The holidays are over and my television shows come back on. One of the shows that returned is The Big Bang Theory. I watch this show on and off but I did manage to catch Thursday’s episode (okay, I recorded it so I watched it Friday, but I did watch it).
I admit I got emotional when the show moved on to Howard, Bernadette and their new baby girl. Bernadette came out of the room dressed in sweats and looking exhausted. After spending two hours trying to get her daughter to sleep, she succeeded. Seconds later the men came home, and a few more seconds after that, the baby woke up and started crying again. At that moment, I felt her pain. I felt her frustration. I felt her defeat. We had a very hard time putting our son down for a nap when he was an infant. He would nap maybe twice a day for twenty-minutes at a time. Napping was not his forte and he was nicknamed the Anti-Napper.
The show went on with Stuart saying he’ll take care of the situation, and he did. He instantly soothed the baby and put her back to sleep. Yay Stuart did it! Stuart did it. The non-parent-friend who lives in their house managed to do what Bernadette (and I) wished she (and I) could have instantly done: put her daughter (my son) down for a nap. Stuart is said to have a “gift”. I believe this so-called “gift” is that he is not the mother. Bernadette started crying. She was upset over Stuart’s ability to get her daughter to sleep in seconds while it took her two hours. She asked why everyone else is a better mom than her. Raj told her not to take it personally because maybe her baby is a jerk. Does this sound familiar to you? Because it sounds familiar to me. I’ve had those terrible-mother feelings. I’ve also felt like my son is a jerk and is purposely trying to make me feel like a failure. Being tired may be a contributing factor to these irrational feelings.
At the time, I wondered if my son was setting me up to fail or, more realistically, if he felt my postpartum depression oozing into his aura. Did he feel my negative energy? Did he want to escape the anxious mother holding him, providing him with nothing but negative undertones and wet cheeks? Was he tired of looking into my watery eyes? Did he hate the sobs coming from the woman he is meant to call mom? I’m convinced he felt my anxiety and perhaps that is why I had as much trouble as I did with him.
“Everyone is a better mom than me!” Bernadette cried. “The baby hates me! How can she hate me?” Bernadette’s feelings aren’t an anomaly. Those feelings are common in new mothers. Hormones are over the place, sleep deprivation takes its toll, and frankly, parenting isn’t what we thought it was going to be. There were times when I was convinced that my son hated me and to be honest, those feelings haven’t fully dissipated two-and-a-half years later.
After Googling Bernadette’s symptoms, Sheldon explained to the group that up to 80% of mothers experience baby-blues and that is what Bernadette is going through. The baby-blues is postpartum depression’s less harmful sister. While the two share many characteristics, PPD is a more serious problem. Despite the severity, neither should be ignored. Bernadette’s feelings of inadequacy stem from her baby-blues just as much as mine did from my PPD.
The one difference I found between this episode and real life is that the laughter is minimal in real life while going through the blues or PPD. As the show is a comedy, they created a funny undertone for Bernadette’s blues. I’ll admit that there were times when I was crying over frivolous things which made my husband laugh, and in turn, made me laugh. However, there weren’t a lot of those times. These days, I am able to look back and laugh at some of my irrational crying episodes, but they sure weren’t funny at the time.
This episode reminds me of the hard time I had after the birth of my son. It also reminds me of how far I’ve come. This episode shines light on an issue many mothers are afraid to talk about or feel ashamed about.
The media has so much power. The more baby-blues and postpartum depression are discussed and normalized through media channels, the more accepting it will be. No one needs to suffer alone. While I do appreciate the episode for what it was, perhaps the next show that creates an episode featuring the blues or PPD can take a more serious approach. In the end, there is nothing funny about either of them.
For more on Postpartum Depression, have a look at: I Knew I Could Have Postpartum Depression And Still Wasn’t Prepared