(Originally posted in Sept, 2007. Re-posted now as part of "yikes-we-have-a-wedding-in-five-days-how-will-I-ever-find-time-to-blog!-week)
Having just gone through "new parenthood" again I wanted to give all my expectant friends a "heads up" about something that I wish someone had mentioned to us before Sofi was born. We were in a kind of difficult situation -- new town, school for hubby, home with baby for new mommy, still in the process of making friends and finding fellowship at church as well as being fairly newly married! But still, I think it's similar for all new moms. I totally wasn't expecting the emotional roller coaster caused by the post-partum hormones. It's pretty wild. This time, with Judah, it wasn't so bad--second time around, knew what to expect, more stable environment, etc. But with Sofi I ended up in a severe depression after months of struggling on my own. By the grace of God and through the intervention of a godly woman at Cov Pres I joined a women's bible study and discovered that what I was going through was totally normal and was given some help in managing all of it.
Now, you may have already heard all about this from your moms or other women in your family, and I'm sure you men have already noticed that your wives (whether still pregnant, or newly postpartum) are much more tender than usual. But I wanted to post about it and hope to reassure some of you who may feel like the baby ate all your wife's common sense and stability on the way out ;)
She's probably going to be doing a lot of crying in the next few months. Maybe even a LOT of crying. For totally dumb reasons, and sometimes for no reason at all!
I would sometimes sit down to nurse Sofi and as soon as she'd latch on, I'd burst into tears. Jeremiah would come rushing over and ask what was wrong and I'd say something like "Bwahahah... you left your socks on the floor again!!!!!" or "I"m a terrible mother and she hates me already, I just know it, look how she's glaring at me....!!!" or "I'm going to be fat and exhausted for the rest of my life and I hate being a mom....!!" or sometimes just, "I don't knoooooooowwww!!!!" A friend of mine says she would look at her daughter nursing and just sob over the fact that "someday she's going to grow up and go away and leave me and I'll never get over it!" Some days I'd alternate between euphoria and severe depression.
Another aspect of the emotional thing was feeling really vulnerable all the time. I went from being a fairly capable, responsible adult to being afraid to walk down the stairs holding the baby. It would take me all day to build up the nerve to face taking Sofi grocery shopping. With Judah we went over to a friend's house for supper when he was two weeks old and the effort required to just get two kids in the car and leave my home (!!!!) was tremendous. We got there (all of five minutes away) and I just had to sit down and cry for a few minutes. Minor violence in movies that I wouldn't have blinked at a year before left me with horrible nightmares and images in my mind that plagued me for days. Pain was something I could NOT handle. Even a paper cut would have me down on the floor doing the Bradley breathing! One day I caught my fingernail on a hook of my nursing bra and it bled a little and I almost passed out.
Thinking logically and in an orderly manner will also be a thing of the past. Your wife may normally be a model of organization and punctuality, but while she's nursing don't be surprised if you find the peanut butter in the freezer or get a raw potato in your lunchbox instead of the spaghetti you were promised (not telling...) Late will now be the new "on time" and the new late is "never". And don't stress over it, because even if your wife doesn't exhibit this particular symptom, odds are the little monkey is going to have a blowout five minutes before you leave for church anyway.
Of course all women are different, so your wife may not be quite as loopy as I was. But we're also all alike in many ways. And something along these lines is pretty common in all women. The intense experience of labor and the life-changing realizations that occur in those first few weeks of mommy-hood are probably going to leave your wife gasping. The best thing Jeremiah does for me is to allow me to work out all this emotional stuff without freaking out over it himself, and without taking my "freak outs" too seriously. He knows that even though one night I'm sobbing over my total inadequacies as a mom to two kids, the next morning I'll be delighted with my beautiful children again. And even if I go totally bonkers over the socks that have been on the floor every night for six years of married life, it's only "the hormones talking"-- although he's smart enough not to say that at the time ;) I highly recommend that you get a mental image of yourself as a padded room in which your slightly psychotic wife can safely hide away for a few months till her body chemicals level out a bit. (Which I promise will happen!!)
If you can have the grace to cover your wife's instabilities for a few short months, she will adore you for it forever--witness my feelings for Jeremiah. He has truly dealt with me "as with a weaker vessel" these four months since Judah's birth and been so patient with my weakness in this area. I wish the same for all my expectant friends!!