When I had Joe, I used to look at moms with newborns who managed to be somewhat put together and wondered how they did it.
How were they not losing their minds?
How were they not crying all the time?
How were their babies so happy?
How did they seem so calm and I seemed like such a wreck?
When I got help for my post partum depression, I started to see a turn around. When Robert's dad died and I quit caring what anyone told me, I started doing what I wanted with my baby and saw another jump of improvement.
As a second time mom, I have the benefit of all that experience. I don't want anyone to look at me right now and think, "wait - how is she so functional?!?!" and not know all the behind the scenes.
First, "functional" is relative. I spend 90% of my day feeding a baby, doing laundry, doing dishes, and keeping my 2 year old alive. That's it. You may see the other 10% and be impressed, but it's a lot of messy hair and yelling, "JOE DON'T TOUCH THAT" most of the time.
Second, Sam is, in comparison to Joe, a much easier baby. You get the kids you get and have zero control over it. Some babies are content, some aren't, and none of it is a reflection on your competency as a parent.
Third, I got help for post partum depression and anxiety before it hit this time. And I am so glad, because it came immediately and stronger than it did the first time. I filled out the little screening in the hospital and had to talk to about 100 people about how high I scored before I could leave. As awkward as that was, it made me realize how real the condition is. Honestly, it feels like it's your fault. Like you should simply calm down and get it together (can you tell I'm a little type A??). But just like I couldn't control my blood pressure continuing to drop during labor, I really can't control so much of the PPD/PPA. With the help of a good support system, medication, a great ob, conscience thoughts, prayers, and some good advice, I'm in a really good place. The best pieces of advice I got? Eat, sleep, try to get in some sunlight. Ask for help. When you wake up and feel like you're in shambles, tell yourself, "Today isn't going to be my best day, and that's ok. It's temporary". All that sound silly? I've been surprised by how much of a difference it has made.
Finally, there is no underestimating the benefit of getting to be a "been there, done that" mom (BTDT). Nursing constantly stresses me out. So I don't do it. BTDT and it was awful and probably the biggest contributing factor to my PPD/PPA the first time. We nurse when we can and do bottles and formula the rest of the time. We are all so much happier. Baby crying? He's fine - I know, because I've BTDT. The baby won't die if I first go to the bathroom, finish my dinner, or stop Joe from jumping out a window. Need to go somewhere? It'll be okay. BTDT. There are a hundred times a day that little things like this pop up, and it's so much less stressful because we know how it ends - with a crazy 2 year old. Turns out, you don't kill your kids, you just have to keep them from killing themselves.
The biggest blessing in all this is that I'm actually enjoying my baby and my toddler. We've had days of tears and exhaustion but it's not all dark. There's been so much joy. In fact, I feel like we are hunkered down in a little insulated bubble and I'm enjoying it. The days of returning to routine and getting stuff done will come. Today is not that day. Today I will play with Joe, I will feed Sam 100x, I will do dishes, I will watch re-runs on Netflix, and I will do about 10000000 loads of laundry.