The other day I was scrolling through my newsfeed when I came across this article. There are always Mom articles out there but this one really grabbed me when I began reading the headline of what’s PPA. I’ve heard of Mom’s going through PPD ( Postpartum Depression ) after the first few weeks/months of having their newborns. In fact, when I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I felt similar feelings of sadness, anger, exhaustion but I thought it was just the trials of getting used to have a newborn. You have very little sleep, you’re unsure of really what you’re doing and you seem to be spiraling. However, I didn’t feel like I was depressed. These moments would wash over me and then I would be ok again.
I remember thinking I wasn’t depressed but even my OB and friends thought it was PPD. Suddenly, as I was reading the article, they weren’t discussing PPD but PPA ( Postpartum Anxiety ). I’ve never been fully diagnosed as having anxiety but I definitely know what triggers my own anxious feelings. There were nights when I felt like something was wrong with Lily so I would be up until 2am researching whatever her symptoms were. Then there were times I would cry in the room holding her because she seemed just as frustrated as I was about nursing ( which wasn’t going well ). I never wanted to leave her. EVER. I know I needed to get sleep but would only let my Mom, Dad or husband watch her. I felt like no one could do the job that I was doing as her new Mom.
I was constantly researching, calling the doctor about small things like her sniffling or if she was breathing ok. I was in a panic at work if something were to happen to her when I finally had to go back and would text our babysitter multiple times a day asking how she was doing. It was a fog. It was terrible.
My biggest moment was one night when she was about 3 months ago, I put her down late in the morning after another bad feeding session because Lily had a bad latch, and kept thinking she had stopped breathing. I kept putting my finger under her nose and vividly saw her turn blue in my mind. In reality, she was perfectly fine and sleeping. What was happening to me?! Was I going crazy?! And the worst thing I did? I kept it to myself. I never told anyone I was feeling these things because as Moms, as wives, as a person, we want everyone to think we are keeping it together. We are winning this battle of parenthood. We have it all under control. And I should have said something looking back.
I was petrified of everything. I was worried something would happen and I wouldn’t be able to take care of her. I honestly thought all Mom’s felt this constant anxiety and my husband and Mom even assured me that it was normal. But it isn’t. you shouldn’t be feeling these things all the time.
“One reason why postpartum anxiety continues to be overlooked is that it doesn’t exist as a standalone diagnosis. Instead, women may meet criteria for generalized anxiety disorder, for something called “adjustment disorder with anxiety” (in which symptoms develop within several months of a specific stressor) ― or even for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Before the release of latest version of the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) ― the “bible” of mental health diagnoses ― some perinatal mental health advocates lobbied to have PPA recognized as its own separate category. At the very least, they hoped for a postpartum onset modifier for generalized anxiety, like there is for depression. It would have sent a message that anxiety that begins during pregnancy (or within the first six months after a woman gives birth) is somehow distinct.”
So why speaking up now you’re wondering? I don’t want the judgement from friends and I’m happy to discuss what happened because it should be talked about. If you’re feeling these things, talk to someone. Reach out. Heck, send me an e-mail and we’ll work out because I have been there and want to help you through it too. We shouldn’t be alone in this and to be alone with our own thoughts sometimes is really scary.
Being a parent is scary. Being a parent is tough. Being a parent is down right impossible some days. But it takes a village. A strong one. With those around you that want to help you succeed and have been in your shoes. Surround yourself with those that lift you up and help you get out of that fog. You need them and they need you too. I’m of course no expert in this so if you are thinking you need to seek help, please talk to your doctor too and let them know your feelings/symptoms. It’s the best thing you’ll do.