I waited five long years. Through miscarriage and stillbirth, I finally gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. I crossed the finish line.
Or so I had thought.
When I reached that finish line, I looked up and saw I had several more laps to go. And, guys, I was exhausted. Emotionally. Physically. Mentally. Not even considering the following weeks of sleep deprivation and hormonal letdown. Anxiety was still present.
But I chalked it up to the baby blues. I waited until the hormones leveled out more or less. Michael took the night shift so I could get more sleep. Even after that, I still had those nights when those thoughts wouldn’t leave me. The thought that wouldn’t let me sleep.
“Your baby is going to die tonight.”
It was terrifying. I would be up every hour checking on the baby, even if I woke him up. And we knew that this wasn’t sustainable. Even during the daytime naps, I was constantly checking to see if he was breathing. In those moments, it was as if he knew because he always seemed to kick or sigh in his sleep when I looked over at him.
There were other issues as well. I didn’t trust my intuition. I was convinced that I was going to hurt him in some way. Was I feeding him enough? If his head fell forward or fell backward unexpectedly, was I forever damaging him? I felt like he was safer in other people’s arms than in my own. And I wasn’t bonding with him at all.
So, I talked to my therapist. She told me that all of these things were quite common in a lot of pregnancies. Bonding with the baby wasn’t going to be instantaneous, just like falling in love with someone happens slowly over time. However, my PTSD from losing my girls was definitely playing a part, and after I talked to my OB, I got some medication to help.
And it has helped. It doesn’t make everything perfect, but it quiets the thoughts and gives me a chance to learn to trust my gut. And I’m bonding with the little guy more and more each day.
There is this pressure to enjoy motherhood. To soak up every second of every day because it goes by so fast. And because I have waited so long for these moments, the pressure feels even greater to appreciate every second. I love my son. And I look forward to the snuggles every day. I even think some of his cries are adorable (and when he sticks out that lip, I just want to snuggle him).
But I have to take care of myself. I need to make sure I’m as healthy as I can be so that I can take care of him. Post-partum anxiety is real and nothing to be ashamed of. And it’s not forever, so for now, I will just take each day as it comes, giving myself grace, and be grateful for the support and love that surrounds me.