but it was usually more of a passing comment, “You’ll possibly cry a little afterwards, but it will pass.” Wow, what an understatement!  I spent the first couple of weeks looking a hot and very teary mess!  I cried… a lot, which made me cry more and before I knew it,  I was crying because I was crying, but I wasn’t actually sure why I had initially started crying!

This was meant to be the happiest time of my life; I’d just given birth to a happy, healthy little girl, something many dream of but unfortunately don’t get to experience.  Yet, there I was, tears streaming down my face.  I can’t say exactly how I was feeling at that point; if I’m honest, I wasn’t sure how I was feeling; but all I knew is that they weren’t tears of joy.

As gloomy as this sounds, it is usually very short lived and it is completely normal.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, up to 80% of mothers experience the baby blues.  Although the exact cause isn’t known, it is believed to be due to a combination of different factors, including; sudden changes in hormone levels, birth experience, sleep deprivation and the reality of the new level of responsibility.

I now look back on this very short period of time filled with raging emotions and can’t help but giggle a little.

My experience with the baby blues.

I had a rocky start to motherhood, so it is hard for me to say exactly when my baby blues kicked in; but it usually starts a few days post birth.  I generally found myself getting emotional about random things for no obvious reason, but my favourite baby blues moment was two days after I was released from the hospital.

I had a C-section (emergency) with our eldest; due to this, I was required to have medication administered daily in my thigh.  Now, I’m not a squeamish person; if I’m honest, I’d have no issue jabbing somebody else in the leg, but the thought of doing it to myself just didn’t sit well with me! A good friend of ours who is a nurse, agreed to do the daily deed.  My baby blues hit their peak the first day she was due to visit.  I’d spent much of the day in tears, for no obvious reason!  So I spent the last hour before she arrived sorting myself out; my face was dry and freshly powered, and I was cool and composed… then I opened the door!  The flood gates opened once again!

We had a great evening catching up, sharing baby cuddles and generally just gossiping about recent events; the whole while, I blubbered like a baby!  The baby blues passed as quickly as they arrived; I would love to have been a fly on the wall during this time.  At one point, after a rocky start I was concerned they would turn into something more (postnatal depression), but talking to my postnatal midwife really helped.

After having our youngest, I had expected the same.  For medical reasons, we had a planned C-section; her birth was incredibly relaxed and straight forward, a stark contrast to our eldest.  I was ready for this blues this time; I had purchased a year’s worth of Kleenex tissues and some hefty waterproof mascara.  Several days passed without a single tear in sight.  Naturally, I consulted Google on the matter.  Why am I not crying?  Is there something wrong with me?  Much to my relief, Google informed me I wasn’t dying from some rare disease; that a portion of women do not experience the blues.  This sounded too good to be true!  No crying at the sight of a ladybird on the windowsill, or cute puppy whilst you’re out for a walk or just your husband being in the same room as you!  (A friend of mine told me after her little one was born, she became repulsed by the smell of her husband, causing her to cry almost instantly when he entered the same room as her!  It only lasted for a little over a week before everything settled back down.)

Several more days passed with still no tears and I eventually reached the three week mark.  At this point, it was highly unlikely that I would experience them.  My hormones had settled, the initial shock had passed and we were settled into a new routine as a family of four.

To this day, I am not sure if I just got lucky or if the difference in birth experiences had impacted the blues.  But, what I can say is that the blues usually pass; there is a difference between the baby blues and postnatal depression.  If it feels like they are lingering for too long, your symptoms are not easing or getting worse; speak to somebody (your midwife, health visitor, GP, friends or family members).   Your body has been through a great deal in such a short space of time, your hormones are all over the place and the sudden arrival of a little one is sure to send things upside down for at least a little while.

To check out the first thing I wish I had known before becoming a mum; click here.  I will be talking about other things I wish I had known and experienced over the coming weeks though my Transparent Tuesday posts.

Elisabeth

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