My thoughts*

Feeling The Sun Again* {My Journey Through Post Partum Anxiety}

Oh, hi there.

Remember me? I know it’s been a little while… the longest I’ve ever gone without writing, in fact. I keep thinking that I’ve outgrown this little blog, but as life pushes forward I always find myself back here. Writing is so much a part of who I am, and as much as I try to change it, this always feels like home.

Truth be told, I’ve really missed this. I keep telling myself that I don’t have time for it anymore, but writing has always been so therapeutic for me… and I wish I had documented more of this past year.

We are finally inching towards our small Prince’s first birthday. As his birthday creeps closer, it feels a bit like I’m coming up for air. He is getting so big and is such a sweetheart… but this was a hard year for me. Unlike after the births of my first two, this time I struggled with what I now know to be Post Partum Anxiety. This post is probably going to be a little long and a little raw, but I feel it’s important to get out where my head and heart have been these past few months.

As you know, Will’s birth was fast and intense. He was healthy and strong and we were able to bring him home from the hospital the same day he was born. I had an amazing support team around me–my mom and dad stayed with us for a few days, our friends and neighbours checked in on us regularly, and the Hubster was able to take almost 7 weeks off work to help us figure out our new life as a family of five. It was a big adjustment, but we managed okay.

Except, I felt… different.

I expected having a new baby + two children four and under to be busy. I figured it was normal to feel overwhelmed, but the level of stress I felt on a daily basis was extremely high. Small tasks felt incredibly stressful–if I had to do anything with a time constraint my stress felt almost palpable. It’s much better these days, but my heart races, my chest feels tight and I often have to close my eyes and count to 10 to refocus. I figured that would go away as the baby got older… but I just became more adept at hiding it.

The stress brought on some personality changes for me that have bewildered me at times. It’s getting better, but for a long time I felt so… angry. My frustration bubbled into other aspects of my life and I felt myself snapping at my children for small inconsequential things… then I would feel so incredibly guilty because they had no idea why I was so angry. To be honest, neither did I.

It’s hard for me to admit, but I also felt some resentment toward my beautiful Weebean. I was so tired and overwhelmed from caring for the baby and Hank’s needs that I resented the fact that she needed me too. I just needed her to be old enough to look after herself and to give me a minute to breath… and I feel a bit like I’ve held her at an arm’s length for months. I would see myself respond to her and them immediately after I couldn’t understand why I responded the way I did. It was like I went through the motions of everything but the joy wasn’t there anymore. And it broke my heart.

I attributed my stress and these emotional changes to lack of sleep, as Will took me to new limits of exhaustion. Neither of my older children were great sleepers, but my sweet baby boy was like Dr. Jekyll and Baby Hyde. He would be sweet and happy all day, then would wake and cry all. night. long. Until a few weeks ago, he would wake every 60-90 minutes every night, and each time he was awake it would be for almost an hour. He lost his mind if anyone else tried to comfort him, so after a while I didn’t even bother asking for help as it just seemed to prolong his awake periods. I learned to survive on 2-3 hours of non-consecutive sleep a night.

At the heart of everything, that’s how I’ve felt these past few months. I’ve been surviving. I’ve been trying to focus on each individual day as it came, on the hard days I got through hour by hour. There were lots of good days, but also lots of days that felt so hard that even my bones ached. Through it all my Hubster has been my rock, my partner and my light, quietly filling in all the places I needed him to be. This year was all about divide and conquer– he was the primary caregiver for the “big kids” while I handled the baby. I know he knows that I’ve been struggling, but I don’t know if even he knew all that I’ve been wrestling with… largely because I didn’t really understand it myself.

Several weeks ago I read a CBC article about a documentary called ‘When The Bough Breaks’ that peaked my interest. The article was all about post partum depression, and talked about how this documentary explored the experience of post partum in a way that hadn’t ever really been done before. It sounded interesting, so one afternoon I found it on Netflix and began to watch. As these brave women opened up and shared their experiences, I felt something stir inside my soul. As one doctor discussed Post Partum Anxiety, I sat on the couch and cried, finally allowing myself to admit that that has been what I’ve been quietly wrestling with these past few months. Watching that documentary was very freeing for me. Admitting to myself that I’ve been struggling, and then finally starting to open up to a few people about it has been so therapeutic for me. It’s like the more I talk about it, the more I feel the stress and anxiousness leave my body.

I finally feel like my heart is mending a little. I’ve pretty much weaned the baby now, and with weaning came sleep. He now only wakes once a night, and I had almost forgotten how good it feels to be rested. While I still find I get frustrated more quickly than I’d like, it’s getting better. I don’t feel it bubbling over all the time, and more and more I’m beginning to feel the joy of motherhood again, not just the stress. I can feel my anxiety subsiding, and for the first time in months I feel a bit like me again. It’s not perfect, but I feel so much lighter than I did a few months ago.

I hope this hasn’t come across as a call for pity–I think everyone struggles in their own way with different things, and I know that my trials are light compared to many others. This year has been hard–perhaps the hardest of my life–but I know that as I distance myself from it I’ll see the lessons I’ve learned and I’ll see how I’ve grown as a person. It takes immense pressure to make a diamond, right? I’ve just felt so strongly that I needed to write this post… and I’ve been so nervous to do it.

More than anything, I know that I need to start writing again. Even though my heart is racing at the thought of sharing this, getting it all out feels like another weight has been lifted from my shoulders. As much as I try and diversify my interests, I know more than ever that writing is so much a part of who I am.

To sum it all up, I’m doing okay, and I’m happy. There are far more good days than bad now, and it feels like the dust is swept off another piece of myself every day. Instead of just seeing the sunshine, I’m finally feeling it again… and that feels so, so good.

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