Postpartum Anxiety: Yes it’s a thing, NO you are not crazy!

Being a mother means always putting on a brave face for your child:)

 I’m writing this literally in the notes app on my phone. My baby is sleeping on my chest. Which means I am his hostage for the next hour! So I might as well make use of this time and write about something that has been on my mind for a while, in hopes that if anyone else is having similar thoughts or feelings they can know they are not alone.

Postpartum Anxiety

I am obviously good at taking happy and pretty pictures, that’s easy. But it does not mean that I don’t have things that I struggle with,  I am not a supermom, and sometimes its really, really hard, despite what is portrayed in photos.

I’ve heard of Postpartum Depression… it was something that concerned me so much having a history of mental illness and depression in my family. I actually lost my brother to mental illness. I even encapsulated my placenta to help my recovery after I had my baby because it is said to help with postpartum depression. So I have always looked for the signs.

But I don’t feel like myself and what I’m feeling, my “symptoms” don’t match those of PPD. But I feel like something is off. What is it? I actually bonded really well with my baby from day one and I’m totally OBSESSED with him. But I feel like I’m having other issues… almost OCD. In both behaviors and thoughts. My baby is now almost 7 months old. And what I’m feeling has evolved and gone through several stages.

In the beginning, it was absolute and constant fear. Fear that “something” was going to happen. I would lie up at night refusing to sleep just watching him. I was sure I would be one of those mothers whom something “bad” was going happen to them. I would lie awake on my phone Googling numerous combinations of all the bad things that could happen. I became obsessed with trying to prevent these imaginary bad things. Then I would start to think about how I would explain these things if and when they happened to me. “I fell asleep”, “I tripped and fell down a flight of stairs holding my baby”, “I accidentally let go of the stroller and it rolled into the street”, so many times I obsessed with this horrible possibility. I over sanitized everything he touched, bottles, pumps, binkis, I was afraid he would get a Staph infection from anything dirty. I would bawl crying into my pillow constantly really for no reason except that my own thoughts put me in a terrifying panic and I cried about things I made up in my head.

Wake up and smell the roses, be present and enjoy this precious time!

After a while, this got better, but the anxiety manifested itself in other areas. I NEVER slept when the baby slept. I would put him down for naps then frantically clean the house. Every time he slept I tried to clean as much as possible. And if he woke before I was done I felt like a total failure and obsessed about what I did not get done and how and when I could complete the task the next time. Another thing that I noticed is that I never wanted to leave the house. Interacting with people made me nervous and awkward. After the fact, I would over analyze what was done or said. I was convinced that “something went wrong” during almost every interaction.

Now, I have this constant overall rapid heart beating, mind racing feeling. Add to the fact that all of this is inside, and to discuss it with anyone means risking exposing yourself to people thinking your crazy or brushing it off as just a phase. I also thought of the extreme, that somehow it would be used against me if I ever told anyone. I’m so careful to do things perfectly. I don’t ever want my baby to think that something is off with mom. I smile and play and laugh with him as if nothing is wrong. I make his food from scratch, we nurse… all the while I gaze lovingly down at him masking the turmoil inside. It is only when I come to the brink of my feelings, when pushed, stressed or confronted with something not planned in my mind, my facade starts to crumble, and that’s what happens… I lose it, have a breakdown… momentarily.. because I can typically gather myself and put tape over the cracks and keep it moving. Once again never confronting the root of what’s going on inside. This is Postpartum Anxiety PPA, and it’s a real thing… and it’s really difficult to know if one is experiencing it.

Sometimes people can be really insensitive when trying to understand why someone who should be totally happy would have feelings like this. Which is why a lot of people don’t speak up, or seek help. They keep it inside, stay quiet. It can be a very lonely isolating place and that is the last thing anyone needs, especially a new mother. The best thing to do is find someone you can talk too. I’ve struggled with this and finally felt the need to “reach out” and talk to someone. Also if you suspect that someone might be struggling it’s ok to initiate a safe place and ask “are you ok?”. Listen without judgments, it’s ok to not have the right words, a warm embrace speaks volumes. It says… “I may not understand but I’m here for you and I love you.” I’m so glad I initiated the conversation and already I feel much better and hopeful that I can have a safe place to go with what I’m feeling inside and most of all its a first step to getting better.

These 1st years are way to precious to miss out on and I want to enjoy this special time to the fullest without anxiety but with a calm happy resolve. As I type this my son just clocked himself in the head with his bottle… he looked at me and was totally about to cry, but I started laughing, and now he’s laughing too, we are laughing together…moments like these!

If you think are struggling with PPA, you are not alone. Some of the symptoms you may experience are:

  • Constant worry.
  • Feeling that something bad is going to happen.
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Disturbances of sleep and appetite.
  • Inability to sit still.
  • Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea.

There are resources available to assist you with your recovery. Postpartum Progress and Postpartum Support International are great places to start if you are looking for information. I am not a medical professional and you should always consult your doctor for any medical advice. Thank you for reading and  I hope this can inspire you to help or get help for you as a mother or a mother in need.

XO-Dana

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9 Comments

  1. Dani P.
    October 6, 2017 / 10:42 pm

    Thank you for writing about this and shedding light on this topic! So many times it’s overshadowed by PPD but I can totally relate to the anxiety. I keep fearing I’ll accidently slip on a banana peel and fall down the stairs! I hate the feeling of dread and I always think of the explanations I’ll need to give to the police as to how my baby had such a crazy unlikely accident exposing me as a horrible mom. It’s so refreshing to know other moms are experiencing this too and that even the most beautiful glamorous mom can go through it. Thanks for keeping it real for us mommies! We gotta support and stick together!

    • Dana Buerger
      Author
      October 23, 2017 / 1:30 am

      Thank you for reaching out, I know exactly how you feel with the whole banana peel situation, you literally thing that something so absurd can happen to you! But you also know you are being totally ridiculous!! lol. But having the thoughts just prove how much you want to be and are a good mommy! And yes, a safe place to talk about these crazy thoughts help a whole bunch! xoxo

  2. Joanne
    October 14, 2017 / 6:25 pm

    Happy Saturday! I had this, and know how it is like to get sucked in to the dark place–almost like someone has taken over your body. Mine has subsided and finally all gone. What helped me was I stopped fighting it, accepted it was there and took it one day at a time. You’re right once you start to laugh and smile, your precious one will too and things do get better from there. How are are you feeling and doing? I hope all is well with you. Hope you are getting plenty of rest and taking care of you. It is like that plane demonstration where they have you put on the oxygen mask first before you can help others– is what I always think of. Thank you for writing this! All the Best, Jojo aka j0anne_says on IG

    • Dana Buerger
      Author
      October 23, 2017 / 1:27 am

      So sorry for the late reply! I don’t get notifications when I have comments and I have not figured out how to fix it yet! To answer your question, now that I know what it is, I feel like a weight has been lifted. When I wrote this blog, I let all my feelings that were stored up inside pour out, and I felt liberated! And unfortunately, I am not sleeping well which sends me over the deep end at times. But, the fact that I can talk about it with other moms like you, share stories, helps soooooo much! Im interested to know how you coped and what steps you took to battle the crazy thought?! Love and blessings always! xoxo

  3. NGM
    October 20, 2017 / 2:03 pm

    Gosh this resonates a lot with me. Now at 15 Months pp over the worst of it. Thank you for eloquently explaining it – finding words which I am unable to.

    • Dana Buerger
      Author
      October 23, 2017 / 1:23 am

      It’s so funny because I was like….WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! I know I am not the only person who feels like this! so Glad that we as moms can connect with a common struggle and help each other! love always! xoxo

  4. AC
    April 25, 2018 / 4:17 am

    Thank you so much for writing this, I’ve always had slight anxiety but this is a little different. Just hearing that someone else is experiencing this makes me feel less cuckoo/ as if I aAm the only one! I am going to a therapist at this point but this helps more than you know. Love & Light to you!

    • Dana Buerger
      Author
      April 28, 2018 / 11:56 pm

      Its a real thing…. and I always felt something was off but did not fit the cookie cutter explanations that are out there! Good for you for being proactive mama!So important that you take care of you 1st! hugs to you and your beautiful family!! xoxo dana

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