My Pink Elephant

“Write about what you have been struggling with.”

Oh, where do I begin?

It all comes down to anxiety.  I can tell you that I’ve had my fair share of issues with it, but none of those compare to what it has been like over these last nine months.  Anxiety, for me, is like… knowing that things are ok at the end of a scary movie and then getting a phone call and only hearing heavy breathing on the other end.  Or, being late for an important interview and getting stuck behind a slow driver and trying not to let the road rage peak it’s ugly head out.  Or, to be specific, knowing that my child is perfectly safe but having an overwhelming fear that I will never see him again.  Anxiety, for me, is the giant pink elephant in the teeny-tiny room that nobody wants to address.

My sweet child is 9 months, going on 10.  Raising him has been such an amazing (and to be honest, slightly tough) experience.  It wasn’t until recently that I considered what I was going through to be postpartum anxiety.  I mean, I had heard of postpartum depression.  I even considered at one point that I had it, I did after my first child.  I took a quiz online that I had found – I was considered “borderline” to  postpartum depression and if I had just one more point they would have suggested talking to a professional.  The thing is, I was talking to professionals but felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously.  A couple of weeks ago I took a psychology assessment and scored highest in generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and panic disorder, lower in depression but still a little high, and didn’t score anything in bipolar disorder which was surprising to me considering that is what I have been diagnosed with since I was 11 years old.  So I made a list of what has been going on with me:

1. Since the beginning I haven’t liked to ask anyone to watch my baby for me, not even his dad.

2. I am literally afraid to have baby out of my sight because something bad could happen to him. (This was the case for the first 6-7 months after he was born).

3. I am more irritable than usual.

4. I constantly felt like baby’s daddy didn’t love me anymore and was trying to find a way out and take baby from me.

5. I would argue with baby’s daddy about house duties and parenting styles and start to panic when I felt like I wasn’t being heard and validated.

6. I spend a significant amount of time researching ways to interact with my baby and different things I can be doing with my baby to support his development because I worry (A LOT) that I am not a good parent.  In fact, I have convinced myself that I am not a good parent.

7. I get frequent migraines.

8. I have actually vomited on a few different occasions thinking about how badly things could go wrong when he’s been out and about with his daddy.

9. In the first few months I was so worried that something was wrong with my baby.  I thought he had a sunken fontanelle, I thought he was sick every time he cleared his throat, I thought he was dehydrated, I thought he was spitting up too much… I was a hypochondriac in a way I suppose.

I am sure there are other things, but I get upset enough thinking about the things I already listed.

I don’t know if it is the small town vibe, or if there was something wrong in the way I went about getting help, but not being taken seriously has damaged my faith in the mental health system and even a little in humanity.  I have an appointment tomorrow with a different professional and I can only hope for the best.  I am hesitant on taking any medications right now.  I don’t necessarily believe I need medication, but am still open to the suggestion… What I do need is a strong support system.  I need people to listen to me and believe in me.  Mostly, I need guidance in letting go of things from my past so that I can cope with my anxieties of the present and start to make plans for my future without all this f@*$ed up sh*+ getting in my way.

timber

I love my little pumpkin patch kid ❤

Just the Small Things

With a new baby on the way there has been a lot of different things that run through my mind.  One of the thoughts that keeps coming is, am I ready for this?  There are plenty of reasons why this particular thought is on my mind.  Am I ready to be the mom of a new baby, the mother of two now?  Am I ready for labor, again?  Will I remember how to breastfeed?  Most importantly, do I have all I need to be ready for this? 

It gets a little stressful thinking about all this.  Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond excited about the new addition!  Its exciting for my son to have a baby brother and I love the daily bustle of having a newborn.  It’s been five years since the last time I was pregnant though.  I don’t know what has changed since 2010 and I’m afraid I’ve forgotten things.

I’ve been slowly gathering baby essentials.  I have the Baby Bump app which has a checklist of what I’ll need.  I have been finding all kinds of stuff on baby classifieds on Facebook.  In fact, just yesterday I got a steal on a brand new, never been used, bassinet – I got it for 60% off the retail price!  I am surprised at some of the things I can find on there.  However, I have to be careful because sometimes you think you are getting a good deal but in fact you are paying for junk.  It’s kind of fun gathering baby stuff, but it can be hard too.  New baby stuff can get expensive, so trying to find bargains has been helpful.  Family and friends have also been helpful. 

The one thing that’s driving me crazy is waiting for the baby shower.  I know I’ll get some of what I need, but I constantly am wondering if it will give me enough time to get everything else I need.  In fact, I already had one for my significant other’s family and got some very wonderful and thoughtful things for the baby.  I’m having another one in November that my family and friends in my hometown will come to.  The idea of a baby shower really helps out the parents-to-be in so many ways.  So why am I always freaking out about not being ready??

To be honest, there is nothing to be worried about.  Absolutely nothing.  My family and friends have been taking good care of me.  My love and I have been doing what we can with what we have.  We’ve been preparing for the big day in all kinds of ways.  I just have the hormones going and tend to make a big deal out of something so small or nothing at all.  There is one thing I’ll save for another day, pregnancy hormones, the horror!  Other than the hormones though, I have everything under control. 

The anxiety really sucks though.  Especially my anxiety about labor and breastfeeding.  I start prenatal classes at the end of October that I am hoping will ease my nerves.  I am planning an all-natural hospital birth.  I had a homebirth with my first son that went well.  Breastfeeding started off well but then I wasn’t producing enough after awhile.  I just want things to run smoothly.

I’m actually overcoming a fear by having a hospital birth.  I am deathly scared of things not going my way because of pushy nurses and doctors.  I know they are there to help but it’s frightening to me.  There are specific things I want that I know I could get at home and not so much at the hospital.  Plus, hospitals creep me out.  They are full of sick and dying people. 

As far as breastfeeding goes, all I can do is take a class and read some literature and hope for the best.  I want so badly to be successful at breastfeeding.  I think it’s the best way to give a baby nutrition and I want to be able to offer that.  After six weeks I’ll introduce bottles but I still plan to nurse.  I hope that using an electronic breast pump this time instead of a manual will help keep up production.

I’m hoping the anxiety goes away the further along I get (I’m already 6 months)!  It’s honestly kicking my butt.  Like I said though, I’m doing everything in my power to prepare for the big day.  It’s definitely nerve-wracking but this is such an exciting time for me!  There are all kinds of things to worry about, but I’m having another baby!  It’s going to be awesome!

-Ari Swan