The Delta Variant Has Heightened My Postpartum Anxiety, And I Am Struggling

by Tanay Howard
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I don’t consider myself an overly anxious person. That’s probably because I’m a person in denial. If you look up anxiety in the dictionary I am almost positive that a picture of me hyperventilating into a brown paper bag comes up next to it. I am the literal definition of a “nervous Nelly.”

I’m not sure when it was that I realized I suffer from anxiety. But the acknowledgment of said realization has helped me tremendously when it comes to navigating adulthood. I definitely know what my triggers are and I have found ways to cope with them without requiring medication (but y’know I’m not certified in anything, speak to your doctor and whatnot).

This was all pre-‘Rona.

And you know what makes an anxious person even more anxious? The unknown. You know what makes that damn near spiral out of control? Pregnancy hormones. YUP! I cooked up the perfect concoction of anxiety soup for myself and packaged it quite carelessly into a pandemic box.

Don’t get me wrong. My baby has been the most amazing thing that has happened to me in the last 15+ months. When I feel myself spiraling, she is there. Her sweet smiles and baby coos bring me the exact relief that I need. And at the end of every night I thank God for giving her and her brothers to me. But that doesn’t stop the panic.

Because where I should be worrying about the normal things new moms worry about, Delta (the variant) has now strolled right on in and made herself at home quicker than Goldilocks in the three bears house. And all this COVID talk is weighing on my already out of whack hormones.

I am LEGIT struggling.

I don’t get to just have new mom fear. I don’t get the regular “Is my baby still breathing because she’s been napping for quite some time” worries. I get the… “Is that breathing normal? Why are you congested? What kind of germs did your brothers give you??” worries. Instead of enjoying her warm cuddles, I am constantly in a panic that she has a fever. I have used the forehead thermometer on her more times than the number of weeks she’s been here.

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I am not functioning normally.

It isn’t even just the baby. Any time anyone in here so much as sniffles, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. My heart rate increases. I am in a constant state of panic. Please don’t even get me started on what feels like the worst allergy season that we have ever had! Nothing goes with allergies quite like the fear of lung infection. I’ve convinced myself that we are all just one sneeze away from Covid barreling (back) into our home and incapacitating us all.

And to top it all off I have to worry about everyone OUTSIDE too. Because for some reason the grown adults are handling the pandemic worse than the kids. I can’t trust anyone to social distance, mask up, get vaccinated — or, at the bare damn minimum, wash their hands often and correctly. Why does this country have no “act right”?

When I found out I was pregnant last fall I was sure that by the time my baby got here COVID would be working its way into our past. We would be getting back to our norms of traveling and going to school (without panicking about THAT) and enjoying the outdoors without fear of human contact. Instead, I’m stuck going through the woes of the postpartum period with a baby on my hip, constantly reminding my older two children to keep their masks over their nose. And for god sakes please don’t touch anything, stay off the ground outside, and don’t touch your sister without washing and sanitizing your hands. And repeat repeat repeat.

I’m avoiding the news even more these days because just the thought of the C word sends me on a two-hour doomscroll on Google. I have prepared myself for every worst case scenario if we were to be met with Covid (again!!!) and have a vitamin list longer than my six-year-old’s Christmas list. The combination of pandemic and anxiety and newborn fatigue have turned me into a crazy lady. I cannot WAIT for this crap to be over.

The Delta variant is honestly stealing my postpartum joy. And while I know eventually I will be, right now I am not okay. Just say a little prayer for me.