Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Recovery


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."




9 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story...I can relate actually In some ways so it is so nice to hear someone else unfortunately may have gone through the same thing. You are very brave and I am so happy you reached out for help! Us mommas gotta stick together! :)

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  2. This sentence is exactly how I still feel about having an emergency c-section:
    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.
    Still working on getting over that one. This is a great post. Thank you for sharing!!!

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  3. Yes yes yes, thank you for sharing this. I think sometimes, as a culture, we're so excited about the OMG happy! part of having a baby, that we forget that's so much to ask of a woman's body. Not to mention the changes that all parents go through (your life, changing forever, basically overnight) regardless of giving birth or not. And I think of some level we're afraid to share the scary/not so fun parts of it because we're afraid of admitting that it's anything but amazing. We're not ready for kids yet, but I hate the idea that when we are, I'll have to put on a shiny, happy, perfect face all the time. So thank you for sharing that sometimes, it's okay to ask for a little help.

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  4. How wonderful of you to share your story, I think today pregnancy and birth have become such a commercialized everyone does it type of thing that the reality of it is not put out there at all. It is a huge change for yourself mentally and physically and should be treated as such.

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  5. Your story made me tear up, since it's EXACTLY what I felt during those first weeks too. The anxiety was out of control. I couldn't do anything without my heart pounding uncontrollably. I lasted four weeks before I asked for help, and it took me another eight to start feeling like myself again. You're warned when you're pregnant about postpartum depression, but the anxiety isn't talked about as much, and it was hard for me to tell the difference between postpartum anxiety and regular baby blues. Anyway. Thank you for putting your story out there. Frantically googling new mamas will feel less alone.

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  6. I didn't sleep for ten days post partum. The anxiety was debilitating.

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