My youngest baby is 8 months old. A couple of weeks ago, I woke up, got all 4 kids ready, and we left to meet my mom at the local children’s museum. While we were inside the museum I looked at my mother and said “I’m different today, something has changed!”
I realized the postpartum period was over! No more baby blues, no more dread of taking everyone out, no waking up and focusing hard on just getting through the next minute, then the next.
It takes months to adjust to a new baby whether it’s your first, or 4th, or 9th. Maybe I did not notice quite as much with the last two babies because I was remember feeling euphoric and so happy and full of lovey dovey tingling feelings that did not wear off for weeks. The transition was smoother, but I’m sure on further examination, I’d remember life with baby getting easier at around 8 months.
Bringing home baby #4 was my first experience with postpartum depression. I’m telling you, it’s real. If anyone thinks this is something a mom makes up, think again. This was my fourth baby. I should have it all down, right? NOPE!
I loved my newborn, but was miserable, tired, afraid to leave my bedroom, filled daily with a dreadful heaviness at the thought of caring for my other children. Everything made me want to cry. I cried a lot. I sank even lower when my husband returned to work.
The layers and depth of feelings were scary. Guilt was one of them. Guilt at not feeling happier to have a new beautiful baby girl. Insecurity! I was Earth Mother, Super Mom! I used to breastfeed my third baby while she was in the sling and I was cooking dinner, with a smile on my face.
I tried desperately to feel happy. My mind told me others would judge me if I let them know life was so hard with the fourth baby. What if my moods ruined proper bonding with my baby?
Would my other children resent me forever for not feeling perky or happy during the day?
How could I manage to feed them and bathe them and get them all to bed?
Once my husband went back to work, my amazing mom came to our house every day so that I was not alone with the burden of caring for 2 children, a toddler still in diapers, and a newborn.
And then, my new baby contracted spinal meningitis. She spent 3 days in the hospital. She had a spinal tap and was pumped full of drugs. I was treated like a freak by everyone because I had delayed vaccines with my older three children even though that had nothing to do with my baby getting sick. They told me I could not go to sleep with her in my arms, but I did it anyways.
One of my friends came by to visit, bringing coffee and treats. I was trying so hard not to cry because it was such a wonderfully sweet act of kindness. Plus she braved the germy ward full of sick children and babies to come perk me up.
As stressful as the hospital was, I had one baby to take care of. Nurses helped me change her diapers and keep her clean. When I brought her home, it was back to caring for four all while keeping them away from the baby lest she get sick again! AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In my darkest moments, I wondered if we’d made terrible mistake having another baby, even though there was no way I’d trade her for anything! I felt completely inept as a mother and wife.
Here I am, looking dreadfully tired, but smiling in an attempt to say “hey, look how happy I am as a new mom! I actually posted this to facebook.
My midwife began calling in once a week to check on me, and prescribed an insane amount of fish oil. I was taking upwards of 2500mg of fish oil every day. I made an effort to feed my body more raw veggies and fruits, along with tuna and salmon. Even when I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open, I began running very slowly on the treadmill. I signed up for a 5k. All of those things lifted my mood.
Ever so gradually, things began to look up. I could leave the house now and then without flipping out. We went to church occasionally, did some normal activities. My husband would leave for work and ask “will you be ok?” On the inside I was thinking “you are abandoning me! I’m going to fail!” But instead I’d nod and take on the day.
In what seemed a blink of the eye, my baby turned 8 months old and I came out of the haze!
It was like waking up out of a dream. You know what else? I enjoy my baby and my kids so much! I want to stand up on rooftops and scream “I LOVE MY KIDS!” My little one is extremely attached to her Momma! Bonding happened, big time.
My thee year old is still jealous of the new baby and things are WAY harder with four than they were with three, but we are together, doing the best we can. I’m doing the best that I can.
Sometimes that means popcorn, apples, and homemade pumpkin pie for dinner.
Sometimes it means we spend all day in our jammies and never leave the house.
Other days, we pile in the van and go to the library or to the zoo, where I now feel confident in my abilities to keep track of everyone and get them safely back home. No one is going hungry. Laundry gets done, ever so slowly, my house is nearly always a mess, but I love my kids and am so excited to watch them live!
If you relate to any of these, ask for help. And I promise, it gets better. I wanted to feel happy so badly. Some days, I would force a smile, plaster it right there for everyone to see. Diet and supplements helped, as did activity. March onward!