As some of you may know, I had a beautiful baby girl last month. The first few days went by in a rush of emotions and hormones and then suddenly and quite unexpectedly, I was hit with a severe bout of hopelessness and anxiety.
It was so terrible. Here she was, this beautiful bundle of joy, this little doll that I had instantly fallen in love with and I should have been the happiest person on the planet. But I wasn’t. I was just crying. All the time.
I felt guilty. Am I not a good mother? Will this feeling ever go away? Will I ever be happy. And then I asked other mommies about their experience.
Turns out, 80% of all new moms go through what is termed as ‘baby blues’. It’s not to be confused with Post Partum Depression as that is more severe and lasts longer.
Baby blues is a general feeling of unhappiness and anxiety that is brought on by the hormonal changes that happen right after birthing a baby, the overwhelming change in schedule, lack of sleep and of course, the pressure of caring and tending to a tiny living being that cannot even tell you what it wants.
Baby blues last typically for 2 weeks. If you still feel depressed after two weeks, have thoughts of self harm or harming the baby or if your condition is not letting you tend to your little one, speak to your obgyn immediately.
After having to go through it myself, I’ve made a list of what helped me get through this phase. I’m sharing it here so new mommies can maybe benefit from it too.
1. This Will Pass
You will want to cry, you will feel terrible and you will feel like you won’t be able to survive this. But you will. Rationally thinking, you’ve survived whatever life has thrown at you so far right? Keep telling yourself that it’s only a matter of time before things get better.
2. Talk to Friends
Talk. It. Out. It doesn’t matter if you have 3 friends or 300. Choose the ones you know will be willing to listening to your whining and crying and not put you down. Moreover, make some new friends who are new mothers too. Ranting to someone who is going through the same thing as you really helps. Look for support groups if you don’t know mommies in real life. (Drop me a message if you want more guidance on this or need someone to talk to)
Seriously. I had no idea something as basic as a shower could be so gratifying. You’ll be tempted to skip it, but just do it. Get out of bed, hand the baby over to someone, light a candle, put on your jam and shampoo your worries away.
If there’s no one available to hold the baby then just wait until she’s asleep, put her in a safe spot, open the bathroom door/use a baby monitor while you lather, rinse, repeat.
4. Ask for Help
You are in no physical or mental state to do everything by yourself. You need help. Whether you’ve had a vaginal delivery or a c-section, you won’t be completely healed probably until the next one month.
Don’t force yourself to do housework, cook, clean or take care of the baby on your own. Identify who can help or if you must, hire help. If you can’t, prioritize what needs to be done. Eat in disposable plates for a month if you have no one to wash the dishes.
Most of all, be in touch with someone who you absolutely trust, be it your mother or mother in law or even a mentor. On my first night with Samar, every little grunt she made, I would get up and check if she was hungry. Despite my mother in law telling me she was fine. It took a great amount of determination to just put my trust in her and accept that I don’t magically know what baby wants with zero experience. Made life so much easier.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Your whole life is now about someone other than you. But you can’t take care of them if you don’t take care of yourself. Eat well. Drink milk. Eat little power meals. (I used to drink a packet of Nesvita with a couple of dates and spoons of panjeeri right after waking up and before nursing her)
Sleep when the baby sleeps. Get a malish wali to come over daily or at least once a week.
6. Ask Google
Every question that you have right now, no matter how absurd it sounds, someone else has already asked on the internet. Google your fears away while you nurse your baby. #multitasking
On the off chance you want specific answers, feel free to post in support groups or communities. Baby Center is my favourite but if you want some local perspective, check out local groups on Facebook.
7. Try Something New
Your schedule is probably a blur of nursing, changing diapers, bathing baby and occasionally sleeping. I used to be an extremely active person before Samar was born, going out up until 3 days before her arrival. So the sudden house arrest made me feel like I was suffocating. If you feel trapped in a monotonous routine, try and do something different every few days. Go to a nearby icecream parlour, do some online shopping, take a walk around the house, watch a movie with your husband, order something you love eating.
8. Try Everything
People will give you lots of random advice. Some of it will work, some of it won’t. But try everything. Buy as much gear to help yourself and do anything you can to survive this period. Something is bound to work!
If you have any tips that helped you survive the baby blues or the first one month of your newborn baby, please do share in the comments so we can all benefit from them!