Since I know I have a tendency to use this forum as a vent for my postpartum anxiety/ generalized anxiety. And I’m constantly looking for support and searching for other people’s stories on this topic I thought it might be nice to start a thread specifically for this reason.
Plus I think this particular topic is one that often gets swept under the rug and brushed off by friends and family members who don’t understand,
I’m 38w pregnant over here on my side but I’m bracing…
I’ve never had a diagnosis as my therapist is pretty anti-label, but I definitely have some anxiety in general, and I think the label of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder does cover what I have experienced with each of my kids. With my first I strongly believe it was almost entirely related to my thyroid. I had postpartum thyroiditis that was later diagnosed as Hashimoto’s once I outgrew the year-mark still with antibodies. When my thyroid levels were hyper- (TSH was .004 when I was first tested at 4 months postpartum) I was experiencing major debilitating anxiety. When things swung hypo- after another couple months, my mind quieted significantly but then I had trouble with fatigue and a lot of accompanying shame (my mom struggled with her health and fatigue all my childhood and I never wanted to “do” the same to my kid) attached to it that felt much more depressive. Things balanced out as I got more and more sleep, was able to sincerely get some consistent exercise, and as I was able to work on the actual clinical factors.
We adopted my second and I definitely thought that would be emotionally hard and read a great book called The Post-Adoption [name_m]Blues[/name_m] before we adopted because I had awareness of PAD and worried about it. I was definitely right to worry, but COVID just amplified everything. We were so isolated and couldn’t have the support we had when my first was born. [name_f]My[/name_f] actual pregnancy and postpartum healing and H’s overall health apart from breastfeeding related struggles had actually been so straightforward. But now with a premie with various minor health challenges and risk factors, I was all the more stressed trying to get the services we all needed during the very opening of the pandemic on top of that lack of support. [name_m]Even[/name_m] with my awareness that PAD is a thing, I still think I fell into the trap of thinking that because it wasn’t my physical body doing the birthing, my moods and hormones would be more stable. They definitely were not. It was easier in so many ways (particularly to transition H to older sibling when I could still play with him hands on and run after him and not have quite so much fatigue), but honestly getting up in the night was that much harder without the hormonal sedatives that come along with postpartum. I’d wake up and then never be able to sleep again. Eventually my husband had to take ALL the night duties even when, and especially when, he went back to work, which was hard on our relationship during the day. And the attachment process took so much energy out of both of us. COVID also made the court process last about 4 times as long as it normally would have, so we still had a lot of uncertainty looming over us the whole time and I think both of us held back to a certain degree in attaching as fully as we would have liked from the get-go. I had the grief process of his losses, the grief of the adoptive nursing relationship not materializing in the ways I’d hoped, and a lot of guilt for not feeling all the same feelings about A as I did immediately with H. Again, things really got better right around the year mark. Everybody sleeping through the night, the adoption finalized, etc.
Anyway… I’ve done so much prenatal prep work for my postpartum this time. Then again, I also did a ton each previous time and still wound up getting hit by the mack truck that is the 4th trimester. I both have hopes that things will be really smooth this time, and also a realism that tells me it’s going to suck. I am bracing for a rough 3-4 months but hoping (perhaps beyond hope) that that’s all it will be. I have a much more active thyroid management plan at the very least.
It is also hard for me right now as physically I feel the best I have in 4 years. I understand this is actually relatively common in Hashi’s mamas. The TH1 cells of the immune system get downregulated during the second and third trimesters to protect the fetus, and that helps downregulate all the autoimmunity. So if you can make it that far (miscarriage is 4× more likely), most pregnant people with Hashimoto’s will legitimately feel at their best and that is 100% accurate to my lived experience (really with both pregnancies so I suspect I was subclinical before I had H). On the flipside… there’s really no hope of avoiding SOME crash in my thyroid pp, so it’s about the hope to manage it better… but I’m dreading the whole thing and just feeling like I might not EVER feel quite this good again. [name_f]My[/name_f] goal is to feel this well again in a year’s time, but that is a HUGE goal with so much work behind it and even though I did feel much better at a year pp last time, it still wasn’t as good as I feel now so I don’t even know if it’s realistic or at all attainable. With this being my last pregnancy I really do worry that I might not ever feel this well again.
[name_f]Hope[/name_f] you might be here to help me out when I do arrive to the postpartum side in 0-3.5 weeks.
Great thread! I’m 16 months pp now so not sure if I qualify… But hoping to seek help for suspected PTSD following the premature and traumatic birth/neonatal stay of my son. [name_f]Lovely[/name_f] to have a safe space on here.
I love that your therapist is anti label! I think that is so cool as I feel like it would help both you and them focus on a more holistic approach to healing rather than a symptomatic one based on what you ‘have’. And definitely if you need any support I will do my best to be there with a listening ear.
Even though I’ve personally never suffered from thyroid issues or gone through the adoption process, I feel like I can definitely empathize. With my first I had braced myself and looked up all the signs of postpartum depression as depression runs strong in my family. But during all my research and talks about what to expect postpartum with my dr. never once had I come across the term postpartum anxiety. So I was blindsided by my anxiety. And just like your experience with A covid made it so much worse as my first was about 4 months old when covid hit, which was just about the time I was starting to realize I had a major problem and needed some help. In fact for me it was kind of the perfect storm. To start with after her birth due to hormones, stress and a lack of sleep I’m sure, I had the biggest eczema flare up I have ever had, it made all the skin around my eyes swell up, nearly swelled them shut, plus made them horribly unbearably itchy and while I’ve had outbreaks like this before usually they last about a week tops but this particular outbreak lasted nearly 6 months and due to breastfeeding I was limited on my treatment options. And while that may not sound like the biggest deal I feel like as a first time mom already suffering from a little body dysmorphia, puffed, sore, itchy, red, and leaky eyes that causes people in the super market to stare at you and prevents you from wearing any make up or cover up without making it so much worse (and painful) was a little traumatizing. Then add in a newborn baby who, due mainly to her little firey personality, was not a very good eater and had a horrible latch which caused my breast to be sore beyond belief, and caused her to barely gain the weight needed. And it would take her a full 45 minutes to get the milk she needed, And then an 1-2 hours later she’d want to eat again, so I could never leave the house or be very far from her (eventually we started giving her a bottle of pumped milk just so I could sleep) plus after almost every feeding she would cry inconsolably and no amount of burping or soothing could calm her (we later found out she had a medical issue that caused near constant pain for her and required surgery to fix) She also only slept in 2 hr chunks for the first 6 months of her life probably because she was hungry due to her poor eating and because she was in pain. Then quarantine and winter hit simultaneously which meant our options for leaving the house were pretty much zero and to top it off my husband started a new job working at night and long hours which meant he was only home for 2 hours most days, so I had both night and day shift when it came to the baby and we were quarantined so I had no outside help for a good long while
Add all of this together and by her first birthday I was a wreck, I was having daily nightmares, some so vivid that I would say it was borderline psychosis where it took me a long time after waking up to realize my dream was a dream and wasn’t real. I was having pretty much daily panic attacks. And while I never thought about hurting myself or my baby I wanted to pack up and leave and never come back! Not because I didn’t love both my husband and my baby, but because I couldn’t see how a I could continue to live like that and I honestly at the time couldn’t see how life could be any different. It was at that point I finally started to reach out for help, quarantine had lessened so on the nights my husband worked I started packing myself and my baby up and stayed with my parents (who luckily lived near by) and I’ve slowly been recovering ever since. My second pregnancy while initially was very traumatizing, in the end actually wound up being a fantastic blessing as it seems to have stabilized some of my hormonal fluctuations. My husband has a new job with much more regular hours, and our newest edition is a fantastic eater who loves to sleep for long chunks at night.
I still definitely have anxiety, most of it centered around something horrible happening to my kiddos, especially something caused by me either not paying close enough attention or inadvertently hurting them. My biggest fears being that I’ll accidentally cause shaken baby syndrome (which my dr. has assured me time and time again is nearly impossible to happen by accident) or I will inadvertently eat or use something that will harm my little breastfeeding baby and cause death or permanent life altering damage (which again logically I know is highly unlikely but makes me double and triple check all labels of my food and skin products and I’ve googled so many random chemical ingredients). The up side of this being we’ve definitely gone to a cleaner less chemical lifestyle. So right now I’m looking for a therapist that I feel I can connect with, as well as reminding myself daily that accidents happen to the best of us and trying to have complete control over the world is impossible, as well as reminding myself most children live through their parents mistakes and turn out fine.
I know that was a novel so if anyone reads all that I am really impressed but it felt great to write it all out!
If anyone else has any stories or experiences they’d like to share feel free to do so!
My husband has eczema and H had it really bad as a baby. I look at pictures of him and it makes me cry. He was a red crusty lobster for several months and all the wet wrapping in the world couldn’t help it. We eventually healed it by concentrating through his gut. We dealt with his allergies (which were also causing him not to gain weight. He gained less than a pound from 3 months to 8 months old when we got off the wait list for the allergist. That meant he was off the charts for weight. Like .002 for the WHO growth charts. But he has gained it all back since and is on his exact curve where he should have been from birth) and then also went on “The Eczema Diet” (both of us as I was, and still am, breastfeeding). It was super strict especially with the allergies on top as there were things we could not have even of the limited approved foods, but we followed the full protocol and it worked. Idk if he will always have eczema but it is definitely in remission for over a year now. Not a single patch or flare and he never itches anymore and he can eat everything and has “outgrown” (AKA we HEALED them) all his previous allergies. I’ve tried to get my husband to try the diet for his moderate eczema he has had his whole life, but he hasn’t… it truly is super strict, but when he eats MORE in line with the protocols he has way fewer flares.
It DOES sound like a big deal. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that!
This reminds me of A. He had laryngomalacia and GERD. Definitely could not sleep because of apnea caused by the laryngomalacia, too. He came back from surgery a completely different baby. I wish we could have seen what he would have been like had he had the surgery earlier… but he got it the first day that the surgical floor was open to non-COVID, non-“emergency” cases so there was really very little we could do to bump the time-line…
That sounds incredibly jarring and super stressful.
Have you seen the film Tully? Even though I’ve never experienced anything approaching psychosis, when I saw it when H was about 9 months old, I felt SO seen.
My second pregnancy was intended but I have still been shocked that we got pregnant with this sticky one on the first try. I was prepared to be pregnant again even though A was only 6 months but it was also a bit like…:
But I absolutely feel similarly that the pregnancy actually seemed to help stabilize our home far more than it has disrupted it, particularly once I got past morning sickness. I think it also helped me feel so much more overtly maternal toward A (as opposed to just in loco parentis), too, though I can’t be sure of the source of those feelings.
I hope you can find a therapist you connect with. It is so hard to find someone. Mine just happened to be my birth doula first so when I needed help postpartum after H she was the first person I looked to because I knew we had rapport and a lot of similar values and she knew so much about my journey already.
I so appreciate reading more about your story and that you see similarities in my story and likewise I through yours. I’m the queen of the novel-length post so you won’t hear any complaints from me…
@eireann, I think everything counts! The 12 month clinical cutoff always feels so arbitrary to me. We don’t go from postpartum one day to not. Our parenthood alters us forever but I think it can just in general take YEARS to truly adjust. I hope you can find some healing on your journey from what sounds like a really stressful birth and postpartum experience.