During the all encompassing IVF process, before conceiving, I had given my first handshake to postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression. As lucid as reality, this nightmare placed doubt and fear into the core of my very being. Could it be possible? Could such powerfully dark feelings surround an infant I so desperately longed for? For a child yet to be conceived?
The scene in this daunting subconscious nightmare played out as so.
Laying in the naturally bright delivery room bed, I had just birthed a healthy, beautiful baby boy. I did not see his beauty with my own eyes. I did not feel his health in my own arms.
I sheltered my body by turning away from him as my mom carried him to my bedside. “Don’t you want to hold your baby Sammy?” She whispered with a gentle plea. I squeezed my tear soaked eyes tighter and remained still, my body bracing and answer with a distinct “No.”
Time had passed. How much, I was unaware of. I was slouched on my living room couch. I walked through the confines of my home, head down, gaze tracing my footsteps. My mom approached me from the back, beckoning sincerely, “Don’t you want to hold your baby Sammy?”
“No.” My reply grasped the remainder of my soul in a chokehold.
“He’s one year old today Sammy.” She added softly.
For an entire year, I could not bare to let my eyes hold him, they were unworthy. I would not allow my arms to reach out to him, they were unworthy. I would not allow my heart to love him, I was unworthy.
In a moment of longing I let go of the voices of dark and doubt within my mind. A moment is all I needed to be released from their grasp. In that moment I gave myself permission to do all that I banned myself from and in that moment, I did.
when I saw him, he was my absolute perfection. I felt his warmth on my body, he lay cradled in my desperate arms. I pushed doubt, shame and guilt to the side of my heart and he flooded me with his love. Silent tears streamed down my face as an apology to him and to me. We were both worthy.
I awoke from my dream with real tears and in real terror. I have always had realistic, silver screen sized dreams. Never before had the thought of being stricken with postpartum depression or anxiety panned across my mind. I had had my first personal acquaintance with postpartum depression and anxiety and it was a frightening one.
I wish I could say postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety remained distant acquaintances. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so. I wish I could also tell you a story of triumph of how I overcame them just as easily. That too, wasn’t so.
Postpartum anxiety struck the hardest and remains as a lingering existence 12 months later. Luckily for me postpartum depression sent her less vile sister, the baby blues.