I’ve been watching like a hawk. My eyes peeled for the signs.
Weepiness. Crying about small things. That awful feeling of being so overwhelmed. Guilt. Mourning a life that has disappeared.
Yes. I know them by heart.
I saw them all just three years ago when they followed my daughter into my life. They arrived suddenly, unwelcome guests who found this space so cozy, they didn’t want to leave.
In the first weeks of her life, I cried. Everyday. The day my Mom left to return home and M left to go to work, leaving me and my girl alone for the first time, I shook with fear and anxiety for hours, not able to relax until M walked back in that evening. I roamed the house, not sure what to do with myself. What to do with her. Friends and family called with congratulations and I gulped down tears as I thanked them.
I didn’t smother her with kisses. I didn’t cuddle her for hours. I loved her but couldn’t show it.
I went to a postpartum depression support group and learned that it was unlikely that I had PPD. More likely that I was going through a bad case of the baby blues.
Yes. It was bad.
This time, the nurse warned me about the baby blues as she prepared my discharge papers from the hospital. As we prepared to leave a full 24 hours ahead of their recommendations.
“Is it common to go through the baby blues with a second child?” I asked. Naive and definitely rooting for one answer over the other. Surely experience would help me here. Surely my feet would recognize this path and tell my heart and my brain that it’s ok. We’ve done this before. We can do this again.
“It is. Did you experience them with your first?”
“Then you’ll probably experience them again.”
She went on to ask if I had support and caution me to seek help if things got bad.
And so, my eyes are peeled. I notice every dip in mood. Every crescendo of activity in this house that leaves me feeling lost and overwhelmed. Every moment when my son is crying while I’m with my daughter, or my daughter is crying when I’m with my son. Every moment when the exhaustion takes over and I don’t know how I can keep it together for one more minute. When I’m nursing but she needs me. When I’m braiding her hair but he needs me. When she wants us to take her to school but I worry about how chilly it is outside for his new little body.
As I face that first day alone. Me and them. I feel the fear shaking me. The anxiety setting in. Oh how am I going to do this?
And then it passes.
So far the baby blues have not made a bed here. They visit and then leave. I know, this time, that this time does not last forever. He’s already growing older by the minute. The long afternoons of nursing and holding him will pass. Tomorrow I’ll wake up and he’ll be six months old, sitting on his own, eating solids and nursing less, a playmate for his big sister. And then next week? He’ll be walking and talking and they’ll run off to play together. Leaving me out of their imaginary worlds as I run to keep up, desperate to break back into their embrace.
This time is hard. But it does not last forever. And when it is time to look back, I will miss this right now. I know I will.
I know I’m not yet in the clear. Those blues know how to get here. They know the way and they know how to stay.
But my feet have walked this path before. And my heart and my brain know to hold onto these moments. Nothing, not even the blues, lasts forever.
linking up with Shell. Join us and pour your heart out.