Here’s why no one told you!

Looking back over my experience with postpartum anxiety, I started to wonder why the hell no one warned me about it.

As first time moms, we’re given loads of advice (some unsolicited), and all kinds of warnings about the new baby AND ourselves. We’re told about the signs and symptoms of the “baby blues” and postpartum depression.

We get the questionnaires at our OB-GYN’s checkups and even at the baby’s well-check visits: “On a scale of 0-3, over the past 2 weeks have you thought about harming yourself or someone else? On a scale of 0-3 have you found the joy in every day life?”

We even see the ads in the magazines they leave in the waiting rooms: “Are you feeling hopeless or empty? Are you experiencing rage? Are you having trouble bonding with your new baby? You may be suffering from Postpartum Depression!”

As with many other women I have talked to, these weren’t the feelings I was experiencing and I didn’t understand what was happening to me.

Because postpartum anxiety is more common if you have a history (or family history) of anxiety or depression, I should have seen it coming but NOBODY TOLD ME!

I’m an anxious person and pretty much everybody in my family has a history of anxiety and/or depression, so I just assumed I’d be an anxious mom BUT I had no clue there was anything other than postpartum depression to worry about.

The anxiety hit me like a Mack truck on steroids.

I felt like I had an itchy, wool sweater on in the middle of summer, and no one could see it but me. I couldn’t get this overwhelmingly uncomfortable feeling to go away.

There was a soundtrack to a Stephen King movie playing everywhere I went and no one could hear it but me. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was going to happen to my baby that I couldn’t control.

So I was recently talking to my therapist who I still see from time to time (not enough) and we were discussing the way I was feeling a couple years ago after having my son. After going through a list of the crazies, she looked at me and asked: “Do you know why you weren’t warned about postpartum anxiety?”

“No, why??”

“BECAUSE SOCIETY TELLS YOU BEING AN ANXIOUS MOM IS BEING A GOOD MOM!!”

Holy lightbulb.

She went on with examples of the way I behaved during my most anxious time with my new baby: holding him constantly, never letting him cry, worrying about every little move he made, checking on him 85,000 times to see if he’s comfortable, breathing ok, and on and on. Then as they get older, anxious moms will hover (“helicopter moms”), and thus instill fear and anxiety in their children by never letting them explore or gain any independence.

Shit.

She’s right.

It’s not our fault that we’re anxious or nervous, but we’re praised for being excessively protective as parents. No wonder there’s no caution tape up warning us about the dangers that lie ahead.

Anxiety is a problem when your decisions are based off of irrational fears.

Checking the temperature in the bathtub before you put the baby in is a rational concern. Avoiding giving the baby a bath because you’re afraid he’ll die (even though you’re standing right there) is irrational. But that’s how I felt.

We need to speak up when we’re feeling unlike ourselves and ask for help. It sounds so cliché but it’s true. Think of it this way: You’re helping your baby (or child/children) by getting yourself help.

I know I can’t be a good mom to my babies if I’m not ok myself.

You don’t have to feel like you’re alone. Your doctor will understand (they’ve heard this once or twice before) and refer you to a mental health professional (if you don’t already have one) who specializes in postpartum care.

Or maybe you have older children and you’re just now understanding that you may need some help. That’s great!

You deserve to feel better.

Sincerely,

The Mom friend you never knew you had.

I don’t poop on your floor so don’t wear your shoes in my house.

Being an anxious person, I get to be all kinds of crazy, annoying and insistent.

I’m not laid back, I’m not a go-with-the-flow type of person.

I overpack. I leave the house with a backpack full of diapers, baby wipes, antibacterial wipes, snacks for children, babies and adults. Water bottles. First Aid kits and changes of clothes for everyone. (You never know when spit up and blow outs will make a visit).

I have a list of things I need to sleep including sound machines, a glass of water in arms reach, a fan (that has to be near my face), my “L” shaped pillow in between my legs, a big comforter and my bunny to snuggle.

I’m also very aware of germs and dirt. If you’re going to hold my children, I appreciate you washing your hands because I have no clue what (or who) you’ve been touching between your house and mine.

You won’t be surprised now when I tell you we (I say “we” because I’ve broken my husband down) have a No-Shoe rule in the house.

I understand how I am. I have been a pain in the ass all of my life. I seek no pitty, no need to argue with me, I know who I am. I can certainly be difficult and I know I like things the way I like them.

That being said, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT IS ON THE BOTTOM OF YOUR SHOES?!???

If not, let me shed a little light:

66 Million Organisms!!! Live bacteria, live viruses, FECES, E. Coli, and do I need to go on?

Think about where you’ve been in your shoes. Been to Target lately? Been to a public bathroom? A restaurant? Possibly someone’s lawn?

Chemicals dangerous to children, especially under the age of 2 from people’s lawn treatments, human (and other) feces from bathrooms and even just the isles of grocery stores where thousands of other people have tracked their feet, live viruses like the flu, and so on.

When people walk in our home, I ask them to remove their shoes before walking past the front hall because not only do I not want to clean my floors all the live-long day but the mere THOUGHT of everything people are tracking on their shoes makes me cringe.

Now take a look around your home. Do you have children? Likely they play on the floor, sit on the floor, learn to crawl on the floor. Do you want them crawling around on a floor with millions of bacteria and viruses, and well, POOP?!?

Is your body cringing yet?

Good, I did my job:)

Here’s a couple quick links to learn more:

https://clark.com/health-health-care/this-is-why-you-shouldnt-wear-shoes-in-your-house/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.today.com/today/amp/tdna129820

I know I cussed you out last year, but are you accepting preschool applicants?

Anyone who knows me as a parent knows I’m a little crazy. I blame it on a combination of postpartum anxiety, my very Italian family and a short list of childhood disappointments.

After my son was born, my postpartum anxiety subsided, and I began venturing out of the confinements of our home, I found myself feeling a need to get back to the gym. Most of my other mom friends had made that leap much sooner than I had and I felt ready.

The problem wasn’t just leaving my baby for an hour or two (something I had extreme trouble with) it was leaving him in the gym daycare with people he (and I) didn’t know.

Sure, they had windows for me to peak through, the staff all had background checks and a good reputation, and it was a good opportunity for both he and I to be around other people. Apparently other human beings existed, it wasn’t just the two of us, although it seemed that way for a really long time.

I tried dropping him off, I really did. A few times. But he screamed and cried and was so confused. I just knew he thought I was gone forever. Even when the woman holding him tried to shield me from his view and another woman shooed me towards the actually workout area to let me know all was going to be ok, I just couldn’t.

I went back twice after less than 10 minutes and went home. Trying to focus on the stair master or elliptical was impossible when my heart was racing and swear I could hear him cry. I couldn’t get his little face out of my mind and really, who needed to get rid of the mom-gut anyway?

So I waited another couple months and decided to try another branch, the same branch my friend was bringing her twin girls to (who were a few months younger than Chase).

I gave the very friendly (and patient) staff a long list of instructions including not to let him cry and to please come get me or call me if he did. They agreed and were really excited to see me finally walk out.

I left, reluctantly, and tried not to cringe when one of the staff took his teether from me, holding the part he chewed on with her fingers.

I got on the stair master, put my Pandora station on DMX radio (“X Gon Give it to Ya” really gets me going) and made sure I was facing the entrance in case one of them came to get me.

They never did.

After 30 minutes, I decided enough was enough and I had to go see my baby.

As I walked out of the cardio room and down the hall towards the daycare I heard a baby screaming and just knew it was my son. It’s one of those things only a mom can tell from far away. A man would never pick up on that, not any man I know, anyway.

I picked up the pace and ran into the room and sure enough, there was my son, being held by one of the male staff members at the front desk, away from all the other children. He was crying so hard and had been for so long that he couldn’t catch his breath and had that quick, panicky, puffy breathing thing going on. You know the one.

When I grabbed him and held him, I started tearing up, too.

“Dammit. I knew I shouldn’t have done this. Mother _ _ _ _ #$%. Son of…”

Well, you get it. I was pissed.

I looked around and a few staff members were standing close by and I asked why the hell no one had come to get me? Why had no one called? I was stepping away like an idiot thinking my baby was happy and I came back to this. I was infuriated, actually. They had reassured me they would never let him cry more than a few minutes to get adjusted and would absolutely come get me if he didn’t.

Chase had to be removed from the actual play area because he was causing the other children to worry! Maybe I’m overreacting but my blood was boiling, I was so upset, I yelled at everyone, told them how unacceptable this was and stormed out.

They explained that they were LITERALLY about to come get me and he hadn’t been crying like that for very long. I wasn’t buying it.

I demanded to speak to the manager. Not the manager of the daycare, the manager of the whole building.

This woman was going to remember me.

I made such a fuss, was crying, grasping my son and made sure everyone around me heard about it.

I made such a scene that other parents walking in with strollers stopped to listen. I think they thought something catastrophic had happened in the baby room.

I cancelled my membership right then and there and if all of that wasn’t enough, came home and wrote a pretty lengthy email to the CEO. She wrote me back almost immediately and was really understanding and apologetic. Girl was good. You don’t climb the ladder without calming a few bitches down.

Jump to a year and a half later. I’ve had my second baby and my first is getting ready to start thinking about preschool possibilities and I still haven’t worked out more than the 15 squats I did in December and that one Yoga video on YouTube

They have forgotten about the crazy lady (although I’m still pissed) and I hear they have a wonderful facility!

I’m going to take a tour of the preschool next week. I just have a pretty important decision to make before then.

Red Sox hat or the cute blue and white one with the anchor? I think the one with the anchor hides my face a little better.