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Coping With Postpartum Anxiety

104 Comments

sweet-little-baby

I had a difficult labor (30 hours ending in a c-section), followed by breastfeeding issues (my daughter had a tongue tie), and colic. It’s been tough. I say all this because I still feel the need to defend my postpartum anxiety.

Somewhere around the six-week mark after Mae’s birth, everything caught up to me. The sleep deprivation, the crying, the worry. I would wake up in the morning with a sense of dread and anxiety that is hard to explain. It felt like my body was simultaneously being held down by a cement block as well as stretched in a thousand directions. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. Walking to the shower felt like running a marathon.

People make you think those first days, weeks, and months of your child’s life should be the happiest of your life. And yes, I was overwhelmed with love for Mae, but I was also paralyzed by anxiety and worry. I was able to take care of Mae, but I couldn’t do a thing for myself. I wasn’t eating or sleeping. Food tasted like cardboard and sleep wouldn’t come. It was like my body buzzed with worry. I would get up, feed Mae, change diapers, sing to her, but my mind was constantly looking into the future at the next possible catastrophe. My body was going through the necessary motions for Mae, but that was all I could muster.

I didn’t want to see anyone because I knew they’d expect me to be a new, glowing mother, and I was far from that.

I kept telling myself this was just the baby blues and it would pass. But it didn’t pass. It got worse. I was a bad mother. I couldn’t cut it. I was so ashamed. A low point that I can clearly remember is my mom spoon-feeding me yogurt and I wasn’t physically able to swallow.

I “woke up” one morning and literally thought I might die from lack of sleeping and eating. My heart was racing and my head was fuzzy. I’d forgotten to eat for 24 hours.

I hit rock bottom. I wanted to feel better for my family, my husband, and most importantly, my daughter, but I just couldn’t do it on my own. My family and husband decided I needed help. They were in pain just watching me.I was in agony.

I saw my midwife. I got on medication that’s safe for breastfeeding. I joined a support group. I took baby steps. It took two weeks for the medication to start working and those were the longest two weeks of my life. Bit by bit, I started feeling a little better. But it’s still tough some days. I still get worried about the future or trying new things with Mae, but I force myself.

I wish I hadn’t let myself struggle for so long. I wish I’d known more about the anxiety-side of postpartum. I’d always heard about depression, and I wasn’t really depressed. I was overwhelmed with worry, a worry so intense that I could barely move. What if she started crying and never stopped? What if I couldn’t soothe her? What if my breasts weren’t producing enough milk? What if her intestines were twisted? My mind was racing and never rested.

I want other women to know they aren’t alone; that you aren’t less of a mother because of postpartum anxiety or depression. (I am still having to tell myself this daily.) But, I am strong. I never stopped mothering Mae. I’m still breastfeeding her even if it is from a bottle. And I’ve kissed her and loved her every day in spite of my anxiety.

Related post: My Journey with Postpartum Depression

Comments

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  1. 1

    H Zahid says

    This hits so close to home for me. It took me almost 4 months to realize that something was wrong with me. I was so scared that my daughter would cry and I wouldn’t know what to do. On top of that I had an aunt who kept on telling me that my daughter would die if I did this or did that. It was also a battle to breastfeed my daughter, not because of any issues I or my daughter had, but my mom and that aunt kept on telling me that I wasn’t producing enough milk. I had two wonderful friends who supported me through that terrible phase and today I am almost the confident person I was before the birth of my daughter. I still find myself getting a little bit scared, but anticipating what might happen and preparing for it the best I can has helped me step out of the house. Oh and cutting that aunt out of my life has helped too.

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    • 5

      says

      I sure didn’t want to press the “like” button, but I’m the same way. I have a four year old son and a two year old daughter. It was my last pregnancy that triggered the depression and anxiety. To this day. I’m glad I got help. I hope you have too. 😊

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  2. 11

    Catherine says

    I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder but I hadn’t really thought about postpartum depression or anxiety until I had my son and it hit me like a rock. I would cry from the moment my husband left for work until the moment he got back. When he was home I would make him do most things for my son because I just couldn’t face it. After I finally got help, I now feel so guilty. I feel like I lost the first year of my son’s life to misery that could have been prevented if I had gotten help earlier. When my daughter gets here in 9 weeks, I am much more prepared to know the signs and to reach out for help.

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  3. 16

    says

    I hit that wall at 2 weeks. Hubby wasn’t helping me, I was feeding baby constantly, and was extremely sleep deprived. I didn’t eat anything for 3 days and lost 13 pounds because of it. I had been in labor for 26 hours and had to have an emergency c-section, for which I almost died due to blood loss. But things got better. I was eating, and sleeping, my son has gotten into a habit of sleeping from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. We go to bed at 8 now. Sure I cry at certain things sometimes, but that’s normal.

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  4. 17

    says

    Yep, c section with triplets. Two weeks later finding out you have a septic infection followed by two emergency surgeries, a stroke and paralysis on the left side of your body. Fast forward 6 yrs and my anxiety is still out of control.

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  5. 23

    says

    I was a very outgoing gal in general. I suffered depression as a teen and in my first marriage. Then met my now hubby. Didn’t have depression, but anxiety. I am now quite the introvert because of it. And honestly, I don’t mind it at all.

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