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What’s a 9-letter word for anxiety? PARENTING.

March 2, 2017
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My husband and I tried for over a year to conceive our daughter. Having a family had always been my dream. Finally, after months of disappointment, we found out we were pregnant on Mother’s Day. How Hallmark movie-esque is that? I didn’t believe it. That double pink line. My favorite color. Admittedly, I did 3 more at-home tests that week. Is this really happening?

Nine months later, it happened. For real! The most beautiful 7lb, 11oz, dark-haired baby girl (screaming for a pink little bow), was born sunny side up (ouch) on a very blustery day in January.  She was perfect. My mommy dream had come true. Pink outfits and everything monogrammed ASC immediately.

Settling in at home with our baby girl, Ashlyn, we were finally a real family. She was all ours. MINE! This tiny human’s life is totally dependent on me. Well, and her daddy but ya know, this is my story:

Whew, is it hot in here? Are hot flashes normal after delivery? I feel stuffy and, oh my goodness, I cannot breathe. Seriously, I have to step outside in the 20-degree temperature for air. Ok, still hot and still cannot breathe. (Yells for hubby) Something is wrong, I am so hot and I cannot breathe. I think I am dying. For real? The first week home with my sweet baby and I am dying. Please God, don’t take me now.

Hello new mom, it’s me Anxiety. We aren’t talking just jitters, butterflies in your stomach anxiety. No, this is my chest feels heavy, and I cannot breathe anxiety. Ice cream no longer sounds good. Oh, and what about these nagging thoughts that wake me up at night?

“Is the baby breathing? Am I breathing? What if I have a serious illness that takes me? My boob hurts. Breast Cancer, I must have cancer. Ashlyn won’t have a mommy.”

These thoughts would start creeping in during the day as well. What is wrong with me? I have wanted this for so long. I should be enjoying my life at home with my perfect daughter and my husband. I should be dressing her up in one of the billion pink outfits that filled her tiny closet. I should be wanting to take her out to show her off.

No, I want to stay home so she doesn’t get exposed to the flu, because the flu runs rampant in January. Besides, if I go out with friends, what if I get that panicky, can’t breathe I-need-to-run-outside feeling? That would be TOTALLY embarrassing.

AND I don’t want people asking how I lost all my baby weight so fast (FYI, intense anxiety raises your cortisol, which burns fat).

Hey God, it’s Ali. What the hell is wrong with me? Two words, Postpartum Depression. Yes, PPD. That bastard was robbing me of my new mommy glow. Yeah, I could fit into my pre-prego jeans but who cares? Because I’m not leaving the house til Ashlyn is 5.

Ok, I am being a little dramatic. I did leave periodically to go to Target and the grocery store. We also would take long drives because Ash had severe reflux and the movement soothed her. Yep, GERD. She couldn’t lay flat, like ever. Bonus! Not scary at all (subject for another article in the future).

“Enough, is enough,” said my big sister & hubby on an afternoon in February. “You need to make an appointment with your OBGYN. This is not normal new mommy behavior.” SO, I put on my best sweat pants and headed to the doctor, who confirmed the PPD.

She wrote me an Rx and scheduled an appointment with a psychologist for therapy. I started taking the medication daily and seeing the therapist every week, then monthly until my daughter was two. I wish I could say medicine was a quick fix but it was not.

To this day, I still battle with anxiety off and on. However, it is much more manageable. My husband and my big sis have been amazing and are my source of comfort when I need to talk it out.  Along with Zoloft, supplements and exercise, I can keep my anxiety manageable.

PPD and Anxiety disorders are very real. They are not to be made fun of or shrugged off. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, do not feel ashamed or weak.  Know that you are not alone. Talk to a spouse, your OBGYN, friend or a Motherlucker.

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