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PPA: The Whisper in the Room

Anxiety in general often presents itself as the unwelcome friend that doesn’t take the hint to just stop showing up. Before my son even made his grand arrival, I was dealing with daily bouts of anxiety laden thoughts. I foolishly thought it would, “just get better” once he was earth side and I could actually hold him in my arms and see him. *Spoiler Alert*, it did not infact, just go away. There was a very brief moment of joy when he was delivered, mostly because I knew I no longer had to push, and then slowly but surely, the snowball of anxiety started to build. I was subsequently diagnosed with PPA. (Postpartum Anxiety)

During my pregnancy I was worried about if I ate the wrong thing, or if I put on my brakes too hard or if I wasn’t drinking enough water. Now that my son was actually born, I worried, Am I feeding him enough? Did I burp him long enough? Is he sleeping too long? Did he not sleep long enough? And of course the age old worry, What if I drop him? One very anxious thought that kept cropping up its ugly head was, What if I’m not good enough to be his mom? What if I never will be? After all I had never even as much as babysat for an hour. Caring for my son was a crash course in all things baby. My husband and I were scheduled to attend a baby care class but never made it due to me being induced. ( Side note: Do NOT wait until 37 weeks to take any type of classes like I did) I also suffered with self esteem issues, and with that came doubt in my self-efficacy to accomplish most things, especially caring for another human being. 

I cried when I thought about how incapable I was. I cried to myself, I even cried while trying to console my son back to sleep, but I hid these things from people I should have shared these things with. It wasn’t until I shared with therapist my anxious thoughts that she gave me advice that allowed me start giving myself some grace. “This is his first time being a baby and this is your first time being a mom, you’ve both got some learning to do.” If you are like me, take a step back and realize you are doing an amazing job with what you know to do, and remember to do ask for help when you don’t. Try your best not to worry about the small stuff that at the moment may seem so important. Even if this isn’t your first time being a mom, this is your first time parenting this child. Each child is different, and so too can your approach to parenting that child. I now think about how much time I wasted worrying about things that dont matter, and even then I try not to dwell on that because then I’d be wasting additional time. Just keep on, keeping on, as my pastor says. Slow down, take a break, but don’t stop. I’d love to tell you I am anxiety free and I am the picture of perfect mental health but I am not. I’m much more a work in progress, but there is beauty in that as well. Anxiety is concern turned sour. Put your fears into perspective and acknowledge what your mind may be trying to tell you. Do your best to decide if the thoughts you’re having are valid, if not do what you can to mitigate any risk. If you don’t find the fear to be valid, acknowledge the thought and do your best to move along. My rule of thumb is that if I realize I have been running around in circles in my head with the same thoughts over and over, the thoughts are more than likely not valid, and my brain is doing the mental equivalent of double checking you locked your door before you leave the house. Easier said than done, but if you find you are having more problems with this than you can bare please self help, whether through a loved one or professionally. You cannot expect to try to take care of yourself and your baby without taking care of your mental health as well.

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