The Baby Blues – Round 2

I never wrote much about the baby blues the first time around after I had Gavin.  I suppose it felt a little too personal to write about on the web.  So why am I writing about it now?  I felt that if this blog is to be a true depiction of what motherhood is about, then it must encompass both the good and the bad. So here it is…

There are so many things that are different the second time around.  Even my experience of “the baby blues” (if you can call it that) is different.  I remember the first time after I delivered Gavin, the feelings of isolation were so intense that I was often desperate for company.  It was odd because I have always been a person who enjoys the silence, the peace, the “alone” time.  To suddenly feel abandoned when everyone went out to dinner and left me alone with the baby was entirely out of character for me.  Then again, there were a lot of things about the experience of pregnancy that were entirely out of character.  Isn’t it amazing what a few hormones can do to you?

They say that second pregnancies and deliveries are easier because the mother already knows what to expect.  Well, from my personal experience, I feel inclined to disagree.  My body ached more and I felt more tired.  It was as if the memory of the first experience made everything worse.  The postnatal experience, however, has definitely felt better.  Perhaps because I already knew that I would often be eating alone and often be sitting in the room alone nursing the baby.  The expectation was already there and I knew what was coming.

Perhaps because I have decided that this will be my last baby, I now relish the time I have with Gareth.  I find myself enjoying the time I sit with him cuddling him and nursing him and no longer feel isolated.  And now, I also have an ardent companion (my older son) who seeks to be glued to my side night and day so how could I possibly feel alone?

During my first postnatal experience, I remember the sense of panic I felt whenever anyone was leaving the house.  “Where are you going?  When are you coming back?  Can’t you buy something back and eat it at home with me?”  These were questions that were commonly on my lips and in my head.  It was probably made worse by the fact that it was Chinese New Year and there were more reasons for the rest of the family to leave the house.  Throw in the Chinese superstition that it isn’t good to visit a house with a woman in confinement and it was a real recipe for postnatal blues.

This time, my feelings of frustration have little to do with the fear of being left alone.  This time, they revolve around Gavin and the changes in his relationship with me.  With Gavin’s difficult behaviour escalating, I have found myself becoming less tolerant and more irritated by his behaviour.  My ability to cope and take his behaviour into stride seem to be  greatly reduced.  There are times where I feel I have been unfair to him and it kills me to react in this manner.  I feel like I am a terrible mother and yet, I cannot stop myself reacting this way.

I try to make up for it during the good moments but fear I must be sending such mixed signals to Gavin.  I’m sure if he knew how to articulate it, he might even think his mother is bipolar.

So let’s hear it… Did you have the baby blues after delivery?  How did it manifest itself?  Was it bad?  What did you do to cope with it?

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

12 thoughts on “The Baby Blues – Round 2

  1. Hang in there Figur8! I felt pretty bad too, and only started feeling better when a good friend confirmed that she was feeling exactly the same way, at exactly the same time! we called it the “milk hormones”.

    You are not a terrible mother – far from it in fact.. You just need some rest physically and emotionally. The feelings will get better – and it will pass! I don’t know how I would cope second time around knowing how trying this period is!

    Gareth is the best gift Gavin will ever have in life, whether he realises it now or when he is when he is much older.

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  2. I’d have to agree with ChinLi that you are not a terrible mother! Hey, being a mother doesn’t come with a manual so be confident that you’re doing the best you can in your situation! Don’t be too hard on yourself & since no one is perfect, you shouldn’t expect yourself to be so! Do what you feel is right & remember it’s not easy to cope with 2 young kids, so don’t be your own worst critic! I’m sure all mothers go through experiences of being overwhelmed at one stage or another.

    Don’t worry about mixed signals, Gavin will love you unconditionally because you love him unconditionally!

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  3. I cried buckets after my confinement lady left. I even fell sick. I cried because I felt “I just couldn’t do it”, very incapable, like a failure. How come after much carrying, my son still cried non stop.

    However I always felt better when I see the baby asleep or smiles.. and I m ok. Tomorrow i start the cycle again.

    in all, these are some stages or phases in life we go through…

    u r coping n doing very well already. take care . *hugs*

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  4. It helps with your older child around. Feels less lonely. I know how you feel. Been there. Still there actually. The blues do come back when overwhelmed and exhausted. Huge hugs!

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  5. So glad you blogged about this. Though everyone thought I was very capable of going through it all, I felt like I fell into the abyss of depression after having given birth.

    It happened every time after I had delivered a baby. If I were to have a fourth baby, I promised, I won’t cry so much over nothings, because I know it’s the act of hormones, but I quietly know too, it’ll still happen…..the tears without reason and all…

    it’s just like a rite of passage…..we all need to go through it. Looking back, it feels so wonderful to be okay again. So, don’t worry too much, it’ll go away and you enjoy your ups better`. Take care!

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  6. I don’t think you’re duffering so much from PND but rather more exhaustion, and then everything else is as a result of that. My girls are 5 yrs & 4mths & I am constantly being tested ….know that it is completely normal and only a phase. This too shal passs. Try being more patient w Gavin, take a deep breathe as it’s a trying time for him too. Sorry if there r typos as I’m typing from phone & for some reason cannot see what I type as ur comment box shows up as a 4x4mm box, actually small so I literally cant see anything I’m typing!! LOL.

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  7. Shen-Li,
    You are not a terrible mommy!! Thank godness you have this articles!!

    I supposed not only you have the “guilty” moment after being unfair to Gavin, sometimes I have that moment too, when I’m in my moody day’s, I was less tolerant and more irritated by Em behaviour too. After I calmed down, I tried to make up with her. I kept telling myself must keep calm…but sometimes juz can’t help it!! I feels scary, coz she isn’t doing anything wrong. I supposed it might coz of the hormones effect.

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  8. Thanks ladies. I hear about the baby blues and I’ve read about it but it doesn’t stop the guilt. However, being able to hear from other mothers sharing their experiences really does help. Reinforces the fact that I am not the only one going through this.

    Chin Li – I think it is largely to do with the stress on how much I want my two boys to get along and the need to be “fair” to Gavin to ensure there is no resentment towards his little brother. Although, that said, Gavin has done nothing to show he harbours any resentment towards Gareth thus far…

    Vivian – it’s funny, I often tell other Mums they’re only human whenever they feel like that but when I tell myself that, I feel like it’s such a weak excuse.

    Rachel – I completely agree. It’s so sweet to watch them when they are asleep. In fact, sometimes, even to watch my older boy as he runs around “being himself”, I cannot help but smile at the things he says and does. I try to make the most of these moments – save them up for the “difficult” periods.

    Mephala – Yes, Gavin has been wonderful. He often wants to eat with me and sit with me when I nurse Gareth. Hubby said, “Don’t you feel so special?” Melts my heart when Gavin runs up and kisses me out of the blue.

    Yvonne – I thought I was very capable, too. When you think it through, it seems so logical and “controllable”, but somehow going through it is a very different experience. Logic goes out the door and I feel I’ve become a slave to my emotions. I cannot stop myself crying – the more I tell myself to stop being silly, the harder I cry… :-p

    Mamapumpkin – I concur that this is definitely not PND. PND usually affects mothers up to one year plus after the delivery. Baby blues is a lot more transient. Fatigue obviously makes things worse but it’s hard to clock in regular sleep when juggling two. One night, hubby tried to help out by settling Gavin while I tended to Gareth. Gavin was up every few hours during the night. Hubby said the next morning he felt like he had sleep apnoea because his sleep was so interrupted.

    Jo – I guess this is a feeling we’re going to have to get used to, huh? Our children just seem to know us so well – which buttons to push to create the right reaction from us.

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  9. It is tough and I find that in Jack’s case, the resentment is saved for me. Some days I am so exhausted I realise I haven’t looked at him properly and all the whining and commotion is just to get me to pay attention to him. After all, the baby gets to be carried and nursed all the time, what about him? So I ask him to look at me, and I look in his eyes and remember how wonderful and adorable he is and remember to give him some time and love too.

    I know it is really tough. Even tonight, the little one wanted to play and big bro wanted to sleep. I got frustrated but breathed in and breathed out…

    Great that hubby is helping. It will foster a strong bond between him and the boys.

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  10. I wonder how mamas with a whole brood of 3, 4, or even 9 did it. Do the children just get less attention. I am really wondering, as our grandmothers sure made it look easy!

    It does sound really tough, especially if you choose to be a hands-on mother. I know I am not there yet, but I would say don’t be too hard on yourself. It is virtually impossible to be fair all the time. Maybe the thing to do is to help Gavin adapt to his older brother role, and to make him realise it is a very important one!

    That is what I think anyway.

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  11. Hi Shen-Li,

    I supposed it is because we are trying to do our best “Mama” job, sometimes when things juz not what we expected, then blow-up the fire…everything juz isn’t right at that moment…make us feels STRESS.

    Most of the time when Emilie have her good mood, me also enjoys looking after her, but when she throw her tantrum for silly thing, I juz have to put her straight, and telling her that things isn’t work by throwing tantrum to get what she wanted! I supposed PATIENCE plays an important role as a mommy.

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  12. Mephala – guilty as charged… I haven’t been as attentive to Gavin as I used to be and I’m sure he feels the difference. I took some time out to watch him recently and (call it Mum’s pride) thought how adorable he is when he’s playing. Now that I’ve healed, I also started playing piggy backs with him – he loved it. Just have to remember to be more consistent with the time I spend with him – sometimes hard when you’re tired and irritable.

    Chin Li – I do wonder, too. But I think in the case of our grandparents where they had lots of children, they had the benefit of the older children to help with the younger ones. With 9 kids, the older children are usually quite mature by the time the younger ones are born. Additionally, parents from the previous generations generally attended to the physical needs of their children – clothing, feeding, bathing, etc. Parents today are actively involved in play and education. You can either say that children today are more demanding or parents of today are more aware of the emotional needs of children.

    Even the family unit has changed. The style of living is more nuclear – parents and children. In the past, the extended family lived together so you had uncles and aunts and cousins around to provide support. So I guess it’s like trying to compare apples with oranges.

    Jo – yes, that is so true. I think patience is the number one criteria all parents need. Gavin is generally a good kid, but so trying when he wants to be difficult! And kids being kids, they just know exactly which buttons to press to get the maximum reaction.

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