Each time someone reminisces about the beautiful infant stage of their first child, I find myself feeling a little bit terrified. I didn’t enjoy most of it. Not because I didn’t enjoy being a new mom, but because I suffered from PPA. Before I had my daughter, I had never even heard about PPA. In fact, I had only heard about PPD in hushed whispers. I never imagined that something like that would happen to me.
The terror and anxiety struck me in as little as several hours after I gave birth. Naturally, I blamed the hormones. I figured that the hormones would eventually level out and I would feel better after a few days. But I didn’t. I smiled my way through family visits as I was stricken with all kinds of fear. I was even reluctant to let anyone hold my baby for fear of something awful happening.
Lack of Sleep:
It didn’t stop there. I began having visions of my child suffocating in her sleep. Visions of me sleeping right through a life threatening episode of SIDS. Despite my exhaustion, I began to avoid sleep as much as I could. In fact, I would only sleep if someone else was awake with my daughter. When I was able to sleep, I would fall victim to horrible nightmares. I would wake up in a cold sweat, unable to immediately realize that I had been dreaming.
Am I Crazy?
I started to feel crazy. Like off the wall insane. All I saw were other moms who seemed like they had it all together. I wasn’t one of them. I tried to keep my fears out of the conversation. I had no desire to harm my baby or myself, but I knew something wasn’t right. I was so ashamed that I wasn’t the mother I thought I should be. I couldn’t really tell the difference between my rational fears and my irrational fears anymore. I just felt terrified. All the time.
Suffering in Silence:
Thankfully I was eventually able to find my way out of it with support and lots of praying. It wasn’t easy and I often wonder what would have happened to me if I didn’t have those support systems. So many new moms still spend their time preparing to care for that newborn and not for themselves. I didn’t even know how to care for myself after I gave birth. There is still so much shame around PPA and PPD because nobody talks about it. Although I made it through my struggle, there are so many women who don’t.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this: being a new mother is exhausting, isolating and hard. We need to have the courage to share our stories if only to help that one woman googling her symptoms at three in the morning.
For more resources about PPA and PPD click here. Please share with new moms everywhere.