I’ve also admitted that my struggles with anxiety doesn’t negate the fact that I know I’m really REALLY blessed. I have a house full of blessings in fact that prove that fact. But, I realized, I never really have told the story of how I first realized something wasn’t quite right. And, that I needed help. It started during the postpartum period with my first child. I was a mess. Can you see how tired I looked?
My struggle with anxiety was exacerbated by motherhood
In college, before marriage and kids, I had an anxiety attack once. I was labeled a worrier in my family growing up as a kid. And, I frequently had meltdowns over being late somewhere, or worrying about the what ifs. But, it wasn’t until I became a mom, that everything multiplied by like a thousand. And, frankly, I haven’t been the same since.
I vividly remember (and don’t remember) a lot about those early months after having a baby. One of my earliest memories was a night that I sat awake staring at my baby, convinced that something was going to happen to her. Blame it on the lack of sleep I was getting, or the new mom jitters, but it was way worse than that. I watched her chest rise and fall even though I was quite literally hanging on by a thread due to no sleep of my own.
I remember my post-partum anxiety made me terrified.
My anxiety enabled me to imagine terrifying scenarios such as tripping when I was holding her, or forgetting to check on her. I became hyper-vigilant. I had a hard time even letting my husband do anything because I was so worried something would happen.
I couldn’t let her out of my site without panicky feelings and I was terrified to leave the house with her for fear something would happen.
I didn’t really tell anyone about all of these thoughts I was having. Because they were ugly. And dark. And scary.
What kind of mother imagines the worst thing happening to her baby all the time?
I had Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
The truth is – I cried a lot too. For about four months in fact. I was weepy. I had the baby blues. But, I had never done this before. I chalked it up to hormones, and waited it out without help. I never told a soul about the dark thoughts I was having. I didn’t really know any better at the time.
The chapter on postpartum depression and anxiety wasn’t really my favorite to read in the What To Expect books on parenting.
And, then the fog of new motherhood started to lift and I stopped crying so much. And, that’s when I realized I had postpartum depression. But, the truth is, I think my postpartum anxiety was even more debilitating because it never allowed me to relax into motherhood like I wanted to.
I was quite literally a mess of epic proportions that didn’t sleep and I felt like I could never let my guard down. It was exhausting.
There is help though for postpartum depression and anxiety
Fast forward to my second and third pregnancies and I definitely felt like I had a better handle on what I was doing. I was aware of the warning signs of postpartum mental health issues, and I had a better grasp on how to help myself and how to control my own thoughts. Years later, last year to be exact, I was diagnosed with Generalize Anxiety Disorder and OCD. I take medication and have spent a year in therapy to work on my mental health issues and I’m doing so much better.
I wish I would have gotten help from the beginning.
There is no shame in talking about these issues, and there is no shame in getting help. Reach out to your doctor if you’re struggling, or a friend, or a spouse – or ALL THREE.
One thing I’ve learned is that my own mental health affects my kids, so I want to do everything in my power to take back control and have a healthy mind and body.
So, if you too are struggling with some of these thoughts and feelings – seek help from a professional. Now.
The Owlet Smart Sock Is Another Thing That Can Help New Moms
While not every mom has extreme symptoms like I do, we all worry about our kids. The newborn phase is tough, and we all want the best for our new baby. That’s one reason why I love companies like Owlet. They are helping moms everywhere have more peace of mind in those early months of mothering.
While Owlet cannot prevent postpartum anxiety, depression, or SIDS in those early weeks, they can help the new mom have a little bit more peace of mind and feel like she can monitor her baby more closely than she could do on her own.
The Owlet Smart Sock uses technology called pulse oximetry to track your baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels, and is designed to notify parents via a nearby Base Station and their smartphone if those levels fall outside the preset zones. The Smart Sock fits babies 0-18 months, or up to 25 pounds. Recent research, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Global Pediatric Health, revealed that 96% of parents who use the Smart Sock report feeling less anxiety and 94% say they have better quality sleep.
LESS ANXIETY is what I needed in those early months. My case was extreme of course, and not all moms have those fears like I did. But, those early weeks of worry will always stick out in my memory. I wish this technology had been around when I was a new parent. Just for a little extra peace of mind.
What I love about Owlet is that they were started by parents just like you and me. They are in Utah (like me!) and started in 2013 with a mission to empower parents.
Feeling empowered was not what I was feeling back in 2006 when I was scared of everything. Being a new mom is overwhelming to say the least. But, with Owlet, you can feel a little more in control by being able to monitor your baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels. How amazing is that?
And, what better way to get a little peace of mind than to feel like you will be notified if oxygen levels and heart rates are outside the preset ranges. Check out their mission and their website, and most of all – if you’re struggling, don’t struggle alone. Get help, and reach out to people who love you.
I promise it will be OK.