I was ok...until I wasn't
Just over 6 months ago, we welcomed sweet little miss L into our family. She is a spitting image of me, and she looks so much like my Mom’s side of the family, especially my Nan. I had a really close and special relationship with my Nan, so seeing some of her in my daughter is amazing. It’s been incredible watching her grow and change so much over the past few months. She has completed our family, and I can’t imagine our life without her in it.
For the first two weeks following L’s arrival, I felt great. I was getting rest when possible, I was sleeping, eating, showering, laughing, breastfeeding seemed to be going well, and I felt a really close bond with L. After an intense struggle with postpartum anxiety and depression following the birth of my first daughter, I was prepared for it to happen again. I was pretty much expecting it to happen, and it was something that I had talked about with my family doctor – we were planning to be proactive, and address it right away if it once again reared it’s ugly head.
With my first daughter C, I remember day 12 as the day that I knew something was very wrong. As day 12 once again approached, I felt myself getting nervous; however, the day came and went very uneventfully, and I was relieved. I thought I was getting the fourth trimester redo that I desperately craved. I needed the experience of enjoying a new baby, without the postpartum mood struggle to contend with. Friends and family were keeping a close eye on me, and checking in frequently to see how I was doing. I remember feeling so much better than I did the first time around. Everything seemed better – mood, sleep, appetite, nursing. I seemed like myself. I felt like myself. I was ok…until I wasn’t.
As the days passed, things slowly started to change for me. L started sleeping less, crying more (a lot more), and she generally seemed miserable most of the day and night when she was awake. If I’m being honest, this baby was terrifying to me. Her intense shrieking cry sounded like a feral cat. She was a feisty little thing, and I noticed that her mood directly impacted mine. I started crying more. Breastfeeding became more challenging and I started to become concerned about her weight gain. Then I became completely obsessed with it. I had convinced myself that she wasn’t gaining enough weight, which led to me obsessively checking the “soft spot” on her head too many times in a day to even count, multiple appointments with a lactation specialist, many visits to my doctor for reassurance that she was gaining enough weight, and even a trip to the Jack Newman clinic to get more help with breastfeeding. I was preoccupied with L’s weight and overwhelmed most of the day, every day. And this was just one of the layers. I could feel myself once again slipping into the “dark and twisty” of postpartum anxiety. Not so much depression this time around, but definitely anxiety.
It was difficult to admit that I needed help again. Family and close friends that were aware of my struggles with C were checking in frequently. They assured me that I seemed fine, that I seemed like myself. Surely these obsessive thoughts that I was having were all in my head? I mean, if I seemed ok to those that knew me best, then I must be ok, right? Right? … Wrong. Even though I had struggled once before with postpartum anxiety and depression, my symptoms and triggers were quite different this time around. This is something that both shocked and fascinated me – a totally customized struggle concoction each time? How torturous. And confusing.
Once I accepted that I was not ok, I started to feel SO much better. It was like I had given myself permission to be brutally honest. I wasn’t ok, and that was ok. I just needed to fall apart a bit before I could start to feel better. Truthfully, I couldn’t imagine ever feeling better. I remember my doctor telling me that I would feel better soon, but I was doubtful. Even though I had won this battle once before.
It’s been another challenging recovery, and I’m happy to say that I’m feeling great again. I want to say thank you to so many people that helped me to feel like myself again. To my husband, my family, and my friends: thank you for being there for me, for listening to me talk about my irrational thoughts, for asking the tough questions and allowing me to be honest and open, for dropping off meals, giving big hugs, calling to check in, and for allowing me to fall apart.