‘Baby Ruby,’ Themes, Explained: A Tense Thriller About The Nightmare Of Postpartum Psychosis 

In this social media-dominated age we live in, people’s incredibly private lives are no longer private. We somehow become lost in the views and viewpoints of millions of people on these social media platforms, losing ourselves and our own sensibilities. The feature film “Baby Ruby,” directed by Bess Wohl, explores the influencer culture arising on social media. Blogger for fashion and lifestyle, Jo, the protagonist of the story, became trapped between these two existences. One is the glamorous life she leads on her website, and the other is the stressful, depressing life she begins to live after giving birth to her child.


Spoilers Ahead

The Influence Of Social Media

Jo’s blog, “Love, Josephine,” became well-known for showcasing her French aesthetic while living in America. Curating the website led to Jo becoming a famous influencer, especially among women who admired her style and way of life. However, after her delivery, she lost the routine life to which she had grown accustomed. Jo shared photos of her during pregnancy, the baby shower, and all other joyous occasions up until the birth of her child. Right after her daughter, Ruby was born, Jo was unable to control herself dealing with postpartum depression. She was really concerned about the stretch marks on her stomach. She was unable to feel at ease, not even when she and her husband, Spencer, were having dinner outside the house. All she could think about was her baby’s constant wailing. It felt terrible at this time when her social media manager urged her to share photos of her infant in order to maintain the site’s audience. According to a conversation between Jo and a neighbor, the woman was concerned because she hadn’t noticed picture of Jo’s daughter on her website yet. Jo avoids this conversation, but the reality flashes in front of our eyes. In reality, we see it too that fans lose their minds when their favorite influencers take a pause from posting pictures. These influencers live their personal lives as though they’re under surveillance.


The Impact Of Postpartum Psychosis

In addition to the influencer culture, “Baby Ruby” portrays the horrifying effects of postpartum psychosis. Jo, who had just given birth to a beautiful daughter, started to experience difficulties after the baby was delivered. Even though her husband was considerate and even her mother-in-law was always willing to provide a hand, Jo wasn’t satisfied with these things. She was upset that Ruby, her kid, would always cry in front of her while remaining silent around other people. We watch her talking to the infant as though it was all her daughter’s fault that she couldn’t accept her mother. Jo began to doubt herself, along with everyone surrounding her. She constantly missed her old self and how carefree she used to be. Even her daughter’s physical growth gave her anxiety. She started to worry that her baby’s teeth were coming in too soon, so when her daughter bit Jo while she was breastfeeding her, she couldn’t accept how normal it was. She started to think that either her kid didn’t like her or that she was punishing her in some way. Ruby, meanwhile, was only a newborn and had not yet begun to grow mentally. 

Jo’s paranoia started out mildly but quickly became a serious problem. After a few days, she started to believe that everyone, including those neighborhood ladies, was plotting a scheme against her. She started to believe that those women didn’t have any children. She even had a sneaking suspicion that these women had murdered all of their babies and were now pursuing Ruby. She was unable to think clearly due to her pessimistic views and paranoid nature. She started to think that her mother-in-law, husband were also involved in this plan to murder her and her daughter. Jo lost all control, became completely insane, and sprinted out of the house carrying Ruby. But after a serious car accident, when she was ultimately transported to the hospital and began receiving psychiatric counseling in addition to physical care, she realized that all of the paranoid plots she had previously assumed to be true weren’t actually true. Because of the postpartum mental disorder she was experiencing, everything was all in her head, including the constant wailing of her baby. Jo had been deluded and assumed these delusions were the truth of her life. After the therapy, she understood that both the horrifying visions of child slaughter and the conspiracy theories regarding her husband were false. Nobody was after her kid; instead, her husband and mother-in-law were by her side all the time. They welcomed her home once her mental health had stabilized, but not long after she arrived, she heard Ruby’s cries once more. She flung the milk bottle at her as she began to lose patience, but it didn’t hit Ruby as she had already been taken by someone who sprinted into the forest. Jo pursued her, and she eventually found that it was Jo’s other self who had protected her baby. This sequence serves as a reminder that Jo was both the protagonist and the antagonist during the entire movie. The only person she had as an opponent was herself since her negative persona was the one who had allowed those unfavorable thoughts and bizarre, violent visions to enter her mind. Only Jo was able to control her emotions and feelings, allowing her to be a decent mother and raise her child. She then encountered the self that had been guarding Ruby. The other self-informed Jo that she wasn’t afraid of her anymore, indicating that Jo had completely recovered from her dreadful thoughts and was ready to confront reality. Ruby stopped weeping when she was finally held close to her mother, indicating that Jo had fully overcome her psychotic episodes and had stopped hearing things.


Final Words

Most mothers experience postpartum depression, also known as the baby blues, shortly after giving birth. Numerous risk factors and hereditary factors also contribute to this. In the last half of “Baby Ruby,” we learn Jo was an only child who lost her mother while she was a young child, suggesting that her mother may also have been impacted by this disorder. Jo had never known motherly affection since she was a child; thus, she found it challenging to be a parent. She was worried about being judged and about not carrying out her responsibilities. Just like Jo, any mother can become a victim of this mental disorder. That’s why postpartum psychosis isn’t something we should ignore. We can pretty well assess postpartum disorder if we look at the issue of childbirth through the lens of gender. The mother, as usual, bears the greatest responsibility when a child is born. If a father is a loving and responsible individual, he will merely make an effort to help, which is insufficient for a mother. A father hardly has time to spend with the newborn; the mother is the one who gives birth to and raises the child. Furthermore, the issue is more complicated when the mother is a working professional. This amount of pressure is sufficient to drive someone insane. Only treatment and the spouse’s proper support will make it better. Postpartum psychosis is a nightmare in rural places where women still lack rights; in contrast, women still discuss it and seek solutions in metropolitan settings. However, in rural and impoverished communities, counseling should reach out to parents and explain this term and how it impacts the victim. Otherwise, a lot of people like Jo will lose themselves due to a lack of appropriate medical care.

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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.

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