As a new mom, I was full of excitement when I saw her tiny fingers entwined in mine. She looks so beautiful that I could stare at her all day. But who has the time? Apart from feeding her, there are other tasks to be managed too. The first few sleepless nights were not so difficult till it became an everyday routine. Just imagine not sleeping through the night for almost 10 months! My folks have been very supportive so I manage to get enough rest not to call myself sleep deprived. Yet I would love a 6 hour straight sleep without any wakings. Breastfeeding was a choice I made despite the difficulty of not really knowing if the baby is full or just wants comfort. 10 months down the line, the milk has reduced and the baby’s hunger has increased. I have a cleaner, a cook and a part time nanny. Yet the anxiety is at a peak.
The feeling of motherhood is amazing yet it has another reality too, the reality of postpartum anxiety. I won’t call it depression as it is not the right term for me at least. So what exactly happens when you go through postpartum anxiety? Here are a couple of things that I experienced:
1. The constant worry that the baby may stop breathing if I doze off.
2. The physical exhaustion from not sleeping well and the hormones going for a ride.
3. When the baby starts crawling, the fear of her falling off the bed or the cot. (This happened to me twice, once when I doze off. Since then I can’t sleep peacefully if I sleep with her alone).
4. When the baby learns how to stand, the stress of dealing with their tears when they tumble and fall due to lack of balance. (My baby almost bangs her head everyday yet my anxiety has not reduced).
5. The fear of being alone with your baby.
6. Wanting to leave everything and run away.
7. The most important one is the feeling of having failed as a mother each time the baby cries, falls sick, is unhappy, etc. I am sure every mother has had this thought at least once as a new mom.
The list is endless and each person has their own experiences. However, one thing that is common among all women who suffer postpartum anxiety is the constant need for support, care and the fear of future. I consulted a counselor who helped me understand that it is okay to be angry. Just like love, anger and anxiety are also emotions which we all experience.
The best way to deal with postpartum is to first consult a professional. You will at least get an awareness about your levels of anxiety. Thereafter, work on finding ways to get some time for yourself everyday. This is the most difficult thing to do while caring for a baby but it is extremely important. Remember if you are not fit, you will not be able to give your best to your child. A 10 minute routine of doing anything that does not involve your spouse or the baby is great to start with. Try and do as many things that make you happy as you can. Get lots of rest. The mistake that I made is not sleeping when the baby sleeps. I kept trying to complete work while she slept leading to exhaustion. For a long time, I resented the decision of having a baby as I missed my independence. Then I accepted my present state, thanked God for this beautiful gift of motherhood and appreciated myself for doing a damn good job every single day despite the exhaustion.
Always remember you are not alone. Many women experience anxiety and anger which they don’t express especially in India where women are supposed to be supermoms, superwives and super in every field. Don’t be ashamed of talking to your folks about what you are feeling and get as much support as possible. If you get stuck at any point just tell yourself “THERE IS NOTHING IN THE WORLD THAT I CANNOT HANDLE”. Living on your own terms also means accepting yourself as you are and working through the challenges.
I hope this helps you. Please follow me and like and share my stories if you enjoyed reading it.