“Oh my god! Two options are running through my head right now. 1. To jump out the window of a 20-story building or 2. To fucking put him in the crib and run and run and run the fuck away.”
That is the text message I received from my wife. Not exactly comforting when you’re at work and she is home alone with your new baby. Is this parental bipolarism? What is happening?
Newborn babies are challenging. Sometimes as a new parent you want to throw your baby out the window. But just as often, you look at the baby and are overcome with feelings of love and admiration – so much so that it can almost make you break down and cry. However, at times you want to do both simultaneously – love your baby and still run away. It is bizarre.
The manic-depressive condition known as bipolar disorder is characterized by unpredictable episodes of severe depression and overenthusiastic elation. Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder is a real thing requiring treatment.
New parents who experience negative emotions toward their children are not bipolar. It is more of a pseudo-parental bipolarism, expressed through a trajectory of mood swings based entirely on the behavior of your newborn and your inability to console it.
Newborns are enigmas. They are little mysteries wrapped in riddles and no matter the extent to which you consult the “experts” and advice columns, even articles on this very website, there will always be moments when you’re baffled. Flummoxed. Confused beyond belief. Moments when your rage hits a ceiling and you can nary utter more than a frustrated sigh. Moments when you truly do consider running away, followed promptly by moments of intense guilt and self-hatred for your inability to solve your little engima’s problem.
As you learn to manage the erratic and unpredictable behavior of your newborn, the moments of pseudo parental bipolarism slowly subside. It is truly amazing how quickly you will look back in awe at your own behavior – not understanding how the evil thoughts of harming your child were even allowed to exist in your head in the first place. But for now, take solace in the fact that it is completely normal to want to toss your baby in the dumpster. Also, take solace in the fact that no matter how real your sordid rapaciousness seems at the time, you will not act on it. Probably.