Friday, November 9, 2012

Baby blues

This has been difficult for me to write about.  In general, blogging has stretched me beyond my limits of being open with my feelings and experiences.  I'm normally a very private person, but I hope that this post can help anyone going through the same thing--not to feel so alone as I do now.

About 80% of new mothers get the "baby blues" so it shouldn't come as a surprise if I feel it too, right?  Of course, it's supposed to be an overwhelmingly happy time in life-- enjoying those precious moments of motherhood with your new little bundle of joy.  Sometimes though, due to hormones, stress, lack of sleep, body changes, family dynamics, or other circumstances, you loose sight of that happy part and it's just plain overwhelming.

Most of the time, it quickly fades and you find your new rhythm within a few weeks.  I would say you return to normal, but it's not the same normal you knew before the baby--even if it's not your first.

But it's not going away and I can't stop crying.  Then I feel guilty for being unhappy and cry again.  Then I yell at my son not to squish the baby, then I feel guilty, then...well, you get the point.  Some days it's hard to get out of bed.  I have lost interest in the activities that I used to enjoy.

Of course, if we physically break something in our bodies, we don't hesitate to seek the help we need to fix it.  But mental health has a bit of a stigma to it.  And in the absence of physical symptoms, it can be harder to realize that there is a problem.  After all, it's just in your head.

I'll admit to being a bit of a perfectionist.  It has it's perks, but there are downsides to it as well.  Perfectionism has driven me to accomplishments beyond my years.  I mean, how many 28 year-olds have visited thirteen countries, lived in four different ones on three continents, are approaching their ten-year anniversary with four children, have a good career that they love, run a charity shop, etc.  But it's also crippling when I don't/can't live up to my own high expectations.  If I don't manage to also bake bread from scratch, read bedtime stories and put away all the laundry before the day ends, I feel like a failure.

I've been through this before, I thought, it'll get better soon.  And then, there I was, sitting across from the nurse at the two-month Tipat Chalav checkup, crying like crazy for no reason.  She pulled out a self-test for new mothers (similar to this one) created by the Health Ministry.  If you circle too many answers a certain way, do they take your kids away?  I cheated a little, but still ended up with a high enough score that she gave me the phone number of a clinic in Tzfat.

It took me a couple of days, but I finally called for an appointment.  We'll send you some forms in the mail, said the voice on the phone, fill them out, mail them back, and we'll get in touch with you.  Israeli bureaucracy strikes again!  Luckily, the other nurse who works there is my neighbor.  Told her what happened and in less than 90 seconds I had an appointment.  Finally, I've lived here long enough to have a little protexia.

So, there, I've taken the first step.  I'm a little nervous about my appointment on Sunday.  Will I like the doctor?  Will I freeze up?  Does she speak any English?  Will I spend the whole time crying?

I'll find out soon...