When I was a new mom I moved to a new town, far from family and friends. My husband worked 12 hours a day, leaving me completely alone with my newborn. I'd never heard of postpartum anxiety but, like any new mom, I found myself worried about my baby. I thought my worries were a normal part of new motherhood. I worried he wouldn't be healthy; I worried I would drop him; I worried about SIDS. In hindsight, it seems obvious that I was experiencing struggles women with postpartum anxiety knows all too well.
My worried didn't seem to end but, instead, compounded until an endless loop of anxiety was part of my day-to-day life. I worried I was harming him and I worried he wouldn't grow and I constantly worried he would die. My worries took on a life of their own and consumed me. I began to have intrusive thoughts that were nothing short of frightening, complete with scary images and possible scenarios. Due to my lack of a support system and isolation, I didn't have anyone to talk to about my fears. As a result, I assumed they were the normal kind of fears all new moms have.
After 18 months, I finally saw a doctor and was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I didn't mention to my doctor that I was having intrusive thoughts or that I was afraid all the time, because I didn't realize those feelings were abnormal. I understand now that what I was feeling were not typical "new mom fears." I had postpartum anxiety (PPA). More information is (thankfully) coming to light about PPA and findings suggest it's even more common than postpartum depression.
If any of these struggles that moms with PPA know all too well resonate with you or seem a little too familiar, please contact your doctor immediately. You're not alone, and you definitely deserve help and support.