Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Things I've Learned Since Becoming a Mom: Anxiety

My baby is almost a year old and I have learned a lot of things since having her and becoming a mom. The thing that I was the most unprepared for was postpartum anxiety. I knew all about postpartum depression and how scary and dangerous that could be and what to do if I started to feel depressed. I was unaware that postpartum anxiety even existed and had no clue how to handle it.

My baby's first few months of life were a roller coaster of emotions and stress. It only makes sense that anxiety would come along with it, but I didn't expect the amount of anxiety I would have over every thing that happened with my baby. L had to be in the hospital for 2 weeks after birth. Every day some new, stressful thing would come up in the mornings, but overall, things went smoothly.

After coming home from those 2 weeks of stress, we decided that L needed to avoid being around too many people for a few months. I had been cooped up in the hospital with L so my husband thought it would be good for me to get out and go see a movie while his dad watched L. The anxiety that came from this was insane. I knew L would be fine and I had my phone on in case of an emergency, but I still had a panic attack in the middle of the movie. I have never been prone to panic attacks or anxiety before so the force of this took me off guard.

I completely broke down. I started crying and would have been shaking had it not been for my husband who took my hand and reminded me how to breathe. He asked if I wanted to leave, and honestly, I did, but I knew that I had to make this first big step (big for me) of being away from my child for a few hours. The longer it took me to make this step, the harder it would be for me. He kept reminding me that L would be fine, and that if something did happen, we would get a call. After a while, I was finally able to breathe again, and I calmed down enough to actually pay attention to the movie.

Every time we have done something new with L, whether it be leaving her at a grandparents house for a few hours, or going grocery shopping with her in tow, I have to fight off a panic attack. It gets a little easier each time, but I still have to force myself through it and remember to breathe. I don't know if this anxiety will ever go away, but I am learning to deal with it now so that, on the outside, it doesn't affect me as much.

What I wonder is why no one ever mentioned the anxiety to me. It's not in any of the books or websites I read, and it was not including with advice I was given from other mothers. When I brought this up to other mothers after it happened, they acted as if it was a given, that of course I would experience anxiety. I have never had to deal with anxiety and panic attacks so how was I supposed to expect this?

It's now been 10 months since L's birth and the anxiety is still there, but it's much easier to cope with now.