The Fine Line Between Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression

This post started as a follow up post to Does Patience Equal Good Parenting??

Wow, reading that post again, now, just wow.

I can say that things are better, they definitely got worse, but they are getting better now.

In the weeks following Noah’s birth I definitely had a case of the baby blues. It was mostly brought on by the anxiety of being a first time mom, thrown in with a little bit of family drama. Nothing major, no big ugly tears, just a little bit of stress and some bickering between Eric and I. Then I had a small identity crisis as I came to terms with being a mom and all that it entailed. That deserves its own post so I won’t go into detail on that here. Basically, I had bad days, but even then I knew they weren’t that bad. I knew I could handle it.

The Fine Line Between Baby Blues and Post Partum Depression


This time it was different. This time I’m pretty sure it might have gone beyond baby blues and into the shallow end of Postpartum Depression. And at the time I didn’t know that prenatal depression even existed, but I’m pretty sure I was suffering from that too.

I have always had problems with hormones and my ability to cope. I can remember when I was on the pill and PMS’ing I would easily lose my temper. It was strange. The smallest thing would set me off. I remember one time we were at the beach and I was feeling fat and bloated, as we all do around that time of the month, and I was pissed to be around all these skinny bitches while I felt so “yucky,” for lack of a better way to put it. I was thinking to myself about how I did NOT want to be at the beach, and how it was Eric’s fault that we were there, and how he probably just wanted to go to the beach to look at other women because I was all bloated and bitchy. I was putting on sunscreen and just getting angrier and angrier. I was banging the sunscreen bottle on my hand trying to get some to come out and I realized that I was hitting it so hard that I gave myself a bruise! It was so bizarre. It brought me back to reality and I realized how crazy I was acting! I mean seriously, this was so far from my normal behavior. I am not the jealous type, and Eric is definitely not the kind of guy to check out other girls. As I came too, I could just feel the hormones and rage coursing through me.

This past pregnancy I felt these issues return. But it was the combination of Noah, the terrible twos, and pregnancy hormones that made it so much worse. When I was 7 months pregnant with Bryce I posted the following:

I guess I have come to equate patience with being a good mother and I don’t feel like I have been lately. I am ashamed to say that I have yelled screamed at Noah and thrown things across the room. To some that may sound horrible and to others you may say, yeah so what. But, to me, it’s just not me. I’ve pounded on his high chair tray when I have had to bend over, no easy feat these days, and pick more food off the floor that he has thrown. And the look in his eyes makes me so very ashamed. I always immediately calm down and apologize to him and explain what he did that was wrong and that it was wrong for Mommy to have acted that way and that I love him. But, it doesn’t make it ok.

This behavior continued. Like with the sunscreen bottle, I was always able to recognize it and calm down and apologize, but as I said above, that didn’t make it ok. I shouldn’t have acted like this. I almost felt like I had no control over it. It sucked so bad. Then I read something in a parenting book that really spoke to me. It said that during the terrible twos and toddler hood in general try to eliminate, as much as possible, the need to say “No.” For instance, if you child proof drawers you won’t constantly be telling your kid to stay out of them. I knew it wasn’t the way I needed to parent in general. Noah needed to learn what was and wasn’t appropriate behavior. I couldn’t just avoid teaching him these things. But it would be better for both of us if I could postpone those lessons for awhile. So I tried to do that whenever possible. Things were still bad, even disastrous at times, but we survived my pregnancy.

Then Bryce arrived. My sweet little angel Bryce. And he slept, all – the – time. However, my earlier fears were realized.

My greatest fear/hope is that it won’t all come crashing down around me once Bryce is born and I am tugged in two different directions on zero sleep.

The day Bryce was born my in-laws brought Noah to the hospital to meet his little brother. I was so excited for them to meet and I wasn’t disappointed. I will never forget the look on Noah’s face when he first laid eyes on Bryce. I tear up now just thinking about it. It was a beautiful moment.

Then things took a turn for the worse. Instead of staying 30 – 45 minutes. Everyone stayed for 3 hours! For THREE HOURS I had 5 people AND Noah in my hospital room. After the first hour I was already tired and Noah was starting to whine. When they all finally left, every single one of them including Eric left to get dinner. I sat in the bed holding Bryce and just bawled. I mean really cried, the big fat ugly sobs where you can’t catch your breath. I was terrified one of the nurses would come in. With hindsight I’m pretty sure postpartum nurses are used to seeing new mothers cry though. 🙂

I should have kicked every single person out after that first hour. It wasn’t good that I got pushed to that point and that Noah’s whining was a big part of that. I felt better after my cry though and thing got better. I had my mom staying with me for the first week after we got home and then we had a few days to ourselves and Eric’s parents came and helped out for another week. Everything was going great! Then a week later the bottom fell out. I started the week thinking I had thrush in my left breast and then by Friday I was pretty sure I had a clogged duct and by Monday morning I knew I had an infection. I went to see the doctor and she diagnosed mastitis. Turned out she was wrong, I had an abscess and had to have a drain put in it for a week. The entire time, a total of 3 weeks, I was in excruciating pain and still continued to feed Bryce on BOTH sides. It was insane.

So now take postpartum hormones and add a newborn, the terrible twos, and EXTREME breast pain. I should interject that things pretty much stayed the same for Noah. There wasn’t “more” yelling or throwing things. If I did lose my temper I apologized, but I was having a hard time being my usual happy, playful self. My guilt was increasing not because I felt I was yelling more, but because I wasn’t balancing it with the good like I had before. I just felt dead. I got to where not only did I not have the energy to yell, but I didn’t even have the energy to smile or laugh that often.

When things were bad I just wanted to run away. I knew I would come back, I just wanted to stand up grab my keys and walk out the door and have an hour to just relax and not feel needed. And that feeling was so strange. It was almost like my body was willing itself to do this. It was an internal power struggle. Half of me was trying to get up and walk out, while the other half, the more rational side was preventing this from happening. So very strange.

Mostly, I doubted my decision to become a mother. Not just a good mother, but a mother in general. Me! The person who has wanted children since I was a little girl! Me! The person who was a nanny all through college and even watched 3 boys for over a year! I doubted whether I should have ever had kids. I knew that I COULD do it, but I wondered why on earth I had WANTED to do it.

Every second I felt that way I knew that I loved Noah and Bryce more than life itself and that no matter how I felt I never regretted having them. But at the same time I remember thinking in a detached sort of way,

“What the hell was I thinking wanting to have children.”

Not what was I thinking wanting to have Noah and Bryce, just children in general. It’s important that this part is clear. I thank God everyday for these two beautiful boys and I know how truly blessed I am to have them in my life.

It was the feeling of wanting to escape that brought me back to reality. It was like the sunscreen bottle leaving the bruise. It was so extreme and SO NOT ME that it made me open my eyes and look at the situation objectively. It made me pay more attention to all the bloggers out there that have posted about their postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety and shared about Postpartum Progress . (Big hugs and kisses to all you girls for sharing for story and your resources!!) I decided to go over to Postpartum Progress and check it out. What an amazing resource. I don’t know if what I was feeling classifies as postpartum or prenatal depression, but I do know that I was well on my way in that direction. If not for my ability to recognize that what I was feeling was not normal, combined with the articles that I read, I could easily have spiraled into the deep, dark depths of depression. This was the main article, 6 Surprising Symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, that helped me to realize what I was going through was a little more than the baby blues.

I always thought that being depressed meant that you were sad all the time and didn’t wash your hair or leave your house. I’m sure that might be a good description of depression for some people, but it’s also a pretty good description of motherhood, minus the sad part. 😉 But I found in reading that irritability and anger are also symptoms of depression. Uh, two big fat check marks right there!!!

As I said, things got better. I’m not really sure what was responsible for the change. I think it was a combination of my body physically healing (no more pain), getting a little more sleep at night and being able to examine my emotions objectively. I realized that if things didn’t change I was only going to get worse. This was not fair to me and especially not to Eric, Noah and Bryce. That’s when I asked for help. I talked to Eric and told him that I needed help. I told him exactly how I needed help, mostly watching the boys so I could rest, and he did it. God bless that man. He is the most amazing husband ever. I also decided it was a good idea to talk to someone about it. I have since found a psychologist and it is really helping. I don’t need medication. I am thankfully through the worst of it. I decided before I went that one of my primary goals for seeing this therapist was to make sure that my guilt for my earlier actions didn’t negatively affect how I continued to parent Noah. (More on that later)

Now I have found that I have regained some of my long lost patience. When Noah acts out I am able to stay calm and reprimand him appropriately. Most of the time, I have my moments and rage rears it’s ugly head every now and then, but for the most part it’s gone. I had worried that since my “behavior” coincided with Bryce’s birth that Noah might make the association and blame Bryce. Luckily Noah is the most amazing big brother ever and he loves Bryce so much. We can’t go anywhere without him pointing out Bryce to everyone we pass. “Ah Bryce! Ah Bryce!” he shouts to people in the aisles of the grocery store or passing in the mall. They all stop and smile at him and Bryce and comment on what a proud big brother he is. I can only hope that the gentleness and love and amazing number of hugs and kisses I give Noah in between the moments of craziness will in someway compensate.

Have you experienced prenatal or postpartum depression? If you feel you might be please head over to Postpartum Progress and get some help. Parenting is hard, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as we sometimes seem to think…..