Baby Blues After the Non-Baby Blues

Postpartum Progress, that fantastically wonderful Nobel Prize-worthy site about post-partum depression, asked on Facebook yesterday for stories from ladies who had post-partum depression after infertility.  No arm-twisting required here. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass and I’ll tell you about what I consider to be one of the more nasty secrets about infertility: the shame of having post-partum depression after you’ve worked for five years to have the baby.

I’ve written before that while I was trying to have a baby, I was very focused on actually having the baby.  I was not concerned with what happened once the baby arrived. Either I didn’t believe that there would be a baby or I didn’t want to jinx the run of good luck that got me pregnant and cooking said baby.   So, no thought whatsoever was given to the post-partum period of life.

And then, I had the baby, the wailing, lung-strong, hungry, tired baby.  The (very normal) baby who woke us in the middle of the night with his fire alarm screams, who spit up on every non-washable surface, who was like the crazy roommate that you question your sanity for inviting into the house.  I felt like I had the world’s worst case of buyer’s remorse but I couldn’t tell anyone about it because I had done just about everything possible to (literally) buy this bundle of joy.

There were many times in those first few months when I wanted to give him back – back to whom I couldn’t articulate. I just wanted to return him, say “Sorry, made a mistake, lost the receipt, please take him back, he’ll be so much more happy elsewhere,” and we’ll go back to our regularly scheduled programming.   I would feel terrible for having these thoughts, and then feel doubly terrible because I had wanted this experience so badly. Talk about a vicious cycle.  Bad thought, bad thought for having the bad thought, rinse and repeat.

It never occurred to me at that time that having been through infertility I would be more prone to having post-partum depression.  If I even began to think about having PPD, I quickly concluded that I wasn’t allowed to have post-partum depression after infertility.  Yes, I wasn’t allowed because I had begged to be a mother.  Rex wasn’t an oops or even a timely planned baby.  He was way overdue by the time he did arrive so much that I was afraid he wasn’t going to show at all.  So how on earth could I then have the feelings that I was having?  This could not be a rational world where I was allowed to have these thoughts and not be utterly ungrateful.

It took me a  long time to recognize that I wasn’t ungrateful for having Rex.  I was normal.  I was a normal new first time mom who had been through the wringer for longer than recommended and was still trying to find that new comfort zone.  And, I had PPD.  And the PPD was treatable.

I’m so much better now.  There were so many moms who told me that it would get better and I thought, “maybe for you!” but they were right.  It got so much better.  I really enjoy being a mom now and I think I’m pretty darned good at it, too.

6 thoughts on “Baby Blues After the Non-Baby Blues

  1. What a fascinating point – the emotional turmoil (accompanied by hormonal imbalances, medically induced if not present already, and possibly also actual depression) that accompanies infertility would make women more prone to depression after the baby is born. That makes PERFECT sense (and has obviously been experienced by a number of people – you’re not even the only one on my blogroll) but nobody ever says it!

    Now that I have this little gem of information I don’t know exactly what to do with it. I can see that this problem would be exacerbated by the fact that so many new mothers post-infertility are publicly ECSTATIC about motherhood. (Many infertiles resent complaining particularly; while I think all forms of un-self-aware complaining are annoying, sugar-coating has always been my personal pet peeve. I’m special like that.) I can certainly see that in my own case a baby would be very likely to lead to depression (to the degree that I’m not depressed already). And, like you (though not in exactly the same situation), I haven’t adjusted my course on this basis because I don’t really believe there will ever be a baby. (That one is going to pan out for me, though :).)

    Anyway – thanks for adding this valuable discussion point. I shall ponder on it for some time, I suspect…

  2. Hello! I know you don’t know me, but we’ve got something in common. I got your blog address off the Stirrup Queen’s blogroll and was wondering if you wouldn’t mind helping me help a couple who is trying to add a little one to their family. We’re holding a silent auction for them this weekend (Friday and Saturday) on goteamwitt.blogspot.com and need help getting the word out! We would love it if you would spread the word via social media or here on your blog. Additionally, we are always looking for more donations to auction off, so if you or someone you know might be interested in making a donation, all the information is under the donate tab. If you have any questions or would be willing to post a pre-written blog post about the auction and the sponsored couple, please contact Kristin at goteamwitt@gmail.com Thanks in advance for taking the time to consider this!

  3. We don’t know each other, but when I read this it really tugged at my heartstrings. I never had postpartum depression, but someone very very close to me did. All I can say about it is that there should be no shame in it, regardless of how long you waited to conceive and how much you wished for that baby. What your heart wants and what your body does and how your brain reacts are not always related.

    I’m glad you’re better now, I really am =)

  4. Oh, I hear you on this. So well written. I had PPD after the birth of both of my children and it felt like a real jagged stab to the back because I had worked so hard to get to that point. Then voila – craptastic feelings! I’d like to see more of us in the ALI community talking about this. It’s so important.

  5. Wonderful post, thank you. This is something that affected me after the birth of my son. I didn’t deal with it well at the time – was too busy feeling guilty and inadequate – and it still leaves me feeling sad and as though I failed at something now. (My baby is 20 this year).

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