This is a very difficult post for me to write. I’ve felt strongly inclined to share my experiences with this topic, but at the same time, that doesn’t make it any easier for me to say the words.
After Bear was born, I had a touch of what’s best defined as the “baby blues”. There were days that were rough, but for the most part, I just felt a little down. I was—and still am—blessed with a tremendous support team: my husband, my family and friends, an excellent OB and my amazing PCP. Postpartum Depression was very much a buzz word at the time of my experience with the “Baby Blues”; there was (and still is) little-to-no “shame factor” in admitting it or seeking help, so I did. And with time, it completely vanished; the whole episode probably lasted less than two weeks. But that’s not the difficult part of this blog.
The difficult part of this entry is that I experienced a heavy hit of Post Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS). The two most joyous days in my entire life both involved the arrival of my children: the day Bear was born and the day I met Beauty at an airport in Chicago. Both are such intensely amazing memories that fill me with such an overwhelming sense of love. I know I will add a third day to this list when our son arrives home from Ethiopia. Hopefully, however, the emotional aftermath will be a bit different.
I love both my children equally—with every part of my body and soul. Even prior to meeting either of them—just knowing of their existences—I loved them both with every fiber of my being. Bear’s birth was a swing of hormones, an entire life changing event. I was now—for all intents and purposes—responsible for this new little creature. It was both beautiful and overwhelming. With Beauty, though, things were a bit different.
I’ve said in no uncertain terms that I was elated to bring Beauty home. And let me tell you, I can’t describe the joy I felt that first night while giving her one last bottle after Bear went to bed. She was here, finally, after what seemed like an endless wait. It was perfect.
But as days went on, I realized that a nine month old is very different than a newborn. It was frustrating for both of us. I didn’t know her routine and we didn’t receive too much information from her foster mother (she was wonderful, but very much the “oh, she’ll eat when she’s hungry” type). Was that it? Was that what was wrong? Was she hungry? How could I ease the nighttime so she could sleep? I thought, prior to her arrival, “this isn’t my first go at this–it will be fine”. I was wrong.
I was completely attached to Beauty, and she was completely unattached to me. I don’t blame her, of course; she had no idea who I was, let alone that she could trust me to love and provide for her. It was hard. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong (in hindsight, I was so eager for acceptance that I simply tried to rush the patience that was so desperately needed). I felt, well, a bit rejected by her. Enter PADS.
By the time I made it to my PCP, I knew I needed some serious help. My depression was overwhelming. Instead of focusing on what I could do to slowly build the bonds, I was focused on everything I was lacking in my relationship with Beauty. I should sought help earlier, but more than anything, I’m just glad I did seek assistance at all.
Post Adoption Depression Syndrome is serious. It’s nothing to be ashamed of; it doesn’t suggest you love your child any less. If you or someone you know is suffering from PADS, please seek help immediately. Contact your social worker, your physician, your child’s pediatrician, your adoption agency—the list of able sources in endless. Once I recovered from my PADS, everything was so much better, so much easier, so much lighter. Beauty is so closely bonded to me now, I look back and can scarcely recall feeling as horrid as I know I felt. Taking that first step was one of the best things I could have done for my children, my husband, my family, and myself.