More than the blues

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - An­nie Lane

My best friend gave birth to a beau­ti­ful baby girl last month. She was the first out of our group to have a baby, so we were all so ex­cited lead­ing up to the de­liv­ery.

When the day fi­nally came, there were some com­pli­ca­tions. The baby was fail­ing to progress and not com­ing out. She needed to have an emer­gency C-sec­tion.

When I asked her whether I could visit her in the hospi­tal, she said she would pre­fer for me to come by when she would be home. Once she got home, she was mak­ing all sorts of ex­cuses as to why it was a bad time to come. I was so sur­prised.

I fi­nally reached out to her hus­band to see what was go­ing on, and he said that he didn’t know, that since the baby ar­rived, she has pushed ev­ery­one away from her. She does not even let her fam­ily come over. She just cries all day and stays in bed. He even told me she has a hard time com­fort­ing the baby at times.

Af­ter hear­ing this, I went over to the house. When I ar­rived, she hugged me so tight and could not stop cry­ing. She ex­plained that she loves her baby so much but is just so sad that she has so much re­spon­si­bil­ity. She mourns her old life, in which she could have the free­dom to come and go as she pleased. She was clearly over­whelmed.

I have never had a baby and don’t know whether this is nor­mal, it’s a phase she’ll get past or she’ll al­ways be sad deep down. What can I do to help my friend out? — Baby Blues

This far sur­passes the or­di­nary baby blues af­ter birth. It sounds as if your friend has post­par­tum de­pres­sion. Roughly 15 per­cent of new moth­ers suf­fer from this dis­or­der.

For a mother to prop­erly take care of a baby, she has to take care of her­self first. Think of it like the oxy­gen masks on a plane; you have to put your own mask on be­fore you can re­ally be use­ful to any­one else. In this case, your friend must put on her own “mask” first so she is healthy enough to take care of her child.

To do that, her first step should be to join a moth­ers sup­port group specif­i­cally de­signed for women with post­par­tum. Your lo­cal hospi­tal or a breast-feed­ing cen­ter should have this in­for­ma­tion. The sec­ond step would be to see a li­censed ther­a­pist.

While your friend is get­ting bet­ter, con­tinue to be there for her and hold her hand dur­ing this tran­si­tional pe­riod of her life.

I read “Tip­toe­ing’s” com­ments about the prac­tice of ghost­ing (leav­ing a so­cial gath­er­ing with­out say­ing good­bye) with some amuse­ment. My wife is the dis­tant op­po­site, hav­ing the ob­ses­sive need to say good­bye to ev­ery­one, each good­bye in­evitably in­volv­ing a hug and a new con­ver­sa­tion about any­thing and ev­ery­thing, a rit­ual I per­son­ally find to be an­noy­ing, if not ex­as­per­at­ing. I’ve learned that when she tells me she’s ready to go, I might as well pour my­self one for the road and get com­fort­able be­cause I know we have an­other 15 min­utes to maybe an hour, de­pend­ing upon the size of the gath­er­ing, be­fore we’re ac­tu­ally out the door. If she could learn to limit the good­byes to the hosts, as you sug­gest, I’d be a happy camper. But I’m not hold­ing my breath. — Short on Pa­tience in

South Dakota

Funny — al­though if your wife’s long good­byes have you pour­ing one (or two) for the road, I hope she’s the one driv­ing.

It sounds as if your friend has post­par­tum de­pres­sion. Roughly 15 per­cent of new moth­ers suf­fer from this dis­or­der.

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