Posted by: dinainsuburbia | November 12, 2008

why giving birth is like being reborn yourself.

Sometimes I do my best thinking just before I’m about to drift off to sleep.  Last night, I actually “wrote” a blog post in my mind about giving birth, and why it’s like both the mother and child are being born.  As Maddie is already two, I’m not sure why I just came up with this- it’s not timely whatsoever.  But I thought, “why not put it up there, maybe it can help another mom.”

When Madeline was born, I was shocked and a little scared as to how weepy and sad I was.  The nurses at the hospital (and the hand-outs they send you home with) all made cryptic references to new mothers being weepy.  The called it the “baby blues.”  I thought, “how bad can the baby blues be?”  This was about the time the whole Matt Lauer/Tom Cruise/Brooke Shields debacle happened on the Today Show (remember, Tom Cruise is a Scientologist- andthey don’t believe in psychiatric medicines.  Matt brought up Brooke Shield’s postpartum depression- Tom called Matt glib.  You can watch the whole thing here.  It’s actually pretty funny.)

Anyway, my point is- when I got home from the hospital I was SOOOOO weepy- and I was a little freaked out!  I was fine in the hospital, but once home, I cried at everything!  Talking on the phone made me cry.  Watching TV made me cry.  Watching my daughter made me cry.  I remember thinking to myself, “that’s it- you’ve lost it- if you don’t get a handle on this thing, you’ll stay like this forever.”  Luckily, it wasn’t a serious PPD, it was, in fact, what the hospitals and doctors refer to as the baby blues.  Suffering from the “baby blues” for about 2 1/2- 3 weeks makes me seriously respect those who have to battle depression issues on a regular basis.

So, what is the baby blues (this is the crux of what I was “blogging” about pre-dream land last night)?  Yes, there’s hormonal/scientific aspects.  Yes, your body is ridding itself of all those hormones (holy menopausal night sweats bat man- THAT wasn’t in the hospital hand out).  But there’s more. 

I can only speak of the baby blues from the perspective of having a first child (although I’m well aware that the blues can rear its ugly head after 2nd and 3rd child as well).  After Madeline was born, I think PART of the baby blues was the notion that my old life had “died”.  In fact, my old self had died and been reborn at the same time my daughter was!  First, there’s the easy to identify causes:  you life is suddenly revolving around a baby, you can’t come and go and live your old life as before, you still look pregnant (THAT wasn’t in the hand out either).  Any one of these makes you a little weepy if you get to thinking about them too long.  And that’s so normal!

But there’s a whole other layer too.  Now that you have a child, you will always see the world through a different set of eyes.  These “mom” eyes cause me to see world events with pain and raw emotion.  Every time a child is killed or hurt, it could’ve been YOUR child.  Every time a child is sick and in pain, it could’ve been YOUR child.  Every time a parent is separated from a child through acts of violence and war- it could’ve been you & your child.  At least for me, having a child meant being born into an empathetic relationship with all the mothers in the world.  There’s a common understanding now- whether a fellow American or not.  I’d like to think that developing this type of sensitivity causes a little bit of the baby blues too.

Sometimes, even two years later, I catch myself thinking such terrible, terrible thoughts.  Laying down with Maddie while she’s napping, I stare at her and cannot help but think of the fragility of life.  How anything can happen.  That any moment can be our last.  And it’s too frightening.  It’s also a immobilizing- it makes me want to take my family and move into a bunker somewhere!  This fear, which I like to think is innate- I think also contributes to the baby blues.  If it weren’t for my faith in God, I can’t say I would be able to get out of these moments of despair!  They suck me in so quickly and completely.  I wonder, do other mothers (and fathers) think these things too? 

When I say giving birth is like being reborn, it’s because I’m different now.  My thoughts and my being is completely different than it was the day before Madeline was born.  And that’s OK- but I think those first three weeks of “baby blues” was a mourning period for my old self.  My old life.  My old belief system. 

New moms- don’t be scared.  It’s deep stuff.  But it’s GREAT stuff.  When I look back at my “old” self, I chuckle, because what was important to me then really holds no weight now.


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