We share with you the touching MotherStory of Audrey, who experienced intense baby blues when her son James was born. "A slap in the face from outer space" is how she describes this difficult period. Today, her equilibrium as a young mother is still fragile, but she pulled through. What helped her? Verbalizing her discomfort, the support of her husband, but also hypnosis, and knowing that other moms have been through it, and that it's normal!
Audrey, can you introduce yourself in a few words?
My name is Audrey, I'm 34, of Swiss and French origin, married for nearly 3 years and in a relationship with Bruce for 12 years. I just had a little boy, James, who is just 7 months old. I'm self-employed and have my own wedding dress boutique. I returned to work in September after 3.5 months maternity leave.
How was your pregnancy and birth?
My pregnancy went incredibly well! A beautiful pregnancy. The first trimester was a bit unpleasant, with a lot of nausea, no appetite and very tired. But afterwards, I had a burst of energy, and I felt really good, very beautiful, at ease with myself.
And the birth went very well, I have nothing but good memories. I was induced 5 days after term and delivered vaginally with an epidural. No pain, but I had all the sensations. On the other hand, I had a tear and an episiotomy. My stay lasted 5 days; I would have preferred to stay a little longer.
How were the return home and the first few weeks?
The return home and the first few weeks were very difficult. On the3rd day at the clinic, I already had a huge baby blues. I was crying a lot, with a lot of anxiety and fear.
From an organizational point of view, it was fine. Physically, it was hard, because my lower abdomen hurt, I couldn't walk more than 15 minutes a day, so it was difficult to go out with baby.
The emotional side, on the other hand, was very complicated. I didn't want to see anyone except Bruce and my parents, or only neutral people like my midwife. And above all, I was very sad. Sad not to have my big belly anymore. Bruce and I had chosen to have only one child. So I was mourning the fact that I'd never get pregnant again. Sad too, because I experienced my birth as the mourning I had to do for my life before James. Everything had been swept away. I was now just James's mom.
And I had the impression that baby had separated us from Bruce, that there were now two of us sharing his love. I was also convinced that Bruce didn't love me anymore, that now that I'd given him a child, he was going to abandon me.
At what point did you say to yourself "I'm having the baby blues"?
On the3rd day at the clinic. At first I thought I was in post-partum depression because I didn't recognize myself. But according to my midwife, based on my gestures with my baby and my behavior, I wasn't in post-partum depression.
Were you able to confide in someone what you were feeling, and put your emotions into words?
According to my midwife, what helped me a lot was that I was able to analyze what was happening right away, and put it into words. And for that, I thank Bruce from the bottom of my heart for listening to me, without judging my worst thoughts.
Then, I didn't necessarily confide in my friends, apart from my best friend who had post-partum depression. I didn't want them to see me like that. I preferred to turn to people who were neutral or who could understand, like a hypnotherapist midwife. I'm also planning to go and see a psychologist to talk things over, because there's a lot of unresolved issues.
When and how did you realize you needed help?
I understood right away. And I called for help right away, because depression scared the hell out of me. As soon as I got home, I wrote to the MotherStories WhatsApp group. I got so many messages, it really helped!
What do you think caused your baby blues?
Maybe not having breastfed. They say that breastfeeding influences the hormonal drop, which is much more violent when you don't breastfeed. I'm also a hypersensitive person. And maybe some childhood traumas have resurfaced.
How did the people around you react? Have those close to you been understanding and supportive?
I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by so many people, and that helps a lot. The people closest to me are very supportive: my husband, my mom, my dad and my friends. And by saying openly that things aren't going well, I get a lot of support and messages asking how I'm doing.
What helped you overcome your baby blues and restore your confidence?
Being told that I wasn't in post-partum depression, and that a baby blues lasts about 15 days, 3 weeks. Hypnosis also helped a lot. And of course, my husband's support.
But generally speaking, we don't prepare women enough for the baby blues. For me, I thought I was going to cry like a premenstrual syndrome, and in fact that's not what it's about at all. No one told me that I'd have dark thoughts about myself, about my child, that I'd be questioning my whole life. Women should be given more support during childbirth preparation classes. Reassure them that it's normal to feel this way!
When did you think you'd got over the baby blues?
After a while, I cried less. Then not at all. And around 3 weeks, 1 month, I managed to talk about my pregnancy without crying. That's when I told myself it was getting better. At the moment, 7 months after giving birth, I'm doing well, I hardly cry anymore, but there are still things to sort out. I'm still seeing a psychologist and we're considering medication to help me overcome my fears and anxieties.
What advice would you give to moms going through the baby blues? Do you have any resources to recommend?
" Let your emotions come and go. It will pass. Don't feel guilty about your thoughts, they're not yours. It's the brain, it's not you. Get help, ask for and accept help, try to take time for yourself, even if it's 5-10 minutes to get some fresh air. Cry yourself to sleep in the shower. And remember, you're not alone - so many of us are in this situation. Get in touch with other moms who've been through it, so you can be understood without judgment, so you can be surrounded."
Hypnosis helped me a lot. In particular the hypnotherapist midwife I consulted. I subscribed to a few Instagram pages specializing in postpartum and baby-blues, but now I avoid it, as it can depress more than help. I also discovered the French app May with lots of maternity content. And the best resource, of course, is moms who have been there. The MotherStories WhatsApp group has helped me a lot.
Today, have you found your balance? And how has your experience of motherhood changed since then? For another pregnancy, for example?
It's always a bit complicated. Fortunately, I went back to my job, which I love, 4 months ago, and that makes me feel really good, even if I feel guilty about it. What's complicated is that I'm anxious and always anticipate the worst. Every morning I drop my baby off at the nanny's, but in the evening I'm afraid to pick him up, afraid of what might happen. And yet, I have a truly adorable baby.
My baby blues (which I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy) are clearly an obstacle to another pregnancy, as is my need for independence. My professional life and my relationship are very important to me and guarantee my physical and emotional balance. I know that with a second child, I'd lose myself completely.
Little by little, with the support of my great husband, I'm finding myself as a woman, mother, wife and business owner.
Audrey, what can we wish you for tomorrow?
May I continue to get better and find myself 100%. To be able to empty my brain of all those emotions and feelings of anxiety, doubt, fear and guilt, and fill it with nothing but the positive.