my journey through postpartum anxiety
I’ve shared about my postpartum journey on the beautiful platform called This is Brave.
“Postpartum anxiety. Anxiety in general. All of it. It really sucks. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I lived with anxiety for the last five years—the entirety of my motherhood journey. I had about two months of motherhood that were not overshadowed by anxiety. This is quite normal when you have a medically fragile child to care for. I know I’m not the only mother to walk this path.
Can you imagine worrying about every little germ? Knowing that the common cold could land your child in the hospital, or worse, take their life? And then you have to try and live a normal life–a life where everyone gets sick and people don’t wash their hands and they sneeze on you, and in the back of your mind, you’re terrified your child will wake up with a cold, and you’ll be in the ICU, watching her fight for her life. This isn’t normal. This is hard.
My first child, Florence, was diagnosed with a deadly neuromuscular disease at 3.5 months old. I noticed something was off with her development. Keywords: I noticed. It was up to me to save her, to diagnose her, to protect her. From that moment we were told she was going to die from Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 1, I began to swallow anxiety like air. I kept swallowing, kept trying to breathe, kept living because my daughter’s life was at risk every day. So every day was a miracle. I would say I experienced a normal level of anxiety whenever we went to doctor’s appointments, to the ER or the ICU. I would get sick and unable to eat, but it was manageable.
Then, my daughter died. I thought the fear of death would subside, but it simply changed. My seven-month-old son and my first typically developing child, continued to give me anxiety as he experienced his first fevers, bad colds, vomiting, and a variety of other illnesses that would have killed my daughter. I would get sick to my stomach and cry on the phone to my mum. I had never experienced these illnesses. My daughter had only had Rhinovirus which is the common cold, and it had landed her in the ICU every single time. So when my sweaty, feverish sick baby boy clung to me, I had to tell myself he was going to be okay, but I didn’t really believe it. I had not experienced “normal” when it came to motherhood, so even those classic childhood ailments churned my stomach for days. We had experienced the worst case scenario, so I always had to fight the temptation to believe that it could happen again. I was haunted.”