Babies bring so much joy! They are cuddly little snuggly cutie pies, that also completely flip your world upside down. Along with my bundle of joy, came periods of extreme anxiety and sleeplessness.
I thought “this is normal”, all new moms feel overwhelmed, underslept, and just plain out of it, RIGHT?????
After you have a baby you are asked to fill out the Postpartum Questionnaire. I feel like in my daughter’s first few months of life I answered these questions over and over again. Yet, looking back, I never answered them 100% truthfully.
They ask you questions such as:
-I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things?
-I have felt anxious or worried for no good reason?
-I have been so unhappy that I have had difficulty sleeping?
-The thought of harming myself or my baby has occurred to me?
For most of the questions I would talk myself down from the ledge, and answer as if it wasn’t as bad. I think the “extreme” questions I would call it – like the self harm or harming my baby made me downplay the others.
This self-evaluation is based on the Edinburgh Post Natal Depression Scale, a test developed in 1987 to help practitioners determine whether a woman is suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) or anxiety. About 10 to 15 percent of women develop symptoms of depression or anxiety after having a baby.
And women who undergo infertility treatments are even more at risk, as this article on WebMD points out. “Conceiving a child after undergoing infertility treatment was four times more likely to result in emotional issues related to parenting than having a child without such treatments.”
It’s a huge problem (much like infertility) and it doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
Thank GOD for groups like The Blossom Method, who address PPD and help women struggling with PPD, and other emotional issues that can arise when trying to get pregnant and being a new parent. (I so wish they were around when I was struggling, I know I would have used and benefitted from their services).
I think this combination (experiencing infertility and being a new mom) is where my slight little bit of PPD came in. I worked so hard to get pregnant, in my head I was re-living all the meds, procedures, heartbreaks, and finally getting pregnant and giving birth to my daughter, it seemed like everything should be perfect.
Yet I would wake up everyday and feel exhausted, never feeling like I got a good night sleep, even with my husband taking some of the overnight feedings! I would feel such anxiety about just making it through the day, what would we do all day, would she sleep, would I get a shower in, how would we make it until my husband got home (and by the way the 4-6pm stretch of the night seems to drag on for DAYS).
This is how I felt for pretty much the first 6 months of my daughter’s life. I found a transitions to motherhood group that met at Prentice Hospital once a week for 6 weeks. It saved me! One – it forced me to get out of the house and two – it allowed me to share my feelings and my fears with women going through the same thing. For some reason with this group, I felt I could totally open up. Maybe it was because before this group we were all strangers, never had met before, but also connected by the bond of being first time mothers. This group along with other groups I have now learned about like Grasp Group and Chicago New Moms Group are amazing because they touch on the tough subjects (much like infertility and PPD) that no one wants to talk about.
Yes, being a mom is an amazing gift, giving birth to a child is an experience unmatched, it is truly a miracle, you learn that there is such a thing as love at first sight. I felt like superwoman (for like a day) after that experience. Then reality hits and the hospital sends you home with no manual, no training, just a baby and a wishing of “good luck”. These groups help new moms work through all the feelings you experience, the troubles with sleep and feeding, and your own body and your relationship with your husband, and more and more. I felt like in that group, I could literally say how I was feeling and no one would judge me. Outside in the real world, I felt I had to explain my decisions on everything that revolved around my daughter and my life.
Even after finding this group, and these new mom friendships, I still suffered from anxiety and sleeplessness. I had seen Dr. Kristine Tohtz, alternative medicine guru, during my infertility journey, as well as during my pregnancy, and I decided it was time to see her again now postpartum. What I love about Dr. Kris is when I see her it’s like a therapy session and treatment session all in one. She lets me celebrate little victories as well as vent over struggles. I explained to her my growing anxiety and my loosing sleep. I told her I was worried about going on prescription meds for these conditions for fear I would be “hooked” and never get myself off of them. So we decided Chinese herbs were the way to go. And I have to say (despite the smell) I loved them. They worked miracles! I was on them for about a year, and finally feel back to my normal self.
And I have to add, my daughter was a good baby, an amazing sleeper and eater (once we switched to formula), and now has grown into an amazing little person (as we like to call her). She is loving, funny, and polite. And for 99.9% of the time is a really really good girl. Yet I struggled and some days I still struggle.
I think it took me 6 months to feel like I sorta had a hang of this motherhood thing. And probably 2+ years to feel confident that I am a good mom. I am not a perfect mom, but a good mom, a mom who tries her best, just like my daughter tries her best.
What I hope you get out of reading my story is that it’s ok to admit that it’s hard, and than you need help. There is amazing help out there, just don’t be shy to ask for it!
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