So the elephant in the room is that I am pretty sure that I've been going through Postpartum Depression. I've been experiencing some pretty intense anxiety about motherhood and it was getting to the point that I was afraid to be alone with the baby. I would panic when Mike said he was leaving to do something - to the point of tears and irrational behavior.
Add to that other stressful life situations, a 2 week long cold and pink eye, and you get a recipe for a complete breakdown. Thankfully my mother was able to get me to see that what I was feeling was far from normal motherhood fears and that I should probably talk to a doctor about it.
During my research about my emotional issues I cam across a website with information about PPD symptoms and that's when a light really went on for me. I copied and pasted the list and highlighted in purple the symptoms that I've been having. I was surprised at how many actually pertained to me.
- You feel overwhelmed. Not like "hey, this new mom thing is hard." More like "I can't do this and I'm never going to be able to do this." You feel like you just can't handle being a mother. In fact, you may be wondering whether you should have become a mother in the first place.
- You feel guilty because you believe you should be handling new motherhood better than this. You feel like your baby deserves better. You worry whether your baby can tell that you feel so bad, or that you are crying so much, or that you don't feel the happiness or connection that you thought you would. You may wonder whether your baby would be better off without you.
- You don't feel bonded to your baby. You're not having that mythical mommy bliss that you see on TV or read about in magazines.
- You can't understand why this is happening. You are very confused and scared.
- You feel irritated or angry. You have no patience. Everything annoys you. You feel resentment toward your baby, or your partner, or your friends who don't have babies. You feel out-of-control rage.
- You feel nothing. Emptiness. You are just going through the motions.
- You feel sadness to the depths of your soul. You can't stop crying, even when there's no real reason to be crying.
- You feel hopeless, like this situation will never ever get better. You feel weak and defective. You feel like a failure.
- You can't bring yourself to eat, or perhaps the only thing that makes you feel better is eating.
- You can't sleep when the baby sleeps, nor can you sleep at any other time. Or maybe you can fall asleep, but you wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep no matter how tired you are. Or maybe all you can do is sleep and you can't seem to stay awake to get the most basic things done. Whichever it is, your sleeping is completely screwed up, and it's not just because you have a newborn.
- You can't concentrate. You can't focus. You can't think of the words you want to say. You can't remember what you were supposed to do. You can't make a decision. You feel like you're in a fog.
- You feel disconnected. You feel strangely apart from everyone for some reason, like there's an invisible wall between you and the rest of the world.
- Maybe you're doing everything right. You are exercising. You are taking your vitamins. You have a healthy spirituality. You do yoga. You're thinking "Why can't I just get over this?" You feel like you should be able to snap out of it, but you can't.
- You might be having thoughts of running away and leaving your family behind. Or you've thought of driving off the road, or taking too many pills, or finding some other way to end this misery. Or you may have thoughts of harming others.
- You know something is wrong. You may not know you have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, but you know the way you are feeling is NOT right. You think you've "gone crazy".
- You are afraid that this is your new reality and that you've lost the "old you" forever.
- You are afraid that if you reach out for help people will judge you. Or that your baby will be taken away.
It was difficult to feel like a failure as a mother but to know how much I wished to be a mother. I just wanted to get in my car and drive away and start over. I wasn't eating, I wasn't sleeping. I was always mad at Mike. I was overwhelmed with changing a diaper - like I felt like I couldn't do it right even though I'd been doing it for 3 months already.
I couldn't decide what to wear, never mind what to have for dinner. My heart would pound every time I was alone with the baby. I cried when I had a snow day and had to stay home from school with him. I wasn't having that magical, hearts in the air, connection with the baby and I felt guilty about it. I felt like I didn't ever know what was wrong with him when he cried and I couldn't handle it. I felt like everyone thought I was a terrible mother.
The most difficult part was realizing that it wasn't normal. Everyone says motherhood is difficult, and I anticipated that, but I couldn't understand how anyone would ever want to have another baby after having one. I couldn't understand how anyone would want to be home with their baby all day. I couldn't understand how I thought that I wanted to be a mother when I just felt like I couldn't do it.
Now that my emotions are under control, I can look at Ezra and smile. I can think about him during the day at work and my heart swells. I look forward to seeing him at the end of the day and on the weekends. I'm just feeling like the mom I always knew I was. I can do housework. I can eat and decide what to wear in the morning without anxiety. I'm just feeling like myself again.
I still have moments of anxiety, but I'm doing much better with dealing with them.
How can you not love coming home to this?