I remember one day when my husband and I were over a friend’s house and we were asking them questions. We covered everything from parenting to pregnancy to the hospital stay to sex during pregnancy -everything. Then the husband brought up postpartum depression. I naively laughed and said Isn’t that when women want to kill their children, cry all the time and hide in their rooms? Oh no -that won’t be me. They both looked at me and the husband told me that there are different levels of postpartum and it could very well happen. You don’t know how you will feel after the baby comes. So then I asked the wife if she had it and she divulged that she didn’t have depression but postpartum anxiety. She was overwhelmingly anxious, worried about being a good mother. It got to the point where if something went wrong, she went into a full on anxiety attack, no matter how big or small the something was. As I was listening to her, I thought that could happen. I mean I finally got this opportunity. I will be constantly wondering if I’m doing a good job.
Fast forward month and a half after Xavier was born. I was laying on the couch with my feet on the floor and Xavier was laying on top of my chest. I must have dozed off because I remember waking up to him sliding off me onto the ottoman sitting next to us and then rolling onto the couch. I quickly scooped him up but started crying uncontrollably. I handed Xavier to my husband and ran into the bathroom. I couldn’t stop crying. I just kept thinking what if the ottoman wasn’t there and he would have fell to the floor. He could have hurt his head, his chest, his neck -I was thinking everything. I was so scared to hold him again that I didn’t the rest of the night. For two weeks straight, my anxiety was at all time high. I was scared to hold him, touch him, feed him. I was afraid to fall asleep. I checked on him every ten minutes while he was sleeping to make sure he was sleep. I cried damn near every day. I remember calling my mother a few days later crying about it. She tried to calm me down but I pretty much couldn’t be consoled. Plus all of this happened after finding out Xavier had jaundice and was in the ER for three days. I just kept crying and feeling like I was a failure. It took a couple of times where my husband would have to sit me down and tell me that Xavier is fine and I’m a good mother. Everything was okay.
We saw the couple I mentioned during all of this at a birthday party and the husband pulled me to the side and asked me how I was doing. I gave the normal ‘I’m beyond tired’ response and he asked me again. Then he told me that he and my husband talked. At first I was upset but then I thought I’m glad that he had someone to ask about these things and say how he felt. After all said and done, we determined that I didn’t have postpartum depression and not so much the baby blues but the anxiety. I would go from 1 to 100 with worry and automatic guilt if it seemed something didn’t go right. We don’t hear much about postpartum anxiety because I think we as women don’t know how to catch or recognize it. Hell. When I went to my six week follow up, my doctor jokingly asked if I had any thoughts about hurting the baby. I said no and he moved on. I wish that he would have had some follow up questions like are you having panic attacks, is your anxiety distorting your reality, or is the feeling of being overwhelmed too much? I would have answered yes to all three and then possibly would have talked to someone. Fortunately for me, things got a little easier and I calmed my nerves. I started meditating again and reminded myself daily that I am on a new journey that is motherhood. I am not going to be perfect and learning everything all at once. Xavier is fine. You are doing a great job. For those though you might be going through this, talk about it. Don’t hold it in. Don’t assume that it’s just because you’re tired or that this is supposed to happen. Reach out to your friends (the open minded ones.) Try to find ways to relax if you can. But I cannot stress enough -talk talk talk talk talk! If you are feeling this way or if you think you are, talk to someone. Hell -you can talk to me. I’ll listen. We’re growing together, ladies. Until next time.