I met a mother of a 6-month-old recently. We were in a group of mothers, talking about postpartum adjustments as well as birth experiences. It was a safe space for sharing stories openly and honestly. This mama told her birth story and she bravely ventured into a place of deep vulnerability to share what she is experiencing now. As she spoke about the anxiety she felt at the moment of her unexpected cesarean, checking on her baby 9 times a night, waking nightly from 1-4AM unable to fall back asleep (despite her baby sleeping pretty well), and fear of leaving her baby with anybody else, she looked as if she was discovering something that not even she knew about herself.
Today I want to talk about why it’s so challenging to leave the house, why it’s still important to get help now, and how you can get postpartum help, even without leaving the house. I know that you will leave the house again, and that things may be hard right now.
Last week we shared Christina’s story about her unexpected struggle with postpartum anxiety. I had the opportunity to meet her at a local group for expecting moms and, as I spoke with her, I was struck by how blindsided she was by her symptoms. She knew nothing about the possibility of developing anxiety during the postpartum period.
As a mental health counselor I often find myself trying to elicit information from clients about their wellness. I’ve found over the years that just asking a general “how are you doing?” Doesn’t really get me much information. There are some folks who are open books, and can’t help but give a genuine in-depth answer to this question, but most people respond in brief. New mothers are no exception.
One thing that really surprised me after my daughter was born were the dark thoughts that bubbled to the surface of my consciousness. Even though I suspected that having a child might be difficult, I didn’t expect to feel regretful of my decision. I thought I would just instantly adjust to being a parent, and never look back. This has not been the case.