Having a baby forces you to confront the good, the bad, and the ugly about yourself. For me, that meant facing the ever-present cloud of anxiety hanging over everything I did and every decision I made. I had ways of managing the anxiety through medication and therapy, but pregnancy set me back and things I once counted on for relief no longer worked. Everything changed, except the overwhelming nature of my anxiety, and that spawned even more anxiety, perpetuating the cycle. So I think there are things only new moms with anxiety really understand, and I can confidently say I know from experience.
My anxiety and I have been together for as long as I can remember. Through the years there have been a few different things that helped drive a wedge between us so I can breath, but for the most part I've learned to live with it. I didn't think about how it might affect my parenting, though, until my daughter was born. So I was somewhat taken aback when I didn't want to leave the house, or let other people hold her. I was afraid to put her in her crib to sleep, almost convinced she'd stop breathing. And before I knew it, anything triggered the anxiety. A knock on the door. My partner coming home late from work. My crying baby. It consumed me, and fed off the fact that I didn't know how to be a mother.
While my anxiety is still very much a part of my life, I eventually learned to manage it and parent at the same time. I still remember being a new mom and having such high levels of anxiety I couldn't tame, though. In fact, I'd argue that I remember it all too well. Friends didn't understand and my family was dumbfounded. My own partner was clueless, and I don't think I can blame him. After all, anxiety is a difficult thing to explain all on its own, and as a new mom it made me seem erratic, irrational, tense, and stressed for no obvious reason. And though anxiety manifests differently for everyone, here are some of the things I think only new moms with anxiety can understand: