A few months back, a good friend of mine wrote a blog post about her experience with postpartum anxiety. It was around this same time that I read another article about postpartum anxiety. This wasn’t a new concept for me. I’d read about and heard about both postpartum anxiety and depression a long time before I got pregnant. I just didn’t realize how intense it could be.
I’ve had anxiety for a long time. When Seth and I decided to get pregnant, I stopped taking my anxiety medication. Throughout my pregnancy, I was aware that my anxiety could get worse after the baby was born. I didn’t know how that would be possible, though. The first few weeks after Bastian was born were absolute bliss. I spent all my waking moments staring at his perfect face in wonder. Slowly, the postpartum anxiety began to creep in, though.
At my 6 week postpartum appointment, I lied when my midwife asked me if I’d been more anxious than would be normal for a first time mom. I was scared to admit the absolute paranoia that gripped me during my every waking moment, making it hard to function.
There’s a stigma surrounding postpartum anxiety. You hear stories of women becoming detached, and even harming their babies. I think it escalates to that extreme fear that overcomes you, making you think your child is in imminent danger. I’ve felt that fear for the majority of the last four months. I’d wake up a hundred times a night to place my hand on Bastian’s chest, just to ensure he was still breathing. Even during the most mundane of tasks, like rocking him to sleep for a nap, I’d have these terrifying scenarios run through my head where the situation could go horribly wrong.
My postpartum anxiety became debilitating. I cried daily, feeling like I wasn’t a good mom. I was in constant fear that I was raising my son wrong. The entire experience put a strain on my relationship with Seth, even though he was nothing but understanding and loving. I was just terrified.
Having a baby is hard. I know my story is not unique. It took me 4 months to feel like I could reach out and seek help. The last few weeks have been leaps and bounds better since I contacted my therapist. Despite the stigma around postpartum anxiety, I want to raise awareness. You’re not alone. You’re not a horrible mother. And your child is going to be okay. Because you’re an amazing parent and you’re doing your best. Please don’t be afraid to get help. Being a mother is a joy and one of the absolute best parts of my life, and being gripped by postpartum anxiety can make it difficult to enjoy that.