My Doctor Cleared Me For PPD. I Had PPA.

When I had my first daughter, I was so ready. I have the cute crib, the fancy shiny noise, the baby swing (which she hates, by the way), and I’ve read every parenting book I can get my hands on.

I will be a doting parent, whose baby sleeps through the night and loves long naps and organic, home-pureed green beans. I read his books every night before bed. I will understand him, and he will understand me; an instant, unbreakable bond.

Her newborn months will be sweet and soft, and full of giggles and love, and I will feel a joy I have never known.

Of all the research I did about how to be the perfect Instagram mom, the one thing the books didn’t say was probably the most important: that I wouldn’t be.

I spent those first few months battling what I now know to be severe Postpartum Anxiety. I filled out the only mental health survey I was given at my 6-week checkup:

  • Do I find joy in things? Yes, I loved the way he smiled in his sleep.
  • Did I get enough sleep? No, is that a joke? Does anyone answer “yes” to that?
  • Do you feel anxious or worried for no good reason? I’m sorry, did you know that when you check out of the hospital, they send you home with a whole baby? Yes, I am anxious, but I fail to classify that as “for no good reason.

I was awarded a gold star for excellent postpartum mental health and sent on my way.

I’m not sure how many 3am hours I’ve spent on Google, searching for things like, “Will fabric softener damage my baby’s lungs,” or “The long-term psychological damage of bottle feeding.”

As sure as I was before his birth that I was doing everything right, I was even more convinced afterwards that I was doing everything wrong. My partner doesn’t know how to help me.

My doctor told me I was fine, so I thought it was normal. I thought about everything I was feeling – the shame, the guilt, the exhaustion, the worry – I thought that’s what all new mothers felt.

The only thing my partner can do for me is take a picture of me in one of my worst moments: I’m crying on the couch, surrounded by laundry I don’t have time to do, and my daughter is sleeping very peacefully with a baby. lounger next to me. Safe. Healthy. I’m not in danger of growing purple horns because I chose the wrong diaper cream.

My only job at the time – my only real job – was keeping her safe and keeping her loved. And I do exactly that, even if I don’t see it.

I crawled out of that PPA battle slowly and painfully and without professional help.

It took the birth of my second daughter and the familiar feeling of butterflies taking over my insides to realize something was wrong. That I was about to dive into the months of suffering that, frankly, NOT every new mother goes through.

I swallowed the shame of not being perfect and talked honestly with my doctor about my first pregnancy. I talked to a therapist. I didn’t escape postpartum anxiety the second time around, but I gave myself the kindness to ask for help, and that made all the difference. That person was a door that opened.

I filled out those postpartum surveys more honestly:

  • Do I find joy in things? Yes, but some days are harder than others.
  • Did I get enough sleep? No, because even though he’s sleeping, I’m Googling everything I can do wrong.
  • Do I feel anxious or worried for no good reason? Yes. Yes, actually. yes i have This baby is fine, but maybe I’m not. By the time I actually allowed myself help, my anxiety was consuming me whole; I barely felt like I could leave the house.

I sought out a therapist who specializes in postpartum mental health. I was more honest with him than I was with my partner or even with myself, and I was amazed that he didn’t embarrass me.

Because of that, I learned that the shame I felt was an arrow I aimed at myself.

She prescribed me anti-anxiety medication that I needed regularly for over a year after my second baby was born. Some days, three years later, I still need it.

I researched PPA, instead of how my hardwood floors might flatten my baby’s arches. I learned about the pain and forgave myself for it. I also read other women’s stories, which is the greatest gift I’ve ever given myself. I’m not the only one, and it’s ok, and I haven’t been a bad mother.

I learned some hard lessons from those pregnancies.

What I hope other people get from this is that there is no shame in asking for (and needing) support. Having a newborn is exhausting and emotional, but it doesn’t have to feel doomy. You should not question your own worth.

Be unapologetically honest with your doctors and the people close to you about how you feel. Educate yourself less on the perfect noise machine and more on how to take care of yourself during a very difficult time. Stand up for yourself because you cannot pour from an empty cup. The best mother is a healthy mother.

And no, there is no diaper cream that will cause your baby to grow purple horns. Trust me, I’ve checked.

Our next reco: Tips for Distinguishing Between Normal Anxiety and PPA

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