When my first daughter Lucy was born (she's now 5 and has a sister Charlie, now 3), most of my memories revolve around watching her sleep in the co-sleeper attached to my bed. Was I contemplating how beautiful she was? How much I loved her? How her perfect little lips pursed in dreaming? Nope.
I was checking to make sure she was still breathing. Every. Night. All. Night. Long. When I did sleep it was lightly, usually with my hand upon her belly, and if she made the slightest move I would wake up. I chalked it up to being a paranoid first-time mom, and an extremely tired one at that!
When I did manage to make it out in public (in sweats, a ponytail and red-eyed) I would cringe if a stranger even walked too close, let alone tickled her foot through her blanket. I'd sanitize my hands until they were raw after touching anything that could be germy, fearful I'd give her (gasp!) a cold. Feedings were on a clock, bedtime and naps were on a schedule, and if anything came up in the day that I hadn't planned I freaked.
I'd experienced depression before in my life, and after a few weeks I knew something in me had changed that was more serious than sleep deprivation. But I wasn't sad. I wasn't crying and moping all day--I was an anxious ball of panic. My head was so filled with "what ifs" that I hardly absorbed what was happening in the present.
It was postpartum depression, and I would have it again with my second child. I got better with medication and watching my babies grow older and more resilient. Each time I've experienced depression the symptoms have looked totally different, and they vary dramatically from person to person. But depression doesn't mean that there's something wrong with you. It's a medical condition, just as is thyroid disease and epilepsy. It can be treated, and it will get better if you get help.
If it's your first child and you've never had depression or anxiety before, it may be difficult to determine whether what you're feeling is "normal" or not. But it's worth a chat with someone you trust, whether it's your partner, friend, parent, pediatrician or family doctor. The alternative is suffering in silence, which isn't good for you or your baby. Reach out, get help, and get better. I am so glad I did.
How did you feel post-partum? Amazing? Dog-tired? Did you go right back to normal or did it take awhile to adjust?