When There’s No New Mom Joy
I experienced an amazing high after having both of my kids. I loved the infant and baby stage, couldnâ€™t get enough of their tiny sweet selves, even when they were screaming theirÂ little heads off. I assumed most mamas felt the same.
Apparently not. My younger sister had a baby three months ago, and sheâ€™s having a rough time. She canâ€™t do no sleep. She doesnâ€™t like being alone at home on maternity leave. Rather than sending me copious photos of her brand-new baby, sheâ€™s almost gone dark. She texts only when she needs advice on sleeping or breastfeeding, not to spontaneously share giddy news of baby developments. Thereâ€™s not any of the ecstatic joy I thought was endemic to new moms.
As a family, weâ€™re concerned. Weâ€™ve questioned whether sheâ€™s experiencing some postpartum depression (PPD).Â I think sheâ€™s been feeling likeÂ â€śthis isnâ€™t what I signed up for,â€ť which isÂ certainly a symptom ofÂ PPD.
ItÂ happens more than the glowing posts on Facebook would lead you to believe: baby arrives, and mama isnâ€™t flush with maternal satisfaction. Certainly media depictions of parenthood would give anyone false conceptions of the job: most of the time the kids are nowhere in sight on TV shows and in movies. The reality is that first-time parenthood is like enrolling in a high-level college class you know will be ultra challenging but presumably fascinating. Oh, except that you canâ€™t drop this class. Ever. Itâ€™s 24/7 with relentless homework. And itâ€™s not always stimulating and amazing.
Add the waves of an enormous hormone shift Â to this life-changing experience and itâ€™s no wonder that anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of new moms experience some postpartum depression. Even those moms who donâ€™t technically have PPD have plenty of frustrated and overwhelmed moments during those first months, myself included. Thereâ€™s nothing easy about being a new mama!
My sisterâ€™s baby boy is as perfect as they come. Completely healthy, reasonably fussy, an ok sleeper. And I think sheâ€™s warming up to him. But sheâ€™s already insisting heâ€™s destined to be an only child.
What about you, did you adore motherhood from day one? Or did it take you awhile to adjust to having a new baby and being a mom?
Katie Quirk Dunyon is a mom of two, a boy and a girl. She lives and writes in Seattle, WA.