Friday, November 9, 2012

Baby blues

This has been difficult for me to write about.  In general, blogging has stretched me beyond my limits of being open with my feelings and experiences.  I'm normally a very private person, but I hope that this post can help anyone going through the same thing--not to feel so alone as I do now.

About 80% of new mothers get the "baby blues" so it shouldn't come as a surprise if I feel it too, right?  Of course, it's supposed to be an overwhelmingly happy time in life-- enjoying those precious moments of motherhood with your new little bundle of joy.  Sometimes though, due to hormones, stress, lack of sleep, body changes, family dynamics, or other circumstances, you loose sight of that happy part and it's just plain overwhelming.

Most of the time, it quickly fades and you find your new rhythm within a few weeks.  I would say you return to normal, but it's not the same normal you knew before the baby--even if it's not your first.

But it's not going away and I can't stop crying.  Then I feel guilty for being unhappy and cry again.  Then I yell at my son not to squish the baby, then I feel guilty, then...well, you get the point.  Some days it's hard to get out of bed.  I have lost interest in the activities that I used to enjoy.

Of course, if we physically break something in our bodies, we don't hesitate to seek the help we need to fix it.  But mental health has a bit of a stigma to it.  And in the absence of physical symptoms, it can be harder to realize that there is a problem.  After all, it's just in your head.

I'll admit to being a bit of a perfectionist.  It has it's perks, but there are downsides to it as well.  Perfectionism has driven me to accomplishments beyond my years.  I mean, how many 28 year-olds have visited thirteen countries, lived in four different ones on three continents, are approaching their ten-year anniversary with four children, have a good career that they love, run a charity shop, etc.  But it's also crippling when I don't/can't live up to my own high expectations.  If I don't manage to also bake bread from scratch, read bedtime stories and put away all the laundry before the day ends, I feel like a failure.

I've been through this before, I thought, it'll get better soon.  And then, there I was, sitting across from the nurse at the two-month Tipat Chalav checkup, crying like crazy for no reason.  She pulled out a self-test for new mothers (similar to this one) created by the Health Ministry.  If you circle too many answers a certain way, do they take your kids away?  I cheated a little, but still ended up with a high enough score that she gave me the phone number of a clinic in Tzfat.

It took me a couple of days, but I finally called for an appointment.  We'll send you some forms in the mail, said the voice on the phone, fill them out, mail them back, and we'll get in touch with you.  Israeli bureaucracy strikes again!  Luckily, the other nurse who works there is my neighbor.  Told her what happened and in less than 90 seconds I had an appointment.  Finally, I've lived here long enough to have a little protexia.

So, there, I've taken the first step.  I'm a little nervous about my appointment on Sunday.  Will I like the doctor?  Will I freeze up?  Does she speak any English?  Will I spend the whole time crying?

I'll find out soon...

13 comments:

  1. Good for you for getting help. I had such severe ppd after my first I talked to my Dr. about it. But never got the referral to a psychologist so I could get a referral to a psychiatrist to get meds. Thank god it passed at 6 months. I've definitely got it this time around as well, but I have no desire to navigate the system. If you ever need to talk, I'm available almost all the time - 6 am to 11 pm or even later. Hugs to you. I hope the appointment goes well.

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  2. my dear shayna very proud of you thanks for sharing and being real i am sure this blog will help
    many

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    1. Thank you, I really hope it will. Even though there are studies that say "it's all normal" we don't usually get to hear from other moms that it's true.

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  3. Oh Precious Sweet Shayna, I'm so sorry this is such a hard time for you. It does pass... not that it helps to hear that. But every single mom I now that's had it doesn't have it now. The song you posted is one of my songs too. I have MS. Did you know that about me? Sometimes it's so hard to be in the thick of it and it feels like it will never pass. I'm sending you millions of (((((hugs))))) and blessings. Mostly can you be gentle and tender with you? If I had a magic wand, I'd use it now for you. Big blessings for complete healing. xoxox

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    1. Thanks for the hugs, Aunt Laya. I didn't know you have MS. It can be so scary to expose our "imperfections," right? This stayed as a draft for a while before I had the courage to publish it. It's hard to spend each day pretending to be fine, and just as hard to invite judgement or pity by admitting these feelings--especially when I know that I should be so grateful for all the blessings I have in my life.

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  4. I love you Shayna, and you have done the right thing, and you are not alone!!! We have heard about this more over the past few years. But it has always existed and a good mom is the one who is willing to admit it and get help. You can Skype me any time, and once again, I LOVE YOU.
    -Becca

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  5. I'm glad you're getting help. I finally started seeing a therapist for my PPD about three weeks ago. Just having a place to go, JUST ME, where everything is safe for me to say and it doesn't matter if all I want to do is cry... it helps.

    I hope you start feeling like yourself soon. And know that you're not alone. Lots of women have PPD, like me and like you, and it doesn't make us bad mothers or bad people or bad at anything at all.

    It's an illness. And you're going to get better. <3


    ...from one overachieving 28 year old mama to another.)

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    1. It's encouraging to hear from another mom who is going through this now. Sounds like your life is at least as "unboring" as mine. :o)

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  6. Wow Shayna, what a courageous woman you are for surrendering to your feelings and hormones. You are wise beyond your years to recogonize this with grace, admit your short comings and then seek help ! This is more amazing than you realize. Thank you. After reading your post, I felt like a failure !! LOL. It's always something, PMS, Pregnancy, Post partum, Pre- Menopause, Menopause as I like to call it, "Mental-Pause", polycystic ovaries, lazy ovaries, endometriosis, a tipped uterus, and the list goes on and on. My point is, for woman, there is always a female factor that can get in the way. When you mention it, so many woman will come forward and acknowledge one for themselves. I feel the real miracle is if you are never effected by one of these challenging hormonal problems.

    When I had my son Aaron it was quite a challenge and so overwhelming, still today 14.5 years later, most days are like climbing a mountain with him. After his birth there were so many friends who shared with me that they too have people with special needs in their family or past. It was amazing the amount of people who share who normally never would. SO please do not feel alone. I am so sorry and I just wanted to cry for you. You are a wonderful, beautiful amazing woman. I hope you get some relief soon.

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    1. Thanks for your encouragement. It means a lot coming from such a strong and devoted mother like you.

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  7. I wish I was there and could give you a hug...my boy is now nearly 20 but I remember those feelings like it was yesterday. I was and still am a single mum & none of my friends had children when I had my wonderful boy. I know that feeling of isolation. The fact that you are aware and have sought help can only bring good things to you. All I can say is "this will pass" and you are not alone. You are an amazing mother. Much love on your journey

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