MOTHERHOOD | Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
I read countless articles on Postpartum and the nurse that taught our baby course spoke about it in length as well. Again, until you are in the trenches with your newborn, you will not be able to comprehend all the emotions you will encounter. Which by the way are amplified by the severe lack of sleep. When babies are born we think they are so adorable (and they are), we post all these cute, snuggly photos of them as we coo and aww over them. My Instagram feed is full of fun, beautiful, lovely photos of my son and my little fam jam. I'm here today to share some more #truthbombs with you and to talk about the dark side of the fourth trimester. It's not all fun and games like my Instagram feed portrays.
To those of you (a small percentage of people out there) that have the perfect baby that sleeps well and does not fuss, that have a lot of help and they get to have date nights with hubby every week - I'm jealous but I am also very happy for you. This is not the case for a large percentage of new parents. On the flip side, the side that I don't show you in photos are the nights when my son just won't stop crying (especially now because he is teething). The days when he just won't stop fussing. The days I don't shower. The fighting and the bickering and all the frustrating moments between my husband and I. You putter along like a zombie, running on fumes as you navigate this new life with your baby, but then the sleep deprivation sets in, your baby can not speak, they depend on you solely for EVERYTHING, you think you'd NEVER EVER EVER think about hurting your precious baby...
Let me say this before I continue - The LOVE for my son grows at an exponential rate and I will do anything and everything for him. My heart is BURSTING on a daily, absolutely BURSTING with love...It's indescribable. My heart ACTUALLY physically aches...that's how much I love my son. I stare at him constantly at aw that my husband and I made a little human. Now, as I was saying...
I remember it very clearly, we were heading into month two (approx 4 to 8 weeks). I was just coming down from a stint of raging roller coaster hormones. Like coming off an ecstasy high, I went from very high to very low over a 2 week period. Crying in the shower and during the middle of the night while feeding my son were "my times to release". During this time I was at my most vulnerable and my weakest emotional point. One night I was at my wits end (my son crying uncontrollably, totally inconsolable, I'm completely sleep deprived, I was breastfeeding like a machine), I was clutching onto my son (balling my eyes out, shaking) not knowing how to process the thoughts going through my head. I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to shake him. I wanted him to SHUT UP. My husband ran up the stairs and grabbed him from me, brushed my hair back away from my face and told me everything will be ok...And everything was ok and the next day was a better day and every other day since got better and better.
However, since this awful gut wrenching experience, I've been riddled with anxiety. The type that makes it difficult to breathe and makes my chest tight. Because of my anxiety, I became extremely OCD, I was constantly on edge and I battled with some insomnia. I was forewarned about postpartum depression many times but no one ever talked about getting postpartum ANXIETY. What am I so anxious about? EVERYTHING. What are we going to do about care? Oh, he's rolling over and sleeping on his stomach, will he suffocate in his sleep? Money - EI funds are SHIT, are we going to be ok financially? Every time our son cries in the middle of the night, my heart races and I end up tossing and turning all night. Am I a shitty mom? Am I being an even shittier wife? Am I doing enough? The house is a mess. My poor dog, I'm not giving him enough attention. What's it going to be like when I go back to work? Whatever it is, my mind will go there and think the worst of it.
I'm very open about my anxiety and gladly talk about my experience with anyone. The more I talk about it, the more I find out that I'm not alone. Listen, I haven't figured it all out yet, but I take it all day by day. However, I've figured out a few things along way that have helped me deal with my anxiety:
1. TALK ABOUT IT - I told my husband immediately once I started noticing these "feelings". His support and understanding means everything to me and helps me get on with my day. I don't hide it, I'm very open about it and I'm not ashamed either.
2. EXERCISE - For me, it's walking. Lots of walking. I can only find the time and the motivation to go to a SPIN or yoga class every once and a while at this point, but movement definitely helps. Once I feel my anxiety building and creeping up on me, I pack everything up, grab my son, get the stroller and off we go. I feel like Forrest Gump when he kept on running...I just keep walking. As I walk, I do some deep breathing and before you know it, the anxiety subsides. On a good day anxiety goes away in about 15 minutes, on a bad day, my walk can last over an hour. I also credit my pregnancy weight loss to all this walking, it seriously works.
3. ACTIVITIES - I had cabin fever at week 2. My caesarean kept me in the house until about week 4 - 5 and I was going stir crazy, but I was patient and wanted to heal properly. I'm only 7 months into this new mom thing and I can tell you it gets better day by day. Getting out of the house on any given week is a major win. Making sure that I "stepped out" at least once a day, even if it was just to pick up a coffee or to walk around Shoppers for a while, kept my mind off things. Trying something new also helps and this is why I registered for GOLF lessons! Also, I'm beginning to take my son out to things like gymnastics and swimming which keeps my mind busy.
4. LET IT GO - The quicker you come to terms with your new life the easier life will be. Those days of being uber productive and getting a million things done in one day? Not going to happen and forget trying so hard to get it all done, period. I've slowly gotten better at this and I don't over commit to anything. I posted this funny thing on my Instagram a while back - PARENTHOOD, pick only 2 (sometimes just 1) in a day. This is when the support of your family, community and your spouse kick in.
I feel even better now that I have this post done. I needed to get this off my chest. Now, off for a walk I go!