From a young age, I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. As a child, I merely dealt with them, not really knowing what they were, and went on with my life. As an adult, despite being able to finally affix a label to what I had been experiencing, I found myself with more questions than answers.
In May of 2000 I had my daughter and the first month and a half was all right. Then I started noticing that things were going wrong. I was anxious, unable to sleep—unable to do much of anything—and I worried about everything. I feared harming my baby. I could not handle having her near me, crying all the time. I new I had postpartum depression based on what I had heard and read.
The birth of my first child, Charlotte, was picture-perfect, and I was an anomaly of postpartum recovery. Less than a week after she was born, I was cleaning house, getting up early to see her, and walking every day while pushing her in the stroller. Things couldn’t have gone any better, which is why I was so caught off guard by the challenges I faced the second time around.
I had wanted a child for so long. My husband and I tried for several years to have a baby, and we had practically given up. So when we found out that I was pregnant we were overjoyed and taken by complete surprise. I prepared thoroughly for every step of my journey ahead. I read up on everything. It was wonderful. But no one prepared me for what it would be like to actually be a mom.
The week my son was born, I knew that something was wrong. My husband had to return to work the next morning and I was up every hour trying to breastfeed. I was so exhausted, and when my son slept or napped I couldn’t rest. My mind raced and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t turn it off. I lay in bed thinking my son would never be satisfied and I would never to be able to sleep again. I was up for almost forty-eight hours before I called my OB to see if he could prescribe any medication to help me sleep.
There was a specific, glowing image in my mind of how the hours following my son’s birth would go. He would be placed tenderly on my stomach and the midwife and nurses would leave the room while my husband and I bonded with our new baby. The baby would begin to nurse and we would look on in total awe and wonderment at the beautiful creature we created.