Today my third child turned 6-weeks-old.
I’ve absolutely loved the first few weeks with each of my babies, it is such a special, sweet time; however, in the middle of all the love, there can sometimes be an unexplained sadness. Those early days, especially those first few weeks at home when you are trying to find your footing in this new world a baby has created, can be dark. All three of my children ushered in a short period of darkness and it was different for every child – but it was always there. I lovingly refer to these first few weeks as “the dark days.”
During “the dark days,” it’s hard to see past the foggy haze of exhaustion and the lies that your hormones tell you; which for me varied from time to time, but ultimately always came back to failure. I’m failing my baby, my baby’s failing me, I’m failing my middle child and my husband thinks I’m failing at being a mom. I AM FAILING! All lies, all during the dark days.
The good news is that the dark days often leave almost as quickly as they come, but you MUST give yourself a break in the meantime. Here are a few tips on surviving until the light returns:
Know it will pass
Acknowledge what you are feeling, but don’t listen to your inside thoughts of sadness and doubt. These first few weeks of time is a slippery slope and we new moms are not thinking straight. Not only are you tired (that word doesn’t seem adequate enough), but you have a rush of hormones leaving your body. Hello, night-sweats!
Ask for and accept help
This is always difficult for me. And in the same breath, if family or friends are not helpful, you must draw a line and set boundaries in your home and for your family. This time is hard enough without any outside stress.
Stay positive and find your “Encourager”
This job falls on my husband a lot during the early newborn days. He is the one reminding me that this will pass, he is the one encouraging me to accept and ask for help, he tells me that we’ve got this. Whoever this person is for you – I encourage you to find your Encourager.
Fake it ’til you make it.
Kind of my key to life. If you’re not feeling quite like yourself yet, just try to think and act like you are, i.e. trick yourself! Begin going through the positive motions even though you may not be feeling positive. Your body and mind will come around.
Say it with me, “I will not feel guilty for feeling sad.”
Yes, you were blessed with a baby, congratulations! It is one of life’s greatest privileges, but feeling sad does not mean you are not grateful for what you have. No guilt, no shame, mama.
If the dark days seem to linger, PLEASE – speak up! It is okay to ask for and get help! Postpartum depression is real, friends, and if you suspect you may be suffering from it please, please speak to your doctor and check out some local resources here.
What have the dark days looked like for you? Did you expect them? Or, did they never come at all?
Just having entered the “it was just last year when baby Ike was so little” phase it is even more clear to me that my darkest days were with him (my 3rd). He is a December baby and we live in MN. For weeks I struggled with anxiety, chest pain and fear of illnesses for baby and myself. It slowly creeped in and planted roots until the sunny warm month of August.
It’s so important to talk about the darkness too. Thank you for your post!
Thank you for posting this, my third is 10 weeks old and some days are full of inexplicable discontent. Greatful for the reminder that I’m not alone.
You are NOT alone Rachel! And, as a mom with a 10-week old too (they must have been born mere days apart!) I feel ya! Time has helped me, but I still have some rough days. Best to you mama!
Great post Lauren – as Kim said above, my dark days also lasted about 3 months. It was definitely not always a good time and ‘my village’ was what kept me afloat. Thanks for bringing light to this!
Jackie, thanks! A village is so wonderful – one thing I’ve learned after this baby is to actually be vulnerable and share with my friends how I’m feeling, which is a whole other ballgame.
I have an 8 month old and the dark days still come and go. I probably felt consistently in the dark days until she was about 3 month olds so I also want the moms out there to know to not feel bad if it lasts more than a few weeks – it can very easily linger for much longer. But it’s still nothing to be ashamed of. I treat my dark days with support groups and other new mom friends. That has been crucial
AMEN to that Kim. Every experience is so different – thanks for sharing your personal journey. We mom’s need to remind each other we are not alone! Best to you.