the power of hormones


This morning I woke to falling snow, and I almost started to weep. I don’t know what I had been thinking, but it went something like this: I will have a baby, and we will be in the hospital for a few days, and when we are discharged, it will suddenly be spring. I was born and raised in Minnesota, so this line of thinking is obviously delusional, but I had really convinced myself that it was going to happen this way, so snow now feels especially brutal.

But even if it were warm (I’m only talking 50 degrees and sunny), where would I go? I still can’t drive, and it’s still cold and flu season here, so I don’t really want to take this baby out in public anyway. And I can’t walk very far (no more than around the block) or my incision begins to hurt. So I’m trapped inside, watching the snow cover rooftops and the ground, wishing away this weather, and wishing I felt normal. (How I would love to put this baby in a stroller and walk for hours along the river with the sun on my back!)

Tell me, how does one feel normal after giving birth? I’m disgusting, people—milky and bloody and sweating so much at night that I’m convinced I’m going through menopause. On days that Stella is in preschool, it’s easier. At least I can nap when Zoe naps (something I was never able to do with Stella, who never slept and who I had to hold 24 hours a day), but then Stella comes home and throws a tantrum and/or breaks my heart with one of her big-sister adjustment phrases: “You don’t love me anymore” or “I wish I were a baby so I could always be with you.” She’s killing me, and I spend half the time feeling guilty because I’m irritated with her and the other half of the time feeling sad because I know how hard it must be to have to share her parents’ attention for the first time in her life.

Oh woe. I also feel guilty because I do feel depressed. How in the world can I be depressed after that birth? How can I be depressed with a baby who is such a stellar sleeper and eater? Oh, I know about the hormones raging through my body. I understand their power. And I wish I could just be happy to spend the day sitting inside, watching the crows gather on my neighbor’s rooftop, pecking at the fresh snow. The problem is that I have never been good at sitting still. I want to walk, to breathe fresh air, to look up at a blue sky. I want to lug this baby around town, to go biking with Stella, to run again.

I know these things will come in time, but I want to be well enough to do them now, and I want the weather to cooperate. Even if I could sit outside for a bit under a sunny sky, I think I would feel better. Damn hormones. Damn snow.

That I feel this way now makes it seem impossible that I made it through 5 months of winter trapped inside after Stella was born. I almost went crazy, true, but we made it through that, so certainly I can make it through the next few weeks without losing my mind, no?


  1. You can do it. You can do it. You’ll make it through with flying colors. This too shall pass. And in the meantime, cry it out when you need to and hug your beautiful daughters and call a friend. (And, if necessary, get meds. Depression sucks.)

    Sending lots of positive vibes your way.

  2. I know. I know. After each child, you rebuild yourself.

    Sweaty and bloody and unable to walk around the block, you may not feel like you are still you. But you still are.

  3. you are still you, somewhere in the layers. the paradigm has shifted, what is ‘normal’ has crossed the threshold into the next adjoining room. i felt for a long time that i only had my nosed pressed to the windows, but you’ll get there, i know you will. it’s called baby steps. one minute at a time, one nap, one tantrum, one day at a time. the days are getting longer and spring is coming, i promise. hang in there momma, i’m thinking of you and reminding you of strength. it’s in you, i know it is. reach out. grab the phone. cry into the other end of the receiver and let the love peel away those layers.

  4. You describe the feelings of those first few weeks perfectly here. Just know you are not alone, and that when spring finally does come, your incision will feel better and you will have perfect days to go for long walks. Thanks for writing this and hang in there.

  5. You’ll get through! Spring will come. The days will get easier, and less oozy. Hang in there.

    Does it help to “get out” through reading? I always read a huge stack of books after having a baby, because I’m stuck in one place anyway…

  6. I agree, after each child you do rebuild yourself. Take it one day at a time, remind yourself that babyland is all encompassing, and try to be gentle on yourself. Sleep when you can, cry when you must. Sending love.

  7. Oh, Kate, I know. I had my boys the same time of year (- the c-section, but plus a baby and some serious deconditioning), and I remember just going insane just to be able to go outside. I remember thinking that the phrase “blood, sweat and tears” MUST come from the postpartum experience. And where do you go with a newborn when it’s not nice out? To other moms’ houses, that’s where, especially the one’s whose kiddos are healthy and have had flu shots. When you can drive, you can come over and be all weepy on my couch some afternoon if you want, and bring Stella so she can order my boys around for a bit instead of you. I can’t make the sun shine or the cold go away, but I can make you tea, and I’ll make dinner and feed you guys. Spring will come. It’s just not much fun in the very beginning, even with a good sleeper and eater. You have nothing to feel guilty about. It’s going to be a welcome spring and a beautiful summer. It’ll seem like an even bigger miracle than it always does here.

  8. Amen on “blood, sweat, and tears” surely coming from the postpartum period. And the guilt about the firstborn added on just makes it a little more complicated.

    Easy for me to say; my youngest is 6, and spring came here in California already. I promise it will come for you. If it doesn’t come soon enough, Sheri and I will happily host you and the girls here in California!

  9. Hi Kate,
    Hang in there. It is hard. I had never been depressed in my life, but the few weeks after Soren’s birth, for the first time, I felt truly depressd. Cranky with everybody. Sad — sad? why? with two beautiful children?? I measured everything I had to do against what Dave was doing, every second of the day — convinced I had it harder.

    I don’t have much advice to offer other than: lots of people understand, so you can talk about it without feeling crazy or weird; things DO get easier; you are actually giving Stella the ultimate gift in the form of a sibling. Make sure Donny is telling you all the time that he loves you and that you’re doing an awesome job. 🙂 I only just have come out of my fog, and now I can see how much it SUCKED. It really sucks to feel that way. But you ARE doing an awesome job, and you have just done the awesomest thing a human can do……

  10. I also want to say that I understand your feelings. I am sending you love and compassion. May the sun shine soon…

  11. Oh, these early weeks are so hard, aren’t they?!

    They pass, they do pass. Just keep breathing through it.

  12. Kate,

    I’m not going to sugar coat it. You’ve had so many positive wishes and good advice here. My piece is this – leave them both out on the doorstep and let the gypsy’s take them away. =) My mom always made it clear she’d let the gypsy’s take me for a quarter. And if you really are a fifty cent cab ride from tears (which I can imagine you are) that change will come in handy.

    Besides, women are always stronger after they fall apart.

    My Love to you and your family.

  13. I hope by now you’re feeling better, but I will send you a hug, regardless.

    Spring will come!! Hang in there…

  14. Spring is coming…it really IS. Or so I keep telling myself.


  15. Ah yes, the heavy, awful moments of watching your first baby’s heart break because you’re spending time with your second baby. It is unlike anything else. And there’s no way around it. But you know what? What you’re doing is enough.

    Stella will be OK. You are doing a great job. Stella will be OK. You are doing a great job. Stella will be OK. You are doing a great job.

  16. Thank you, thank you. You are all right. I have to remember the rebuilding, and take time to adjust.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.