I plopped the donut cushion on the couch and shuffled back to the bassinet for the bundle of blankets responsible for my condition. It took a few minutes to adjust all the pillows and clothing properly so I could begin the two-hour process of nursing her.
The baby and I sat home that 24th of July and cried all afternoon. Nobody noticed. Babies are supposed to cry and mothers are supposed to stay home with them. I was twenty years old and I felt like I'd died. In a sense I had. I went into mourning.
Nine months before I said I'd give anything to be a mom. That day I resented giving up a horseback ride. Horseback riding was never my thing, so it wasn't even a real sacrifice. What I was mourning was the possibility of a horseback ride. Choosing motherhood meant that now I was saddled with it. Along with a new baby, I'd birthed a new me. The old me was buried in responsibility.
Two weeks at my mother's was long enough—Dee promised me that everything would be normal once we got back to our own home. Before car-seats and seat-belts, moms nursed their babies in the front seat to keep them content, and the drive to Provo was quiet and reassuring.
. . . and the dishes from two weeks before still sitting in the sink. On the table was a sack, and when I looked inside I found the stiffened, dirty clothes I'd been wearing in the hospital when my water broke. Gabi was upset by her new surroundings, too. She started crying and didn't stop for at least a month. I joined her most of the time. Our relationship did not come easy to me.
When the stub of her cord fell off I noticed her diaper had blood stains on it. Frantic, I called the hospital, certain my baby would bleed to death through her navel. The nurse who took my call implied that I was being hysterical. In a sarcastic tone she said, "I take it this is your first baby."
A cute green dress came in the mail from my aunt Berniece. Surely a new outfit would cheer my wailing daughter, I thought, and put it on her immediately. She screamed all morning. Finally, because I couldn't think of anything else to do with her, I decided to give her a bath. When I took off the dress I realized I'd left the pins in the sleeves. They'd been poking her tiny armpits the whole time!
What if someone realized I didn't have any motherly instinct, that I was clueless and incapable? Would they come and take her away? But what if nobody ever came, and I was stuck with this bawling baby for the rest of my life? And what was the matter with me? I loved her so much but resented her at the same time. Labor was nothing compared to this mind-wrenching, heart-breaking exercise. Now I understand that this was the process that made me a mother.
Carrying a baby around all the time developed my responsibility muscles. I still missed my old, irresponsible self, but I started to like the new, mature me. Maybe I had potential after all. At the end of six weeks, I felt I was coming out of a heavy and isolating fog, and I was excited to see where I was going.
baby blues, a common short-lived side effect of having a baby. Tomorrow I'll talk about a time I had a deeper, darker shade of blues.
Have you had postpartum depression? How did you cope with it? What would you advise a new mom dealing with baby blues?
Now it's your turn:
Now it's your turn: