I wish I could say it’s been one of those “days”, but it’s felt like this more than one. Finding your new normal in motherhood is hard, and finding your village is even harder. It’s this incredible, life changing event that fills you with so much joy and love and somehow you’re still so full of anxiety and fear. Not the normal baby blues, but something different. And then the guilt sets in.. why am I unhappy? Am I not grateful for my baby? Am I not a good enough mom? I remember thinking, “Evelyn deserves a better mom, a happier mom”. Little did I know that was the start of my own personal battle with postpartum anxiety.
I think a big step in the right direction is talking about the things we make so taboo. One in seven women suffer from postpartum depression and/or anxiety. For me, anxiety has been dancing around me the last few weeks. Once, it manifested as a panic attack. My chest was tight with a sharp, knife-like pain. Even after just talking to a fellow momma and her telling me about her own chest pains being anxiety-related, I still dismissed my own physical symptoms. I thought, “Maybe I ate something or it’s just a fluke.” A panic attack… shrugged off and pushed aside, because I have others to take care of…showing myself that I don’t matter to me.
I started doing my research. I knew something was wrong, but what? I found postpartum depression and started reading but that wasn’t quite right.. after more digging I found postpartum anxiety. I read other women’s stories who had imagined horrible things happening to their babies. Not wanting them to happen, but imagining it and fearing the worst would happen. I related to that. These women put what I was feeling into words I didn’t know I had. They were strong, weren’t scared to share their truths, and weren’t worried about sounding “crazy”. A lot of my fears in opening up was just that. I don’t want to look or sound “crazy”. Since opening up and sharing I feel like I own it now. It’s mine to talk about, and I want to help others find that freedom. I don’t want people to feel like I did, like they were hiding and telling themselves their story doesn’t matter. It does, and so do you.
I tell others to talk to themselves and treat themselves how they would a best friend, but have I been doing that? No. I talk horribly about myself and my body and it’s not what I want my daughter to hear or learn. I tell myself I’m not worth it through words and actions. Today I’ve realized that I’m not okay, and I do need to take better care of myself. I am so guilty of putting myself on the back burner. Finally talking to Jason about these feeling I’ve been holding onto in fear of looking/sounding like a “bad mom” or not strong enough, not good enough, etc. I realized something important: It’s like they say on a flight, put your mask on before helping others. If I’m not conscious on this plane ride, how can I help? I simply can’t.
So here I am, putting it all out there that life isn’t always the pretty pictures and cute quotes we always share. Sometimes it’s raw and ugly and sad and that’s okay. We aren’t bad moms. We aren’t bad people. We still love our babies. We are still so thankful for this life we are given. Be supportive of other moms and remember that you can’t always see what someone is going through. Even if this helps one other person, it has helped enough.