A new mom writes to us with a problem. Despite being very close with her 4.5-year-old niece for years, the mom says that, after having a baby of her own, she is grossed out by and wants nothing to do with her niece. Is this postpartum depression? What should she do to cope with and get over her feelings?
Over on the Mamas Uncut Facebook page, our robust community of moms is always having a conversation about topics that matter. We like to highlight those conversations from time to time. Important mom questions. Thoughtful mom answers. Let’s hear from the community!
A member of our community asks:
“I feel terrible about asking this, but I need some advice, I’m scared to tell anyone I’m close with about my feelings. Please no shaming, I already feel like a monster as it is.– Mamas Uncut Community Member
So I have a 4.5-year-old niece. She’s not a blood relation, but I consider her family. She is my boyfriend’s brothers daughter. I’ve been in this little girl’s life since she was born, and was always very close to her. I flat out adored her. Her mom hasn’t always been very present (works a lot and suffered from PPD) so I tried to step up in a lot of ways. She even lived with us for about a year. I would take her to the park, to her pre-k, signed her up for dance classes, swimming classes, etc. We’d go to the zoo, the aquarium, bounce places. I LOVED being involved in her life.
Well, 3 months ago my boyfriend and I had our own daughter, who to put very mildly, I’m completely obsessed with. I don’t think I have PPD or anything… From the minute she was born I have been on cloud 9, absolutely in love with her. Late night feedings, no sleep, crying – none of it fazes me, I love it all. In fact, I love her so much that it seems like nothing else in my life matters… at all.
The best way I can explain it is that maybe I had a limited amount of love to give. It used to be spread out: some to my boyfriend, some to my dogs, some to other family members, and of course to my beloved niece. Well, since my daughter, I feel like all that love has been sucked out so I can transfer 100% of it to my baby. There’s no room for anyone or anything but her.
This is leading up to my problem… So my niece doesn’t live with us anymore, but I still see her pretty frequently, especially on weekends. There’s no nice way to put this, but I literally can’t stand the sight of her anymore. She grosses me out, I think she’s too loud and obnoxious, too needy and clingy to me. All I want to do is be left alone with my baby.
Her loud footsteps, the constant talking and interrupting. I can’t even think straight with her around. I try to nurse my baby or calm her down for a nap and my niece is in my face. Curious and talking to me, and it messes up the baby’s peace and I have to start all over again. Dangling toys in her face, but too aggressively. Constantly touching the baby with her dirty hands.
Now, the rational part of my brain knows she’s a completely normal 4-year-old. But on the inside, I feel like SCREAMING at her to get away from me. I have visions of yelling at her to leave me alone and tossing her across the room.
I would never in a million years act upon this, and no one, especially not my niece, knows that I don’t adore her anymore. I would never be mean to her and no one is the wiser. But it eats me up and I do not like feeling like this. I feel like a terrible person.
I always wanted to have more than one child, but now I’m scared. One day my precious baby will grow up to be a curious toddler – will I feel this way about her when she’s too loud around her little sibling?!?! I can’t imagine. Is this just some wild hormonal change in me? Will I ever go back to normal and be able to have feelings for someone other than my daughter? I can’t tell my boyfriend how I feel because he will think I’m a psycho. I definitely feel psycho.
I do want to say again that I would NEVER act upon my thoughts and am very good at hiding them. It’s not fair to my niece for feeling like this… Has anyone been through anything similar? Thanks.”
The Mamas Uncut Facebook community responded with its usual thoughtfulness and empathy. Let’s look at some of those responses.
Talk To Your Doctor About Postpartum Depression
“I’d suggest speaking to your doctor. PPD presents in so many different ways. Stay strong mama.”
“Honestly, it does sound like a form of PPD. You may want to talk to someone.”
“I agree with the other people who posted, talk to your doctor. Don’t put it off. This definitely sounds like a form of PPD, this is not a healthy or sustainable frame of mind for you or your family.”
“Go talk to your doc, my friend. PPD isn’t limited to depression. It presents in a plethora of ways. You’re not a psycho, you just need a bit of help from a doctor as your body changes.”
“I have a daughter, and a niece and a nephew. My niece if biological and my nephew is my lifelong best friend’s baby. I obsess over my daughter, she’s the light of my life. But I still absolutely adore the children who were in my life before her. My sister, my best friend, my boyfriend’s cousin and his best friend’s girlfriend are all pregnant right now, and I adore all of those babies as well. This definitely sounds like a form of PPD and I would seek help ASAP.”
“Don’t be embarrassed, PPD like some others have said presents itself in many ways and it’s okay to need to talk with a doctor about it. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling these things, just go see a doctor! Stay strong, you got this.”
The consensus from the community seems to be that these feelings may, in fact, be symptoms of postpartum depression or some other post-birth mental health event. The community is correct in stating that PPD oftentimes presents in “strange” ways; it isn’t just typical sadness and depression. Since these feelings are making the OP so uncomfortable, we think it wouldn’t hurt to talk to a professional (your doctor, a psychologist, etc.) and learn more.
We wish the OP the best of luck in resolving her feelings and getting her life back to normal. And congrats on the new baby, Mama!
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