The Kids, The Crazy
BABIES. They’re a thing right now. Oh, I suppose they’re always a thing. But it seems like a lot of people I know are having them lately.
We are done having babies, even though I often think MOAR BABIES would be awesome. I mean, BABIES! Cute and cuddly and always learning new stuff, right? Oh, and always wanting to eat, and not wanting to sleep, and teething, and screaming for no apparent reason.
And despite what some people say, you really can’t do everything you used to do or that you want to do, because you have a baby to feed and change and hold and you’re too darned tired to do anything properly.
And if you’re really lucky, you fall into depression! You might get anything from a bit of baby blues from being to tired to full-blown postpartum depression or even postpartum psychosis. And if you’ve already got a tendency to depression, this is all the more likely.
AND, it’s not just the women who get depressed; it happens to men, too. Especially the good ones who actually help with the baby care.
Hey, I think I just talked myself out of those baby longings again.
So yes, I was frequently depressed when we had babies. I still get depressed, but those were definitely some of the hardest times. I first started taking medication when my depression was intensified by postpartum depression. There were times when I cried because the baby wanted to nurse AGAIN, after 20 minutes, and I was sore. Or when I just felt like everything was happening in slow-motion, and I couldn’t manage to get anything done. There were times when I just wanted to chuck it all and just do whatever I wanted to do for a day.
How do you deal with this without TOTALLY losing it?
I guess it really comes down to acceptance. You accept that you have to lower your expectations. You won’t be able to get as much housework done. You may not be as effective at your money-earning job, or anything else you have going on.
I set priorites for certain things that HAD to be done. For instance, I decided that no matter what, every day I would pick up any dishes, dirty clothes, and garbage that were lying around. And sometimes these things did lie around all day. But they got picked up at least once a day.
I eventually accepted that I would be spending a great deal of time holding, nursing, or lying down with babies. At first, I thought I would pop the baby in a sling and go on with life. It didn’t work that way. Sometimes it did. One of our babies spent hours in a sling while I sang in a church praise band. Our youngest spent small amounts of time strapped to my back while I worked in the garden. But I definitely couldn’t do this as much as I expected to.
However, I did make an effort to do things that made me feel more like ME. This included the singing and gardening, as well as exercising, reading, and meeting other parents on the internet.
It took me a long time to accept that I would feel depressed sometimes, and that I would come out of it. But it’s true. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you still get depressed. But you will get through it.
And that’s the other thing about babies: it gets better. Or different, anyway. Those first years are HARD. Many wonderful things happen, but at times, it’s hell. My youngest is seven, and it’s only within the past couple of years that I’ve started getting more sleep, having more energy, and being more effective in general. But it does get better.
I don’t know if “it gets better” is a very helpful sentiment for new parents! But it’s true. I’m proof.
This post was inspired by John Metta, struggling new parent of twins.