Postpartum anxiety can happen to anyone, which is why I think it’s important I share our journey with others. Don’t worry! It has a happy ending!
Our little goose is 6 months now! Wow. What a journey it has been. We had a bit of a bumpy start, but boy oh boy it’s the absolute best now. I LOVE YOU STETSON KYLE!!!!!
I wanted to share my postpartum journey in hopes to help other Mamas out there. I promise there’s a good ending.
Also, there are a lot of “I” statements even though I edited some of them out, but that’s what it feels like. Postpartum anxiety is selfish. However, I COULD NOT have gotten through this without my amazing family and friends. My little family has THE BEST VILLAGE. We are rich with love and so blessed.
Here it goes…
Due to preeclampsia, Stetson came into the world at 37 weeks gestation. So, a little early, but it could have been way worse. GOD BLESS NICU BABIES AND PARENTS. The birth was beautiful! We didn’t get to use the birthing center due to my condition, but we were still under the care of amazing midwives and supported by an amazing nurse. Alex even delivered Stetson. He was an absolute champ as far as birthing partners go. He took amazing care of me. Lots of cold washcloths, counter pressure and great encouragement. It makes me well up with emotion when I think back. God gave me a good one!
Things were great in the hospital and the first night home, but then we quickly found ourselves back in the hospital due to jaundice. Yes, jaundice is common, but it can get scary real quick. Our poor baby was poked so many times, but he was such a trooper. However, he did slightly lose his voice from crying so much in the ER. Thank goodness he calmed down when we got admitted to a room. I think he was too exhausted to cry anymore honestly. Breaks my heart. Speaking of crying, I cried happy tears when he finally had a poop – it was quite the blowout (if you know, you know.. sometimes we cry over poop). I felt like a failure. My baby spent less than a day at home and we were already back at the hospital.
Once we got home it seemed like we were in the pediatrician’s office a million times for weight checks. Alex went back to work after taking off a week, so I had to take him by myself (seems so silly that this was a big deal to me now). This was extremely triggering to my anxiety. He was gaining and logically I knew he was fine, but THEY KEPT HAVING US COME BACK!! I felt like I was always anxiously waiting for the next appointment and obsessing over his feedings. He finally passed the weight check and gained “enough” I guess. For experienced parents, I think all of this would have been more annoying than scary, but I was terrified. All I wanted to do was snuggle my baby in bed, but I also didn’t want to be alone because I thought I was doing everything wrong.
Getting the okay from our pediatrician gave me a moment of relief, but the breastfeeding just wasn’t working. We tried EVERYTHING! We saw several lactation consultants, was getting advice from an herbalist and even had a tongue and lip tie release. YES, I WAS DRINKING ENOUGH WATER. Looking back, I wish I would have just accepted it for what it was, but that’s never been my personality. Triple feeding is the worst. Future Mamas, if you find yourselves triple feeding for more than two weeks with little to no progress, stop. You have done all you can do. Just pump (or don’t) and enjoy that baby. Like a lot of Mamas, I put a TON of pressure on myself about breastfeeding. I truly thought Moms weren’t trying hard enough when they said they couldn’t breastfeed. Sorry. Still to this day, I don’t produce enough for Stetson. I’ve never tried so hard at something and didn’t get the results I wanted. I was told that breastfeeding is a biological norm, formula is an emergency food and you are a BIG FAT FAILURE. Okay, that last part I made up, but that’s how I felt. All of this had me spiraling daily. I’ve never felt so low in my entire life. Not to mention, I am SURROUNDED by amazing-milk-machine-Mamas!! I was constantly reminded of my failure.
Let me take a moment and admit how silly this sounds. We were blessed with a perfect boy and I knew that, but my anxiety didn’t let me sit with that and be content. My mind wouldn’t allow me to truly soak in those intoxicating baby snuggles all the way, and boy did I feel guilty about that. I knew how ungrateful I sounded, but I couldn’t stop obsessing over the negative. My heart goes out to all the Mamas that are having trouble conceiving or wishing they could snuggle their sweet angel babies. You are in my daily prayers because I can’t think of anything more heartbreaking. I hated how selfish I was being. I got pregnant fairly quickly, had an almost perfect pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful and happy boy. There are a lot of Mamas out there that can’t say that and here I was whining over the biggest blessing I was ever given.
As a new Mom, I had a lot of fears and some of them were coming true. It seemed like every week my sweet boy was getting tortured by another Doctor (also, please know I have mad respect for all medical professionals). I felt as if I was failing more and more every single day. I wasn’t my normal self. I could barely fill up my own water bottle. My Mom took several days off work, and my very pregnant sister-in-law (also, a Mom of 4) was at my house on a daily basis. They brought me so much comfort. I don’t think I’ve ever been so needy in my life. My poor husband watched his normally upbeat and energetic wife become someone unrecognizable.
One day, my Mom was over making me some food and she looked over to see me hysterically crying as I was feeding my sweet boy. I couldn’t keep it together. It was such a beautiful day outside, but it might as well have been dark and cloudy. That’s how I felt, dark and cloudy. She suggested I call the birthing center and talk to one of the midwives. Moms are so smart.
This is the midwife’s summary of our call: “Meagan called to report she is feeling very anxious. She has situational anxiety outside of pregnancy and postpartum. She feels like she is having constant anxiety and it is affecting her milk supply. She is sleeping for about 2 hours at a time during the night but has not been napping during the day very often due to frequent pediatrician appointments. The baby had elevated bilirubin levels (aka jaundice), so she has been taking him for weight checks. She has great support from her husband mom and sister but is still feeling very overwhelmed. She is pumping every 2 hours during the day and is getting 20-60 ml each time. She has to supplement as the pediatrician wants the baby to get 1.5-2 ounces per feeding. She denies any negative feelings about the baby or any thoughts of self-harm. She feels very proud to be his mom, she is just experiencing the weight of how much pressure feeding causes and then not getting much sleep. She is also normally very productive and is struggling with not being so productive right now. Meagan is usually very upbeat and positive about life in general, so these feelings are very foreign to her. She feels very lonely when she is home alone with the baby so when her mom comes to visit, she wants to visit with her instead of sleeping. Meagan is open to trying medication for anxiety. Discussed starting on Zoloft and advised that it may take 2-3 weeks before she will notice an impact. Also recommended that she reach out to outpatient lactation for support. We discussed therapy to help find strategies to cope with the anxiety once she feels things are a bit more under control. Will call Meagan in 2 weeks to check in and see how she is feeling. Meagan will call the on-call phone for any worsening of anxiety or additional symptoms.”
I am pro-anxiety medicine and even had my Dad pick up my prescription, but decided to stick it out for a while longer. I wanted to know that it was me feeling better and not the medicine. I also have an addictive personality, so I was a little nervous about meds. This was the right choice for me, but I probably struggled more than I would have if I took the medicine. However, knowing I had the meds if I needed them brought me comfort. Talk to your Dr!
Soon after the lip and tongue tie release procedure, Stetson had a temperature of 103. As I was strapping my tiny baby into his car seat, I remember the pediatrician telling me what to expect at the ER and all I heard was “blood infection” and “spinal tap”. After lots of needles and a failed catheter attempt, we had no answers, but no news was good news in this case and they found the spinal tap to be unnecessary. Funny enough, to get the urine sample, the doctors held him over a cup and tapped on his belly. It worked! Too bad they made him suffer through a catheter first. We were sent home to snuggle our boy and to keep an eye on his temperature. It never went back up. If anyone remembers me going off about fevers and why they can be very scary for babies under 3 months and to never touch my baby again in my IG stories… that was because of this. Seriously though, respect a Mama when she asks you to wash your hands before you hold her very fragile and susceptible baby. Don’t kiss them either! I received a lot of eye rolls from this, but I honestly wish I would have been more strict. No Mama deserves an ER or hospital visit this early.
Then we had a week off before RSV hit us. Of course, right? He actually got it from my VERY MILD cold. At this point, I didn’t shed a single tear when the pediatrician told me he tested positive. I think I was numb. Luckily, our experience with RSV was as dramatic as two nights of sleeping with Stetson on my chest in the recliner and lots of time in the steamy bathroom. Thankfully the good lord above that it was quite uneventful.
Oddly enough, this is when things start looking up. I truly feel like something shifted in me when the RSV happened. Almost as if I finally became the protector instead of the victim. I remember sitting in the steamy bathroom, holding Stetson, and for the first time in weeks, I wasn’t Googling like crazy. Instead, I was online shopping for baby clothes that cost too much. I REGRET NOTHING! I was finally doing normal Mom things, which for me, meant staying up late and spending too much on clothes he would quickly grow out of. It felt good. It felt normal. As awful as it is to see your baby sick, I almost look back at this moment fondly. It’s when things changed for me. I don’t really know where the confidence came from, but at 9 weeks post-birth I was starting to finally enjoy more than mourn and feel sorry for myself.
My “fourth trimester” was rough on me. Looking back now that I am out of it, I definitely suffered from postpartum anxiety and probably even a little postpartum depression. As a recovering perfectionist and a “strong” woman, that’s hard for me to admit, but if my vulnerability and honesty help even just one Mama then it’s SO worth it. It’s what helped me. I needed to know the dirty details. I needed to know that I wasn’t alone. I am no professional, but I am a Mama who went THROUGH it and I am here to listen and swap war stories of motherhood if you want or need to. Although motherhood is God’s greatest gift, we can’t survive this alone.
I am now 6 months in, and I am happy to announce that I have become so obsessed with my son! I have found myself stressing less about his weight and focusing more on the way it feels when he smiles at me. I am head over heels for my little family and it feels so good. It’s weird to say, but I am grateful for my struggles because they made me the Mom that I am now and I really like her.
I want to thank my friends and family who have supported me with so much love these past 6 months. I also want to thank my son, because I would have never become this version of myself without him. Mama loves you Stets and I always got you!
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