“I need to go to the hospital”, I said to my husband. It had already been two months since my youngest son had been born. I had woken up feeling a sense of dread. The baby crying in the background and my oldest playing with his blocks and all I could think about was myself. My heart was racing, palpitating even. A burning sensation overcame the left side of my body and my vision became blurry. Right at that moment, all I could think of was that I wasn’t going to make it. Was I having a heart attack?
My husband called for my father to transport me to the emergency room. As soon as I explained to the triage nurse what was going on, I was immediately rushed to the back to be monitored. Horrible thoughts started rushing through my mind. The “what if’s” began to overwhelm me.
“There’s nothing wrong, I promise you”, said the Physicians Assistant. “You can go home.” Hearing those 3 little words made my eyes swell up with tears. I was thankful for my release, while at the same time, scared. Am I crazy? Why am I feeling like this? Instead of going home and kissing my boys when I enter through the door, I immediately head into my room and close the door behind me. I don’t want anyone around me. I don’t want to see my kids. I don’t want to have to deal with the crying or the whining from them. I fall to the floor and drape myself with my comforter and let the tears run. Why must I feel like this?
“Ashley, you can come on back, the doctor is ready to see you,” the Medical Assistant said. I had made an appointment with a new physician, hoping to get some answers that day. The MA comes in and takes my blood pressure and of course it is high, again. I am ordered an EKG to check my heart. Everything comes back normal. My doctor finally comes in and I am sure I overwhelm her with all the details and worries that I have. I am hyperventilating, and telling her that she is my last hope. I tell her I am not ready to leave my family. All she does is smile.
“You have Postpartum Anxiety and Depression”, my doctor finally says. She begins to explain how my hormones were still completely off from having my son and breastfeeding. My body went into the fight or flight mode, all day. The only time I felt semi decent was when I was going to sleep. This finally made sense. She told me I wasn’t alone, that there were many women who were going through the same ordeal. I was prescribed medication to help me with my anxiety and depression, plus a bottle that would help me with any panic attacks I had, just until the antidepressants finally kicked in. Before I left, she handed me a list of therapists for me to talk to. When I finally opened that front door to the office, the wind blowing through my hair, I finally heard the birds chirping and saw the sun shining for the first time in months. I knew there was hope.
Fast forward to two years later.. Life couldn’t be better. Even though I had those days of locking myself in my room and having thoughts one shouldn’t, I still always thought about my boys. I could not let them grow up with out their mom. My youngest son, Adam, was too tiny to know what was going on back then, but now, he senses it. As soon as I am going through a moment of anxiety, he is right there by my side, throwing his arms around my neck and holding me like he hadn’t seen me in years. I hug him back and allow all my worries to fade away.
When you leave that hospital to take your new baby home, most of the time, the only education given is about Postpartum Depression. The one question that is repeated over and over by women suffering from these mental illnesses: why aren’t the hospitals supplying information about this as well? Postpartum Anxiety is real and must not be taken lightly or forgotten about. It can affect a woman after any birth because all pregnancies are different. Women are strong. We fight with all we have to take care of our family, but sometimes women just need a little shove in the right direction, or even just a little hug..