I would say I’ve always had a small amount of anxiety, but nothing that seemed out of the norm. I’d get worked up over tests in college, I’d get anxious about an upcoming review at previous jobs, and get anxious before dates with my now husband (obviously nailed those), but once I got pregnant (and got past the whole army crawl to the bathroom scene), my anxiety level started to escalate a bit.
By the second trimester, it set in that being pregnant was a magnet for unsolicited advice and although most were well intentioned, I found myself really becoming sensitive to it. Some insecurities started to fester and anxiety helped bubble it all to the surface. It wasn’t debilitating by any means, but it definitely was more noticeable to me than before.
Fast forward to a couple months ago when I literally started sweating because I had no where to pull over while driving and Madeline had started crying. I had read a lot on PPD in hopes of mentally preparing myself to watch out for symptoms and every visit to the doctor afterwards, I felt like I flew through the questions with rainbows and sunshine. “Yes, I find joy as easily as before,” “No I don’t cry for no reason,” “Yes, I can laugh at things,” etc. What I didn’t realize was I wasn’t as prepared for postpartum anxiety signs and so when I would get super worked up over little things, I chalked it up as being tired or just normal new mom worries.
Now don’t get me wrong, I would be comfortable saying most new parents have some form of anxiety with a newborn. (Video monitors are popular for a reason; we might not be able to physically get in the bassinet, but by God, we can virtually do it). Postpartum anxiety is more than this normal level of emotion though; for me, it has been a visceral reaction almost anytime she has even started crying. Luckily, Madeline never really cries, but there were a couple of weeks around the 2nd month she cried at night; I just sobbed and would sweat through my shirt because my anxiety about her being so upset was so intense it was almost unbearable.
At almost 8 months now, I’ve been able to recognize it more and see it before it totally swoops in, but I still struggle. I’ve moved on from sleepless nights thinking she would stop breathing if I fell asleep to panicking over her choking as she gets more into chunkier food. It doesn’t help that those insecurities lingered from pregnancy and I’ve found myself over justifying everything I do with her; even putting myself down for things as generic as being too anxious or as specific as how I choose to put her to sleep. I realized that my introverted side of my normally ambiverted personality has really tried to take over to balance/ hide from the anxiety/insecurities. Life definitely seems a little less difficult when we just hang in the house with Ella, but that’s not what I want for either of us (at least not all the time).
I’ve been working on really trying to be conscious of how I’m feeling and trying not to let my thoughts run away on me. I love her so much and the last thing I want to do is make her anxious. As she is getting older, we definitely are having more days out of the house; even days I don’t bust a sweat thinking about germs, play dates, and if I remember infant CPR.
The insecurities, the anxiety, and the standard I hold myself to as a mom, it is a lot to put on one person. So I’m just trying to remember, a day at a time, to be gentle and patient with not only Madeline and Matthew, but myself too.