Post-Partum & Anxiety - My Story of Anxiety so far

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Sometimes I'm not even sure where to begin when I think about anxiety and the impact it has had on my life, mostly because it has affected me in so many ways. I guess the first time I actually knew I had anxiety was the summer of going into high school, and I had this over whelming feeling I couldn't shake, it was like I had done something wrong but I couldn't narrow down what that was. It became so bad I not only cried myself to sleep on several occasions, because I legit thought I was nuts, but I had stopped eating. Anxiety was slowly turning into depression for me and I had no idea why or how to stop this feeling. 
Fast forward a few years when I was in high school, that year was the first time I had tried to smoke weed (had a major panic attack and swore I'd never do it again), I had tried drinking and it honestly felt like it had helped me! For sometime I would use drinking as a crutch, which we all know doesn't end well. I had gone through a very difficult opioid addiction after I was in a car accident with an ex boyfriend, and thats a whole story on its own but it became a coping mechanism for the anxiety I always felt.  
Before I got pregnant I had been very fit and in a very healthy state of mind, which made me feel the best I had ever felt. I swear that the gym saved my life, not only did I feel strong, I looked good but most importantly I wasn't plagued with anxiety anymore. It was the first time in years that I was able to remain drug-free (anti-anxiety medications/SSRI's), and I could maintain that feeling without outside help. 
During this time we planned on having a baby, selling our condo in Toronto and buying a home north of the city. Even thou it was my dream to be a mom, the moment I found out I was pregnant was still very hard emotionally for me. I worried and stressed about every little thing, and very early on I had a few mental breakdowns because I began to feel anxious again and became very depressed this time. I finally made the decision to talk to my doctor about it, which became apparent that I needed to be on some kind of medication for the sake of my mental health. My medical team and I talked about the pros, cons and how the benefits outweighed the risks of taking an anti-depressant while pregnant. In my situation taking that specific medication (setraline) was a necessary next step to preventing any further issues, more specifically my medical team was concerned with postpartum depression. 
I was pregnant and in my second trimester when I was diagnosed with gallstones, and I think it made me feel a loss of control. To anyone who has anxiety knows that the feeling of having no control in your life has tremendous repercussions to keeping anxiety at bay.  I found that I had an unusual amount of energy in my third trimester, and began working out. I had bought myself a yoga pass and started going with a friend, which made me feel like myself again. 

My daughter was born on February 18th 2018, very healthy and scoring 9/9 on the Apgar scale. One of the known side effects of taking a (SSRI) Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibuter is withdrawals for a newborn. In our case Baby P did not show any signs of withdrawal until 48 hours after she was born and her breathing became a little faster. Thankfully that was resolved without medication, and her oxygen levels were just monitored for two more days. 
I felt a mix of emotions after she was born. I was happy, sad and had major mom guilt for putting her through any kind of trouble. I texted several of my friends, one who was on anti-depressants and pregnant as well and it felt good to get re-assurance that this was the best thing for myself and my baby. The following days after we came home, I felt like I was in a trance. I felt the happiest I have ever felt in my life, I was so in love with my child it was unreal. For the next four weeks it was constant, and I kept expecting a crash but it never happened. Then last week I started noticing my anxiety returning, and slowly feeling more and more like a panic attack. 
I feel an overwhelming since of frustration, I'm hot and cold, and I overthink and worry especially at night. I worry that I am not a good enough mom, and let what people say get to me (I never did before). I have also felt like my heart was going to explode, and had a hard time catching my breath.
I am still taking Setratline, at the same dose I was when I had my daughter and I have booked an appointment to see my doctor.

 I wanted to write this because I know a lot of other new moms find it hard to diagnose that Post-Partum Anxiety is a real thing. We are so consumed with the thought of having Post-Partum Depression, that the anxiety aspect is often over looked. I am certain that my anxiety and depression will be a life long battle. It will be something I constantly think about, but it doesn't have to run my life. There are so many things you can do if you have anxiety at any point in your life, what I should have done sooner was reach out for help. I should have made an appointment earlier to talk to someone in the medical field because it made a huge difference. I need to trust myself more when it comes to the limitations I have as a result of being diagnosed with anxiety, especially in social situations. I hope this story encourages even one person to seek help because it is perfectly normal to experience these feelings, and know that there is a light at the end! 

An estimated 1 out of every 6 women and 1 out of every 10 men experiences troubling depression or anxiety after the birth or adoption of a child. This is referred to as postpartum depression and anxiety (PPD/A) and can be a tremendously stressful time for the family. PPD/A is often characterized by despondency, emotional instability, anger, guilt, tearfulness, worrying, anxious thoughts or images, feelings of inadequacy and the inability to cope. It may occur shortly after the arrival of a new baby or many months later. For some, symptoms may begin in pregnancy. If you are experiencing any symptoms, and your youngest child is younger than three years old, please call. You are not alone - Click here for more information.

Penelope at 6 weeks

Friday, 6 April 2018

I cannot believe I have been a mommy now for 6 weeks, and sometimes it feels like she has been with us for a lot longer than that. She amazes me more and more every single day. I love the way she looks at her dad when he lays with her in the evenings, and the way she cries for me when she’s hungry. There are so many things that have changed for us, and I couldn’t be more happier with our little family. There are many times when we think about her growing up and think about when we can put her in hockey, or what university we’re going to put her in and the trips we can all take as a family… but then I think how fleeting these newborn moments are. I feel even more passionate about being in the moment, and observing every second I can (I recently started filming her first weeks). I know a schedule isn’t for everyone, but I am someone who NEEDS routine. I have included our attempt at a routine with a newborn, because we all know a 6 week old baby doesn’t really have a routine yet but it doesn’t mean us as parents cant have one. 

Two days ago Penelope slept for 6 hours for the first time! We couldn’t believe what time it was when she woke up. However, she usually sleeps in 4 hour stretches now. Our sleeping arrangements are either having her sleep in her ‘Dock-A-Tot’, or in a side-laying nursing position at night (completely safe of course). She loves to sleep in her Zipadee-Zip sleep sac, which also makes us feel better that she won’t be able to scratch her face at night. 

We are now exclusively breastfeeding, and I have been taking “Fenugreek“ and drinking Mama’s Milk Tea for just over a week now, and I swear it works. I have been able to pump 3 oz each side! We took one night off breast feeding for a girlfriends birthday party so mama can have a glass of wine or two and honestly I hated every second of it. All I wanted  was to be with my baby, feeding her. 

She is already 9 lbs 12oz (at birth she was 6lbs 13oz), and I can not believe how fast she went through her ‘premie’ outfits. Her newborn ones are going to be too small very soon. Penelope had her final midwife visit today, and is “thriving” and healthy! She is measuring 55 inches now (52 inches at birth). 
The first few weeks I was on a high! I have never in my life felt so happy, and so in love. That feeling is definitely still there, just I am a little more aware of reality now. I have been so happy and tired all at the same time, but we’re doing great. I love being her mommy more than I have ever loved anything in my entire existence.  

Tony and I agree on almost everything when it comes to parenting, and what our goals are as parents. It has only been 6 weeks, but we have established a very good routine that I believe will benefit her for her entire life. We co-sleep, breastfeed and have lots of mommy, daddy, baby-skin-to-skin time. 

I think as new parents everyone goes through a million emotions and sometimes being tired catches up to you. We have bickered a few times, but for the most part we are both so content and in love with our little baby and each other, that we find ways to fall in love with each other and our new roles as parents every day. However, we do have our moments and just like any other new parent it can be hard with hormones, scheduling and time for ourselves. I never doubt that we will be just fine as our family grows more in the coming years. 

7:30 - 8: My wakeup call is Penelope needing to feed, and we usually start our day together. During the week daddy leaves for work, and on weekend we lay in bed together and talk to her. 

9-10: She lays awake with us in bed, or I sit her in her chair while I get ready for the day. 

11:00: She usually needs another feed, followed by a nap.  

2-3:00: Repeats a feed, and a nap.

5-7:00: Start our night time routine that we begin with spending it doing tummy time, or laying with daddy who watches sports while I cook and clean. 

8-9:00: Bath time (which is her favourite), followed by a baby massage and she gets in her sleep sack and she’s ready to be nursed and put to bed. 

11:00: Wakes up wanting to be fed, and put back to bed. 

3:00 am: Wakes up to be fed and put back to bed.   

5:00 am: Will wake up one more time before we start our morning again.