Why I Had a Hard Time Sleeping.
The first time I noticed it was when I got in an argument with my husband. I packed up my son in the car and drove to a beach an hour away. It had been a small fight over something silly but I made it into a much larger emotional deal and took off. I needed some time to take my shoes off and walk in the sand with my little boy.
The second time I noticed it was driving home on the highway and realized I would be driving over a bridge and that I should plan out exactly what should happen in case it collapsed and I needed to get my son out of his infant car seat. I calculated the time it would take and exactly how I would maneuver over the seats and out the window before we would lose air. My heart pumped faster as I drove across.
This started to become a daily occurrence and each time I would get a little scarier and over the top. Planning how I could escape if there was a fire and how I would get my child out, or if we were in a store I would take notice of the exits and the best escape routes. I’m an emotional person in the first place but being 6 months postpartum with hormones flying, I thought this was normal. That each mother felt like this for their children. I started exercising and that seemed to help keep my anxiety down but then I went through my second pregnancy and it started again. My family and friends didn’t know about this since I thought it was normal and couldn’t quite explain my thoughts.
The worst day. My husband was away for a week, my son was 2.5 years and my daughter was 5 months old. I tucked the little ones into bed and turned on a movie to wind down for the evening. I did my usual checking out the window but turned off the lights and relaxed. After my show was done I went into my bed, closed my eyes and tried to fall asleep.
I heard a noise, jumped out of bed and checked out the front window. It must have been the neighborhood cat which I logically knew but my mind wouldn’t calm. I checked every window in our home, every one of them. Then I walked around and turned on the lights in each room. I peaked in to check that my children were sleeping soundly in their beds. My heart was racing and nothing was helping. The house was lit up, no reason to be scared. Logically, no reason to be scared. But I was paralyzed.
I laid there stiff in my bed. Under the covers scared to move in case I would miss a noise from outside, wanting to pack up my children and run to my vehicle so we could drive to my mom’s. It was safe there and she would protect me. Only 10 minutes away but I couldn’t fathom leaving my front door. I was scared to walk from the house to the truck so I was stuck. In my bed awake until 3:30am waiting for something to happen to me.
This was post-partum anxiety.
This continued to happen, week after week I would have at least one or two nights of no sleep, staying up until early in the morning. Until the sky started to get light again.
Being open about my fears has been key. I try to talk them out loud when they begin and make sure I am understanding the difference between normal and anxiety. I often would wake my husband up during the night to discuss it and get it out in the open. However, the most help has still been exercising. When you see photos of me hiking way up on a mountain cliff, it’s not because I am trying to be competitive (even though I love doing that too), it’s facing my fears and pushing my body to limits that I never thought so that I can take back the control of being scared and anxious. I know who I am more than I have my whole life now.
While I don’t mean to make women worried with these stories, I want to make it known that post-partum anxiety is much more common than you may figure. Women are dealing with these same fears all over the country right now. If this is you, please know there is help and we can point you in the right direction to resources. I tried to reach out to my midwife at 6 months post-partum and no one returned my messages. I don’t want this to be you. Postpartum anxiety is real, serious and there is help.
Doula and Prenatal Fitness Instructor in the Fraser Valley, including Abbotsford and ChilliwackAbbotsford, doula, Doulas, Newborn, Postpartum, Postpartum Anxiety