Can we get something straight about postpartum anxiety?
I don’t have my shit together.
Let’s just start there.
Since I launched this blog in May of last year, I’ve gotten emails from other mamas praising me for “doing it all.” Some even say they are inspired by me, and hope they can someday have their shit together, too. I always try humbly to take the compliment, while promising that, although it can sometimes appear that way, I don’t have my shit together.
I enjoy dressing up and taking photos. I often get lost in daydreams of future post ideas or possible outfits, all while trying to nail down my ever evolving style and chase after a wild toddler.
I like to arrange my Instagram photos artfully, playing with negative space while keeping in mind the rule of thirds. Whitewashing life and making it look pretty. But, there’s something you don’t see in my carefully curated photos.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were at church. I was trying my best to concentrate on the sermon, pushing thoughts of Harper in the church nursery to the back of my mind, hoping (praying) that her assigned number didn’t flash on the screen, signaling to us that our child is either inconsolable or poopy and in need of our immediate attention.
The sermon was about being authentic. About being relentlessly real, in faith and in life. This struck me, and I started thinking about my blog. I wrestled with this idea of being genuine. Authentic. Real.
Had I been real? Sure, I’ve shared my struggles with getting Harper to sleep, the emotional rollercoaster of nursing her for 13 months, and the challenges of being a stay at home mom. But listening to that sermon, I knew in my heart that I had a greater message to share. I could connect to mamas on a deeper level.
So, here’s the story that I haven’t yet shared. Shit’s about to get real.
I started this blog in May of last year because I was struggling with Postpartum Anxiety. It hit me like a thousand tons when Harper was 5 months old. My world was shaken, turned upside down and left on its side.
I had everything I had ever wanted, and yet I was terrified, overwhelmed and completely lost. I was anxious and worried, about everything and nothing. It took over, and I was living in a fog of what if’s and confusion.
Thank God for my supportive husband and mom, who talked me through those first days. I soon started therapy and learned that it’s quite common for Postpartum anxiety to hit in the first year after having a baby. It’s a hormone shit show.
Slowly, I started feeling better. I found a church, and we went faithfully each and every Sunday. I began to focus on working out and eating healthy again. I found mama friends in our new area. I started this blog. And I prayed. A lot.
I know you don’t realize it, but YOU helped me get through those trying times. I poured my heart into this blog. I wrote about being a mom. I dressed up and curled my hair and put on lipstick and felt good. This blog was my outlet. Suddenly, I wasn’t just a new mama fighting hormones and anxiety. I could be fashionable and funny(ish). I could be the old me.
It wasn’t until I heard the church sermon that I realized by trying so hard to be the old me, I was doing a disservice to the new me, and to any mamas out there who have either been through this battle, or are right in the middle of the war.
I knew I wanted to share more of my story with you. I wanted to be vulnerable and real and give you a glimpse into my heart. But how?
I had high hopes for 2016. I set out to live intentionally, and to continue on the path away from anxiety and toward my faith. I wanted to continue trusting life. I was feeling hopeful because the day after Christmas, I found out I was pregnant.
Then, just 6 days into the new year, I had an early miscarriage. I was only 5 weeks along, but I found out I was pregnant around 3.5 weeks. So, in my mind and heart, I was pregnant. And it was wonderful. I was calm, happy and hopeful.
Until I wasn’t. I had never had a miscarriage before. I didn’t know the pain I could feel losing something that was mine for such a short period of time. But oh, how my heart ached.
My heart was working overtime. Along with the heaviness of hurt, it also raced with worry and stress. Suddenly, there I was again: postpartum with anxiety. I felt utterly defeated. Hadn’t I slayed this dragon? How was it possible I could get through this again?
I went back to my good ol’ ‘Kick Postpartum Anxiety’s Ass’ toolbox, and resorted to all of the strategies I had used before. Except this time, they weren’t working. I was too exhausted. I was done fighting.
I needed help.
After doing some research, I told my husband I wanted to take something for my anxiety. He was on board. I met with a wonderful doctor who observed that my body is very sensitive to hormonal changes, hence the timing of the anxiety. There was no judgment. It was a matter of fact. Biology. She started me on a low dose of Zoloft.
This was a big jump for me. I rarely take Tylenol. I’m not against medication, but it has never served a purpose in my life. I much prefer meditation over medication.
So, here I am. Relentlessly real.
I know medication isn’t a magic bullet. I know I will still have to work hard. I will continue to grow in my faith. I will do yoga and take care of myself and still spend too much time thinking about clothes. And, I will whitewash sometimes. Because truthfully, I like pretty things and I like to make things look pretty.
But, I will also be real.
I’ve faced some tough times in the last year, and I know I’m not alone. I know other mamas need help, too. And I want you to know: IT’S OK. You’ve done enough. You’ve fought enough. You are strong, and you will get through it.
And maybe one day we’ll have our shit together.
But for now, it’s ok.
We’re on our way.
(If you’re struggling, please check out this website). It helped me tremendously.