Was having a baby a mistake?
June 26, 2012 9:04 PM   Subscribe

I am the mother of a beautiful, 5 week old baby girl. I wonder if I've made the biggest mistake of my life.

I spend nearly every day crying. Horrible crying where I feel like I can't breathe, I feel like I'm dying. I saw a therapist and I will visit again next week for a medication appointment. I'm pretty sure I have postpartum depression, and yet, I can't see any light at the end of the tunnel. I'm terrified that my marriage will end, that my life is over, that having a baby was a huge mistake. How can this get better? How will it get better?

I've been with my husband for ten years. I wanted this baby desperately. For years, he said he wasn't ready and then he agreed to try to conceive. We conceived almost immediately. We fought about it terribly for the first trimester and then things seemed to get better. We seemed to be happy until the baby was born. Now I'm shocked, disappointed, and even angry that I feel this way. I don't want to resent my baby. I don't want my baby to be a mistake. I'm terrified my marriage will end, even though my husband says it won't. I'm terrified he'll resent the baby, resent the changes to our lives, even though he says he's adjusting. And I'm terrified I'll never be happy again. I feel like I can't breathe. I'm so scared all the time. Will I ever feel better? Will this ever get better?
posted by elizamina to Human Relations (74 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

You (probably, armchair diagnosis) have post partum depression. You will get better. You will feel better. It will get better. Brooke Shields spoke out frankly about her post partum depression, maybe seek out some of what she had to say. Go to that therapist, get that medication, take it, and please take care of yourself. Best of luck.
posted by incessant at 9:07 PM on June 26, 2012 [15 favorites]

Part of depression is the feeling that it will never get better. But it can get better, and most likely will get better.

Part of having a baby is that it's TERRIFYING, especially the first time. It will work out. It generally works out. You're going to be amazed at how well it will work out.
posted by xingcat at 9:10 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

I remember the dark days. The crying. The feeling I'd made a terrible mistake. Take the drugs - they help so much. Talk - just keep talking. Memail me if you want to talk to someone who's been there. My daughter turned 6 two days ago. I swear to you it gets better. Take care of yourself. Get outside. Get a break from the baby even if it is just for a little bit. You are all going to be ok.
posted by Wolfie at 9:13 PM on June 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

Parenting classes, together. Couples therapy. STAT.

This is a big adjustment. Simply medicating yourself won't fix it.

Getting the same tools in your Parenting ToolBox, together and at the same time, will really really help with your practical and valid anxieties.

posted by jbenben at 9:15 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Call your therapist and tell them to move your appointment up. You need help immediately, not next week. Call WHENEVER you get the ability to do so, even if that means leaving a message on their machine for them to get back to you as soon as possible. Depression has a way of preventing you from seeking help, so if you feel even the tiniest bit of gumption, seize on it and call your therapist.

It definitely will get better. You will not feel like this forever. Your baby is not a mistake. You're just going through a temporary hard time. TAKE THE MEDICINE THE DOCTOR GIVES YOU. Hugs.
posted by Coatlicue at 9:15 PM on June 26, 2012 [57 favorites]

A baby, in it's early days, is a lot of work. It is also a huge change from your previous life. It certainly may seem like a horrible change for the worse, but in practice as with any change you learn to adjust and find a lot of great things about your family's new dynamics. You may end up having an easier time when your baby starts to move around, or eat normal food, or walk, or perhaps even as soon as you start seeing her smile and respond consistently.

In the meanwhile, take care of yourself too. Continue with therapy and possibly medication until you regain the balance in your life.
posted by haykinson at 9:15 PM on June 26, 2012

it will - IT WILL get better!

very good to know you're seeking help for PPD, since that's definitely what this sounds like to me

and it's treatable, and YES it will get better

hang in there, try not to think too far down the road, just take care of yourself and try to believe that it will get better

because it will
posted by hms71 at 9:16 PM on June 26, 2012

Oh, honey. What you're going through is so common. I've known so many new moms who have said exactly what you're saying. They got through it, and so will you. Please keep going to that therapist, get some medication, and most importantly, please just take everything one day at a time right now. Seriously. Just get through one day at a time. You can do it. I know you can.
posted by palomar at 9:17 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

IT WILL GET BETTER. If you think about harming yourself or your child, or if you can't stand it a moment longer, go to the ER and tell them what you've told us.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:19 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

And please, don't ever be afraid to tell your husband how you feel. Even if you start feeling worse. ESPECIALLY if you start feeling worse. He's your partner, he's there to help you, and to carry the weight when you can't. Let him help. Let your friends help, let your doctors help. If you're feeling bad, tell someone. You have NOTHING to be ashamed of, not at all.
posted by palomar at 9:19 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

It will get better.

I haven't had a baby, but I have been very depressed. Part of being depressed is feeling like it will never get better; part of feeling depressed is feeling like you will always feel the way it feels right now. But that's part of the lie of depression - it isn't true. It can get better, and it will. I have been utterly sure that there was no possible way things could ever be okay again; but they were okay, good, wonderful again.

It will get better.

In the meantime, the only thing you need to do is keep yourself safe (that is, don't harm yourself or anyone else). Now is the time to depend on your support networks; if you can, reach out to friends and family. If you can't, that's okay too - going to the therapist is amazing, and shows that you are taking care of yourself.

It will get better.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:19 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Call your OB/GYN if your therapist can't see you sooner. Your OB should get you in straight away. If you can stand it, get help at your house - get somebody to cook your food, clean your house, hold the baby, walk the baby - any hands on assistance will be a godsend. Your husband can make the arrangements for you.

I am also in camp it will get better - week 5 was horrible, year 5 is just fine. Hang in there.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:20 PM on June 26, 2012 [12 favorites]

N'thing all of the above. Also, remember that depression (postpartum or any kind) is actually a problem with your brain, so all your dark thoughts can feel extremely rational and make a lot of sense. You'll be very good at convincing yourself of the kinds of thoughts and fears you've outlined - your fear of your marriage ending, that this was a horrible mistake, etc. For the moment, until you've got this sorted out, just assume that every single horrible thought you have is The Voice of Depression Which Has Invaded Your Mind. Get medication, talk therapy, and couple's counseling, keep breathing, and take it from there. It will get better.
posted by TrixieRamble at 9:23 PM on June 26, 2012 [11 favorites]

Agree.....call your OB....and call a trusted friend to come help you tonight. Newborns have a big growth spurt at around 6 weeks so the previous days leading up to it can be extra hard. They are hungry and cranky and you are beyond exhausted and it's a perfect storm of baby hell. GET HELP. It gets so much easier around week 8-10.... but you need support until then. Call the OB in the AM....and know that you are not alone.....
posted by pearlybob at 9:25 PM on June 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

You know, half the people in my moms group ended up doing some couples therapy. Having a baby is a huge adjustment and as a new mom you are feeling incredibly vulnerable. If you are also feeling disconnected from your partner, everything feels 10x worse.

I agree that post-partum depression is probably a factor. And really, anyone who is sleep deprived with raging hormones and not a lot of support would be depressed.

Do you have support? Can you get a post-partum doula in ASAP to help you out if you don't have close friends or family? Have you gotten five hours of sleep in a row? And good meals? These are things you can do.

Please get help - it will get better.
posted by amanda at 9:26 PM on June 26, 2012

A couple of previous Askmes on this very subject - it seems like the 5-6 week mark is maybe an especially hard time? But have a look at these - and know that you are not alone, and this is a temporary thing.

My baby is 5 weeks old and I worry that I've made a terrible mistake; will it feel this way forever?

My baby is 6 weeks old and she doesn't love me and I'm afraid I've ruined my life
(Note: This user later showed up in MetaTalk saying that everything had turned out okay after she got treated for PPD; I can't find the thread right now.)

Also this, in case it's useful:
Web and NYC resources for postpartum depression
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:28 PM on June 26, 2012 [14 favorites]

Oh, man, the first six weeks SUCK. Hang in there. Sleep disruption does funny things to your brain too. It will absolutely get better.
posted by selfmedicating at 9:29 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, sweetie. I got tears in my eyes, reading your post. YOU ARE GOING TO BE OK. I don't have kids yet, but my best friend does. She has kids and had PPD with the first two. She is a wonderful mom and has great kids and a lovely marriage. You sound so much like her in those first weeks. She is fine and so will you be.

See if you can move up your appointments, ask for help when you need it. Go easy on yourself. Now is not the time to beat yourself up over ANYTHING. Know that we are all pulling for you.
posted by Aquifer at 9:32 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

It gets better. Strike that, it gets amazingly super wonderful. My daughters are 13 & 16 and the joy of my life.

What you are feeling is normal. The first 100 days are tough. It's a huge transition. Don't beat yourself up. Ask your friends and family for help.

Whether you believe it or not, you are doing great. Being a new mom is tougher than anything else on the planet.
posted by Argyle at 9:34 PM on June 26, 2012

Yep. PP Depression. It's a thing, get help, go now.

Babies are weird little sea cucumbers of things, and they're very simple to start with. Put liquid in one end, clean up what comes out, give them lots of cuddles. Take that time to get things right with yourself, but remember - it's not your fault. It's just an off note in the wacky cocktail of chemicals inside your head right now. It'll pass, with help.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:37 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure if I'm reading too much into your question, but it sounds like--if not right now--historically there's been some degree of heightened marital tension toward the baby (at least for its conception and gestation). You seem kind-of doubtful that tension was ever resolved--which could be the postpartum depression speaking. Maybe that's part of why you don't think he's "really" adjusting? Is he pulling his weight OK right now as a support for you and the baby? Does your husband know the depths of how profoundly bad you feel right now? (I have no idea of what's true and what isn't in your life: only you know.)

Something the both of you do together--couples counseling, parenting courses--seems like it could be wise to mold you together into a team if that seems to be an issue, in addition to some of the great suggestions above. LobsterMitten's thread references were what I was about to pop out as well. Get help of some kind, you all deserve it.
posted by Keter at 9:38 PM on June 26, 2012

From a MeFite who would prefer to remain anonymous:
What you're describing sounds *exactly* like the post-partum depression that struck my partner from about week 3 of our child's life. The feelings of hopelessness, and terrible spirals of doubt and fear that everything had changed, terribly forever.

OP, those feelings are transient, and they are the result of an illness. I promise you. My partner was initially reluctant and very afraid of getting treatment, because she felt she should be coping by herself, what she was experiencing was completely normal and she was a failure. And she was terrified of not loving the baby. None of those things were true. What she was experiencing was not what every parent has (though it is more common than you might think), and she was not a failure.

This culminated in calling a close friend of ours who was GP one night at about 1am when it was all too much. I had never been more terrified in my life.

However, with proper treatment, which included counselling, medication, and work on both our parts to prioritise her health, things immediately started to improve, and three months later - coincidentally, or not when the baby started sleeping for more than three hours at a stretch - things were vastly improved and by 6 months treatment of any kind was no longer needed and everyone felt very happy.

These feelings you're having are the result of an illness - they are not a result of your parenting, or a personal flaw, or a weakness of anything. You are not well, and taking steps to get better can be the hardest, and you are doing that, so kudos. You are being courageous, and incredibly brave. Take heart.
posted by jessamyn at 9:39 PM on June 26, 2012 [25 favorites]

And, if this wasn't clear: If you husband doesn't know how bad it is for you right now, I think you should tell him. I would want to know.
posted by Keter at 9:41 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Did you ever have the sort of PMS that makes you want to kill your spouse, or eat chocolate-then chips-then ice cream-then sit and cry, or something similar, just to get your period and look back and feel stupid about what you felt? Well, you might have something similar to look forward to, here. Except you won't feel stupid, probably just releived.

I have a 4 month baby, or rather a 16 (loooooooong) weeks old baby. I didn't have post partum depression, just a bit of baby blues for about two weeks, short enough, but still, I'd sometimes hide in the closet and cry. I got over that but I still haven't gotten over the plain "scaryness" of having changed my life so much. What helps me is to look at my husband and me as a team, and also, to look forward to baby's sleep time at night, heh. At five weeks you are probably still going through so so much in terms of your body, your recovery, your hormones, the extra breastfeeding (if you are) hormones, tiredness and sleep deprivation and even a "sex life? what sex life?" phase. Everything in that list gets better. I've seen the improvement myself and still hoping for more.

Post partum depression is real enough, still, depression or not a baby is a big big life change. If you'd ask for help for moving or whatever, a baby is a great reason to ask a few helpful souls to be there and do a few things. With babies, as with weddings, people feel honored when the mom/bride asks them for their help.

You will feel better. Your baby will get more beautiful every day. You will fall more in love with your baby. You will see your husband as a father and (probably) like him better for it. Hang in there.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 9:43 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Here's my comment addressing this in a previous thread (and the whole page is worth reading.)
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:46 PM on June 26, 2012

This will get better. My kids are six years old now, but when they were six weeks I felt just like you did. I'm not saying it will be a cakewalk -- raising kids is HARD sometimes -- but it will be so very much better than you're feeling right now that you'll just have to take our words for it.
posted by davejay at 10:18 PM on June 26, 2012

also: don't kid yourself, no pun intended: there is a huge impact to your psyche right now because you're sleep-deprived. once you're sleeping regularly again -- in several months, although it may feel like several years -- you'll feel a ton better.
posted by davejay at 10:18 PM on June 26, 2012

Your brain is full of static right now. Some of that static is resulting in you feeling like everything is hopeless. Some of that static is making you catastrophize and believe that all your worst fears will come true. THAT IS STATIC, NOT SIGNAL. There is help out there for you. We are here for you, and we love you. YOU WILL FEEL BETTER.

If you do have a mental health emergency, please treat it as seriously as if you were having a heart attack and tell your husband and get to an ER (or a psychiatric hospital).

Is there anyone who can help you care for the baby so that you can get some sleep? Friends who are experienced parents, maybe, who have been there themselves?
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:25 PM on June 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

It will get better! Please call your OB or midwife first thing in the morning and get seen tomorrow. This cannot wait until next week.
posted by dawkins_7 at 10:35 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Check your MeFi Mail.
posted by purpleclover at 10:38 PM on June 26, 2012

It gets better. Of course it gets better! I am sorry about your depression right now. But I wouldn't even call it an illness exactly - it's a pretty short-term rebalancing of your body and your new life circumstances. Not all mothers go through it so deeply, but a large percentage of mothers do. It's not unusual - in a way, it is normal. In the longer term this is a sort of good thing to have and to get through. (IANAD) I'm sure it doesn't seem like that right now.

Ask for and take whatever help you need right now - and you will get through it even stronger for yourself, your marriage, and your beautiful new baby!
posted by caclwmr4 at 10:44 PM on June 26, 2012

Hey, I had horrible PPD and it does get better. Life will never be the same as it was pre-baby, but life will still be worth living and you will still be capable of happiness. Negative feelings are justified and normal. Resentment is okay and normal. Fear is okay and normal.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel because your eyes are closed to it due to reality (huge life change) and due to hormonal/mental stuff. That is okay and normal, and it will change.

Good luck, and mefimail me if you want to talk.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:02 PM on June 26, 2012

Oh, Elizamina...I'm so sorry you're going through this. Please, give your doctor a call. Take the medication they offer. Call your therapist and move your appointment up. If there's a local community health clinic or postpartum depression association, call them too. They can talk to you on the phone - most of the volunteers at PPD centres have had PPD themselves. They may even be able to send someone out to just sit with you or talk or help with the baby. And tell your husband and anyone else you trust. Keep reaching out. It will get better - you just need some help and that's okay. You're a good mom and it will get better.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 11:02 PM on June 26, 2012

Like everyone, I want to hug you and tell you it will be okay. It will, really it will. Those first weeks and months are so hard, so overwhelming, so exhausting. PPD makes what's already tough seem SO much more impossible and hopeless. If you can see the doctor sooner, that would be great. In the meantime, you will be okay, it will get better, you will feel better. However much it feels, right now, as though you will always feel this way, you really won't. A lot of us have been exactly where you are and we made it out. I was there. My whole family survived that awful time. I'm still married, my kid is amazing, I'm fine. And you will be, too.
posted by upatree at 11:17 PM on June 26, 2012

Sounds scary...get help and hang in there! I believe you are not alone in feeling this way, and hope you will find the support you need.
posted by lirael2008 at 11:21 PM on June 26, 2012

I want to send you big hugs and sleep! I have been where you are and it does get better. Around week six I was sure I had made the biggest mistake of my life and it was just the PPD and sleep deprivation eating my brain.

Please call (or have hubby call) your therapist and tell them you cannot go another week untreated. If the therapist doesn't respond then call your OB. Take the meds. They help.

It's OK to do whatever it takes to get through this. Hire a housekeeper. Change up who feeds the baby. Hire a night nurse if you can. Call on family to help. There is no mother out there who would refuse to help get you through this because we all know how HARD the first few months are. HUGS.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 11:30 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with those saying to call your OB as soon as you can! PPD is very serious, and because of that, you should be able to be seen by a professional much sooner than a week. Make sure whoever you talk to knows that you think you have PPD. They should be able to get you in wherever you need to be seen as soon as possible.
posted by zsazsa at 12:10 AM on June 27, 2012

I went through a nightmarish PPD myself, and damn near didn't make it out the other side.

What I regret:
- Not getting on meds immediately.
- Not getting into therapy immediately.
- Not asking for or hiring help (childcare, cooking, cleaning, anything) immediately.
- Not stealing every moment of sleep that I could.

What I don't regret (not anymore):
- My little girl. She just turned 6. She cracks me the hell up; I never laughed so much before. She reminds me daily how to look at the world. I love her so much, it hurts my heart.
posted by moira at 12:58 AM on June 27, 2012 [6 favorites]

I regret not reaching out to everyone I knew - friends and family - and asking for help. Years later when I told people how I had suffered they all said 'why didn't you tell me I could have helped you'.
posted by communicator at 2:41 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

You're at literally the darkest point - 6 to 8 weeks is when things are at their absolute worst. We're a month ahead of that now (three months old tomorrow) and the difference is amazing. We're getting much more sleep, as the baby has a regular pattern we can roll with. But as important I think is the fact that the baby is *fun* now: she laughs and coos and plays with us. I had no idea how one-sided and unrewarding the first few weeks would be, not to mention frantic and miserable. It's awful and no one prepares you - but it doesn't last long. Hang in there! Good luck.

Talk to your partner and your doctor (including your kid's pediatrician) about how you're feeling. To the extent that this is chemical post-partum depression you really can't tackle it on your own.
posted by gerryblog at 2:55 AM on June 27, 2012

It gets better!!!!!! My aha moment of parenting came about 6 months after my son was born and it was literally, "Oh! That part that sucked from 1-4 months?? It's over!!!" Yes, sleep deprivation and the fear belief that it would be like that forever prevented me from seeing it was over for two entire months.

There is almost no mother I know of who wouldn't come sit with you and/or your kid for an hour, no questions asked. If you have friends who are moms of older kids, please reach out to them. Just say, "I really need help. Can you come over, even for just a half hour?" Tell them they can bring their older kids. It will be fun for both your baby and the visiting kid.

That said, you need a NEW MOM SICK DAY, STAT! This is not instead of counseling, your doctor, or meds, but it's a band-aid until you can do those. A New Mom Sick Day is when your partner or friends can arrange any or all of the following:
- You spend the entire day in bed or on the couch, with breaks only for bathroom, shower, bath, or meals. Or if you want to go for a walk, go. If all you're up for is bringing a folding chair out to the sidewalk, DO IT. And just sit there, nap, doze, read, people-watch, whatever. Take deep breaths.
- When the baby can be apart from you, your partner or friends hang out with the baby in 1 hour shifts. If they can get out of the house for a walk, great. If they can't, then you wear earplugs, earphones, or be out of crying distance. DON'T WORRY: they will bring the baby to you when the baby's hungry and for a good-nap kiss. DON'T WORRY, the baby will be fine.
- If you can't arrange partner and friends, check out Parents in a Pinch or SitterCity.com. They both provide last-minute, bonded, experienced, newborn care-givers.
- There is no cleaning or cooking done today by you. If it happens at all, a friend, partner, or 1-day cleaning service does it. (The real message here is no one really needs to do it for one day.)
- Partner or friend goes to the grocery store to pick up two dinners-for-two. Can be simple: soup and bread or pre-made lasagna or a roasted chicken.
- Rent and watch stupidly funny comedies that don't have anything to do with children (Tropic Thunder, Horrible Bosses, Hot Tub Time Machine, Blades of Glory, Zoolander, Caddyshack, Spinal Tap, Superbad, Shaun of the Dead, etc.)
- Or read the newspaper. Or knit. Whatever it is that will remind you of what it was to have an empty stretch of time ahead of you with no particular responsibilities on the horizon.
- Repeat. All. Day. Especially the breathing.

Good luck. Reach out through MeMail. We're here!
posted by cocoagirl at 3:38 AM on June 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

Coming in here to join the throng of people telling you that it absolutely gets better, and not to freak out right now. I'm not even telling you that you can't re-examine things after you've knocked the post-partum depression, because if you two fought about the baby, it is possible that you do need to talk a lot about the baby and what it means to your life. But DO NOT DO IT NOW. Don't try to think about how you feel about the baby, or how your husband feels about the baby, right now.

I am seconding the point above about how you are also almost undoubtedly sleep deprived. And if this is your first new baby, it's probably hard, because you're thinking that babies are one way, and in fact, they are gorgeous and lovable little monsters for the first couple of months. They're so foreign! They get weird stuff in their diaper, and they make messes everywhere, and your house looks like a tornado blew through it. You lose a lot of sleep and feel overwhelmed, and it feels like it's always going to be so chaotic.

A few things that help:

1) Take-out. If you can afford it, take-out. If not, ask your husband to cook for a while. Some of the stress needs to be off you for a while.
2) Sitters, sitters, sitters. Even, if you're terrified of leaving the baby, a sitter to come in and take care of the baby while you're there, so you can just kind of relax and know someone's taking care of it. cocoagirl is completely right, every mom you know would do this.
3) If you can afford it, see if you can hire a cleaning lady to come in once or twice a week just for the next month or so. Their prices are often very reasonable, and this might let your house magically get clean without either you worrying about it, or feeling like you're tasking your husband too much by having you do it.

And of course, as others have noted, meds!
posted by corb at 4:18 AM on June 27, 2012

To quote GI Joe: Knowing is half the battle.
I am a single guy, I know nothing about child-rearing or giving birth.

But I do know that this thread has over-whelmingly similar advice.
You took the first important, difficult step - asking and questioning.

The next step is even harder - knowing.
Accept in your heart that PPD is a real thing, and you may be experiencing it.
And then go get professional help to deal with that issue.

Don't bury this problem in your heart - face it and defeat it.
You can do it. Because now you know.
posted by Flood at 4:35 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

Don't worry about the big picture right now! Any thoughts you have are filtered through the shit-colored glasses of depression. Get all the help you can (I can attest that meds can be life-changing) and give yourself permission to just not worry about the big stuff for the next few weeks. hugs!
posted by beandip at 4:38 AM on June 27, 2012

You need help right now before you hurt yourself or baby. Go to the ER, if needs be. I am a mom who lost my first child to adoption as an unwed mother due to post-partum depression that was not recognized or treated properly back in the 60s.

You have resources available now that were not available then, especially better medications. Please don't wait on this. You are not thinking clearly and could be in danger. Don't try to tough it out until next week, get help now, and I promise you it will get better for you and your family.
posted by mermayd at 4:45 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Go to your OB, STAT. Post partum depression is very, very common and very, very treatable. Seriously - call RIGHT NOW and get an appointment later today. Talk to your doctor. It will get better.

A friend mentioned this to me that having a baby gets easier at six weeks and then easier again at twelve weeks. I didn't have PPD, but this was absolutely spot on for me. The first six weeks were like being underwater. Then it lifted a bit. At twelve weeks, I felt like I had hit my groove. Nothing with my *baby* changed, that's just how long it took me to get used to being someone's mother.

Hang in there. See your doctor. So much love and support to you.
posted by sonika at 4:54 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another suggestion: search for a postpartum doula in your area. My birth doula offered postpartum services and while I didn't take her up on it because I had family help, she would have been an ideal person to talk to or to take the baby for an hour so you can go to the OB and get meds.

If you happen to be in New England, I'd be more than happy to get in touch with my doula to see if she knows anyone. I also have a close friend who is a doula in Colorado... or if you just want someone to do the leg work for you, MeMail me and I'll be happy to get back to you ASAP with the number of a DONA certified postpartum doula.
posted by sonika at 4:59 AM on June 27, 2012

To add to the chorus, it will get better. I was convinced I had made the biggest mistake ever when I had my first child and was devasted that I had brought a child into this world when I was such a bad mom. As time went on, it got better, I got some sleep and he got way more entertaining and by one year old I loved him more than anything and was happy again. His brother is now 3 months old and even knowing what to expect/do I have often felt like he was a mistake too, but it is getting easier. Everyone seems to act like new babies are the greatest thing ever, but for many of us, they aren't. They are screaming messes because they dont' know how to do ANYTHING. As they start to figure out life and you start to figure out them, it gets better. And for many women, they get the double whammy and get PPD along with the crazy newborn stage and it's horrible. Talk to your OB today and get help.

Also, while this is unrelated to PPD, I found this resonated with me Depression lies in explaining how it feels while in the middle of a depression and the lies your brain tells you.
posted by katers890 at 5:24 AM on June 27, 2012

My heart goes out to you. Everyone is giving you good advice. If you let the mods know where you are those of us who are nearby might be able to offer more concrete assistance, like a real shoulder to cry on or a couple of hours of babysitting so you can get some rest. I know I would offer both gladly if you happen to be near me in Georgia.

Here are some resources: Postpartum Support International; Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling Foundation for Postpartum Depression; Ruth Rhoden Craven Foundation for Postpartum Depression Awareness.

The sooner you get help the sooner you'll start to feel better. This is an emergency, call someone as soon as possible.
posted by mareli at 5:27 AM on June 27, 2012

I'm about 7 weeks away from giving birth to my first and I worry so much about post partum depression. In fact, I had a discussion with my husband the other day about making sure he keeps an eye on me and he said he was already thinking about that.

I do believe with medication that things will get better. I was diagnosed with depression many years ago and medication really and truly saved my life. I believe that if I do get PPD that medication will save me again.

There is a great website called Lucie's List that has some information on what it's like to be a new mom post partum. It's an interesting read. Pay particular attention the the "6 weeks after birth" part since you're almost there and it may be of some help. http://www.lucieslist.com/the-postpartum-experience/

Best of luck to you.
posted by cherylrr at 5:56 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are not alone! (As you can see.) What you are feeling is real. Your hormones are screwed up and you've made the largest, life-altering change you can make. Of COURSE you're freaking out!

My best girlfriend had the exact same thing. Reach out, rally the troups. Call in the grandparents, your cousins, a doula, you need help here.

Have an evening out without the baby. Go to a movie and IHOP. Remind yourself that you are not a milk machine-zombie, but a separate person, with her own life.

Talk to your husband, early and often. You mention issues during your pregnancy. Just because he was adjusting to the idea of being a father does not mean your husband doesn't want the baby and doesn't want you. He's your partner and the baby's father, he needs to know what's in your head and that you need help.

Hang in there! It gets better. It reallyl, really does.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:02 AM on June 27, 2012

Yeah, so, everyone else has already said this, but: you've got PPD, which is a real thing that happens to people. It doesn't mean you've made a mistake or are a bad parent, it means you're stressed out and badly sleep-deprived, and you should get help.

From what I understand, despite it being a consequence of this complex upheaval of a woman's body chemistry, it's strongly correlated with mom not getting at least five+ consecutive hours of sleep in a row on a daily basis. So, get help, get bottles, do what you have to do so that Dad or somebody else can take that late-evening feeding shift, but getting that stretch of uninterrupted sleep is critical.

The first few months are, despite what anyone tells you about the miracles of childbirth, kind of a shitty experience for everybody. And through no fault of their own, a lot worse than just shitty for some people.

I promise that having kids can be pretty great and that you haven't made a mistake, much less the biggest of your life. But you've got to ride this out right now, so focus on eating well and getting the help and sleep you need.
posted by mhoye at 6:33 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

This comment I made to another post here is not exactly on point but is meant to provide yet another data point that the 5 week mark is HORRIBLE and you are not alone. I also wrote this in another thread about the 5 week mark with my son and how I too felt like I had made a huge mistake.

Please try to find the strength to get an appointment with your doctor immediately and to ask for help from whatever source you can--husband, friends, family, paid help. I promise it gets a lot better (Toddler Murrey is almost 3 years old now), but as you will see from my comments that I linked to, the 5 week mark can be absolutely miserable but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Hang in there. Your feelings are completely normal and there is help.
posted by murrey at 6:39 AM on June 27, 2012

It will get better. It will, it will, it will.

This is a rough part of the transition for you, Mama. There is relief on the other side, even if you can't see it right now.

Take every self-care opportunity you can.

Even when it's hard, love on that baby and echo it back to yourself.

Take any offers of help seriously and use them immediately.
posted by batmonkey at 6:59 AM on June 27, 2012

Another vote for add me to the pile who say this sounds like I could have written it at 6 weeks pp. I'm also nthing all the voices who say it will get better, and soon. I honestly think there should be an it gets better video series for this, a la Dan Savage. DO ask friends and family for help. DO order out, get housecleaning help or whatever else you need to make it easier for you.

Feel free to memail me and/or I'm in NYC and will come help you - all you have to do is ask.
posted by cestmoi15 at 7:06 AM on June 27, 2012

If you are in the Boston area, I know of a few really great therapists whose practices are based mostly on helping women become good mothers, and there are other parenting resources I can point you to. MeMail me if you want more info.


I got through it, and you know what? I had a second child. And you know what else? I didn't have PPD with her.
posted by zizzle at 8:36 AM on June 27, 2012

I had a friend who suffered from Postpartum depression. Oh, how she suffered. And she's a stubborn girl, too, so she was too stubborn to admit she needed help for a long time. She went to therapy, got some drugs, and, what helped her most of all, was the #PPD talks on twitter. She got to talk to all of these other women who were having the same issues. I think that is what helped her the most - knowing that she WAS NOT a bad mother and she WAS NOT the only one who thought that way and that it WAS treatable.

Another recommendation I would make to you is to read Kate Figes' book Life After Birth: What Even Your Friends Won't Tell You About Motherhood where she explores the tough realities of what becoming a parent and giving birth really DOES to a woman and her relationships.

Be gentle with yourself, get help. Know you are not alone.
posted by jillithd at 8:37 AM on June 27, 2012

Everything I want to say has already been said so I'll just repeat the most important part: IT WILL GET BETTER. I had PPD which kicked in just around the same time yours has. Medication was a lifesaver for me. And then things got better. Stick in there, tell your husband or just point at the monitor while sobbing and this AskMe is on the screen. Call 911 if you're afraid you're going to hurt yourself or your baby. Take care of yourself.

Remember: you're the best mother your baby can have.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:17 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

it WILL get better
It will.

When my youngest (now 2.5 years) was about 5 weeks old, I remember sobbing all night, wishing she would disappear or die so that life would go back the way it had been. I had broken our family. I had broken everything. I hated everyone. I cried or yelled all the time.

My OB gave me a prescription for zoloft. 3 days later, the meds had kicked in & the world changed and I felt SO much better.

Take care of yourself. I don't know if you're nursing, but even if you are, it might be helpful to either pump or give the baby formula at night so that you can get some sleep. That sleep deprivation is a bitch. Formula is not a horrible, evil thing. (I had a hard time convincing myself of this at first.) It's ok to nurse & supplement if you need to. Getting more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep was vital for my sanity.
posted by belladonna at 9:24 AM on June 27, 2012

Oh, the first few weeks are the suck...and I am saying this as a dad, not a mother!

But hang in there, keep gazing at your sweet little girl when you need some endorphins, and tell your husband that this stretch is the "worse" part of "for better or for worse" that he signed up for. He loves you, and he will step up.

Also, no one is born knowing this stuff, so just drop the self-doubt and be comforted that Learning As You Go is how we all did it! (Heck, I have four kids and I am never 100% sure.)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:33 AM on June 27, 2012

Echoing that around 5-6 weeks is really really really rough. I don't know if it's hormone or the lack of sleep finally starting to get to you. It will get better! Make sure you have any local support possible around during this time.

I hope it helps seeing all these people chiming in, because sometimes it feels like EVERYONE ELSE is super happy with their baby and you aren't. It's just flat out not true.
posted by freezer cake at 9:38 AM on June 27, 2012

I wish people were a little more honest about how bad those first few months suck it. Nobody tells you beforehand. They probably don't want to bum you out, although most people are pretty happy to bum pregnant ladies out with how you won't stop peeing yourself afterwards or how you'll never sleep again or your life is over or how horrible their labor was.

Anyway, those first few months suck it big time, and the pressure on women to be automatic moms with nearly no actual support is insane. I'd never even held a baby before my own. I was completely incompetent, terrified, and deeply ashamed.

I wish someone told me it wasn't me, that I wasn't crazy, that it would pass, and I wish someone had driven me to the doctors to get some medication. It took me four or five months before I finally got some help, and in that time I was flat-out losing my shit every day. Every day was like my own little mothering Viet Nam when Mr. Llama went to work.

Get some help. You don't have to feel this bad. It will get better eventually, but if you get some help, it can get better NOW.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:58 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

Also, btw, in those early weeks -- there's not a whole lot of upside. Infants make terrible sounds and are not really interesting, they just poop and yell at you on top of everything else. It's okay if you're not wild about her. I wasn't wild about mine for quite a while, but I just focused on doing the right things however mechanical it was and figured I'd work out the feeling part of it later and I just wouldn't tell anyone how mechanical it was. That was years ago and now I don't care what anyone thinks, but at the time admitting that out loud would have been impossible and an admission of failure as a mother and a woman and I'd have had to give my uterus back or something.

Babies are simultaneously pretty dull and incredibly stressful.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:02 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I will visit again next week for a medication appointment.

Sorry for the repeat posts but I just read this -- can you see if you can do a phone consult and they can call in some meds? You can tell them you need some help *now*. They are professionals and can understand *now*.

Just reading this I can feel how long a week from now must be for you. Please don't wait until next week -- these people get paid to answer their phones and deal with stuff like this. Be as assertive and upfront as you need to be.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:06 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

Postpartum depression + sleep deprivation a a brutal, brutal combination. Please see your doctor as soon as possible to get help. I know SO many people who went through this and meds were a godsend.

Also, if you are in the Philly area, I am an experienced babysitter and auntie. Please contact me if you want someone to watch her for a couple of hours while you get some sleep/air/space.
posted by 8dot3 at 10:48 AM on June 27, 2012

It will get better. Rally every single family member or friend you can think of to help you, no one will think badly of you, people do want to help. Let them watch your child for you while you get some sleep, then when you have had some rest get on the phone and find a doctor somewhere that will see you tomorrow to prescribe some meds, go to an ER if you have to, tell them what you've told us.

I watched my super stubborn and strong SIL try and bulldose her way through PPD on sheer willpower alone but until she was able to get some meds she sounded so much like you do now. You don't have to be on them a long time, but right now you need some help while your brain chemistry and sleep deprivation sort themselves out. Once you are feeling more like yourself, then you can worry about your marriage, when you can see more clearly if the problems are real or caused by the PPD you can have a long heart to heart with your husband or go see a counselor together, whatever works for you.

Right now you have to pick up your phone and call someone you trust to come over and be with you, if you do nothing else do that.
posted by wwax at 2:01 PM on June 27, 2012

I felt the same way and it does get much, much better with time.
posted by tetralix at 5:28 PM on June 27, 2012

I have no children but tons of experience with depression. It's the depression that's telling you "this will never get better, you will always feel this way."

The good news is that it's lying.

Others have more direct experience and more specific advice. But know that A) it's depression and B) it will get better.
posted by Lexica at 7:59 PM on June 27, 2012

Hi, this was my thread at the exact same age.

My son is 18 months old now. HOLY CRAP does it ever get better. I can't even begin to tell you. Get help for your PPD and make it through each day, that's it. A year from now you won't even believe how much better it is.

My one warning is not to get hung up on any particular age at which it "ought" to be better. I kept hearing that everything would magically be wonderful at 12 weeks, and although it was a little better, I was still mostly miserable. Which made me think that my feelings weren't normal and that it really would stay that way forever. It didn't, but it took me a little longer than average to adjust and to enjoy my son. For me, when he started to sit up (6 months) was the turning point. A year was even better, because he was very interactive and started to sleep well. 18 months is fabulous, despite the tantrums.

I'm telling you, I HATED HATED HATED being the mom of a tiny baby. I was certain that I had made a horrible mistake. It will be fine. Go through the motions until you realize they're not just motions anymore. It stays hard in certain ways, but there is nothing like the hell of having a newborn. Are you and the baby alive at the end of the day? Yeah? THEN YOU WIN!! One day, before you know it, you will actually be happy about it.
posted by feathermeat at 6:33 AM on June 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

Elizamina, please update us when you feel better!
posted by lalochezia at 10:28 AM on June 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, please update us.

I'm the mom of a 5-month old daughter. I remember, in the midst of the strongest hormone dump I've ever experienced + physical pain from my recovery + massive sleep deprivation + the total drudgery of diapers and feedings and newborn care + not exactly looking my best + stress about our future because I don't have a crystal ball, also feeling like I'd ruined our lives. I didn't have PPD but I had a touch of the baby blues, and remember finding a private place to cry because I was so overwhelmed. And I loved my daughter, but weakly compared to how I love her now.

I want to echo the comments that it will get better. And more than just better - you wanted this kid desperately? - it will get WONDERFUL. What part of sleep deprivation, major medical event recovery, and diaper and feeding drudgery sounds appealing? The early days were always going to suck on some level and in your case it sounds like you've got some
major hormonal issues amplifying everything. So let me tell you specifically how it will get better:
- You will love your daughter more and more each day, especially as she awakens to the world, starts smiling and giggling, and starts to show her own personality. That love will flood you with pure, unadulterated joy.
- my husband had to be persuaded to have kids, so I know the fear that you singlehandedly ruined your marriage and conceived a child whose father won't love her. He agreed to have this child? He says he's adjusting? He's going through huge emotional changes too. But believe me, you and your husband will grow closer as you share an incredible bonding experience - once you get treated for PPD, be sure to share the humor of raising a newborn. Projectile poop? Loads of laughs with you co-conspirator/spouse.
- you'll sleep MUCH more
- you'll become MUCH more competent
- your baby will become so much more fun and so much cuter
- your baby will eat more efficiently and less frequently so you won't spend as much of your life feeding her
- your baby will pee/poop much less frequently so the diaper drudgery will subside

I found weeks 6-8 to be almost as hard as weeks 1-4 because of the 6-week developmental leap and related crankiness. Since then every week has been better. By week 22 I can honestly say I am LOVING being a mom (and my husband is loving being a dad - as much if not more as I'm loving being a mom).

Oh and if you're taking the heroic route on anything (avoiding pacifiers, co-sleeping if it's hard, EBF if it's overwhelming or painful, etc.) STOP BEING A HERO. Your baby will be fine - much better than fine - if she gets a pacifier, sleeps alone, drinks some formula.

Take care of yourself. And report back!
posted by semacd at 2:40 PM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: So... here I am, five months later. My daughter will be 6 months old in 3 days. And things are so much better. So, so much better.

I went to therapy. I'm still going. I got on medication, which I'm still taking. My husband and I did couples counseling for a few sessions. And we went to stay with my mother for 3 weeks, which allowed me to get several full nights of sleep and gave the both of us a break.

Here I am, five months later. My husband is so in love with our daughter. He's holding her in his arms and dancing with her as I type this. It makes me smile to watch them. And my daughter is a joy. She's a happy, laughing, smiling baby. She's wonderful.

Are things perfect? They are not. I am still in therapy, I am still on medication, and I still have bad days, but the bad days are getting further and further apart, and I feel better and better as time continues to pass.

I just wanted to jump back in here to say thank you. Even though I never replied to any of the private messages I received, I read them again and again. I read all the replies here again and again. During the really tough times, these replies were my anchor. Thank you all for that.
posted by elizamina at 8:08 PM on November 17, 2012 [22 favorites]

Thank you for updating us, so glad to hear that things are getting better!
posted by sonika at 5:35 AM on November 18, 2012

So, so happy to hear that the good/decent days are outnumbering the bad days. Thank you for the update. Being strong enough to ask the question will allow it to be a resource for other mothers for years to come.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:03 AM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

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