On Feeling Happy Again, Postpartum

I was "ready" for postpartum issues. I was prepared. I had my placenta encapsulated. I told myself I would ask for help (and I did). I was determined to breastfeed, even if it was hard. Since I have had anxiety issues since I was 23 years old, I knew it was a possibility that I could have them while my body sorted through the muck of my hormonal roller coaster after birth.

And despite the steps I took at preventing a postpartum anxiety issue, it came anyway, right on schedule at the six week mark. All the readiness in the world didn't truly make me ready. But I took a page from Winston Churchill and kept on going through the hell that is postpartum anxiety.

I smiled politely when people assumed and vocalized how happy I must have been, and cried later, knowing that deep down, even thought I WAS happy, my anxiety was preventing me from feeling it fully. I felt robbed. I felt scared that it might never end.

Only now is it truly hitting me how bad things were in those early days of motherhood. People kept telling me that the way I was feeling was normal...but I knew in my heart that it wasn't. Now that I am feeling better, and actually feeling my version of normal, I KNOW that what happened after my daughter was born was not your run of the mill adjustment period to parenthood. Now, nine months postpartum, I am feeling so happy; the kind of happy that I assume some mommies feel right from the start. Thank god those dark feelings did end and I found light in their wake.

The thing is that even as prepared as I was, or how many times I reached out for help in the first several months, it didn't make my feelings or anxieties go away. The best way I can describe it looking back is that there was a fog around everything I did. Around the six month mark, that fog began to lift, but before it did, I wondered almost daily if I would ever, ever get the hang of parenting. I worried that my worry might rob my daughter of something...luckily it didn't.

I was lucky that I went straight to therapy the second I had a panic attack. I was luckier still to have a great support system who helped me to weather those very difficult first six months. But there was a moment in the last month where I realized how happy I was, and it made me realize how unhappy (riddled with anxiety) I had been before. To be honest, that kind of scared me.

It scared me because I don't know if I can do it again (i.e., having more children.) It scared me because I know that there are other women out there who are being told that what they feel is normal postpartum stuff when, in fact, it's not normal. I was scared because I realized how in my own head I had become in those months...wrecked with worry about dying, or my daughter being hurt, etc.

The good news is that it does get better. If you are having postpartum issues, know that the fog will lift, you will feel happy again and you can weather this emotional shit storm that is descending upon you. It sucks to be "the mom" with the postpartum issues. I built up a resentment in many ways, toward the people that kept telling me it was "the best time of life" or that I looked happy, toward my husband who was having fun, toward other mothers who didn't have this issue. They didn't know. Heck, there were times even I didn't know!

What I can say now is that around the six month mark, things became fun again. Life became more vivid. And here, at about nine months, I truly am having the best time of my life. I feel happy again, and it's amazing. Part of letting go of the frustration of PPD or postpartum anxiety (or both, god forbid) is being able to acknowledge it. At least I've gotten there and I'm moving beyond. These days, I am having the type of fun I had hoped I would have in the beginning, and for me, that's enough to make each day special and wonderful.

Have you had experience with postpartum depression, anxiety, or OCD? Feel free to share in the comments section below. Please keep in mind that you never know who you might be helping by sharing your story. 

1 comment:

  1. This has definitely helped me. I am still not sure what is wrong with me, but something is for sure. My daughter is 12 weeks old, and I keep getting the same comments from people. People piss me off, people make me stressed. And this fear of dying and leaving my baby girl alone... May I send you an e-mail, do you mind?