Sunday, June 6, 2010

You down with PPD?

In the middle of all this happy fun baby time, I decided to write a bit of a downer post, just to warn you.  I need to write it for two reasons - first of all, not nearly enough people talk about the dark side of having a baby, and second of all, sometimes I need to write to make myself feel better.  Given these two reasons, it would be best for me to write about post partum and then post it on the ol' blogeroo.

I'm not depressed in the dictionary sense of the word, but after reading all I can about post partum depression I've learned that it doesn't always mean you're down and out after having a baby.  I haven't reached the point where I don't want to take care of myself or my child, and I'm not losing a whole lot of sleep over it, but still, it's there.  Mine has not taken the form of sadness, but rather anxiety.

At first I thought I was just being my usual, worrisome self.  I come from a family of worry warts and that's sort of "our thing."  Everyone worries about everyone else.  I knew that I'd worry about my kids and I was kind of looking forward to it.  But lately, this monster of anxiety has multiplied exponentially into a giant weight.  It feels like anxiety has pitched a tent on my shoulders and is eating nothing but whoppers and milk shakes so that every day he's heavier and heavier.  I worry about Sylvia ALL THE TIME!  The usual worries - is she eating enough?  Is she sleeping enough?  Am I doing this right?  Am I scarring her for life?  Then there are the irrational worries.  What if I forget about her and leave her in the car?  What if she's choking in her sleep?  What if Sylvain doesn't come back from the grocery store and leaves me with this baby all by myself?  What if I slip and fall and slice her head open on the corner of the coffee table?  What if she drowns in the lake when we go on vacation?  What if, what if, what if, what if, WHAT IF?????

Usually I can talk myself out of this irrational worrying.  I just tell myself, "Don't be silly.  That is so silly!  She is fine.  You are fine."  Then I remind myself, "Just have a little faith, for heaven's sake.  You're not the only one in charge of her.  There's a bigger force at work in her life and He has big plans for her.  Your job is just to love her.  Just love her the best you can."  And when that doesn't work, I scold myself, "What is your problem?!  Get it together!  Don't be ridiculous."  And usually, after one or all of these inner monologues followed by plenty of prayer, I feel much better. 

I also have the added bonus of living with a husband I can talk to.  He is a very rational person to begin with, but he's also accustomed to my worrysome ways.  He always puts my anxieties in perspective and can help me see the bigger picture.  I'll tell him one of my worries and explain how I know it's silly.  Sometimes he laughs at me, which is all I need to feel better.  But sometimes he engages in a serious converstaion about exactly what we would do if - fill in the blank.  And, as hard as some of those conversations are, I always feel better when they're over.

I decided to post this today because last night all of these irrational fears and worries finally seeped into my dreams.  I had three absolutely terrifying nightmares that all involved losing Sylvia or Sylvain or both of them.  At one point, I sat up in bed, looked at the clock, and decided to just wait for Sylvia to wake up instead of going back to sleep.  Sylvain asked me what was wrong, so I laid back down and told him I was having really bad dreams and I didn't want to talk about it.  He scootched over to me, wrapped me up in his arms, snuggled his head into my neck and fell asleep.  In a matter of minutes I was asleep, too, until Sylvia woke me up with her "Feed me!" cry.  I gladly hopped out of bed to go hold my baby girl and once she was in my arms, there was no more fear or worry.  When I'm holding her, I know that those moments don't last forever.  I naturally understand that this is not a time for worrying, it's a time for savoring.  If I could bottle up that feeling, that sense of urgency in the here and now, that rocking back and forth and holding on tight, well then, I wouldn't need to write about anxiety to feel better anymore.


Tate said...

Oh my dear old friend. Thank you for sharing you worrisome thoughts. I have to tell you that my mommy opinion as well as my clinical opinion is that its not post partum anxiety for any reason other than you are now a MOM! The world of mommy guilt is HUGE as you have found out. I told my sisters and they agreed that the weight and difficulty of being a new mom wasn't in the actions but in the mind! My mind was so HEAVY, my brain felt like mush just from over-thinking things. Is she eating enough should I wake her or let her sleep, should she have a better routine... I have to admit I still have the "I am going to trip and fall while holding this child and kill her" thoughts.

I had the added stress of our house being broken into in the middle of the night when she was 4 months old to which they entered her room and I didnt even know they were in the house! How can a new mom who hears every little whimper not hear a man open her child's door? I fought fear worry for months following this and even after the security system was installed I admitted to Joe one night that I pictured men scaling the side of the house to get upstairs. I finally cried out to God when I felt moments close to cowering in the corner behind her dresser holding her at night while I fed her!
I know no one was going to scale the side of my house and in the end rested in knowing that the Lord protected her even when I didn't.
I will encourage you with the fact that the weight lifts and I foresee it being soon for you. Sylvia seems like such an easy going baby and you seem to be adjusting very well to mommyhood. I don't remember a certain time when the weight lifted but I can tell you it will lighten for you as for the mommy guilt that only changes with the age and stage that she is going through :o)

Pocket said...

Thanks, Katie! I remember hearing your story about the break-in and oh my! That terrified me. It must have been awful. But I love what you said about the Lord protecting her even when you couldn't, that's something I will always use to remind myself that sometimes, there's just nothing I can do about it and worrying doesn't help anybody. I knew that posting about it and starting some coversations with other moms would be a huge help. Thank you!!