I was once diagnosed with post natal anxiety. I thought it was the end – no exaggeration. But I am here now to tell my story and how indeed things turned around

The Hard Part

This is probably the hardest post to write. The one I keep pushing hoping I don't have to. However, I feel before birth, I need to get it out of my system.

This is the story of my first baby. My first birth experience and how it all went down.

Everything was going great until maybe week 39 when my doctor told me that we had to have a C Section because the baby's head was too big. Now I know that this was not a valid reason for a C Section but at the time, I didn't know much. So I agreed, and we scheduled it a week later I believe.

Something to note, was that 70% of my pregnancy and 1.5 years post birth were all during Covid. I remember not seeing anyone or going out from my second trimester until my daughter turned 1. This obviously also contributed to the extreme anxiety we were all in at the time. My first trimester was pretty horrible too since I get terrible nausea and vomit, and as soon as I started feeling better, Covid hit.

On the day of the scheduled C Section, since again it was Covid times, I was only allowed one or two people with me, and one who can stay over. My mum stayed over, and my husband came and went. We checked in the night before to settle in and get certain tests done. Early morning I was taken into the operation room, alone.

Now I also know that there is something called a gentle c section which should have been the default option, to have my husband with me, to be awake, to hold my baby and have skin to skin as soon as he's out. My doctor never mentioned any of this. For my first birth I was fully sedated, I was asleep during the whole process, they got my daughter out, I wasn't the first to hold her. Actually my whole family got to see her and hold her while I was still asleep. I woke up in complete panic, asking about my daughter. She wasn't there, she wasn't inside of me anymore, and she wasn't with me even. I was in total panic. With the effects of the anesthesia slowly leaving my body I had no idea what happened. I was told this was the spark to my anxiety. This was how it started.

Needless to say the C Section pain was intolerable the first 10 days or so, Took me a couple of days just to get out of bed. We only spent a night or two at the hospital because of covid as well, so we went home to my parents' house, with a newborn, my first, still learning how to put a diaper on, with so much pain from the operation, still no milk supply and just general anxiety from covid as well.

Everything was still new to me then. We tried our best with no outside help. Little sleep here and there, lots of breastfeeding trials, she had horrible colic most of the time, screaming a lot most of the time. We cried a lot too. It was tough. But we survived the first two weeks, we did all we could. Slept when we could, ate when we could. So far it feels like a normal new baby in the house story. But starting 2 weeks, it started getting really bad.

My milk wasn't enough, no matter how much I pumped or drank or whatever, she was always hungry. She was always crying. It was too much sometimes. I later discovered it was hunger, and we had to start formula after consulting different doctors. From the stress and lack of sleep, my milk was not keeping up. I felt so defeated. I was so set on breastfeeding. But I had to start supplementing with formula. I started pumping more and more, which meant being attached to pumps most of the day which was so annoying and lonely and depressing. As days passed I found myself getting more and more anxious, and with the increase of anxiety I started not sleeping, at all. For days. Which made things even worse. I then started not eating. No one knew what was wrong with me. I went to the ER one day when I felt my heart wouldn't stop beating so fast. They told me I was perfectly fine and my heart was perfectly fine.

I couldn't hear my daughter cry, I wanted her to be asleep, I would panic when she woke up. I couldn't stay home alone with her, I was too scared. of what? I have no idea. I was just scared, I had my parents' and my husband's support but I was scared. I was terrified. I reached a point where I was like a walking zombie. I couldn't function anymore. I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating, I wasn't living. I was just awake all the time. Crying all the time.

Was it all in my head? I was advised to see a psychologist. I went. I discovered I had Postpartum anxiety which I had no idea existed. I had only heard of Postpartum depression, and I knew I didn't have that. I had never heard of postpartum anxiety. Had I known, maybe I had seen someone earlier and tried to control it sooner. In any case. Now I had a diagnosis, I knew what was wrong with me. I was prescribed anxiety meds. I had to stop breastfeeding for good. I was devastated, but I needed to be better, I needed to be alive again and take care of my daughter.

Things started getting better. Until one day it stopped. It started getting worse. I started getting panic attacks, things I've never felt before. I couldn't control and couldn't stop. They told me to breathe, they told me to relax, they told me you need to be strong and think positive. I couldn't. I was too weak. I couldn't break the cycle.

I remember I reached a point where my eyes would involuntarily shut because of the extreme fatigue, but then I would wake up gasping for air. Like I was drowning. My body needed to sleep, but my heart and my anxiety would not let it. There was something majorly wrong.

I couldn't wait a whole week for the next psychologist appointment. It was too much. It was not working for me. I remember praying, praying that it would all stop, it would all go away. How I just want to feel nothing. My rock bottom was when I found myself hoping for an end. It's so hard to say, but I wanted God to take care of it, to relieve me from the pain. I didn't want to commit suicide but It was more of a death wish. I felt horrible for feeling that way and pray to God he forgives me for such horrible wishes, but I felt I was slowly dying, being tortured to death everyday and night. And oh the nights were long. I felt alone in the journey even though I was surrounded by people.

I remember thinking how I never knew what mental illnesses were until that point. I had friends that suffered from depression but I never truly got it. It was the hardest thing I had ever experienced. Unlike a physical illness which could have a cure or a medicine. Mental illnesses don't go away with meds. Meds just give you a slight push. But you have to be strong enough to push on your own. Meds will not cure you, you are the only one capable of doing that. How I wished I could just be given a medication that would make everything better instantly as I was too weak to push on my own.

God sent me an angel when I was given the contact number of a therapist who advised me to get checked into a mental hospital. I was checked in that day. I stayed 2 weeks there. It saved my life. First week they tried to get me to sleep, second week they started giving me anxiety pills until I was stable enough to leave and continue on my own with regular followups.

That was the start of my recovery, but it was a very long journey full of ups and downs.

First of all, it was far from the experience I wanted to have with my newborn. That first year was a complete haze, I don't even have pictures to remember that year by. I couldn't bond with her at all. Didn't breastfeed, didn't laugh with her, didn't treasure those special moments with her, couldn't sleep with her in the same room until she turned 2. It needed 2 years of hard work to start feeling like myself again.

To recap, starting with the birth experience right until she turned 2, I was continuously struggling. I was constantly pushing myself mentally and physically. It was not an easy ride. Days would come when I felt it was getting worse again. Then I'd have a good few days. Then downhill again. I was basically trying to just get by those first 2 years. Doing what I could to just survive. After stopping the meds – 1 year post birth, it got very difficult again. But I decided to do it on my own and not go back to the meds again. I needed to be strong for my daughter. So I pushed and pushed, did therapy and exercised and everything I could possibly think of to get better.
I got better. But it took time. Two precious newborn years.

Now she is 3. I am much better as I've mentioned in earlier posts, however, the anxiety is still there. It comes and goes. Some days are harder than others. some days I can't sleep. So it is still a bit scary thinking of the possibility of going through all of this again with my second. All I can do now is pray and seek all the help I can find.

It was difficult reliving all of this with you, but it needed to come out. Maybe this helps someone else.. maybe it is just a reminder for me that I've been through a lot but came out of it stronger.

This is the end of the hard part for now, now it's time to look forward and be positive and hope for the best!

#ppd #postnatalanxiety #recovery