[Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from Melissa Anderson. She shares about the worries of motherhood, postpartum anxiety, and what helped her through the hardest times. -Jenna]
Being a Mom is the most wonderful thing in the world. It’s also the hardest.
Did you know before becoming a Mom you could have such an all consuming love and fear at the same time? Fear that you don’t measure up. Fear that you aren’t teaching your baby all the things they need to learn at the right time.
Is my baby delayed? I should be reading to her more. At least 20 minutes a day the home nurse said. I also need to be sitting her up, propped up by pillows so she can learn how to do it on her own. My app says she should be able to sit like that for a long time and probably able to roll over soon. I should have started helping her sit and roll over sooner and be doing it more than I am. Shouldn’t she be grabbing and holding her toys better by now? I need to play with her more and help teach her. I also really need to finish that sleep book that I bought so I can figure out how to time and space her naps just right so she can fall asleep earlier and sleep better at night.
You’re wondering if you’re doing it right—you know, this whole Mothering thing. And if you have Postpartum Depression and Anxiety like me, these thoughts can consume your. every. thought. all. day. long.
And all night long.
Is her head too flat? She’s going to have brain damage because of me. I just know she’s going to die tonight because I won’t be able to hear her cry or the monitor will stop working or she’ll somehow roll over at 5 weeks old and suffocate. Her carseat isn’t exactly right. The straps aren’t right. I can’t ever get them right. I shouldn’t even be a Mother. I can’t even breastfeed her. I can’t even get my breasts to do what they were made for. She can’t latch. She’s on formula. She’s going to die because she’s not getting my antibodies from breastmilk and she’ll get sick. She’s going to die. She’s going to die. She’s going to die. It will be all my fault. I am a terrible mother. I am doing everything wrong. I shouldn’t even be here. She’ll be better off without me. My husband is doing better than I am. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I stop worrying and crying? Why can’t I function? Why all the panic attacks? I should just leave. I don’t belong here. She deserves better.
These fears, these panic attacks, these emotions, the guilt, the analyzing of everything, the imagining the worst of everything, the “I’m not enough,” and the “should bes” and “should haves” can fill you up until it’s spilling over the edges.
And you wonder if you’ll ever be able to truly breathe again.
Oh, but then.
I see that smile on her face meant just for me. That twinkle in her eye saying she knows I’m her Mommy. That all she needs is my love and touch and cuddles and kisses. That coo that tells my heart I’m more than enough. I’m doing the best I can. I’m giving her all she needs.
It’s always been her.
When it (PPD/A) was really bad, she was the only thing that could stop my panic attacks. She would know. We were connected. She would wake up out of a dead sleep and cry until she was in my arms and her cry would immediately stop when my husband would place her in my shaking arms.
And that sweet darling calmed my heart and stopped my tears.
With no words at all.
And now my heart is healing.
Now I have normal, healthy worries that don’t overwhelm me into devastation.
Now I can breathe.
I can feel her heart.
Her heart that is connected to mine with so many invisible yet tangible sinews. She will always be and have a part of my heart. Because that’s the best thing I can give her.
My love. My heart. Forever.
And when she’s grown up and on her own she’ll take part of my heart with her. But, that’s okay. That part is just for her. So she can carry a piece of me with her everywhere she goes. A literal piece of my heart walking around in the world. It’s the one thing I can give her that will always, always, always stay with her.
There are smiles and light and happiness ahead.
Stay strong, Mommas.
Fight on, Warriors.
Melissa Anderson blogs at Finding Joy in This Journey and is a Mom to an almost 5 month old, Annabelle, and wife to Nick. She currently lives in Utah but is a Southern girl at heart. Melissa is a Warrior Mom Ambassador and has a new passion to help other women understand and recognize perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, to encourage them to get the help they need, and to reduce stigma.