Pregnancy

My Horrible Postpartum Anxiety Scared The Baby Fever Out Of Me

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When I write out the words “postpartum anxiety”, it does not seem so bad. After all, what first-time mom doesn’t have anxiety when she brings her baby home? However, anxiety is really a misnomer. What I was experiencing was full-scale panic. It was terrifying, exhausting, and debilitating. Not only did I have frequent panic attacks that woke me up whenever I tried to sleep, but I was also constantly in a state of fear, if not outright terror.

 

For someone who has not experienced this type of relentless, ongoing fear it is hard to explain what it feels like. The best I can do is this: think of something that you are utterly and completely scared to do. Perhaps it is skydiving, or maybe it is public speaking in front of a huge, unsympathetic audience. Now imagine that you are standing at the plane door, or walking to the center of the stage. You know that trembling, cold fear that you feel? That is what post-partum anxiety was like for me. Constantly. Twenty-four hours a day. Except I did not know what I was so scared of, or if it would ever end.

 

To put it mildly, I was a bit of a mess. I was not sleeping more than three hours each night, I could not nap during the day (it was a struggle just to lie down and close my eyes), I gagged whenever I tried to eat, and I started shaking and sweating whenever I had to do anything with my baby (except for feeding, ironically enough). Not only was I not myself, but I thought the old me was gone forever. For most of that time time, I honestly did not think it was possible that I would ever “get better.”

 

After a difficult journey, which included two trips to the hospital, therapy, changes in medication, and an incredible amount of support from my amazing family, I have made it to the other side. Postpartum anxiety is almost like a distant memory. I say almost, because the after-effects still haunt me. And nothing haunts me more than the thought of going through it all again with another child.

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