When the Postpartum Anxiety Never Fades

I thought it would go away. That tidal wave of anxiety that threatened to drown me after the birth of each one of my children. With my first I suffered through it without getting help. With my second that wasn’t an option. Too scared about me to even go to work, my husband insisted I see someone and get help for my postpartum anxiety. He went so far as to make the appointment and push me out the door, and I’m grateful every day that he took that step when I couldn’t.

woman sits, leaned against back of couchWith my third I knew what I was in for. I expected it, anticipated it. My OB sent me home from the hospital with medication in hand and I took the first pill before my son fell asleep in his new bassinet. I figured I’d take it for a few months until the worst of the anxiety I always felt after giving birth started to fade.

And now as I approach my third baby‘s second birthday, I find myself in the murkiest of waters. The tidal wave which I had expected to eventually crest and recede continues to try to take me under. Some days I’m treading water and other days my anxiety has pushed me down so deep I’m not sure I’ll ever reach the surface again.

The honest and terrifying truth is, though I expected the symptoms of my postpartum anxiety to get better as my baby got older, in the last few months things have actually gotten worse. The weight of my anxiety is a constant shadow. It lurks behind every corner. There are days when I wake up and the anxiety hits me from the moment I open my eyes. Some days I suffer from panic attacks, but far worse are days when my anxiety is so intense it paralyzes me.

When the anxiety never finds a release, but instead builds and builds until I curl in on myself in helplessness. Those days are the worst, when my husband gets home from work and I’m so consumed with panic that he sends me to bed and the everyday tasks involved with getting three small children fed, bathed, and into bed fall entirely to him. I lay there in the next room, listening to him prepare dinner or sort out disputes over whose turn it is to bathe first and try to convince my body to get up. To help. To do anything. But I can’t. I’m paralyzed, frozen in a state of complete panic.

I remember when a friend of mine gave birth to her second child at the beginning of the year reached out to me after she started dealing with postpartum anxiety. I calmly assured her again and again that while PPA is awful and exhausting, it’s only temporary and can be easily treated.

I no longer believe my own gentle reassurances.

I did some research on the topic and found that while many women find the effects of postpartum anxiety start to fade around the three to six month mark, there’s a small subset of mothers that do not. Some can feel the effects for up to three years, and one website mentioned the terrifying word “indefinitely”.

I’m not sure where I go from here. Am I still dealing with postpartum anxiety? Or am I suffering from General Anxiety Disorder as one therapist I saw briefly before the pandemic {and my third pregnancy} hit suggested.

I honestly don’t know. All I know is that it’s time I find out. I have an appointment with my OB this month and I’m researching therapists that deal exclusively with anxiety disorders. I have no idea what the future holds for me. If it will involve regular therapies or new and long-term anxiety medications. And I’m scared. But I’m more scared of another day spent laying on the floor drowning in panic. For my husband, for my children, and perhaps most importantly, for myself, it’s time to reach out and get some more help.


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Lauren M
Lauren M. is a native Houstonian who now lives one street over from the house where she grew up in Sugar Land. After a brief fling with Austin where she received her Bachelors Degree in English Lit from Southwestern University, she returned home to attempt to write the great American novel {or, you know, the next Harry Potter series}. A short while later a friend recruited her for a kickball league where she met a tall, handsome engineer who quite literally swept her off her feet. After tying the knot in 2014, they soon welcomed their first son Raleigh {October 2015}, and little brothers Renner {January 2018} and Rafe {September 2021}. When not chasing around her three crazy Texas tornados and reveling in the boy mom life, Lauren has discovered a newfound passion for photography and Photoshop, creating whimsical family portraits at @andwhetherpigshavewings on Instagram. You can also find her at @polyjuiceandpixiedust .


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