By Guest Blogger Jessie Ballard, author of mombunsandmoscato.com
The pediatrician asked me how I was feeling at my kids’ first appointment. My OB asked me to fill out a questionnaire at my six week postpartum appointment. Was I feeling the “baby blues?” No, I wasn’t. At least, not then I wasn’t. It wasn’t immediate that my depression and anxiety kicked in.
It wasn’t until the kids were transitioning out of the newborn stage that I began to feel anxious. I had a lot of things happen at once during that time. I had returned to work from maternity leave, I started another semester of school, and we moved into our first house. Suddenly, my life was flipped on its head. It was a lot at once.
I had this goal of surviving the first year. For some reason, I thought that after the first year, things would suddenly get easier.
Well, no, that’s not how it works.
For a year, I woke up having panic attacks. I always felt nauseous. I was constantly worried about something. I was always in a fog, walking around feeling like there was a weight on me. It felt awful. And I struggled being able to talk about it. I felt like, as a mother, I should just be able to handle everything. There were people who had far less help than me and they didn’t complain. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t keep up with anything, I always wanted to cry, I couldn’t sleep, or that I hardly ever wanted to leave the house except to go to work.
Finally, one night, I was lying awake at 2:00 in the morning. I started googling. Postpartum depression. Postpartum anxiety. Could this be me?
I cried. I cried because I didn’t want that to be me. I cried because I felt guilty. I cried because I felt like a bad mom. My kids need more than a mom who won’t take care of herself.
So, I stopped googling and I started typing. I typed a long novel of a note to my OB telling her all my symptoms. I laid it all out on the table. I made it very clear that I never once felt like hurting my kids, myself, or anyone. In fact, my kids were the only bit of happiness in my life at that time.
I’m so glad I made that step. I went in to visit with my OB and we talked. We discussed my feelings, the changes in my life, and what we can do to help me get back to feeling like myself again. Seven months later, I have never felt better. I feel like myself. I feel lighter. I’m more confident, more social, and less afraid.
These feelings don’t just go away if you ignore them. There’s no magic milestone that will suddenly make life so much easier. The only thing that will is opening up, talking to your doctor, and finding what it is that will help you get back to yourself. Your kids deserve a happy mama. And you deserve to be happy.
If you are in a similar situation and need support of other moms, consider joining Postpartum Strong, a local community group on Facebook, which was created to give a safe, loving, and judgement free space for all who need it.
Want to see more blogs like this and get notifications on local events and happenings? Subscribe to our free weekly newsletters here.