I loaded my daughter into her aunt’s car and immediately felt my heart rate increase. I opened the door again to double check her car seat buckle and 5-point harness. I kissed her forehead and willed myself to breathe deep. She would be safe, there is no reason she wouldn’t. I forced a smile and waved, reminding my sister to drive extra safe, as if she wouldn’t. But I had to say it, I had to double check, I had to do everything possible to reassure my worrying mama heart.
Back inside the house I scooped up my baby and tried to find distraction in my preschooler’s antics and dinner preparation. My heart was still racing. Why was this taking me over? Why was I letting my mind jump to the worst possible scenario? Why on earth would I entertain such awful thoughts? Why was this the 10th wave of intense worry just today?
I could go on with scenario after scenario, because ever since my youngest was born I seem to be sliding into this pit of craziness. Everything worries me, beyond the normal level of mom worry. And I hate it.
Anxiety is an ugly thing. It creeps out of no where like an overpowering shadow and fixates on our deepest fears. Anxiety burrows those fears into our minds and hearts until we feel fully consumed and crippled. It tries to kill our spirits, our smiles—the joy that otherwise fills motherhood.
I don't want my worst-case scenario to be how I forever am—it's tiring and it's stealing the joy I deserve.
Anxiety is postpartum depression's lesser known best friend and many women, myself included, are battling it during what should be our happiest days. Sometimes it begins slow, growing as we become more tired, more overwhelmed by the weight of our responsibilities. Sometimes it is fast and furious, striking out of the blue when we least expect it. No matter how it arrives, I know 100% that every mama suffering from postpartum anxiety is ready to say goodbye to the uncontrollable worry that grips our soul.
I’ve asked “why me?” a hundred times. I feel like I did things to prevent the potential of postpartum depression, but I never considered that anxiety would be a part of my postpartum experience. Especially with my third baby. Which I guess plays into all the surprises that come with parenting.
In the beginning I thought I was overreacting, being a worry wart. But as my worry became more consuming I started researching, because I don’t want to lose out on this time with my kids. I don’t want my worst-case scenario mindset to be how I forever am—it’s tiring and it’s stealing the joy I deserve. Before I learned about the reality of postpartum anxiety I thought postpartum depression was the greatest hardship mamas could face in the 4th trimester. Now I know that sometimes in partnership with postpartum depression and sometimes all on its own, anxiety can strike.
If you think you might be struggling with postpartum anxiety like me, ask yourself these questions. This list is what allowed me to name what I was feeling. Then, be brave and voice your concern. Postpartum anxiety is temporary and treatable when brought to light. Don’t let it steal your joy and don’t let it lace this season of motherhood with fear.