Postpartum anxiety: a different spin on what I thought I was dealing with (postpartum depression). After the birth of my son, I had the baby blues for a little bit, but I spun into a clinical textbook definition of someone with postpartum anxiety right away. Let’s be honest though, I’ve lived with anxiety all my life. I just kicked it up a notch or 10 when my son was born.

I was overcome by this irrational fear that my son would die as soon as we were released from the hospital. DIE. Not just have an undiagnosed incurable illness, but I spent countless days shaking in bed over the idea that he would die in his sleep. Alone. Under my watch and in my care, my beautiful precious boy would leave earth before I would. Why? Because it’s happened before to a heartbreaking number of parents. Why? Because I was suffering from postpartum anxiety.

RELATED: I Wish Someone Had Noticed My Postpartum Anxiety

We’ve all seen the stories shared on local news stations and social media. Choking on a grape. Drowning. Car accidents. Falling and being permanently brain-damaged. These things happen. So I tended to fixate on it and prepare for final destination with my infant.

Every second, every blink was a chance for something to go wrong.

I was over the top paranoid. I micromanaged everything. I should have enjoyed more of my son’s early life, but this very real shadow of fear followed me.

It didn’t matter how many times I checked my son’s breathing at night. Or how glassy-eyed I’d be staring at the baby monitor. I would still cry at night over the possibility of living without my son. A life without his smile. A life short-lived due to a catastrophe. I prayed so hard at night to the Lord to “please keep him with me,” not because I was losing my mind. Not because I saw a tragic Dateline episode, but because of postpartum anxiety.

I carried it with me everywhere I went. It felt like a weighted backpack I couldn’t unclip.

On walks, I feared a swerving car coming toward the curb and taking the stroller out in a collision. I worried about my son leaning against a glass window and it breaking, sending him a hundred feet below. I thought I’d slip and fall with him in a baby carrier, and he would die instantly.

RELATED: I Am the Face of Postpartum Anxiety

I made my husband check how things were hung on walls just in case they randomly fell off the hooks and landed on my son’s soft skull. A simple cry from trapped gas had me convinced my son was experiencing appendicitis or internal bleeding. In great detail, I pictured a stray grocery shopper coming and stealing my child out of my arms and no one hearing me screaming for help.

I had the wildest visions that took my breath away and ruined what could have been really amazing memories of our time together.

These visions were ten times worse in my husband’s care. Don’t get the wrong idea. He’s a terrific father, but anything out of my eyesight was questioned.

These thoughts, these visions, were intrusive. They were powerful. They convinced me I was an unfit mother. While everyone else was beaming with pride over their precious babies they birthed, expressing their undying love for them, I was worried there wouldn’t be a tomorrow.

It wasn’t normal, it wasn’t me, but it was postpartum anxiety.

RELATED: I Have Anxiety and Depression—and I’m a Good Mom

It will forever be a part of me as a mother to worry, but for a long time, I let it rule my life. What I thought was me losing my ever-loving mind, was the REAL phenomenon of postpartum anxiety and obsession with death.

I hope anyone who suffers with the preoccupation of something bad happening to their child knows there are safe places to share these thoughts—without your parenting being questioned. I hope you know on the other side of that screen you’re on, that there are lots of ears waiting to hear you out and help you get the comfort and peace you deserve.

I know you don’t think it’s going to be OK, but it is . . . because good moms get scared too.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Jennifer Bailey

Stay at home mom enjoying one little boy and navigating parenting one trip to Target at a time.

I Wasn’t Sure You’d Be Here To Hold

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother with newborn baby on her chest in hospital bed

I stood naked in my parents’ bathroom. Even with the tub filling, I could hear my family chattering behind the door. I longed to be with them, not hiding alone with my seven-month round belly, sleep-deprived, and covered in pox-like marks. For three weeks, I’d tried Benadryl, lotions, and other suggested remedies to cure the strange rash spreading over my body. No luck. By Christmas Day, my life had been reduced to survival. Day and night, I tried to resist itching, but gave in, especially in my sleep. At 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., the feeling of fire ants...

Keep Reading

No One Warned Me About the Last Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding newborn baby, black-and-white photo

No one warned me about the last baby. When I had my first, my second, and my third, those first years were blurry from sleep deprivation and chaos from juggling multiple itty-bitties. But the last baby? There’s a desperation in that newborn fog to soak it up because there won’t be another. No one warned me about the last baby. Selling the baby swing and donating old toys because we wouldn’t need them crushed me. I cried selling our double jogger and thought my heart would split in two when I dropped off newborn clothes. Throwing out pacifiers and bottles...

Keep Reading

My Second, It Only Took a Second To Fall In Love With You

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother with newborn baby on chest, black and white image

You were the second. The second child who, as a mother, I wondered if I could love as much and as fiercely as my first. It’s true, I’m ashamed to admit. As much as you were so desperately prayed for, I was scared. So, so scared. I was scared I was going to fail you. You were the second. And already so loved. But, you see, your brother was my whole entire world. My everything. He made me a mother and gave me all the firsts. My lap was only so big. My heart was only so big. There was...

Keep Reading

Dear Helmet Mama, It’s Not Your Fault

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mom holding baby with helmet, color photo

I’m a helmet mama. It’s something I never thought I’d say, but there it is. And I’m not going to be ashamed of it. Of course, at first, when the doctor referred us to see a specialist for “flat head,” I thought, “Oh, please no. Not my baby.” I’ve seen those babies, and I’ve always felt bad for them and wondered how their heads got that bad. And I’ll be honest, I’d usually pass judgment on the mother of that baby. So how did I end up with my own baby having a helmet on his head? It’s called torticollis—and...

Keep Reading

Thank You to the Nurses Who Cared for My Baby First

In: Baby, Motherhood
Infant in hospital isolette, color photo

I wish I knew who she (or he) was and what she looked like. Was she young or older, experienced or just starting out? How had her weekend been? Was she starting or ending a work shift at 2:30 a.m. that Monday morning when they ran me into the surgery room? The first few days after my son was born, he was kept in intermediate care as we recovered from an emergency C-section that saved both our lives—his by just a few minutes. I occasionally managed to shuffle over to see him, but was pretty weak myself, so the nurses...

Keep Reading

Hey Mama, This Is Your Labor & Delivery Nurse Speaking

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother holding newborn baby looking up at labor and delivery nurse and smiling

First of all, mama, I want to congratulate you! Whether this is your first baby or not, I am honored to be here with you through this experience. Before you ask me, no, I do not care if you shaved your you know what. There are plenty of other things I’m thinking of, and that is not one of them. I’m so happy to be here for the birth of you and your baby, but most importantly, I’m happy to be here for YOU. It doesn’t matter to me if you want to breastfeed, it doesn’t matter if you want...

Keep Reading

My Baby Had Laryngomalacia

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother holding baby on her shoulder

Life’s funny, isn’t it? Just when you think you’ve got the whole motherhood thing figured out, the universe throws a curveball. And, oh boy, did it throw me one with my second baby. There I was, feeling like a seasoned mom with my firstborn—a healthy, vivacious toddler who was 16 months old. Our breastfeeding journey had its hiccups, an early tongue-tie diagnosis that did little to deter our bond. Fourteen months of nurturing, nighttime cuddles, and feeling powerful, like my body was doing exactly what it was meant to do. Enter my second baby. A fresh chapter, a new story....

Keep Reading

A C-Section Mom Simply Needs You to Hear Her Story

In: Baby, Motherhood
Newborn baby crying in doctor's hands

As an expecting mother, I was told all about the sleepless nights. People made sure to give their opinion on whether I should bottle feed, breastfeed, or exclusively pump. I was told which swaddle to buy, which sound machine worked best, and when to introduce a pacifier. They told me about sleep training but that it really didn’t matter because I wouldn’t get any sleep anyway. Whenever I would mention how scared I was to give birth, I’d always get the same response: oh. honey, don’t worry, your body will know what to do. I remember listening to calming meditations...

Keep Reading

Feed Them—and Other Ways To Help NICU Parents

In: Baby, Motherhood
Parents holding hands of premature baby in NICU

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about our reality as NICU parents to a healthy, brilliant NICU graduate. Our child was born very prematurely and spent weeks in the NICU so he could grow and stabilize. My first experience as a mother of a baby was shattered in so many ways. Trauma still lingers, but I am so grateful for all I have learned from our time beside our little baby in his isolette bed. One thing I learned was that some people who really want to help support NICU parents really don’t know how they can. Here are some...

Keep Reading

From Baby to Boy

In: Baby, Motherhood, Toddler
Toddler boy asleep with legs tucked under his belly

The sweet snuggles and sighs are slowly making way for more crawling climbing and exploring each day. And just when I think my baby is gone, you snuggle into my chest, convincing me I’m wrong. I watch as you excitedly chase after your sis and giggle as you share with me your slobbery kiss. RELATED: They Tell You To Hold the Baby, But No One Warns You How Fast He Grows Daytime hours bring playful adventures as I watch my baby leave, but then a sleeping bum curled in the air makes me believe that these cherished baby moments haven’t...

Keep Reading