My husband had never seen me have a panic attack before. This one hit me out of nowhere. I felt it rising slowly all day until it was uncontrollable and all I could do was ride out the wave telling myself that I was okay and it would be over soon. And after about 45 minutes it was. I had just given birth to my son and we were in the darkest days of the winter which have routinely been my hardest times of the year. I felt like I was losing it. My whole life had just changed due to this new and wonderful baby boy but I was still trying to get a hold of my new role and my new routine. The anxiety and worry that came along with new motherhood was beginning to feel a bit overwhelming.
I was worried about everything. I was absolutely terrified of SIDS and I constantly found myself waking up several times between feedings just to make sure my little guy was still breathing. I was always making sure his development was on track. Googling and googling every little thing. I would get to the pediatrician and express some of the concerns I was having about my son’s development only to be told he was doing great. That would ease my worries temporarily until I was back at googling the same thing again thinking maybe I didn’t express my concerns to the doctor clearly enough. I was so worried about being a perfect mom that looking back I feel like I lost a lot of time not being in the present moment soaking up how beautiful my newborn was. Time just flew by so fast and my head was somewhere else during most of those first few months.
To top it off, my relationship with my husband was changing. It was difficult as we adjusted in the beginning. We hadn’t really known what to expect before having a baby, and now we were like fish out of water navigating new parenthood. We found ourselves neglecting each other because we were just so tired and weren’t communicating what we expected or needed. We often felt very alone as we just didn’t know how to express ourselves. Little did we know that months later we would find out we were dealing with many of the same emotions. In fact it was my husband who encouraged me to speak to my doctor about my feelings which were some of the strongest I have ever felt. This would lead me to a diagnosis of late onset postpartum depression. Communication was necessary for us and if we were going to survive, we would need to stay constantly linked.
But my worries continued. I just couldn’t get a grip until all of a sudden, my little baby boy was walking- no- running and I realized I could not miss out on another precious moment because my mind was somewhere else. I read a quote on Pinterest that suggested we should turn anxiety on it’s head and be thankful that it exists as it shows us how much we really care. Because it was true, I love my son in a way that words cannot express. A mother’s love is truly a wonderful phenomenon. I decided to approach every moment of panic and anxiety and turn it into action and gratitude.
Instead of constantly googling I would ask myself if this was something urgent. If the answer was no, I would put the computer away. If it was a major concern, I would call the doctor immediately. And of course it is no surprise that in the past 20 months I have only needed to call the doctor once. I started to be grateful for my son’s health and big boy smarts. I spent more time finding new learning activities I could do with him versus worrying that he wasn’t learning enough.
I made sure he was safe at all times especially during sleep. I spoke to his doctor about my concerns regarding SIDS and he gave me all the information I needed to make sure I could keep my son as safe as possible. I now feel confident as we are approaching Baby No. 2’s due date that while this will always remain a concern, I will not find myself preoccupied with it.
I started to become really involved in playtime. And yes, before we would sit together to read, play with blocks, or just snuggle, but now I REALLY enjoy playtime. It is even more fun as he is beginning to start imaginative play and nearly any household item becomes a toy. I put all my distractions away and focus solely on him. I became completely saturated in the present and immediately saw that my anxiety was becoming less and less.
Knowing what to expect for the second time around has helped me better prepare. I now know I need to ask for help, better communicate, and make sure I don’t neglect myself either. Having anxiety as a mom has forced me to become more involved, enjoy every single moment, and find gratitude even in the chaos.
If you feel your anxiety has gotten in the way of your ability to be fully saturated in the present with your child, please speak with your doctor. There is no shame in asking for help and the sooner you do, the faster you can develop a plan towards recovery. Please keep in mind that changing hormones postpartum can wreck havoc on your body and mind. 1 in 7 women feel the effects of postpartum depression and anxiety.
You are not alone.
You got this mommy!
More from parenting