I had read about it in the baby books, and in my last trimester of pregnancy had been inundated with information from my gynecologist and all of the mommy groups that I was a part of online.
When I had my daughter, I felt like I was being scrutinized, watched for signs of anything other than the baby blues. We got past my daughters newborn stage, and it seemed like I had passed the test… except no one told me about delayed postpartum depression and anxiety.
After the dust had settled and all of the extra help had eased up a bit, I found myself in a bit of a fog. The initial adrenaline of having a baby had dissipated, and I found myself in an unfamiliar place. There were some days I couldn’t stop the tears, full of frustration because I couldn’t find the words to explain how I felt, and upset because I didn’t know who to talk to. I was questioning my ability to be a good mother and future wife to my fiancé- why couldn’t I keep the house perfectly clean? Why wasn’t my baby’s space Pinterest perfect? I was supposed to be supermom, not this failing mess of a woman.
Other days I had such overwhelming anxiety. I couldn’t leave my daughter, because what if something happened? What if this was the moment there was a car crash, or an earthquake, or a bad person with intentions to hurt my family? I had to always be vigilant, ready for whatever could happen. The few times I did leave her with other people, even her own father, I was constantly texting and calling to make sure she was alright.
When did she last eat?
Did you change her diaper?
Is she happy?
It put a strain on my relationships with others, because there was such a misunderstanding. I felt terrible because my family and fiancé felt like I had no faith in their ability to take care of my daughter, but that wasn’t it at all. It was just this terrible, unexplainable feeling that ate away at me, and I couldn’t relax without my daughter being close.
I also felt very antsy. I couldn’t sit still, I had to always be doing something. There was always cleaning or organizing to be done. It was the worst at bedtime. As my daughter and fiancé were fast asleep, I would be laying in bed, sometimes until 3 in the morning, going over everything that needed to be done. Sometimes I was just waking myself up every couple of hours, checking on my baby’s breathing, or making sure she was warm or cool enough.
I think the worst of it happened when my daughter decided to self-wean herself from breastfeeding. This happened quite unexpectedly and recently, about a month ago. One day, she woke up and decided she no longer wanted to breastfeed. I felt unwanted, unloved and extremely depressed. Gone were the moments between just the two of us, where time had slowed down, and I was able to snuggle up to my baby while she nursed. It was our quiet time in this busy world. It was the worst breakup in the world, where I had wanted my baby to come back to me, but she had moved on.
After hitting this point and spending a few days crying in bed, I realized I needed help. Luckily, I lived across the street from this amazing women’s center that focused on all things mom, both prenatal and postnatal. I found myself getting out of the house, getting fresh air, and seeing other people. I also started working out, and whether or not I’m actually getting more fit, I feel better, and healthier. The best part is that I can take my daughter with me, and have the option to either leave her with the onsite childcare, which is on the other side of the room, or workout with me.
My fiancé has been amazing and understanding throughout this trying time, and has allowed me to pace myself with coming out of this dark place. When I feel ready to have alone time, he’s there, and never forces me to “just do it”. We’ve worked together as a team to get through this. I think I felt the best when he mentioned that I went out once without texting him at all, and he was proud of me. It seems so little, but it means so much.
I wish I had known about delayed postpartum depression and anxiety, and that there may be a connection to it when it comes to weaning. If any of you find yourself falling into this dark and scary place, know that you’re not alone.
It seems cliché, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe you needed to hear it? Maybe you’re in the same situation as me, but didn’t know that postpartum depression and anxiety doesn’t just happen in the first few weeks after having a baby. Either way, a support system is there for you, whether it’s your family, friends, mama tribe, your doctor, or a combination of them all.
We’re all here for you, mama!