My name is Alyssa and I am thirty years old. I’ll start with a little back story.
My parents split up when I was one and my mom married my step dad. When I was three, I became a big sister for the first time. My mom was diagnosed with PPD and things went downhill from there. Drugs and alcohol quickly became the norm in my mom’s house. I witnessed more than one suicide attempt and more domestic fights than I could count.
Although she was spiraling, my mom continued to have more children. By age eleven, I was the oldest of six. My mom and step dad had turned to crack cocaine and I was struggling to help parent my siblings. I had become great at multitasking, making bottles, wiping butts and tears.
When I was twelve years old, my mom and step dad were arrested and put in jail for who knows what. Instead of 50/50 custody of me, my father gained 100% custody of not just me, but 2 of my siblings as well. My great grandmother got custody of the younger three. I made a vow in that moment that I was going to be a mom one day and a damn good one at that. My child would never see the things that I saw or deal with what I dealt with.
As I got older, I decided to pursue a career in Early Childhood Education. Children were my passion and caring for them came so naturally to me.
My husband and I met in 2009 and married in Fall of 2011. In Spring of 2012 we found out that we were expecting. I couldn’t way to hold that perfect little creation of ours. Finally my own baby to love and care for!
On December 17, 2012 at 41 weeks and 1 day I was induced. I labored for six hours and progressed to 7cm. After receiving the epidural my blood pressure bottomed out and baby’s heart rate skyrocketed. We were both in immediate danger and at 2:11 pm I gave birth to a 7lb 4oz baby girl via emergency C-section.
My baby was struggling to breath and they quickly took her away to the nicu. I didn’t get to hold her until she was nearly 5 hours old. I felt numb. We were discharged three days later and headed straight to my in laws to stay through Christmas.
I didn’t sleep a wink that first night out of the hospital. I was constantly checking on her. Was she too hot? Too cold? Was she breathing? Being with family was great though, they were more than happy to take the baby while I slept during the day. I honestly can’t even remember changing her diaper for the first week of her life.
I remember the day that everyone went back to work. Here was this tiny human who belonged to me and who relied on me for everything. Now what? What am I supposed to do with this kid? I’ve taken care of kids all of my life, what the hell is wrong with me?! I called my mother in law bawling and insisted that she come home immediately.
After Christmas, we packed up our things and headed home for the first time. I spent night after night awake and watching her breathe, touching her stomach to make sure she was breathing, taking her temperature. I simply wasn’t sleeping.
One evening we had just gotten back from the store and I pulled her out of her carseat. She was COMPLETELY STILL. I tried wiggling her little fingers – no reaction. I laid my hand on her stomach. She was breathing slowly… too slowly for me. I felt the sense of panic and dread hit me like a ton of bricks. I was literally on the verge of calling 911. My husband took her from me and insisted she was just fine.
I continued not sleeping and my husband was worried. “Do you think you might have PPD?” he asked. But I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t thinking about hurting myself or my baby. I was not my mother.
I was scared to death. I was expecting to fall asleep and wake up to a dead baby. Every possible scenario of ways that she could die played through my mind constantly.
I didn’t talk to anyone about those feelings. I bottled them up and moved on with life. People would think I was crazy. They would take my baby away! Eventually the constant panic wore off…but it lurked very close by. Often times my fear channeled to anger.
When my daughter turned three I was placed on Wellbutrin for seasonal depression. It lifted my mood, but I was even more easily angered than usual. I decided to stop taking it.
At the beginning of this year a combination of depression, anger, and what, after several panic attacks, I learned was anxiety took me into a dark dark place. My doctor placed me on Lexapro and I’m now feeling pretty great.
My daughter is five and a half. She is smart, sassy, rambunctious, and full of life. I still check her breathing and worry about her choking on grapes, but the anxiety no longer consumes me.
I didn’t even know that Postpartum Anxiety was a thing…but let me tell you, it is so real and there is help out there. No one has to feel that way! If you are struggling in any way, plea
se speak up sooner rather than later!