Of all the new-parent moments I remember, ranging from endless crying jags to deliciously satisfying cuddles and funny first smiles, one stands out to me. In my memory, I was standing in the front of my house, at about 3 a.m. I had finally gotten the baby, our first, down to sleep after what had seemed like hours of (sore) breastfeeding. She was a couple of weeks old. Pumped up on a roller coaster of hormones, exhilaration and emotions, I could not get myself back to sleep. That mantra “sleep when the baby sleeps” seemed like a fantasy, or maybe a cruel joke. Anxiety like I had never before experienced (well, maybe except during college finals week when I knew I couldn’t get all my papers and studying done in time even if I refused to sleep) coursed through me. When would the baby wake next? How much sleep will I get in the next 24 hours? What if I can’t do this day after night after day?
So there I was, next to my front door on a busy Seattle street, staring out the window past the buildings and the city buses, at the dark September sky. Watching the tiny lit-up airplanes tracing their flight patterns, I suddenly was grasped by an idea that seemed urgent even as I knew it was irrational: Go to the airport now. Just throw on your jacket, hop in your car, drive down there and buy an airplane ticket for one to somewhere, anywhere. Just go.
I did not go. The anxiety I felt in those early weeks eventually subsided, without morphing into a more serious depression or mood disorder that is, it turns out, common for many women. This issue’s story on postpartum mood disorder brings you, readers, resources and the stories of other mothers to emphasize the key point that you are not alone if you experience any of these mental-health symptoms, and that help is available. As a village, we should all be watching new mothers and helping them in any way we can.
On the lighter side, having a baby makes you want to (rightly so) announce your little newcomer to the world. Our roundup of perfect, easy and unique baby announcements will inspire you.
Of course we follow our new baby’s every crawl, coo and reflex, trying to discern what each development means. Our baby tracker will take you through the first six months (and beyond) of key developments, with advice on what to watch for and how to engage your little one’s new skills. And we haven’t forgotten how much kishy-cash (as my 9-year-old refers to money) it costs to add a baby to the family. Find tips for sweet savings in this issue, too.
Having a baby is like no other experience. We’re there for you with ideas, resources and stories as your family grows.