In honor of Maternal Mental Health week I want to share my pre-birth/postpartum story. I am not ashamed or scared to talk about it because I have grown so much from it! I am a better person, more humble, and I appreciate life differently.
My long time struggle to get pregnant began when I got married, 2012. My husband and I tried for 2 years to get pregnant with no luck. Until I realized something was wrong, I toughened up and went to the doctor. They ran a few tests on me and determined I cannot bare child. Ever. The doctor told me I cannot ever have children. The only way would be through IVF (which was way too expensive and our insurance wouldn’t cover it). This crushed me. This also led to arguments with my husband because I wanted to adopt and he didn’t. I just wanted a baby. I felt so sad and would cry myself to sleep. The day we stopped trying is the day we got pregnant!! It was a shock to all especially to my OB! Throughout my pregnancy I had minimal anxiety I must admit. I would freak out whenever I didn’t feel my baby move, or when we had to take our regular tests to see if everything was okay. Fast forward, Belen (my daughter) went over her due date 5 days! This was really scary for me because I didn’t want a c-section. I had so many plans of how I wanted my birth to be!!
Belen was born October 26, and she was healthy as can be. Except when I was in labor another scary thing happened. Every time I had a contraction her heart would stop. So they had to speed up my delivery. By the time she was born, I heard no cry, no cough no sign of her. I remember a bunch of doctors and nurses rushing into the room towards Belen. My husband and moms face gave it all away, something was wrong with my baby. I couldn’t get up or move but my anxiety started. They didn’t tell me till the right moment that her cord was wrapped twice around her neck and she was not breathing. When they handed her to me she was purple and swollen. My poor little baby.
I feel terrible to say but now I know my postpartum began there and then because when I held her for the first time I felt disconnected from her. Like she wasn’t mine. I loved her but I couldn’t explain. It was a sudden feeling that came and went quickly. All was fine until I got home. I remember crying tears when we had family visitors come over, and they would ask me why I was crying and I couldn’t answer. I just didn’t feel myself. The anxiety began shortly after, I didn’t sleep at night making sure Belen was breathing. The fear of SIDS is real!! Then along came the anxiety/panic attacks which completely debilitated me. My husband and my parents helped me so much during these dark tough times. I remember running out of target and not finishing my shopping due to my sudden attacks.
It was until I developed one of Anxiety’s scariest symptoms “derealization”. Derealization is the brains way of protecting itself of high extreme stress. Which was my case. However I had no idea that it was harmless or a symptom of anxiety. I thought I had completely lost it and went mad. Derealization feels like your really high or drunk, but on a really bad trip. It was then when I called the nurse hotline and explained to them what was happening. This was 6 weeks after birth. The nurse immediately transferred me to behavioral health line and there I knew I was crazy. Luckily I spoke to the kindest therapist over the phone who calmed me down and told me what I felt was anxiety and a scary symptom called derealization. He said none of this will cause me any harm. I never had any depression thoughts, it was just anxiety. You always hear about postpartum depression but never about anxiety. Here I am three years later feeling more aware of my feelings and emotions. Feeling more humble towards daily situations. Having more gratitude for being alive and being healthy. Things other healthy non mental illness people take for granted. What I went through is not my baby’s fault, it’s not my fault, it’s not your fault, it’s nobody’s fault. I have accepted it as a learning phase in my life that has taught me many things. Although I am not 100% yet, I can stand tall and help others through these dark times.
I believe that postpartum anxiety should be more spoken of and that is my purpose of my post. If you hung in there and read through my whole post thank you. It’s one more person aware of this Maternal mental illness that does exist. You are not alone!
Strength, Love and Peace