The other night it was chilly. I walked out of our bathroom, towards the bed, and contemplated curling up under the sheets. I thought to myself, "I'm cold. I'll just leave my yoga pants on." And then I had a flashback. Do you ever have those? It's not just your mind that remembers, it's your whole body. I got a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.
In that moment, I was transported back in time. It was suddenly late October. I was cold, sleepy, and crawling into bed still wearing my yoga pants. It was one of those early days with Baby Fix-It. Sleep deprived, physically recovering from delivery, and anxious. Wrought with crippling anxiety. I'd lay in bed, clinging to Mr. Fix-It like a life raft, just hoping that I could rest. Hoping I could feel peace.
I hid how I was feeling.
I wasn't overwhelmed by our baby, and I loved him more than I could imagine. So that's what I told everyone. Feeding, rocking, changing diapers. That was all easy. But my body. It felt like my wiring was all wrong. My heart was constantly racing. My palms were sweaty. And my hands shook. I pushed through. Baby Fix-It was born on a Monday, by Friday we were an hour from home introducing our baby to family running from house to house in the suburbs. That Sunday we hosted a "meet and greet" at our condo. Current self would like to tell former self that she was batshit crazy.
People would visit and I would sneak off to nurse the baby in a different room. I would bawl my eyes out. I would shake my hands and wrists. Hard. I would beg my body to "STOP. PLEASE STOP." but all I could do was shake. The jitters. The creepy-crawly bugs all over your body feeling. I finally understood the expression crawling out of your skin. And it got worse in the evening. By 4pm I was a complete wreck.
By two weeks postpartum I reached out to a friend who I knew took anxiety medication while breastfeeding. Her words were precisely what I needed to hear. She asked why, even for a minute, I would want to suffer like this. It took about 2 minutes after that for me to pick up the phone and call my doctor.
That's when everything changed. Those first days and weeks with a newborn are HARD. But I knew I was feeling something different. I had such an easy pregnancy. It was difficult for me to understand why my body could handle one part of the process so flawlessly and then completely short-out on another. The part that matters is that it got treated. I felt almost-immediate symptom relief. I felt like myself again.
I've asked myself why I'm sharing this. And then I think about nursing my teeny tiny baby at 3am. Feeling so alone, so isolated, searching the internet for a story. A story like my own to make me feel less alone and isolated, and to tell me that:
"Yes. It is post-partum anxiety. Yes, you need treatment. You can try to wait it out, but you'll likely suffer. Take care of yourself. Take care of yourself NOW. This is not weakness. You haven't done anything wrong. Don't miss out on the joy. On the happiness. On this time that you've waited for."