My hands are blood-red as I turn the water as hot as I can stand and pump out what’s left of the soap. I’m here at the sink again frantically trying to scrub all the mess away.
I hear my baby cry as he waits for me to hurry and rescue him from only a few minutes of being apart. He needs me. He’s begging for me. I have to hurry back. I have to hurry.
And so goes my day.
Rushing. And washing. And trying to do all the things to keep everyone comfortable and safe.
My legs move quickly. My heart beats fast. My brain is processing what’s really happening and anticipating what is to come. My muscles are tense; I’m unintentionally holding my breath.
At three months postpartum, I’m a little unsteady and a lot more stretched and uncertain about what each moment of each day might bring.
And I know what it is that is happening in my head as sure as I know how incredibly blessed and thankful I am in my heart. Yet, being blessed and being thankful does not take these worked up and weary feelings away.
Anxiety. It’s a jab at the joy I’ve been given and a wicked trick to the senses.
Postpartum anxiety. I’ve carried a baby nine months, overcome morning sickness and labor pains. Yet, my laboring continues. But now, it doesn’t attract the same attention that my belly once did.
And all the hormones and emotions and lack of sleep and losing hairs are not helping me find much relief.
Postpartum anxiety. It lied to me. It told me my baby was in danger even though logic proved he was not. It distracted me and turned me compulsive and impulsive and fooled me into believing I had to carry the weight of the world on my worn out shoulders.
Don’t let it do the same to you; know the truth.
Know what postpartum anxiety looks like. It looks like me. It looks like the same “I have it all together” smile, yet not feeling comfortable in my own skin. Look deeper. Being transparent isn’t always easy, but it’s important to pay attention to all the thoughts happening underneath.
Know what postpartum anxiety sounds like. It’s an “OK, babe” and a “yes, sweetheart” and maybe a “hold him, please, while I go shower off.” Listen closer. To the tears. To the sighs. To the questions we may bring up again and again, because it’s hard to keep all these jumbled up thoughts straight.
Know what postpartum anxiety feels like. It’s a headache, a chest pain. A cramp in the tummy or a fear of dizziness knocking you down. It’s chills and going to bed cold but waking in a sweat each time the baby cries. It’s fright and fearing the worst and feeling like the worst has already taken ahold of all you know.
It can be difficult for some who know us to detect, but that doesn’t make it any less damaging. It’s a physiological storm of emotion and what-ifs that won’t let go without a fight.
So give up on fighting yourself. Fight it.
Attack your anxiety.
And know that you’re not alone.
Anxiety doesn’t choose the weakest or the strongest. It doesn’t choose just the first time mom or me with my fourth babe on my lap.
It can’t always be prayed away or talked out. But it can be treated. I can testify that to be true. You can enjoy your life again.
Share how you are feeling. Make an appointment with your doctor and discuss options available to you. Because you matter so much.
Free yourself, precious mama.
Don’t let postpartum anxiety look like you.
You may also like:
There’s a Monster Lurking in the Quiet Shadows of Motherhood
My Anxiety Makes Me Feel Like I Fail Over and Over Again
I Am the Face of Postpartum Anxiety