“Come back to bed”, my husband said to me. I had gotten up to check on my one month old who was wrapped up like a neatly packed burrito. I had heard of baby blues and feeling a little anxious after having a baby, so I thought this was normal. I had been up 6 times that night, only to make sure he was still breathing. Something about putting my hand on his chest and seeing the rise and fall, just made me feel so much more relaxed. Friends and family explained to me that every pregnancy was different. Some women feel perfectly normal after childbirth, while others became their own personal nightmare.
“Can I hold him?”, said one of my co-workers. I had brought the baby in to pick up some supplies for his bedroom and I figured I might as well take advantage of my employee discount. I stared at her and told her I’d rather not have anyone disturb him while he naps. That was a lie. I didn’t want anyone to touch him. I was scared someone would get him sick, or even worse, physically harm him. In my mind I knew that if he just stuck with me, than everything would be okay.
I look in my diaper bag for the hand sanitizer. Sanitizer was my best friend after my son was born. The bag was packed to the point of the zipper not wanting to close. I had purchased the largest diaper bag I could find. I kept diapers, swaddlers, bottles, cleaner, wipes, toys, extra clothes, lotion and diaper rash cream. You name it, I am sure I had it. If there was any time that I was outside the house, I made sure to get ready an hour early. This was not so I could put on makeup or do my hair, but instead, to make sure that I had a solution and the item needed to fix any problem that should arise throughout the day.
“Everything will be okay, I promise.”, I whispered to my son, while cradling him close to my chest. I started to worry myself. I had started picturing worst case scenarios to everything. I could see it in my mind playing out and always having a horrific ending. What was supposed to be me giving my son a fast bath, became a nightmare. “What if’s” kept circling in my head. I was starting to think that something wasn’t quite right with how I was feeling.
“Honey, I think I have really bad anxiety. I need help.” I had sat my husband down and let my worries flow like a fast current. I explained how I couldn’t stop worrying about the baby. I almost felt obsessive. I knew that there was no way that I could keep my child in a bubble and not let him into the world. I needed professional help. I immediately called a therapist from a list that I had stored away. Thankfully the hospital supplied me with one, in case depression decided to show up and try to take over my life.
When seeing the therapist, I was told I was not alone. There were many women out there that were experiencing the same issues I was having. Anxiety tried to ruin me at that point and I decided to not to let it happen. After many sessions of just talking out my worries, I finally started to see a difference. I was not scared anymore and I no longer saw worst case scenarios playing through my head like a horror movie.
Today, my anxiety still stands. I have moments where I worry about the kids going to school, playing outside or even allowing others to watch them. After being diagnosed with PPD, I had noticed my anxiety had developed into a bad case of PPA. I have family and friends who are here for me. My best advice for a woman suffering through the same mental illness is, speak up. Make sure you tell someone how you feel. To mom’s everywhere: you are not alone. Don’t ever let Anxiety get the best of you. The next time you are in front of a mirror, look up, speak up and say “Anxiety..You don’t own me..”