My first pregnancy was tough physically, but I felt great mentally. I never felt super worried or paranoid about our little boy. I was as ready as I could have been and excited for motherhood. After a traumatic, long, delivery I spent the next few days in a newborn bliss, all things considered. I loved on my sweet sage and couldn’t imagine my life before him. We went home on a Saturday, and my sisters family and mom were there to meet Sage. The moment they walked out the door I felt my body feel up with absolute panic, and wanted to go chasing after them, begging them not to leave me. I looked at Josh and just started crying. I chalked it up to feeling overwhelmed, as you do with a new baby and the impending responsibility that comes with them.
That night I remember crying as Josh did laps around the room with Sage trying to console him- we had no clue what we were doing!
The next day was Mother’s Day. So many people reached out to wish me a happy day, and I wanted to scream that although surrounded by love, it was the most lonesome, dark place I had ever been. My brain was flooded with “what if’s” and I was sure something bad was going to happen to him. Anxiety has always been a part of my life, but this is indescribable. My entire body felt a tangible darkness. It would start in my feet and fill to my head with the most painful, uncomfortable thoughts. There were times I could not even hold sage, and had to go to the bathroom and just sob. Why was this happening? I should be so happy and positive right? I would stay up all night long staring at him making sure he was breathing. One night, I hallucinated that Josh was screaming at me while I was up nursing. I was so terrified of myself. I never had thoughts of hurting Sage or myself, but I did often think “I wish I could disappear- this is too painful and I want this to be over”.
After a week or so of realizing that this was not just baby blues, I saw my midwife. She prescribed me meds. In the meantime, I made sure I went outside in the sun, every single day. We’d go on family walks along the Provo river. I’d smile. I’d feel good, but as soon as we were back inside the dread that had become so prevalent in my life would creep back in. I was a mess. On top of healing physically and mentally of feeling my c-section, I was battling internal demons that plagued my mind.
Nursing also caused bad feelings. When my let-down would happen, I would be jolted with anxiety. It was intense.
After a few weeks I slowly started to feel better. But I continued to work like hell for my happiness. I was grateful that my husband and my family were supportive and encouraging of me to seek medical help. After about a year, my post partum was at bay and I felt “normal”.
When I found out I was pregnant with Watson, my biggest fear was feeling worse, as I had heard PPA usually comes back more intense. My midwife put me on something in my second trimester. My feelings were already creeping in. That familiar doom returning with a vengeance.
The day after Watson was born I was watching Sage and Josh swoon over him. I could not stop crying. I talked to the nurse and she said she’d keep an eye on me.
That night, I was alone in my room. Sage and Josh were home, Watson in the nursery. A new nurse came in and did the whole routine. Checked my meds, blood pressure. Pressed on my uterus, checked my bleeding. I couldn’t hold it in and said “I don’t think these are baby blues, I need help.” I couldn’t stop sobbing. She left the room briefly and came back and sat at the end of my bed. She rubbed my legs and let me know it was okay to feel the way I was and that I’d get through it. And I believed her. I’ll never forget her.
My meds were adjusted and I was discharged. It was tough for sure, but instead of not being open the first time around, I was very open with how I was feeling. My husband was so supportive and loving. He’d let me cry and give me space, and embrace me when I needed it. It’s only been 6 months, but I’m doing okay. Every time I get those unwelcome feelings, I have to tell myself it’s only temporary. I take deep breaths. I walk around. I do something for someone else. I snuggle my boys and thank the universes for them.
We have to have more preparation for moms. I had no idea this could happen. I wish I had been more prepared, had someone share the hard stuff. It’s important to me to get Maternal Health to be a big issue. It is a health crisis that many don’t know about. I’m grateful for the night that @theemilyeffect held that brought to light this topic, and let us know we are not alone.
This isn’t something you can pray away. You can’t hide from it. You can’t ignore it. You can’t just get through it alone. It doesn’t mean that you have to be on meds, but if you do, it’s OKAY. Please, I beg you- if you or someone you know needs help- move heaven and earth to get it for them. Work with a doctor, OB, midwife, therapist- whoever. I’m lucky to have had a support system, but it’s not always the case. Just please reach out.
Remember if you’re going through this, it’s only temporary. It does get better. Check on Moms.
I am a survivor.