I’m going to start this post by saying that I truly do not want any sympathy. I am merely sharing my experience so that I can spare a future mama from being hit with something they never expected.
Motherhood is amazing. Amazingly beautiful, amazingly trying, amazingly wonderful, and amazingly difficult. I’ve only been a mother for a whopping 3 months and I can already tell you this. I am beyond grateful for my little one, for my pregnancy, and my birth experience. I honestly would do everything all over again, even the 4th trimester (trust me it ain’t no piece of cake).
When I got pregnant I began reading many books on what to expect during pregnancy and what will happen after the baby arrived. My doctors discussed some of these expectations and possibilities at length with me. Towards the end of my pregnancy, and after giving birth to my baby girl, postpartum depression or PPD was constantly brought up. I was screened (although if you ask me a few vague questions don’t really seem like enough to me) and told I wasn’t suffering from any PPD. I knew that wasn’t the case, so this didn’t shock me.
What did worry me was the way I started feeling every night before going to bed since about a week after I gave birth. I would get the baby ready for bed, brush my teeth, say goodnight to my husband and hop in bed. All of a sudden my chest would tighten, my mind would race, and I would feel as tho I couldn’t catch my breath.
I had never dealt with anything like this, but coming from a family who deals with a lot of anxiety, I knew that this is what it felt like.
Why now?! I had literally never dealt with anxiety EVER.
I kept asking myself what I was anxious about. Was I failing already as a mother? Am I already unraveling? Is it the fact that I will have to return to work and leave my baby with someone else 3 days a week? Is it because my husband and my relationship will ultimately never be the way it was before children? Was it all of these things?
I honestly couldn’t pinpoint any reason for it. All I can tell you is that I had no clue where it was coming from or why.
Not a single doctor or person I had come in contact with said anything to me about feeling anxious after the baby. Not one. So I really didn’t know it had anything to do with it.
Many of my girlfriends, and my husband, and family had asked me how I was doing. They said if you have any feelings of depression please talk to them. No one said anything about anxiety. So for a while I said nothing about it.
My husband has been extremely supportive and helpful through my entire pregnancy, and my postpartum journey. He consistently would ask how I felt, and to please talk to him if I felt off in any way.
One night after getting the baby to sleep, I was very overwhelmed with my anxiety. I couldn’t keep this to myself any longer. I went out to my husband and told him how I had been feeling. I said no one said anything about anxiety, they just stressed the signs of depression.
He urged me to google it.
Lowe and behold, PPA popped up. Postpartum anxiety is a very real, very common occurrence. How did no one tell me about it?
From what I was reading online, many women in forums had no idea about it either. Some of these women didn’t even know that’s what they were going through until years later.
I was not alone. This immediately made me feel better, not completely, but better.
I found forums of women discussing their anxieties and what they were doing to treat them. I was encouraged to talk about everything on my mind, and to share it all with a loved one. I found links to get help and seek therapy if it was so severe I couldn’t get through it on my own.
Here is my question: why is this not talked about? Why are we only focusing on PPD when PPA is just as prevalent?
This is why I am talking about it. May is Maternity Mental Heath Awareness month, and I hope that by talking about my own experience I can help someone else in theirs.
If you are pregnant, or a new mama and you ever feel any symptoms that don’t quite fit into the PPD category but you know aren’t normal to you, talk to someone. You are not alone.
PPA is very real. You don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to a loved one, a fellow mama, a therapist, anyone. For me just talking about my feelings has helped tremendously, but that may not be the case for everyone.
Please never feel unworthy of asking for help, and getting it. You deserve it mamas. You give your all everyday for your family. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup!
I hope in the future doctors will open the discussion for not just PPD but anxiety as well and any other postpartum mood disorders not discussed. Until then, it is our duty to help one another out and share our own experiences.
If I can help just one woman know that she isn’t alone, and there is help for her out there, then I am happy.
You are worthy of happiness, you are worthy of help. You are worthy mama. Don’t ever forget it.