The Other Shade of Blue: Postpartum Anxiety & I, Part Three


Early that morning, around 6am, I called my mother-in-law for help. My own mother lives 4,000 miles away in England, as does the majority of my immediate family (I’m British) so I desperately turned to my husband’s Mom for the support I so badly needed. A couple of hours later we arrived at her home, bulging bags and pack n’ play in tow, me still with a forced smile painted on my face. It would still be a while before I spoke aloud the fears I was both so troubled by and so embarrassed about.

Each night I sobbed before I laid my son down to sleep, so sure that I would find him, grey, cold and lifeless in the night having failed at protecting him. I could see the whole thing play out in my mind, feel that specific sting of panic in my chest, the hollow tug of instant grief at having lost the thing most precious and fragile in my life. I was certain that, should anything happen to my son, and should I be the one to find him, I would die of misery. Honestly, I couldn’t shake those ‘fantasies’ and at times, especially bedtimes, they would fill my head until I couldn’t catch my breath.

4815843665_d8fe74fe53_n

Over time and with the help of some much needed sleep and childcare practice, I began to reconcile how much control I actually had with how much I wished I had. The main thing that got me, personally, through the roughest of moments was prayer. Each night before I allow myself to give in to sleep I make sure I pray for my son’s wellbeing, for his protection. This is how I was first able to let go of enough fear to rest, of that torturous belief that I alone was solely responsible for my son’s survival. I went from being afraid to be alone with him, to finally and more confidently becoming his primary caregiver.

After about 6 weeks, I okayed my husband to leave the house alone for the first time (he had extended paternity leave) and I’ll admit that I cried the entire time he was gone. I remained frozen, trapped on the couch with my son planted firmly in my arms the entire time, terrified to move lest I be confronted with my nightmare situation. When he came home, I cried some more, this time with relief.

I finally allowed myself to watch some Infant CPR tutorials to refresh my memory. Up until this point I’d been too afraid to watch them, again due to that niggling, illogical fear that watching them would tempt fate and I’d be forced to use those skills on my son and ultimately would fail. Again, I was convinced that I would never recover from the loss.

I’m proud to say that I’ve now managed to drive several times with my son in the car. I’ve had him at home, alone for up to 3 1/2 hours and I handle him and his needs much more confidently overall, but I’d be lying if I said I was over this. I still find myself confronting fear and compulsion most days (granted in smaller amounts) and in many ways I’m still ashamed. I’m working on this. I still obsessively check the temperature in our home, still cannot be out of hearing range of his breathing and have invested in a Snuza Go to monitor his breaths to help me find some peace of mind as I go to sleep beside him at night. I’m still yet to go out alone with my son, which feels appalling to admit. I also still feel resentment and irritation building towards my husband from time to time, not because he has done anything wrong but because I tend to convince myself that he cannot possibly understand what I’m feeling or this difficult journey as a new Mom, which frankly isn’t fair to either of us.

I’ve spoken to my midwife about all this and naturally, she suggested medication but seeing as I’m exclusively breastfeeding my son and have previously overcome other mental health challenges through talking therapies and some serious (and difficult) self reflection, I’m not sure I’m ready for that. At least not yet. It’s nice to know that there are options out there though.

I have a feeling that this is all building a skill-set that I’ll need to pull on during parenthood. I don’t believe this is all for nothing and I do think there is something imperative to be learned from all this.

I’ll continue to push myself daily to face my fears and trust my ability as a parent and as a capable, strong adult. Every day it gets just a little easier, but like with anything some are easier than others. More than anything throughout this experience I’ve found myself let down by how few resources there are out there for postpartum anxiety specifically. From what I’ve learned on this journey this isn’t a new or uncommon ailment yet I’ve felt totally out of the ordinary from day one, having not fit into the classic postpartum depression symptom scope. This needs to change and this needs to be highlighted more by sufferers and care providers alike.

After all; if we’re not being broken, then we’re being built upon.

Some Links I Found Useful:

Getting Postpartum Anxiety to Back-Off‘, postpartumprogress.com

on all those emotions…‘, yourwishcake.com

Acceptance: Postpartum Anxiety and Me‘, babyrabies.com

Do you have any experience with postpartum anxiety or depression? How did you cope? What would you share with other sufferers? Comments below please. 

The Other Shade of Blue: Postpartum Anxiety and I, Part One

The Other Shade of Blue: Postpartum Anxiety and I, Part Two


10 Comments on “The Other Shade of Blue: Postpartum Anxiety & I, Part Three”

  1. Hannah @Supermommmy!...Or Not

    Thank you for having the courage to write about this! So few women are able to seek the help they need because of the guilt and stigma associated with PPD. I had undiagnosed PPD with my first baby. I lost the baby weight very quickly because I was unable to eat more than a few bites at a time for the first few months after giving birth. For the first 6 months after giving birth, I felt like I was in a fog-not a sleep deprived one, just a general fog where nothing felt real and I couldn’t enjoy life at all. I really don’t remember much about that time. It was awful, but I just assumed that all new moms felt like that. Then I had my second baby and it was a completely different experience. Not necessarily a good one because he screamed angrily nonstop for the first few months and refused to eat or sleep (seriously, he was born so angry that even the doctor was taken aback), but that was him that time, not me. I didn’t feel like I did the first time at all and it was so much better. If I had known the first time that it was PPD, I could’ve gotten some help and maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad.

    1. Carly Vick

      I really appreciate you taking the time to share a supportive message with me.

      It’s definitely a challenge to share what can feel like shortcomings during this new-Mom experience.

      I’m so pleased for you that you were able to notice a difference the second time around though – I certainly hope it’s that way for me too and I’ll be more prepared next time around from the get-go. Thank you for bravely sharing your own experiences too. Can’t keep these things quiet, can we?! :)

  2. Kimberly

    My firstborn had some apnea issues after birth. We stayed an extra day so he could be monitored, but when we came home I was terrified! So I hardly slept for 2 weeks because I thought my baby was going to die. My mom came and slept in the baby’s room so she could give him to me during the night when he needed to nurse, then put him back to bed for me. Finally, I realized I had to let go and rest in the Lord. He alone knows the number of our days. Now that baby is an active, healthy 2 year old boy, and I have a 2 month old baby girl. She has some reflux issues that have worried me, but this postpartum time has been so much easier. All that to say, it gets better! Rest in the Lord,and just hang in there Momma!

    1. Carly Vick

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share that with me! I totally agree with what you experienced in terms of handing the fear over to God. My mom-in-law did the same for me when we came home from the hospital and to say it made the world of difference to how I was able to adapt to Momma-hood…

      Every day it the joy gets a little more and the fear gets a little less, thank God. I still wouldn’t trade a second. :)

  3. Cara

    I’m a second time mama, postpartum 9 weeks. I too had a blessed natural child birth. For the most part, I believe in holistic/naturalistic practices. About a week ago or so I started experiencing heightened anxiety and after breaking down in tears to my husband today, realized I likely have PPA. Thank you for sharing your story, as I believe The Lord led me to your page. Mothers need to find comfort when they are going through these changes, it helps not feeling alone. I am fervently praying for God’s healing and peace, and that this will soon be a distant memory. I am a happy mama to 2 precious blessings, but fight irritational fears I blame on fluctuating hormones. Praying this shall pass, please keep sharing your tips and guidance, as it helps. Blessings and prayers to all mothers fighting PPA.

    1. Carly Vick

      Cara, thank you so much for sharing your own experience with PPA. I’ll have you in my prayers – I understand what a battle it is to overcome those fears, but I too believe that faith will eventually overshadow the fear with perseverance, prayer and support.

      Please feel free to drop me a line via the ‘contact me’ link on my About Me page if you want to chat further about these issues. I’d love to offer some Mama to Mama support wherever I can to you.

      Blessings!

  4. SarahB

    I had postpartum anxiety after the birth of my 3rd child. I was a total mess from about 6 weeks postpartum until about 12 weeks postpartum and after that it took a good year to really feel mostly like myself again. I was so surprised that there was hardly any information out there about postpartum anxiety.

    My anxiety revolved around my own health. I was worried I had a myriad of different, deadly diseases and that I wouldn’t be around to watch my children grow up. It was a very difficult time and I was embarrassed and hurt by the reactions from the people who were supposed to love me. My husband was great, but my parents not only shared my struggles with everyone they spoke to, but they made me sound like I was crazy. I tried to explain that it was similar to postpartum depression, but just the other end of the spectrum, but I don’t think they saw it for anything other than me losing control and therefore, crazy. It took a long time to forgive them and it’s still hard to think about even 5 years later.

    I eventually took my doctor’s advice and tried to take an antidepressant. It was horrible. It magnified my anxiety and I seriously thought that I might never be normal again. I had been prescribed an anti-anxiety medication to help with the antidepressant side effects and that was my lifesaver! I immediately stopped the antidepressant since I was not depressed at all. I only needed the anti-anxiety medication when my thoughts got out of control and I couldn’t slow them down. I was still able to breastfeed although I did pump and dump for several hours after taking the medicine.

    I hope more attention is brought to postpartum anxiety since it’s definitely overshadowed by postpartum depression. I really wasn’t sure what I was dealing with and it seemed everyone thought it had to be postpartum depression when I knew I wasn’t depressed–just severely anxious.

    Thanks for sharing your story! It’s really important for women going through this to know that they are not crazy! It’s hormonally triggered and it will get better–some more quickly or slowly than others.

    1. Carly Vick

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and share your own PPA tale Sarah! I totally agree with you about the lack of light shone onto the anxiety side specifically. I’ve been so intrigued as I look into some of the theories and studies beginning to emerge surrounding this particular issue and the hormonal fluctuations after birth. I’m on my second pregnancy now and while I’m nervous I’ll disappear down that road again, I feel so much more armed now with knowledge and support from open and honest ladies like you!

    1. Carly

      It’s great to hear a little mom solidarity. You hear so much less about PPA than you do PPD, yet it’s fairly prevalent! Thanks for reading and I hope you are feeling much better also!

Leave a Reply