Storytelling series- welcome Sarah
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a mom. A little over a year after being married, my husband and I decided it was time to make our little family a little bit bigger. I was overjoyed, albeit terrified, to see the positive pregnancy test not five months after deciding to conceive. From that day, I read too many books, blogs, and baby articles in preparation for anything and everything that might happen during pregnancy and labor and delivery.
My pregnancy and delivery were textbook and relatively easy and uneventful, exactly as one would hope. Like many before me, the first few weeks of my daughter’s life were fueled by adrenaline and caffeine. Around 3-4 weeks postpartum I started to experience anxiety about any and every detail of my daughter’s day. I obsessed about how long she slept, how much she ate, how tightly she was swaddled, how fast the swing was, how she fell asleep, where she fell asleep, when she fell asleep. All of a sudden I wasn’t sure I wanted to be “mom”. I was terrified of making wrong decisions and quickly my obsessions over breastfeeding, sleeping, and soothing were replaced by intrusive thoughts of hurting myself and my precious baby. Sleep was replaced by anxiety attacks and nightmares of events I was too scared to share with anyone. Surely she’d be better off with a different mom.
There is about a month of time of my daughter’s life that I truly have trouble remembering. All I can remember was feeling frightened, desperate, and hopeless. An amazing support system including family and friends gathered around and I kept waiting to feel better. At the point my anxiety prohibited me from leaving bed, I knew I had to seek help. I wasn’t sure how, where, or with whom, but I knew I had to try to get help.
I had not prepared for this. I was ready to tackle gestational diabetes, bed rest, an emergency C-section, even a short stay in the NICU (none of which I faced), but I was not ready for this. I have no family history of depression or anxiety, I’m grateful for a family that is supportive and well educated on mental illness, and I wanted to be a mom more than anything. How could this happen? How could I escape?
Fast forward about three months, and those days of fear and fatigue were slowly replaced by days of laughter and smiles. It was not an easy road, but it was so worth it. Doctors weren’t always well versed in treatments or therapies, some close to me didn’t understand, and often I had to use the only fight I had left in me to pick up the phone and call for help and I’m so glad I did.
I hear stories about moms who suffer from perinatal mood disorders and wait months or years or never seek help. I totally get that. Our world is one where moms are supposed to bounce back mind, body, and soul and immediately care for a brand new person as well as not neglect any and all prior responsibilities. Any mom will tell you this is not realistic, but somehow we still expect it to be so. I believe it is imperative for all moms to speak out about what we need and why we deserve it.
My unexpected experience has led me to meet and know some incredible moms with stories similar to mine. Together I believe we can change the perception of motherhood and work towards building systems that better support moms, babies, and families from conception onward. Women need to know how brave it is to seek help, they need to know who to ask for help, and they need to know that help is possible.
My daughter is almost a year old now and I couldn’t be happier to be her mom.
Thank you Sarah for sharing your story. For those reading, you ARE NOT alone and you DO NOT need to walk thru challenges of fertility, loss, pregnancy and motherhood alone. Invest in YOU. Call us today, we would be honored to help support you.
A video created by Maureen Fura, writer/director Dark Side of the Full Moon