Andrea is about the happiest, most upbeat people I’ve ever met. Two months post-baby found her confiding to me about her “leaky faucet” days – those days when the tears just wouldn’t seem to stop.
No question about it, pregnancy and the first year post-partum are doozies on a lady’s mood. Even for those lucky folks who are generally happy, it’s pretty unlikely that anyone can make it through two years of sleep deprivation, hormone shifts, crazy body transformations, and, oh yeah, having and caring for a baby without a few leaky faucet days.
Here is how you can handle these days in a way that strengthens yourself and your marriage.
1) When the faucet is leaky, fix it! Instead of dismissing the tears or mood swings as “just part of the deal,” communicate with your spouse and see if the two of you can figure out why the faucet is leaking NOW as opposed to yesterday. After talking Andrea she realized that her tears really surged when she thought about their daycare plan. They had planned to hire a nanny and she didn’t like any of the 20 people she’d interviewed. As soon as she listened to what was causing the leak, she and her husband broadened the search to include day care centers. She found one she loved, and, voilá, the faucet stopped leaking. Remember, while your tears may be exaggerated by the hormones, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a legitimate cause.
2)Sleep, eat and be active. Even just a night or two of solid sleep coupled with healthy food and activity can work wonders. Plan ahead to figure out how, whenever it’s needed, you can be off baby duty for a full 6 to 8 hours to just sleep. Pick out a few super healthy meals and prepare shopping lists and instructions so that your husband or friend can get you a meal that’s truly good for you. Lastly, figure out how to get moving – in a pool if you’re as big as a beached whale, outside with baby, or even just bopping in the living room to your favorite music. Yoga and meditation are other good ways of calming your mind and rejuvenating your body.
3) When all else fails, call the plumber. How long would you wait between having a leak that won’t stop and actually calling a plumber? Probably not much more than a week. No matter what anyone says, it is not healthy or normal to feel blue, pre- or post-baby, for more than a week or so. If this is happening talk to your OB, visit a therapist (and I’d highly recommend going as a couple at least to your first visit) or try an alternative medical professional (acupuncture,homeopathy, energy field therapist). Keep looking for help until you find an expert who helps you to stop the leak.
Abigail Hirsch, PhD is Resident Psychologist for Power of Two Marriage Online.