My Year with Postpartum Anxiety
Disclaimer: This blog post is about my experience only and is not to diagnose or treat any symptoms you may be experiencing. If you feel you are experiencing Postpartum Anxiety or Depression, please contact your physician.
Our second son was born fast and furious on a chilly December day. My parents rushed to stay with our first son, who was 2 and a half at the time. Unlike his older brother, tiny human #2 latched perfectly at birth, only lost 4oz before we were discharged home, and seemed to be overall a “good” baby as they say.
Then he was 2 weeks old….
And the colic started (and stayed until he was almost 6 months old!). And he cried. All. The. Time. The only times he didn’t cry was when he was actively nursing, sleeping, or being held in the exact way he wanted to be held. Then the reflux kicked in at 4 weeks. I had a needy toddler who was potty trained, but still had accidents every now and then and needed help going potty. I had a newborn who cried incessantly and woke every 2 hours around the clock. My husband worked 60+ hours a week at a very demanding job 40 minutes from our house and we had no support near us.
My anxiety returned with a vengeance
I have had anxiety since I could remember, but that story is for a different post. When my first was born, I had minimal issues that subsided fairly quickly. But this was different and I could feel it.
Every moment of every day was bathed in worry. What if my toddler hurt himself when I was busy trying to keep the newborn from crying? What if there was something horribly wrong with my newborn and I had no idea? The neighbors across the street had their house broken into while I was at the grocery store with the kids. Would they come back? Were we next? The questions spun in my head. And everything was worst case scenario.
It was the looming threat of the worst case scenario that sent me into a downward spiral. I just functioned through each day and thought I had no one to talk to. I had quit my job to stay home with the kids and really didn't have many friends outside of work where we were living. My husband tried his best to understand, but it’s so hard to explain what’s going on in your head when you don’t even understand it yourself.
Looking back, I should have gone to the doctor for my postpartum anxiety
But in my head at the time, I was managing. I didn’t want medication to interfere with breastfeeding. When was I going to have time to get an appointment for myself without the kids? Excuses swirled in my head. We felt lead to pick up our lives and move to be closer to family. I thought I’d get better. I didn’t. It took time. And hard work on my part.
My mommy advice to everyone I know is to please please PLEASE seek the help of a medical professional if you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum anxiety/depression. I feel like as moms, we sometimes inwardly feel like we are a failure at this mom thing that we have always wanted to do if we admit that we are having a hard time dealing with it. Your doctor (most likely) will have heard your story over and over again. And there’s no shame in it.
We hear all the time about postpartum depression and are even screened for it at our 6 week postpartum checkups. But little attention is given to postpartum anxiety, even though there is now evidence that postpartum anxiety and OCD are much more common than postpartum depression.
If we decide to have any more kids, I know now I need to pack myself up and head to my physician if it happens again. I told my husband that if there is a next time, he must make me go if I try and make excuses. Because I can’t do it again. My family can’t do it again.