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.