Why Can’t I Breathe?

For the first 3 months postpartum, every morning when I opened my eyes I was consumed by fear and sadness. I was scared that I would have to go through another entirely new day full of the unexpected. Would my son cry a lot today? Would he feed okay? Would he want to be held for most of the day? There were too many unknowns and I had no idea what to expect. It was unfamiliar territory and it made me feel very vulnerable. Waking up in the morning was a challenge, and I hated it. I would wake up and have a panic attack. And if I am completely transparent, I wasn’t a single mom, I had a lot of support, but there was something in my head that kept telling me I wasn’t good enough. That I was somehow going to mess this all up. That my son would need something, and I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to help him. I just wanted him to be okay, and because of this, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect. I felt I had to be perfect, so that he would happy.

I became a very anxious person. I never understood the power anxiety could have over a person until I experienced it myself, and boy was it an awful feeling.

But when he turned 3 months, its like something changed in our relationship. Its like we started to connect. Perhaps it’s because I started to speak to people about my struggle. But for the first time, I felt like I was actually starting to bond with my son. When we locked eyes, I felt like I could take care of him.

Make no mistake, I was still very very far from feeling confident in my parenting skills, but I was starting to build a support system to help me through some of my concerns.

I also stopped Googling for “help”. Whenever I wanted to understand a behavior my son’s exuded,  or a solution to help him with a struggle like gas, I would Google. I found that Google left me confused and it stressed me out. There were so many solutions, I became overwhelmed. So, with the guidance of a doctor, I decided to stop.    

Best. Decision. Ever.

When I started to slowly trust my own instincts and to reach out to people I knew, instead of a comment wall, I started to feel more confident in my own skills. If a solution didn’t work, I could reach out to the people who initially guided me and say “hey that didn’t work, got another idea?”. The open dialogue helped me work through my anxiety.

I still suffer from anxiety today – but I feel like I have the tools to work through it, and with time, I hope that I can overcome it.

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My Girl Squad

When people think of a group of girls, they often associate them with “cat fights”, “being bitchy” or the movie “mean girls”. But when I hit my lowest point, I found myself being uplifted by some truly exceptional women. The more I opened up about my negative self-reflection, the more determined these women became to rally around me to provide me with the support I didn’t realize I needed.

It was a strange feeling.

When it comes to my emotions, I have a history of being more introverted. I don’t really engage in friendships and I like to keep my circle very small. I have acquaintances, but not friends. Yes there is a difference.

But in this instance, I knew I needed help. I had to expand outside my regular circle. If people reached out to me and asked me how I was doing, I told them the truth. I told them I was struggling. Those who didn’t want to support me brushed over the topic, and those who wanted to help constantly checked in on me. I was okay with either. If you didn’t want to help me, I appreciated the indirect honesty. But, if you did, god bless you, you have no idea how much solace I found in our conversations.

I appreciated the advice and I appreciated the support. I truly felt like they were my pillars when I couldn’t stand on my own. I also appreciated the people who were around me who didn’t necessarily have the life experiences to guide me, but were around to just be around. To step in when I felt like I was going to have a mental breakdown. To fill in the gaps where I felt I was weak.

My girl squad was and has been my greatest blessing throughout this experience. I started to understand the importance of expanding my circle and investing my time and energy in relationships that I may have otherwise overlooked.

PostPartum Depression – Yes I did the Ugly Kim Kardashian Cry?

Sitting in the doctor’s office, I felt nervous. I started to think, why did the CAS lady think I had postpartum depression? I did a quick google search, “symptoms of postpartum depression”.

  1. Depressed mood (subjective or observed); be irritable mood in children and adolescents, most of the day; YES – My husband would agree that I wasn’t a pleasure to be around.
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure, most of the day – YES – I was sad for about 75% of the day.
  3. Change in weight or appetite. – YES – I had lost weight, I just had a baby. But other than that I was eating okay.
  4. Insomnia or hypersomnia; – YES – Oh I definitely had hypersomnia. I wanted to sleep every chance I got. Some would argue that this was a side effect of being a new mom. But I didn’t feel physically exhausted. I felt mentally exhausted all of the time.
  5. Psychomotor retardation or agitation (observed); NO?- I wasn’t sure what this point meant, someone else would need to confirm this one for me
  6. Loss of energy or fatigue; – YES – I was very tired.
  7. Worthlessness or guilt; – YES – I had a really bad case of mom guilt. I didn’t get to feed my child, I didn’t want to hold him for too long after he was born.
  8. Impaired concentration or indecisiveness; – YES – I could not make a decision. Normally, I have a very decisive person. I made decisions very quickly. But lately, I would get overwhelmed and confused very quickly.
  9. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation or attempt. – NO – I didn’t have these thoughts, but I did want to run away and hide under a mountain of blankets.

I was surprised at how many times I had checked the “yes” box, but I was relieved to learn that I wasn’t alone.

Perhaps having child protective services called was a blessing in disguise?

When the doctor finally made his way into the examination room, I felt a lot more comfortable in speaking with him. I was very candid about how I was feeling, and for the first time, I had a full-on meltdown. Yes I’ll admit it, I did the ugly Kim Kardashian cry.  

I was a mess, and I needed help.

But I have a great doctor. He assured me that having postpartum depression is more common than people think, and that there are so many people who aren’t diagnosed. Contrary to popular belief, you can be diagnosed with postpartum depression up to 3 years after having a baby. Yes, you read that correctly – THREE YEARS!

I was shocked.

Feeling five or more out of symptoms listed above nearly everyday in the same 2-week period is a flag to get help, and boy did I need the help!

My doctor referred me to a psychiatric and social worker – and just like that I was officially in the system.  

January 21, 2019.

Hello Everyone!

I’m back! After a year and a half long hiatus I finally feel ready to write again.

As many of you know, I had a baby in December of 2018 and its safe to say that the experience didn’t go quite as planned. I joined a group of millions of women who battle a mental condition called post-partum depression.

Much of my future blogs will detail my experiences as a mom.  I intend to share my real life experiences and emotions. I refuse to sugarcoat them to make myself look/feel like the perfect mom. I’m a real mom with real experiences. I am looking for guidance on how to get better – so if you have any tips/tricks. THEY ARE WELCOME!