Panic Attack

24 Feb

Two nights ago, I had a panic attack. It was the baby’s 11:45 feeding and halfway through, my entire body got clammy and my stomach began doing flips. In a flash, I could not get the baby off of me fast enough. I needed space. Space to breathe, with no one touching me. I wanted to scream and cry. To shake or squeeze something and I knew that something wasn’t the baby. So I passed her off to Hubs and rushed to the bathroom to sit by the toilet, my head spinning in confusion and panic.

I hoped, “maybe I just have the stomach flu.”. I don’t think I’ve *ever* wished for the stomach flu before. Or maybe it was just the 17 Oreos and the Taco Bell teaching me a lesson. But I couldn’t shake an underlying anger and panic. Irrational and uncontrollable. And the thought of not wanting to hold my beautiful baby? Tortured me.

As I paced to the spare room, the thoughts bombarded me. What if I just stop feeding her. What if we just give her away. Surely somebody else would be a better mom. What if she had never been born? What if I hadn’t passed her off and I did shake her?

Each thought ripped me apart and the panic was overwhelming. I called to hubs and sat for a moment, trying to press myself to speak my truth. “I’m having a panic attack and intrusive thoughts and I can’t be near the baby right now. I’m scared and feel out of control. I think you’re going to have to stay home tomorrow. Please don’t leave me with the kids all alone.”. He put his hand on my shoulder, pressing firmly. “It’s okay honey. I hear you. I’m going to help you.”. Those words snuck through the cracks in the panic. They were exactly what I needed to hear. I lay down in the guest bed and slept, glad to stretch out in a silent space on my own.

When the baby became hungry a couple of hours later, he brought her to me. I took her as if on autopilot and nursed her while hubs lay next to me. He took her back to our bedroom when she was done, leaving me in peace. The next feed was a bit easier and I found myself snuggling her tiny fuzzy head with my chin. And by 5 am, I actually wanted to hold her again.

She slept snuggled next to me from 6:30 to 8:00 while the toddler played in her room, bribed with the promise of toys if she would just stay in her room and let mommy and daddy sleep a little while longer. Baby’s sweet little breaths on my chest helped soothe me back to sleep.

By morning, things were normal again. Although still overwhelmed with the care of a screamy newborn and a evil genius in training 3 year old, I could smile at each of them, even giggle at their antics. During the day, I went to two doctors appointments, the post office, and the pharmacy. I taught a piano lesson and I cooked dinner. I did more than just survive.

I want to be anxiety-free. I want to handle all these hurdles with grace and composure. But since that’s not in the cards, I’m going to settle for being proud of myself for handling the anxiety rationally and calmly. I asked for help, called doctors and friends, shared publicly to alienate any shame, and followed through with my plans.

I’m scared this means the PPA is back. I’m terrified it might be accompanied by some OCD, which I’m not as armed to fight. But I’m holding off on the overreacting. It has been 8 weeks of difficult breastfeeds. Of a screaming baby and tantruming toddler. Any mom would be stressed, and with my history of anxiety, it’s not surprising that I finally cracked under all the pressure. I have a feeling it wasn’t the last anxiety attack or bad night I will have. But whatever the case, I know this is acute and temporary. I will be okay. I’m sure of it.

P.s. a HUGE thank you to my twitter mamas for texting, messaging, and calling to check on me. Thanks to my friends and family for sending your love and understanding. I’m truly so fortunate to have you all helping me fight.

9 Responses to “Panic Attack”

  1. Andrea February 24, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    I am just reading this and how scary that must have been for you. I am so glad your husband was there to support you and listen, and so glad it has passed. Sending you huge and tremendous never-ending hugs and hopes that you do not have to experience something like this again. ((hugs))

  2. Jenny February 24, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Susan you are doing all the right things. I has been there with the panic attack. Nursing is challenging the first few months. I would feel so touched out. Sending you hugs and love

  3. story3girl February 24, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    Oh sweetie. I am searching for the words here and am not finding them. I am so sorry this is happening to you again. It SUCKSand it’s NOT FAIR and I am totally shaking my fist at the universe. But you are doing everything right. You are asking for help and speaking up and naming the fears. I hope you can be proud of yourself for this in the midst of all the awful. I am so proud to know you.

  4. Sarah (Smldada) February 24, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    You are doing such an incredible job of meeting every challenge that has been thrown at you.

    From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being so honest and so open about your journey. Having these words and sharing them lets each of us know that we are not alone, that we are not bad parents.

  5. Jaime February 24, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    I’m going to be optimistic & think positive thoughts, like that every mom of a newborn–especially those breastfeeding and dealing with some of the challenges you’ve had so far–surely has some anxiety and thoughts like the ones you wrote about here. How can we not?! It is super hard taking care of another human–one that can’t communicate yet, on top of it! And add a toddler to that? Ouch. I’d be cautious about worrying that you’re heading down the road of PPA or PPOCD because of a few tough days or weeks. It could just be a few tough days, you know? We have all been there.

    I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m minimizing how you feel. I just want to think optimistically and point out that this newborn stuff is really hard. And to tell you I think you’re amazing. Sending my love & keeping an eye on you from here.

  6. Mirjam February 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    Oh Susan,
    That must have been so scary! Somehow I’ve missed it..
    I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough time. You did great for reaching out, asking and accepting help and recognizing you needed help. And then the clear way how you can see that any mom would have had a hard time dealing with the same situation. I think you are doing Very well. Massive hugs!

  7. Kimberly M February 25, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    I think that the fear always looms around the corner.
    I think that you reacted so well. You are doing everything wonderfully. Even if you can’t see it, we can.
    Sending you massive squishy Canadian hugs


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