"Baby blues" is a term used to describe the mood swings that new moms may experience in the first few weeks after giving birth. According to the American Pregnancy Association's information page about the baby blues,
"approximately 70-80% of all new mothers experience some negative feelings or mood swings after the birth of their child".The baby blues themselves are not an uncommon experience for new moms (and yes, you are a new mom after the birth of every child, no matter how many times you've given birth before). As long as the baby blues aren't accompanied by symptoms such as thoughts of hurting myself or my baby, and they go away by 2-3 weeks postpartum, there's really no need for me to be concerned unless I or someone else feels like it's just getting worse and/or staying bad all the time instead of being an ebb-and-flow type thing. I'm already on Zoloft and have been since I hit 35 weeks pregnant. The baby blues, although commonly confused as being the same thing as PostPartum Depression, are not PPD and while it sucks to be up-and-down, is not necessarily a cause for me to be concerned.
I know the facts, I know the statistics, I know "The drill". Call the doctor if things get bad, don't be afraid to reach out for help if I need it, don't hesitate to talk to my friends and family about what I'm feeling, it's all perfectly normal, etc. etc. etc. I wish it were that easy, though. Because of what I went through with the PPD after Elizabeth was born, I tend to be a little on the "overly vigilant" side of things, super aware, shall we say, of my moods and emotions with regard to mental and emotional health.
It's hard to have days like today and NOT immediately go "Oh my gosh, what if it's PPD again!". You try and you try not to let fear run your life but sometimes, it kicks in and you start to worry. So here I sit, hoping that typing out this blog post will help me to process what I'm feeling and refocus on the fact that what I'm going through is normal and I don't need to go check myself into the hospital.
I'm lucky to have some great friends and family. I posted about how I was feeling ("Baby blues: like PMS on Steroids" was my Facebook status) and immediately had people giving me support and encouragement. Some of the wonderful ladies from #PPDChat hit me with the same. My mom got home from the grocery store and gave me a huge hug (I'm about to start crying typing that but I suspect that has as much to do with her flying back home as with anything else). My husband brought me supper and a drink and was just his usual sweet self, taking care of me. One of my cats came and loved on me. Some of my friends jumped in with dumb jokes and funny e-cards to cheer me up.
It's that type of love and support that keeps me going, that helps me get through the rough patches. That type of encouragement reassures me that I'll be okay no matter what and that my dramatic feelings of... well, dramatic maudlin-ness, will pass with people loving on me and holding me up when all I want to do is to collapse and wail "I hate the world!". And then, there's the knowledge that it really is okay to just hole up in my room, bury my face in a pillow, bawl my eyes out without even being sure of why I'm crying in the first place, and then go blow my nose and eat an ice cream bar or 10.
You do what you have to get by and try not to feel bad about it. It's easier said than done but it can be done. The baby blues suck but they're not the end of the world, they're not the same thing as PostPartum Depression, they don't mean I'll end up with PPD again, and they really will go away. All I have to do, all YOU have to do, is hang in there and keep on keeping on, trying not to beat ourselves up in the process. Because really, there's nothing to beat ourselves up for. We have no control over what our bodies do as far as hormonal changes, it's not our fault, and there's nothing wrong with us. At the end of the day, we're still humans and moms and nothing we feel can ever change that.
To learn more about the baby blues, I recommend these links.