To The Anxious Mother - A Guide To Postpartum Anxiety

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Anxious mom with sleeping newborn

Before I had my daughter, I was handed brochures and pamphlets on postpartum depression left and right.  Every blog I read reminded me that it was normal, and the veteran mothers in my life told me it can happen to anyone – this awareness of postpartum depression is fantastic, as it for so long has been ignored and women often feel ashamed or are shamed by others for not being totally and hopelessly in love with their new baby and new life.

But nobody warned me about postpartum anxiety.  No, I was too busy googling “depression” to consider that there might be any other psychological baggage that came along with having a baby.

It started about 10 minutes after my daughter was born.  She was rushed to the NICU because of a high temperature.  At that moment I felt an extreme possession over her and realized that I would forever be battling the urge to protect her from everything and everyone.  

I would lie awake at night; unable to sleep because of the anxiety of someone else coming over to babysit the next day - but I couldn’t explain why.  As I searched for the answer late at night when I should have been sleeping, I realized the only solution I was comfortable with was to just not let anyone come over and not let anyone help.  This had terrible effects in other areas of my personal life.  My mother was upset that she was witnessing me struggle but I would refuse her help, my mother-in-law was upset that she wasn’t getting to spend as much time with my daughter as she wanted, and my husband was upset that I was making us both miserable by not letting anyone help us.  Everyone knew something was off and everyone felt awkward about it.

I felt insecure as a mother and a person.  I had no idea who I was anymore, I would internally freak out any time someone held my daughter slightly different from the way I would do it, and I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to set boundaries concerning how we should be treated as a new family.   I spent so much time fretting and I let it consume me.  As I look back on the first few months of my daughter’s life, I remember stress and uneasiness.  I barely remember the happy times, the milestones, first smiles and first laughs.  

So my advice is to accept it.  I should have shouted it at the rooftops that I felt weird and insecure and everyone will deal with it or not be involved.  You should acknowledge that you feel off, that you aren’t okay with things; communicate with your partner and those around you when you’re feeling uncomfortable.  Take charge.  You are the mother.  You just gave birth to a human.  You are strong and amazing and you run the show.  Those around you will adjust and respect you for standing your ground.  You teach people how to treat you.  Don’t let your anxiety get the best of you.  We all feel insecure, we all feel weird, and that’s okay.