I have been thinking a lot about Post Partum Depression and Anxiety lately. Often called “the baby blues”, approximately 11 to 20% of women experience PPD or PPA in their post partum period. To quote this site:
Postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbirth, putting American families at risk each and every year.
That is crazy and not really talked about compared to how often it is happening. Why am I bringing this up? Is this my way of saying that I am dealing with this? I mean, I did after E was born. There is no shame in seeking out help.
But that’s not why I’ve been thinking about this lately.
It has been 8 years since I last had a tiny baby in my arms. C is this amazing blessing that I can’t even begin to wrap my head around. We thought we couldn’t have more children. My fertility was a joke. Needless to say, I have been even more protective of C than I probably was as a young mom. I have also been way more anxious. This is separate from feeling depressed, it is a very different feeling.
Eight years ago, I wasn’t as inundated with information.
Information can be good, it can be life saving. Eight years ago, I had help as a mom. Other moms let me know what I should do. The hospital provided information for how to care for my baby. My kids survived childhood, so I wasn’t really worried about how I was going to care for C. After all, I was a pro. Haha… I was wrong.
Every bit of new mommy anxiety gathers together as I read news articles, that are literally at my fingertips. Even if I choose not to watch the news, or go to news sites, I still get them via Social Media. Last month, I read about three different babies (2 older than C and 1 younger) who died. One died because he suffocated in his blanket. Another got herpes at under a month old. The third, I’m not sure of the cause.
A little bit of anxiety is normal.
As a new mom, it was completely reasonable for me to be anxious about this tiny human I was caring for. As a mom who had previously lost seven pregnancies, I was on overdrive about being protective. – Don’t touch the baby’s face or hands. Hold her head. Wash your hands. Swaddle the baby. Wear the baby so fewer people will touch her. – I was being careful, like I can imagine most moms are. By the time the third story hit, I wasn’t sleeping through the night. It wasn’t that C was keeping me up. It was that I was compelled to check her breathing, to make sure she was still alive.
It was exhausting.
Part of this is because C already has health issues that we have known about since shortly after birth. So, I am just so much more aware of the fact that there are factors outside of my control (and as a Type A Control Freak, this is a problem). Part of it is because I have so many different things flying around in my head. I’m tired and when I’m tired, it is easier to get anxious.
Talking to a friend about it actually helped me. It isn’t that these things weren’t happening a decade ago. In fact, the infant mortality rate has dropped over the last decade. It is just that with the dawn of Social Media, the outliers can spread like wildfire. I’ve slowly calmed down a bit, although there are still days that I am more anxious than not (yesterday I may have freaked out about a bump on C’s lip and insisted on taking her to see the doctor). So, I can sleep more.
Just in time for a six month sleep regression!
*If you are dealing with Post Partum Depression or Anxiety consider seeking help. I would not have made it through my episode of PPD without the assistance of professionals and friends who forced me to get out of the house and start healing.