Postpartum anxiety. Entirely too common, yet barely spoken on.
Picture this: You’re at your 2 week incision check up from your C-section from having your first baby. You’re sleep deprived, wearing milk stained clothes, engorged breasts, and you’re just trying to get a grasp on this motherhood thing. You’re literally hanging on by a thread.
You get handed this questionnaire; mass printed and saved for every mom after you. It’s the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.
You’re encouraged to be as honest as possible, but how can you truly be honest? How can you illustrate how you feel when you, yourself, don’t even know where to start?
How do I explain that I want absolutely nothing to do with my baby because I feel like I’m not equipped enough to take care of him? How do I explain that even when feeling that way, I wanted no one else to take care of him because no one else could do what I could? How do I explain that I hadn’t slept in 3 days because I felt like something terrible would happen to him if I shut my eyes? How do I explain feeling like my family would hate my kid for having meltdowns? How do I explain feeling like my kid was better off without me?
I tried my very best to confront my true feelings; my baby deserved a healthy mama.
It took more than just being honest with myself on that survey. It took lots of hard work and vulnerability, countless therapy sessions, lots of patience with finding the right medication, and even more patience with myself. It took me on a journey back to thriving instead of just surviving.
Healing hasn’t been linear. In fact it’s been a roller coaster ride with ups and downs, pivots, and everything in between.
Postpartum is a beast where your mind, body and soul are forever changed.
If I could go back in time and sit down with the freshly postpartum Ashlyn, I’d tell her the following 5 things.
It does get better. As cliche as that sounds- it truly does. Time heals.
You will find a strength and vulnerability about yourself that you never knew existed.
Absolutely no one in this world is a better “mama” for your babies.
Find people who hug YOU, before your baby. Find your village.
Just hang on. Everything is temporary.
For more information on social support during pregnancy and postpartum, read, “Social Support During the Journey to Motherhood“.