After talking with one very candid and amazing mom, who is only six weeks postpartum, I got to thinking about the in between place, the place just beyond the baby blues. I’m still processing this idea, so consider this a “thinking out loud” post, and I welcome your comments.
First, I’ve officially come to hate the label “baby blues.” It sounds so benign and harmless to me. Here’s a list of the baby blues symptoms via the Mayo Clinic:
Signs and symptoms of the baby blues — which last only a few days to a week or two — may include:
- Mood swings
- Decreased concentration
- Trouble sleeping
What new parent isn’t experiencing decreased concentration and trouble sleeping? Those two are totally unhelpful. This list is difficult to interpret amongst the hormones of postpartum, at least it was for me.
So what about women who are experiencing these symptoms and they don’t begin to improve until six weeks? Is this baby blues of postpartum depression? It lasted for longer than a week or two. I find from talking with women that they are often told to “wait it out” when they’re in this in between place. They aren’t having panic attacks. They are taking care of their baby. Wait a little while and it gets better. And it does for those who aren’t clinically anxious or depressed, but the waiting is torturous because you don’t know that ending is coming.
So what is this in between place? When women have fantasies about leaving and not coming back? When they can’t stop the relentless feelings of resentment about losing their old selves?
I think we need a different name for the baby blues and maybe the step between that and postpartum depression. Maybe “this-is-completely-overwhelming” for the baby blues and “I’m-teetering-on-an-emotional-cliff” for the step beyond? I don’t know how to create these labels, but I think healthcare providers need to see beyond them.