When people normally discuss postpartum symptoms, they describe it as feeling sad, emotional, and depressed. In Postpartum Part 2, I talked about postpartum anxiety. There is a another degree of postpartum that people do not realize falls into that category: anger. It can be seen as irritability, frustration, and even rage. This can be directed towards your family, friends, and even your baby.
Don’t Cry Over Spilled Coffee!
I had personal experience with postpartum rage after I had my second child. The first time I lost my temper was terrifying. Not only did I scare myself, but I also scared my three-year-old son. We had just finished breakfast, and I had put my baby down for her morning nap. I sat down to answer a few emails that I had fallen behind on. My son was playing beside me. In a split second, he reached over and grabbed my cup of iced coffee. In doing so, he spilled the coffee all over me, my desk, and himself. I immediately started screaming, “Why did you do that? What were you thinking?”
I burst into tears and yelled at him to go to time out. I myself was the one that needed the time out. I was shaking. I was furious. My blood pressure was boiling. My sleeping daughter woke up and started crying from all the commotion. “Great, now the baby is crying” I screamed out loud.
At this point, all three of us were crying. With the coffee still dripping off the desk, I picked up the phone and called my husband at work. Through the tears, I ordered, “You have to come home NOW.” He asked what was wrong, and I said, “just come home now.” He drove as fast as he could and came flying in the door.
His first question was what happened. I simply said, “He spilled the coffee.” My husband looked at me like I was absolutely crazy, and asked again what happened. “He spilled the coffee,” I snapped at him. He took a moment, observed the spilled coffee, two crying kids, and my eyes red with tears and anger. He simply said, “Go outside, take five minutes, and clear your head.”
After I went outside and took a few breathes, it hit me how absolutely ridiculous I had just acted over some spilled coffee. Iced coffee. the EASIEST TO CLEAN! I had yelled at my son as if he were a grown up, and punished him for a simple accident.
I walked back into the house, grabbed my son, and gave him the biggest hug. I apologized and explained how mommy got mad and it was not his fault. My husband and I then laughed at how silly I was to get so upset.
I had more episodes of anger and rage before I figured out that nothing was actually wrong. I have a great life, and great kids, and an amazingly understanding husband. I knew the problem rested within me and only me. I had to make the change and decide enough is enough. It was hard because it felt beyond my control. I began resorting to guilt, so I knew I had to act now.
One of the best things to do when you are feeling rage is to step away from the situation. Put your child or children in a safe place and step away. It is okay to take a few minutes to yourself. Take deep breaths and try realize this is a small fraction of your whole day. Things are going to be okay.
A few techniques to help with anger:
- Taking a step back
- Breathing techniques
- Mindful thinking
Each person experiences postpartum differently. There isn’t a textbook definition that covers every case. Some cases are mild and others severe. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms ask for help. There are great resources out there. Doctors and therapists are there to help. Or confide in a friend. Do not go through this alone. Getting help will not only help yourself, but also your family and new bundle(s) of joy!