This post has been hard to write.
I have so much I want to share, so many mommas I want to help but I've been at a loss of how to get my message across. So, I decided to write about what I know to be true.
post partum anxiety is more common than postpartum depression.
Postpartum anxiety is not talked about in our society
Postpartum anxiety is very, very real.
I would love to share my entire story of how I came to learn about postpartum anxiety and some science behind it but all I am going to say is thank God for momma groups like The Second Time Mama Class at Amma Parenting Center. Our teacher shared so much knowledge and I will forever be grateful.
So, here is my story with postpartum anxiety.
After Attley was born, her biggest hurdle was learning to eat. I sat with her day in and day out desperately begging her to eat. Counting every Millimeter, every drop of milk in the hopes that she would meet her goal. It was so emotionally, physically, and mentally draining. She would do well, and then we would go backwards. I would arrive at the hospital each morning hoping today was the day we would move to the final feeding step. After 5 grueling weeks and by the grace of God, Attley was discharged on Christmas Eve.
Fast forward two amazing weeks at home and Attley caught a cold resulting in RSV and being admitted into the hospital. Attley fought for her life and at one point stopped breathing. Again, God gave her tiny little body the strength to push through and get better. As she started to recover and feel better, a nurse came in and we were told we would have to meet a feeding goal for Attley in order to be discharged.
This is where I knew something was wrong.
I lost it. I started to weep uncontrollably in her room, barely able to breathe thinking about trying to meet new feeding goals. My mind started racing. My body was hot. And I knew something wasn't right.
During my meltdown, I did my best to explain to Matt that I couldn't feed Attley. I could not do another feeding goal. Being the amazing man he is, he took over. He did all the feedings and worked with the nurses and occupational therapists to make sure Attley was doing well. After a week in the pediatric intensive care unit, we were finally discharged.
As we got settled at home for the second time, I found myself getting anxious for every feeding with Attley. I became paranoid about her “leakage” (milk spilling out of the corners of her mouth) as she ate. I would sit there and worry-- is she getting enough? Is she eating right? Am I holding her wrong?
After a few days of this paranoid thinking and expressing some concern in my momma class, I had my lightbulb moment. In class, our teacher explained that when a prolonged traumatic event occurs, your body starts to always want to stay in flight or fight mode. It becomes accustomed to always being on alert so when things finally settle down, it doesn't know what to do. So, it creates a flight or fight response. There are scientific words that I can't remember but the gist was-- I had been in flight or fight mode for 12 weeks and my body didn't know what to do now that it was over. At this point, I was still an emotional mess. I remember calling Matt and him asking me if I'm ok and my reply was “No. I'm not.”
I made an appointment with my OBGYN clinic and got seen that day. After chatting with my doctor and discussing options, I decided to go on a low dose antianxiety medication.
I think it's hard to admit you need help and sometimes it's hard to take medicine for it but I knew I needed to calm my anxiety so I could be a good wife and momma.
Still to this day, I am taking my “little blue pill” as I call it. This month (September) has been a wake up call that I still need it and that I'm still recovering from the events of last fall. Having a baby is hard, becoming a momma is hard and it's ok to need help.
To anyone reading this, here is my plea to you:
If you don't feel right, reach out. To a friend, family member, coworker, doctor. If you aren't ok, don't say that you are.
And my biggest plea is to any woman reading this, be open! My anti anxiety medicine costs me $1.24 for a month's worth, but if I want to see a therapist about all of this it's about $100+ an hour. We NEED to be each other's support system, cheerleader, friend.
I hope that if you find yourself with postpartum anxiety you take care of yourself first. This saying might be cheesy but it is true.. “You can't pour from an empty cup”