A few days ago, quotes from an interview Kristen Bell did with Flare magazine were all over the internet. In it she admits that during her pregnancy and for the first day post-birth, she did not feel at all connected to her baby. The exact quote follows: “I kept saying to him [husband Dax Shepard] in all sincerity during my pregnancy, ‘I just don’t know how I’m going to like her as much as I like the dogs.’ I love people the more I know them, and I didn’t know her.
It could’ve been a water bottle in my belly, that’s about how connected I felt to her during my pregnancy.
Can you relate?
Perinatal Mood Disorders: Portland Acupuncture for Anxiety and Depression during Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period
We live in a society that is currently so enamored with babies and pregnancy that it seem as though the only option from day one of conception on is to be blissfully pregnant. We must be so In Love with our unborn baby that it is the focus of all of our daydreams. And we must a
If we don’t feel all of these things, we are failures.bsolutely feel an instant and profound connection with that baby the second it is born and in our arms.
We are unfit mothers.
Or are we?
In my first pregnancy, I’ll admit that I felt like a veritable goddess of walking light and creation. I spent many moments each day talking with my unborn child, convinced his life would bring untold peace and love to the planet.
After he was born, I was tired. I was afraid of doing something wrong. I didn’t sleep. I was still enthralled and amazed, but I was beginning to see moments that were not very goddess-like. He cried a lot. He slept terribly. He almost never napped. He most certainly was not bringing peace to my life. I started cracking. I felt like a terrible mother because all I wanted to do was be away from this baby. I couldn’t wait to go back to work, to get a break.
Several years, many patients, and much more understanding about perinatal mood disorders and the realities of motherhood later… I had a patient come into see me because she was worried she was experiencing postpartum anxiety. She told me all about her baby and his crying. We talked about everything she was experiencing. I advised her to call Baby Blues Connection and to talk with her doctor, but I was pretty sure that she really just had a colic-y baby and needed some rest and time away from him. We treated her baby for colic (it was all digestive in his case), and as the colic went away, so did his incessant crying. She was able to rest more and was no longer anxious.
With my second pregnancy, I felt not so good. Gone were the goddess feelings. They were replaced by anxiety attacks and nausea. I also did not feel connected to my baby. I felt, dare I say it, annoyed by him. I had wanted this pregnancy, I wanted another baby, but once I got pregnant I questioned whether having another baby was the right choice. I had a miscarriage scare at 9 weeks, and the only thing I felt for certain was that I was a terrible mother and a terrible person for not being scared about losing the baby. It is hard to admit that these were my feelings, and even now as my amazing son is 8 months old I feel like I am cheating him.
I tried to hide those feelings during my pregnancy. It’s just the hormones. I’m just stressed about work. The feelings will go away soon. I told myself all of these things, because I was afraid that if I admitted my real feelings it would make me a terrible mother. I felt so loving and connected to my first baby, even during my pregnancy, and here I was feeling the opposite of that to my second. I felt like I was setting him up for failure. Like I was a failure.
Luckily, being an acupuncturist and being a volunteer for a great organization called Baby Blues Connection where I help educate doctors about recognizing postpartum (and antepartum) depression and anxiety, I eventually recognized that I needed help. I got acupuncture. I talked about what I was feeling with a counselor. In hindsight, it is funny that it took me so long to realize what I needed, because I treat people for this very thing in my Portland acupuncture practice. I felt so ashamed of what I was feeling that instead of getting help right away, I tried to wait for the feelings to go away.
I am sharing this information because I want you to know, in no uncertain terms, that having feelings of disconnect, uncertainty, or even negative feelings toward your unborn baby (or toward your newborn baby) does not make you a terrible person or a horrible mother. Just as with Kristen Bell developed a strong, loving connection with her baby, I too, got past those feelings and now am In Love with my son. You are not alone. There is help, and I urge you to get it. You deserve to not question your abilities as a mom. You deserve to not be at battle with your mind and your emotions.
Here are a few things I recommend to help you through this:
Tell someone how you feel. Do not try to keep this to yourself. Do not let your fear of judgement keep you from getting help. Call Baby Blues Connection to speak with someone who has been through this. You will get the support you need from their warm line representatives. They offer a chatline and live support groups for moms who are dealing with all perinatal mood disorders. www.babybluesconnection.org
Contact a therapist who specializes in women’s health conditions. You can go to my website for counselors I recommend.
Exercise. As with most depression and anxiety, staying active can help provide some relief for your symptoms. This is rarely treatment on its own, but can be a great adjunct to other therapies.
Try acupuncture. As a specialist in women’s health, and as someone who has been through this, in my Portland acupuncture office you will receive the care you need in a judgement-free environment. I also have a thorough list of referrals, from therapists to OB-Gyns who can offer you additional support if needed. Acupuncture can provide balance and grounding for overwhelming emotions, and can help balance out any potential hormonal imbalances that are causing anxiety or depression. Visit my website at www.solsticeacupuncture.com to schedule your appointment, or call me for a free consult at 5-oh-3-442-1205.