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, couldn’t get enough of their tiny sweet selves, even when they were screaming their  little heads off. I assumed most mamas felt the same.

Apparently not. My younger sister had a baby three months ago, and she’s having a rough time. She can’t do no sleep. She doesn’t like being alone at home on maternity leave. Rather than sending me copious photos of her brand-new baby, she’s almost gone dark. She texts only when she needs advice on sleeping or breastfeeding, not to spontaneously share giddy news of baby developments. There’s not any of the ecstatic joy I thought was endemic to new moms.

As a family, we’re concerned. We’ve questioned whether she’s experiencing some postpartum depression (PPD). I think she’s been feeling like “this isn’t what I signed up for,” which is certainly a symptom of PPD.

It happens more than the glowing posts on Facebook would lead you to believe: baby arrives, and mama isn’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 can’t drop this class. Ever. It’s 24/7 with relentless homework. And it’s not always stimulating and amazing.

Add the waves of an enormous hormone shift  to this life-changing experience and it’s no wonder that anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of new moms experience some postpartum depression. Even those moms who don’t technically have PPD have plenty of frustrated and overwhelmed moments during those first months, myself included. There’s nothing easy about being a new mama!

My sister’s baby boy is as perfect as they come. Completely healthy, reasonably fussy, an ok sleeper. And I think she’s warming up to him. But she’s already insisting he’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?