Do you feel sad or miserable for no good reason?
Do you feel anxious or scared for no good reason?
Do you find yourself crying frequently for no good reason?
I sat in the waiting area for my six-week post-partum check-up and stared at the PPD questionnaire unsure how to answer. I had been feeling all of those things, but… I had good reasons.
I felt sad that I couldn’t give Quinn the attention I used to give him. I hated that I couldn’t play trains with him because I had to feed the baby again or change the baby’s diaper again or hold the baby to keep him from crying again. My heart swelled with empathy for my first born. He must feel so neglected. Does he know I still love him? Does he know how much I miss him, even though he’s right there? Does he feel replaced? How can I take his sadness away? How can I show him that he’s still my whole world?
I felt miserable because another person needs something from me twenty-four hours a day, each screaming and crying until their needs are met, frequently making me choose between them. Which one do I let cry right now? Which one do I allow to feel unloved for a few moments while I care for his brother? And what about my poor husband? When does he get his wife back? And what about me? When do I get a break? And if I do get a break, is it worth all the guilt I feel over it? What little free time I had while Quinn slept had been stolen. Reid – who’s normally a quiet, happy baby – will always choose those times to be fussy and want to cluster feed. Is it so wrong that I just want ten minutes without another person touching me, talking to me, screaming at me? Am I a bad mom because sometimes I just want the kids to GET OFF ME, literally and figuratively.
I felt anxious because I was running out of time before Christmas. I needed more hours in the day to shop, wrap presents, decorate the house, bake cookies, finish the Christmas cards and make Christmas magical for my family. I also really want to get the 2014 calendars with the boys’ photos finished. I started the tradition for Quinn’s first Christmas, and I want it to continue, especially since Reid’s here now. I also have to take the boys to see Santa. And Quinn needs a haircut. And I have to get the gifts for my family and out of state friends purchased, wrapped and shipped if they’re going to arrive in time for Christmas. And I need to see a doctor about these hives that keep popping up all over me. When am I going to find time to see a doctor when I can’t even find time to call to make the appointment? And I’m embarrassingly far behind on my thank you notes. All the friends and family and neighbors who brought us dinners and gave us gifts – they must think I’m so rude. And… and… and…
I felt scared because Reid caught Quinn’s cold and could barely breathe. At night, he would suddenly start gagging on his own phlegm, and I couldn’t start breathing again until he did. Babies can’t drown in their own snot, right? Can they? What if he starts choking and I don’t wake up? What if he dies and I can’t save him? I felt like I may never sleep again. Even when Reid fell back asleep, I laid awake, vigilant, until my eyes guiltily fell closed, only to wake with a jolt moments later. Was that the baby? Is he breathing? Maybe if I keep my hand on his chest, I can just close my eyes for a few minutes…
I know I’m spinning again, but all of these seem like pretty valid reasons to feel sad, miserable, anxious or scared and to allow a few tears to fall on occasion. Since these feelings aren’t “for no good reason,” I must not have post-partum depression this time around, right? It’s not like it was before, right? Right?