Being a wife and a new mom is hard. Really freaking hard. And nobody tells you just how hard it is.
Aside from the lack of sleep and exhaustion your body feels, you’re beyond mentally exhausted. You have to change and adjust to a new dynamic in your household – which isn’t always seamless and can be a lot of work in itself. Max is 9.5 months old and I still haven’t completely figured it all out.
Ethan’s job requires him to work 14(+) evening/night shifts, so the majority of my time has always been spent tending to the baby by myself. After his ten days off following the birth, I quickly adjusted to doing everything on my own while he was away at work.
Considering I had a c-section and was still healing, I felt like super woman and was so proud of myself for handling as much as I did alone. With being a new mom, a wife, and still a full time student, I felt like I finally had control of things.
However, as time went on, I began to dread the days ahead.
Being one thousand miles away from any family and having no friends who were in the same situation, I felt completely alone. I didn’t want to ever get out of bed, and many days that my husband was working, my son and I never did.
We’d lay in bed, breastfeed often, and sleep our days away. Around six months postpartum, I knew something wasn’t right. I was not supposed to spend my days feeling like this.
I yearned to leave the house, but every time I did, I became filled with paranoia or had a panic attack. I worried my son would catch a cold or get sick. I worried someone would hurt him or take him from me. I started having nightmares every single night that he was ripped from my arms while walking down the street. More often than not, I left stores without purchasing what I went there for because I was so afraid.
Aside from the constant nightmares, my house felt like the only place I was safe. Even a small trip to grab coffee was difficult. I’d force myself to go thinking I’d feel better if I got out of the house, but it was the opposite.
This went on for months.
I finally had a breakthrough one evening when I went to Target. We pulled into the parking lot and, as I was about to get out to go to the backseat, it hit me. His hat was at home on the counter and I didn’t grab it like I had intended. I could not believe I forgot his hat.
The woman parked next to me probably thought something terrible had happened based on how I was crying hysterically in the drivers seat. I felt like the worst mom in the world. All because of a forgotten hat and a cold I swear he’d catch because he didn’t have it. (Spoiler alert: he never did catch the cold I was so worried about.)
Whenever I tried to confide in someone, I was repeatedly told, “It’s not a big deal, that’s normal for a new mom.” Even my doctor said, “it’s just because you’re a mama bear now.” But it actually isn’t always normal. And I’m so frustrated it took me as long as it did to realize that.
Max’s pediatrician recommended a psychiatrist and urged me to go sooner rather than later. At my first appointment the psychiatrist confirmed what I already knew and I was diagnosed with severe postpartum anxiety.
Nobody knows you and your body better than you do. If you think something is wrong or off, you’re probably right.
It’s so easy to be brushed off or pushed aside and blame everything you’re feeling on “being a new mom” – but after a certain point, you can’t continue to place the blame where it doesn’t belong. Anxiety can make you feel like you’re losing control of everything. While I still do struggle with it greatly, it’s something that can’t get better in a day. But I’m trying and we’re constantly working on it.
Realizing you aren’t the only one dealing with this is such a big part in coping everyday. I hope anyone who is struggling can feel like they can reach out if they need someone to talk to and know they won’t be shut down like I so frequently was.
Postpartum mental health disorders are very real and nothing to be ashamed of. So many women deal with this and say nothing. I wish I would have realized I wasn’t alone. I know I would have been able to find a way to work towards feeling better a lot sooner.
If you’re struggling, you’re not the only one. So many of us feel the same way you’re feeling right now. If you feel like you need help, please get it. You’ll be so glad you did.