Leaving the house recently for a doctor's appointment, I looked down to see a huge, white, baby spit-up stain on my jeans. I was late, as usual, and had no time to change.
Even if I did have the luxury of time, this was one of only two pairs of clean jeans that would fit this postpartum body.
The reality that life had changed again and I was back in that baby stage after seven years hit me all at once. I was so very thankful for the blessing of another baby, a baby that I had prayed for diligently, but underneath there was a fogginess that I just couldn’t seem to shake!
This fogginess, as I like to call it, was accompanied at times with sadness, anxiety, fatigue and disinterest for life. I felt like Eeyore; if I looked up, I was pretty sure there was a rain cloud hanging over my head. I felt so terribly guilty for feeling this way; I was so in love with this beautiful baby boy that we truly felt was a gift to our family.
But I was so out of sorts at the same time.
My husband during this time was a huge support to me, even though he didn’t quite understand how I was feeling or exactly how to help. He would do dishes, make meals, help fold laundry and take the older boys out of the house for a while. I had a hard time just doing regular everyday duties; my brain was struggling just to process.
During this time, I found that talking to close friends, asking for prayer from those I trusted, and also crying out to God privately was a huge step in helping me.
Here are some other ideas that can help women who are living through the first weeks and months of motherhood and a new life in the home:
1. Find some form of exercise you enjoy. Plan ahead of time so Daddy or another adult can be available to help out with the baby and other children while you exercise.
2. Go for a walk in the fresh, crisp air! This will remind you that there is life outside of the four walls of your home.
3. Invite a friend or relative over for tea or coffee and a chat.
4. Let go of the fact that your house isn’t quite put together the way you may like it.
5. Spend some time each day just sitting and enjoying your baby, not just at the times when he or she needs you.
6. Eat regularly, keeping a snack and water on hand.
7. Talk to another mother so that you will realize you are not alone.
8. Tell your husband or someone you trust about your feelings.
9. Read a book just for pleasure, even if it's only in five-minute snatches.
10. Honestly discuss your outlook on life and your feelings to your OB/GYN or midwife at your postpartum checkups, or call your physician if you feel you need a medical opinion on how you are working through the stresses and changes of having a new baby in your home.
It is very important that you talk to a doctor if things seem to be getting out of control, or if you feel like you just can’t cope. There is no shame in feeling this way! You are not a bad mom or person.
I am about six months postpartum now, and the rain cloud is finally shifting!
Jayne Gautreau is married with three children. Read her Mondays on Douglas County Moms.
It is very important that you talk to a doctor if things seem to be getting out of control, or if you feel like you just can’t cope.