Finding happiness

While writing my next post about my day in London, I was also online when I came across a post about the risks of Postpartum Depression. Stop! I feel like I need to react.

First of all, I do agree with One Messy Mama: it’s great that some celebrities honestly talk about their struggle after having given birth. Being a mum is far from being easy. I am experiencing it for the first time and what a change of life! When it was only Grumpy Boyfriend and I in the picture, life was different. I was successful in my job and had it all: travel, theatre, eating out, going out with friends, nice clothes… God how much I missed those days sometimes…

Now it’s far from being as glamorous: I am a mummy at home. I am not complaining. I agreed to take a year off work so that I can look after our little babe. But doubts are in my mind when I am having a bad day. Did I make the right decision? Am I a good mother?

Here are the signs and symptoms of PPD (Postpartum Depression): irritation, anger, feeling overwhelmed, sleep problems, sadness, anxiety, lack of concentration, lack of connection… Am I a mad woman to say that probably all new mothers will feel like that at some point?! However, I am not depressed! I am just a human being who is going through a new journey in her life. It’s all brand new for me and obviously, I will come across those feelings at some point. But do I need to book an appointment with my GP ASAP and get a prescription for Valium?

Yes, I sometimes feel angry. I am in a bad mood, I am frustrated. Who would blame me? Yes, I will transform myself into Mumzilla, especially when Grumpy Boyfriend doesn’t find the dishwasher to put his dirty cup, but leaves it on the kitchen surface for the fourth time in two days. Seriously?!

Do I feel overwhelmed? Let me see. The laundry basket is never reaching level zero for a start. Let’s read this blog. ‘Beep Beep’, it’s time to empty the washing machine. You get a text. ‘Hurrah, I still have some friends’. No, wait, Grumpy Boyfriend is telling me that Belle-Maman will pop in tonight. Your flat is like a champ de bataille and you haven’t brushed your hair yet? Come on Frenchie Mummy, it’s nearly 1pm. Make an effort, would you? At least, you (eventually!) managed to put Baba to sleep. Are the neighbours drilling in the wall right next to Baba’s room now? Here we go, he just woke up. Overwhelmed you said? Moi, jamais.

Talking about sleeping, when was the last time you had a good night? More than 4 months ago? Someone had to feed Baba at 3am and then change him at 6.30am. Tired, you’re therefore more likely to feel a bit Bof.

I mean seriously, look at yourself in the mirror. With your old leggings and this dirty T-shirt on, you are far from being a totty anymore. Your Mummy tummy is still not gone despite all your hard work and your boobs are not feeling the same anymore. So you sometimes feel like a rag. The whole world has an opinion about what you should do with your baby. No wonder why you feel anxious. Am I implementing a good sleeping routine? Am I using the wrong teat? You are puzzled and yes, you might go 5 minutes in the bathroom. Just a little cry. Here we go, you feel way better now it’s done.

Who has never felt this way? Up and down. Yes, sometimes you think you are turning mad. You even feel like slapping whoever is in the room right now. But you put your favourite song on, dance a bit with Baba in your arms (he loves it when Maman is being silly) and you already feel better. Or you might have some of this lemon cheesecake, just a little piece.

Let’s be clear: I am not saying that we should overlook PPD signs and ignore them. Au contraire, if you feel the symptoms are increasing, ask for help from a professional or your family. But let’s not be alarmist. Experiencing anger, sadness or even anxiety during motherhood doesn’t mean you are depressed. It’s just a bad day, like anyone else can experience.

Non Merci, I don’t need any antidepressant or some kind of therapy. I am just being me: a moody cow who sometimes struggles to cope with changes in her life. It’s far from being easy, but I will get through it. If I feel down some day, I will just have a catch up with a friend who had children before me. Her anecdotes will make me laugh and reassure me: I am doing a great job. Probably the most difficult, yet most rewarding (well said One Messy Mama). One day, I will look back at my blog with Baba. ‘Mum, you’re so embarrassing, sérieusement!’ He will roll his eyes. I am smiling just imagining it…

Finding happiness, it’s what it’s about when you enter motherhood. ‘It’s a long way to happiness, a long way but I’m gonna get there’. So pas de panique if you feel down from time to time. It will get better.

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59 thoughts on “Finding happiness

  1. Dear Frenchie Mummy, thank you so much for writing this blog-pot in response to mine. It is always good and healthy to engage in conversations like these. As I mentioned in my reply to your comment on my post… “It is always good to hear people’s opinions. I certainly agree with you that almost all new moms experience some of the symptoms described in my post above, and that this does not necessarily mean they suffer from PPD (so yes, let’s not be alarmist). However, if a new mom’s struggle continues, or worsens, then it would be prudent for her to seek help. This is the point my post makes… And, incidentally, so does yours when you say: ‘Let’s be clear: I am not saying that we should overlook PPD signs and ignore them. Au contraire, if you feel the symptoms are increasing, ask for help from a professional or your family.’ I suspect we are saying the same thing in different words. My post leaned heavily on a statement by Jenna Hatfield, who said: ‘… the hormonal shift after birth that results in crying, uneasiness, and mood swings should dissipate within two weeks. After that point, any lingering, worsening, or drastic changes in mood may indicate that a woman is experiencing postpartum depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or another perinatal mood or anxiety disorder’.”

  2. Dear jaxbest4, thanks for your comment. We are definitely saying the same thing here. I just wanted to underline that it’s normal to sometimes feel hormonal shifts still after two weeks and not be depressed or experiencing an OCD. Lots of people ‘scan’ posts and don’t read fully what it says. The image with PPD signs is very minimalist and could be misunderstood.

  3. This post is so true! It’s the post is wanted to write but didn’t know how to convey and you’ve managed it perfectly! Emotions are completely normal and whilst it’s great to be aware and encourage PPD sometimes I feel we can rush ourselves into thinking something is wrong when it’s just life. And you couldn’t be more accurate, if i see a dirty cup on the counter courtesy of hubby…grrrr haha #momsterslink

  4. Completely agree with this. I suffered with PND with all five of mine and I think it’s very different to the “normal” post pregnancy issues that you describe above. I mean which new mum isn’t tired or overwhelmed? PND is way more than those things and I do think that doctors are very quick to throw anti depressants and label them with PND when actually, it’s very normal and will pass. #justanotherlnky

  5. Such a well written post and something so many can relate to, I have to say I was never offered anything despite having 6 kids under 6 and struggling with triplets at the end, that was 12 year ago and I think times have changed alot. #MarvMondays

  6. Its soo important to take some time for yourself. You will be a better mama for it. Thanks for sharing @#mommatime

  7. I loved reading this post and have to say I completely agree. For me PND is as others have said, more about sustained, long term symptoms that dont go away or get better over time. I agree that what you have described are things that every new parent will experience to some degree and it is completely normal and ok. It takes time, as you say, to feel like yourself again after you’ve had a baby.. Thanks for sharing this on #MarvMondays, lovely to have you back again 🙂 Emily

  8. Sorry I left the wrong comment on the wrong article, I just read your article about the spa. It sounds as if you are overwhelmed with the change of having a new baby. Give yourself some time to adjust. Its true like I said before take some time for yourself.

  9. I agree that we all feel overwhelmed and tired at the beginning as its such a big change but as others said it this feeling continues it worsens it’s always worth speaking to someone. Thanks for linking up to #justanotherlinky xx

  10. My other half does the exact same thing with his dirty dishes. What is that about?! How hard can it be to open the dishwasher?? I have to agree that PND is more than just a bad day or two. I think it’s important that people who suffer know about it and can speak out but if we are having a bad day or a bad week then its equally important that we can speak out too without being labelled. Thought provoking piece. Thanks for sharing with us on #fortheloveofBLOG

  11. I think it’s a very slippery slope, or can be, so not wanting to pass comment on what to do or when, but I will say, I think new mums would all fare a lot better if people were just honest. I was in a mothers group where there were 2 second time mums (myself and another). We had no filter and apparently had the only 2 babies that did do this and didn’t do that – everyone else’s baby did everything perfectly. I just assumed it was because we had 3 year olds that had places to be so new baby just had to get on board and any routine went out the window (in favour for the child who could talk). Suddenly, at 10 months, all the babies that had been ‘sleeping though the night from birth’ had to go to Tresillion (baby sleep school). I was really shocked. Why pretend everything was perfect when there were 2 people already vocalising their baby didn’t sleep? Support is not offered if it’s not known to be needed. Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone can take a weight off. That’s why I LOVE teen mums. No filter and a LOT of camaraderie!

  12. I think it’s crucial to reach out and ask for support if you feel you need it. I have horrendous PMT that can take a week to recover from and lasts during my cycles too due to PCOS that can be debilitating. I’ve asked my GP for possible solutions. Reactions to hormones can be so incredibly tough, then and after birth and as you say this can be common and ‘normal’. It’s also absolutely common and normal for women to experience depression, anxiety etc. I wish I’d asked for help sooner than I did, after a traumatic birth. Each individual has to monitor how they feel and for how long and assess whether help is needed be it supplements to help balance hormones (B6 is great for all too generally), whether diet and exercise can help or meds and therapy are needed. Therapy was crucial to me and I’m a big believer in it as the Americans tend to be. Thanks for linking up to #Brilliantblogposts.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I can see that it’s a very important issue for you. I have been lucky enough not to experience PND. I know that some people need help and should not be ashamed of asking for help. I had my bad days as well, but I didn’t feel like I needed to talk about it to my doctors. Enjoy BML tomorrow xx

  13. I think there are so many women who are afraid to speak of it. Whether they are embarrassed or feel weak, they feel the need to keep it to themselves. I suffered from it after having 3 babies in 3 years and a husband who was out of town working all the time. I was quickly prescribed an anti-depressant by my doctor but truthfully it didn’t help and neither did the second one we tried. I turned to exercise and taking timeouts even if it meant putting children to bed earlier than usual. Thanks so much for sharing this with #momsterslink and I apologize for the delay in commenting as I have been vacationing for 2 weeks and trying to blog when I can. Hope to see you this Thursday upon my return!

  14. Great post! There are a lot of mothers that feel like this and sometimes it’s hard to differentiate what’s a bad day and what’s full blown PND. Awareness is key and you have helped to raise it to the forefront! #ShareTheBlogLove xx

  15. I’m glad you made the point that whilst a lot of those feelings are very normal with the demands of motherhood and the exhaustion and sleep-deprivation that comes with it, that if those symptoms increase then seeking help is a good idea. When I experienced a lot of those symptoms first time around, I did put it down to the exhaustion that came with parenting (especially with a child with additional medical needs) and as anticipated, once I started getting more sleep, all of these feelings became much more manageable. Second time around though, I did suffer from PND. I brushed it under the carpet for a long time though thinking that it was just me not being able to manage and that if I just tried harder to control the mood swings, they would get better. What was completely different though was that there was always that underlying feeling that this really wasn’t normal – especially as I was also struggling to bond with my daughter – and when the sleep deprivation started to improve but I still found myself struggling with the mood swings, I knew that I needed to seek help, which I did. Two years on, I’m back to the normal ups and downs that we all experience and I know that my mood swings are normal again – when I get sleep, I cope better; when I don’t, I’m up and down like a yo-yo. It feels different to how it did when it was PND. I think also having suffered with depression in the past made it easier to recognise the difference between normal and needing help. I’m happy to say that my bond with my second daughter is now just as strong as my bond with my first as well. Thank you for sharing and for the reminder that to some extent these symptoms can be very normal – I think it’s good to try and recognise that as well as knowing when to seek help. #ablogginggoodtime

    1. Totally agree with you. I wrote this post after reading another one I mentioned. I enjoyed the post in question, but I was worried that the posters shared on it were a bit simplistic. Lots of people go through posts quickly or don’t read carefully the full content. At the time, my baby was only 3 months old and I was still adjusting to my new life as a mummy. I won’t lie; it was harder than I expected in the first place. When I read the post from the other blogger, I felt really guilty in the first place and thought it was me. A mummy with PND. I was experiencing all the symptoms described at the time. Later on, I thought more about it and decided that it wasn’t the case. I was just living the biggest challenge of my life: being a mum. And I had bad days like anyone else. Thank you so much for your in-depth comment. That’s what I love about blogging. Reacting to topics important to our heart.

  16. Hello Frenchie mummy!!

    I think you are doing it right and that explains everything! Been there and can feel it. It’s a phase and goes quickly and a new one, equally challenging begins😊 But all worth it!! Lovely post! Keep them coming!!

    Love

    Suranjita

  17. I’ve had some low moments since having my little one. Talking with my partner on an evening about it helps lots. I’ve not felt further need to seek others help. Ultimately I am happy. Great read 😀 #SharingtheBlogLove

    1. I had low moments too but I think it’s normal. Having a baby is so overwhelming and whatever you read or search about it, you are never fully prepared for what’s going to happen.

  18. It’s a difficult one, isn’t it, because the line feels really blurred and I can imagine it’s easy to slide into PND without recognising. But I do feel that we have a responsibility to share the fact that these feelings are normal. It’s normal to struggle in the early days and beyond. It’s normal to feel anxious about your baby, about whether you’re doing things right. And to feel like you’ve ‘lost’ yourself somewhere along the line. I found that many other mums I spoke to I got the impression that they found it all a pretty blissful experience – but having shared openly and honestly with friends via my blog, a lot of them have opened up and revealed that they found the first few months really really hard. I think PND is something that people should be aware of and conscious of, but the reality of early motherhood is that it’s tough and we should be upfront about that! Thanks so much for sharing with us at #SharingtheBlogLove!

  19. Great post. It is so difficult after having any to know what is normal and what’s not, as you haven’t done it before. Even having the second you don’t know what normal because you have never had a toddler & baby to look after before. Thanks for writing & sharing. #Sharingthebloglove

  20. You’ve made such a crucial point: that it is SO important to ask for help when it is needed, but that, as you say, it is also OK to experience the bad moments. It’s a fine line to balance sometimes. I think we all need to be more open and honest and there needs to be more understanding and support so the natural turmoil of emotions can just be accepted and the more serious problems can be treated. #momsterlink #PoCoLo

  21. I think there is so much pressure for mum’s to be perfect that we are not honest about how we are feeling or coping when we have a baby. We worry that people will judge us. This is worrying because I think people are scared to speak up and it can be hard to know if this is what everyone experiences or if its more deep rooted than that. Thank you for joining us for #SharingtheBlogLove Laura x

  22. Great post! It is so overwhelming being a new mum, and you’re right, everyone must experience at least some of these symptoms. I find communication is key! PND is not something to be ignored, but if it’s just a bad day (and boy do they happen!) then you are so right not to jump to conclusions! Worth noting that if any new mum’s are struggling counselling can be helpful and if you have a baby under 1 you are pushed up the waiting list. #SharingtheBlogLove

  23. Great post, the sentiment is clear and pretty spot on for most people. I haven’t read the other post that one of the comments refers to so I don’t know that content. What you say though I can relate too, not only as a new mum. Mine are 7 and 10 and I still feel totally overwhelmed at times and feel like pulling my hair out with the sheer enormity of this whole parenting lark. It’s good to read that we are not alone and pretty normal…ish!:) mainy – myrealfairy.com x

    #FabFridayPost

  24. Motherhood can be so lonely sometimes. Little things cam really get to the nerves. I find blogging it out loud or seek like minded Facebook groups helps to process my thoughts a lot as well as talking to some blogging and real life friends. Thank you so much for sharing your post with us on #FabFridayPost xx

  25. This is a brilliant post and obviously missed it when you first posted as we hadn’t found each other yet!! I agree 100%, while PND should not be overlooked, new mums need to know that the adjustment into this new role – the change of everyone’s role – takes time. The NHS leaflet told me that post partum days 3-5 I would have the baby blues. Are you joking?! Try 3 months later and I still had wobbles every time the kettle was boiled and baba had to have her bottle NOW. Very thought provoking post lovely x #fabfridaypost

  26. An interesting read. I experienced severe PND and anxiety (tons more info about it on my blog) and often struggle to differentiate between what was my illness and what is “normal” new mum feelings so I’m glad to see you’ve written this honest post.

    However, I think it’s important we don’t let any women who are unwell suffer on in silence under the belief that her feelings are just a normal part of motherhood, this could be really dangerous. It’s such a difficult balance and one that we often explore in my mental health advocacy work. It’s really tough to make sure people get help when they need it whilst still being honest and acknowledging normal parenting challenges.

    I think, ultimately, you’re right and it’s the extended period of time that differentiates. I consider myself well now but still often feel irritable or overwhelmed because, like you say, that’s part of parenthood. The difference between now and then is that now those feelings are fluid and temporary. I can be irritated one minute and consumed with love and happiness the next and that’s normal.

    When I was ill the unbearable feelings were constant. I didn’t have a moment’s relief from feeling unhappy, angry, lost, anxious, tearful and overwhelmed. Not a single moment. And this is why PND can cause suicidal inclinations – imagine the worst moment you’ve ever had since becoming a mum and then try to imagine that feeling being with you day and night with no relief at all. I was unable to love my son or feel connected to my family because the only emotion I could experience was fear – all the time. I was so anxious I couldn’t eat and I didn’t sleep for five nights straight at one point – not because the baby was keeping me awake but because I was experiencing constant panic attacks. If you are constantly experiencing negative emotions, with zero happy or even okayish moments, the thoughts of suicide can come quick and aggressively. I also experienced intrusive thoughts about harming myself and others, derealisation and couldn’t carry out simple tasks like cooking a meal or putting a load of washing on.

    THAT is depression & anxiety. It can take a long time to overcome and you never completely forget about it. I think you’re right that sometimes PND can be thrown around when really someone is just experiencing normal new mum emotions. But equally I’m aware that what I experienced was at the more severe end of the scale and we shouldn’t discourage any mum from seeking help if that’s what she feels she needs (perhaps we just need to make healthcare providers more aware of the difference between “normal” feelings and clinical symptoms – the RCGPs are currently working on this).

    What I think is really useful about your piece is speaking out about how hard being a mum can be. Part of what led to my illness was false expectations of the bliss I expected new motherhood to be and another purpose of my blog is being a bit more real about the challenges of parenting. So thank you for sharing that 🙂

    #fabfridaypost

    1. Thank you so much for a very thoughtful comment. I can see that it is important to you. I had some blissful ideas that motherhood would be amazing. Well it is amazing but so hard work sometimes. xx

  27. A great piece frenchie. I think we do all struggle a bit – parenting is hard. so it can be difficult to tell when finding it hard and feeling low tip over into PND – always best to discuss with GP if you are really struggling (which I know you are not by the way) #ablogginggoodtime

  28. I always thought I was too strong to suffer from PPD and I totally didn’t recognise the signs, I just thought I was being an ungrateful moody cow and that I didn’t deserve my beautiful babies. As soon as I realised why I was feeling the way I was I manage to over come it without the use of medication. #ablogginggoodtime

  29. I think this is a great post – I was really really really tired post birth and still am now. This made me grouchy and also made me very emotional – I was labelled by so many as having PND but turns out I was right and the doctor diagnosed an actual physical illness that as well as normal mummy tiredness was causing all of these things. I think there is a huge different and we shouldn’t automatically label x

    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime

  30. I think you make your point well here my love. It is also very easy for a message like this to be misconstrued so fair play to you. There is a huge difference between depression and feeling a bit low. It can sometimes be easy to hang a hat on the depression or PND stand. There is such a disparity between low level and severe levels that it’s no wonder there is confusion. It also depends on the person and who is treating them. There can be big differences of opinion from the medical profession too. People quite often use stress, anxiety and depression as ‘terms’ to refer to their mood which just happens to be that day. I find the over use by young people particularly worrying. Anyway I’m digressing but thought provoking post.

  31. I think they key thing here is that is normal to feel these things. As long as you still see the good, the fun and still feel pretty good in yourself then keep on doing what you’re doing. However, I do agree that those lines can blur very easily and if you’re concerned have a chat with someone or your GP, just let someone know, thats the important thing isn’t it? Bad day or PND let someone know you’re feeling a bit crap and never be scared to ask for help whether you need it, or if you’re like me and you’re just a bit lazy 🙂

  32. I recently wrote a post about PPD on my blog as well. My doctor gave me good advice: When your symptoms start debilitating your life. THAT’s when you need to call a doctor and seek help. Also, some women, like myself, don’t even realize that they need help until it’s pointed out to them.

    1. You are right but I also think that sometimes women are made thought that there is something wrong with them when it’s just a bad period and adjusting to motherhood. I doubted myself for a long time and thought I had PPD but it wasn’t the case . xx

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