When I became pregnant with Wesley, I worried that I would potentially suffer from postpartum depression. I worried about this because I have spoken to therapists in the past who told me that yes, I do have anxiety, but yes, there are healthy ways to cope with it.
When Wesley was born, I was over the moon. My body quickly snapped back (well, most of it) and I was overjoyed with spending each day with this magnificent creature that came out of me. Depression was a far far away land and I was comfortable at home. What I didn’t realize, though, is that there are other postpartum problems that I was unaware of. These included postpartum OCD and postpartum anxiety. I was also unaware of how drastically these issues would affect my life.
The first time I noticed that Wesley’s right eye looked cloudy, I was having family time at my cousin’s house. I noticed this and my immediate thought was: “Something is wrong with his brain.” We rushed him to the Emergency Room, where by some miracle, a pediatric ophthalmologist was on site. He informed us that he believed Wesley had Glaucoma. “I thought old people got glaucoma,” we explained, naively. We had no idea “congenital glaucoma” existed.
My brain worked in overtime: this was my fault. Whatever I did or didn’t do while I was pregnant was the reason this was inflicted on my baby boy. Yes, I was the cause of this. My significant other informed me repeatedly that this was nothing I did, as did the doctor, but I wouldn’t let up.
After his diagnosis, my brain-working-overtime got worse. Every surgery he had I prayed until I turned blue, begging and pleading for him to be safe, protected, to come out alright. He did, he’s resilient. But somehow, my brain doesn’t see it that way.
I avoided going to the mall for fear that somehow (even though he was being pushed in a stroller, strapped in) Wesley would get away from me and go over the second floor railings. I avoided my cousin’s house because they live on the third floor. I angrily barked at anyone who was in the backseat of the car with Wesley while I was driving if I felt they weren’t paying attention to his breathing close enough while he napped. I wouldn’t let him nap in his crib for fear of him rolling over and suffocating. I wouldn’t let him visit anyone’s house with a pool. I took him to a conference at work with me and I opted for a first floor villa outside of the hotel because I wouldn’t allow him to be anywhere with sliding glass doors and a balcony. Before I knew the villa was an option, I bought 3 of the same childproof locks for the sliding glass doors to bring with me. Everything that can go wrong, I’ve worried about it. I’ve obsessed over it, and finally, I realized that it’s not “normal.”
Of course, I know that there is a healthy fear parents should have in order to be the protector of their children. I, however, take these “healthy” fears, and turn them into toxic thoughts. Every morning when I get to work, I cry because I can’t be there with him. I’ve spent mornings and even all day looking for jobs that I can do from home so I don’t have to leave him. I’ve budgeted and re-budgeted, I’ve tried to figure out every which way I can stay home with my little bear. I know that half of the things I worry about may never happen, and I do realize when I’m being irrational. But it hurts, being away during the week, working a full-time job that is fairly demanding, and missing him oh so much.
I’m curious- how do other moms deal with this? The anxiety, on top of working and trying to be the best mom possible. Really, I want to know. How do you deal with postpartum…anything?
Funny enough, one of my emails on the job websites sent me a link for “parenting coach.” I laughed a little.