I didn’t think it would happen to me. These kinds of things happen to someone else. Not me. Never me. Most of my problems throughout my life have been self-inflicted. I believed if I managed things right, I could avoid things like postpartum depression. When it crept up on me, ever so slowly and subtly, I tried to deny it. I think it was difficult to recognize because, for me, it looked more like anxiety than depression.
PPD tiptoed into my life disguised ever so covertly as an ever-growing sense of anxiety. It lured me into a never-ending spin cycle of anxious thoughts, but it felt normal to me because the thoughts circled around normal new-motherhood things.
Should I quit my job? Was my son was getting enough breast milk? Was he sleeping enough?
What I didn’t know was my anxiety wasn’t normal at all.
When my son was four months old, I attended a parenting class and learned that PPD manifests as anxiety in some women. But at the same time, I was weaning my son early due to some health issues. And as my milk dried up, so did my anxiety. Whew! Dodged that bullet.
That is, until I was staring down the barrel of a second pregnancy. I knew I needed to watch for postpartum depression, but I still thought I had a handle on this motherhood thing. I adopted a “whatever works” mantra for when baby came, crossed my fingers, and prayed.
I also called my therapist. We discussed symptoms to watch for and developed a plan to wean the baby if worse came to worst. Armed with a plan, I waited to see how things unfolded, fingers crossed.
But from the moment I brought the baby home, it was crystal clear everything was NOT okay. As the garage door swung closed behind me, I immediately collapsed into a ball of tears, completely overwhelmed by the task ahead.
How can I care for a newborn and a high energy, self-willed three-year-old all by myself all day every day?
I feel like I will drown if I’m left alone. Please don’t leave me alone…