To say that “Baby Ruby” is intense would be an understatement. Wohl creates such a feeling of unease that the film verges on intolerable. I was at the edge of my seat for most of the run-time — in part because the cinematography was so unnerving, but also because I couldn’t help but be worried about poor baby Ruby and her deteriorating mother, Jo. Postpartum depression is getting more recognition now, but it’s still a largely misunderstood condition — one that often brings with it feelings of deep shame. Society tells us that “good” mothers love their children and tackle the strains and stress of infant care with ease. But that’s just not what the first few months are like for the vast majority of new parents.
As mother-in-law Doris (Jayne Atkinson) confides in Jo: “It’s hell.”
I did not experience postpartum depression, and to be honest, both my kids were relatively easy babies. Still, I can relate to Jo’s experience in “Baby Ruby.” For years, I would hear an infant crying at night — even when my youngest was well into his toddler years. I remember the pain of bathroom trips post-birth, and the embarrassment of walking around in what felt like a pillow wrapped around my crotch. I breastfed, and there were times when my nipples were so chapped they bled. Nursing when you’re tired, and you’re sore — it feels like life is being sucked out of you. I was a different person walking into the hospital pregnant than I was when I left with my child, and I’ve never felt that experience has been represented honestly in media — until “Baby Ruby.”