Anger was my main symptom of Postpartum Anxiety—here’s how I found happiness again

Motherhood is stressful, but anxiety is not a prerequisite to being a mom.

Anger was my main symptom of Postpartum Anxiety—here’s how I found happiness again

Before having kids you have a vision of what life will look like.

Your new bundle will wear cute little outfits. You will feed him homemade baby food. You will balance work and home life seamlessly. And you will quickly slip back into your pre-pregnancy skinny jeans.

As it turned out, my life and emotions were a little more complicated than that.

Adjusting to motherhood was a huge shift for me. I felt my identity change and my marriage was evolving—all while fully realizing that this little baby’s life depended on me.

Cue my anxiety.

My Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) arrived on night one of my oldest son's life. I sat in the hospital bed nervously clutching him—wide awake and all alone in the middle of the night. The nurse came in to remind me about never putting him on his belly. She spoke about SIDS and all I could hear was "His life DEPENDS on YOU! How are you going to keep him alive?"

We headed home and I never mentioned a word to anyone. I smiled, nodded when everyone told me how blessed I was—all while silently thinking, “What did I do? How can I handle this?”

After a few months of dealing with these anxious thoughts, I decide it would be good to spend time with other moms. I started a "Mommy Meetup" and spent time chatting about motherhood including the pressures, the struggles and the joys. The anxiety lingered, but life went on. I worked out, found mom-friends, started a new job and slowly found myself and my identity as a mother.

Fast-forward a few years later and I gave birth to my third child. It was a girl after having two boys. Everyone said "She is going to be so easy! She’ll just go with the flow!" Well, let's just say—my children have never been the “go with the flow” type—so I wasn’t expecting that to start at this point.

The first few weeks of my daughter’s life went well. I felt good and often thought to myself, “Maybe I beat it this time! Maybe the anxiety isn't going to come back.” But, as soon as I came out of the newborn haze, life went back to it’s hectic pace and I found myself yelling a lot more. I was snapping at the littlest things.

I remember my middle son hitting the baby and I yelled, "What are you doing?! Why don't you ever listen?" I squeezed his little arms and then immediately melted to the floor in tears while wondering what was wrong with me. I apologized frantically and told him it would never happen again... Until it did happen again.

This wasn’t me. I’m a laid back person. I rarely lose my cool. I have handled many stressful situations in my life with a calm demeanor. Why was I yelling at my baby for crying? My baby! I found myself crying in the shower more often than not. I was disappointed in myself. I felt ashamed and felt like I couldn’t do anything right. I was snapping at my husband. I had zero patience. I saw myself slipping away and I didn’t know what to do.

Finally, I read an article that really hit home. Somehow it popped up in my newsfeed and said that one of the symptoms of PPA was anger and rage, along with a list of other symptoms. I was reading and nodding and reading and nodding. This was it. This is what was happening to me.

But why doesn’t anyone ever talk about the anger? I mean, it's embarrassing—I get it. No one wants to post a picture to their Instagram feed captioned, "This is what it looks like after you scream at your kids!" But it’s real and I’m forever grateful I read that article.

So I decided to make some changes in my life.

I changed my diet, went to therapy, talked to my husband and finally spoke to my doctor about my anxiety. I decided to try medicine and it helped me―tremendously. Not only did my anger lessen, but my head was clearer. I didn't feel the weight of anxiety on my chest and I finally felt happier.

I knew it was in there, I just needed help finding it.

To be honest, I was ashamed to admit I needed medicine to help me. But after I noticed myself feeling better, I realized it was the best choice for me and my family. It may not be for everyone, and it may not be forever for me—but it is right for me right now.

I shared an article on my Facebook page recently about anxiety and anger and could not believe the response. I had so many women sending me private messages sharing their experience. I had moms bringing it up with me on play dates.

I am lucky enough to have had a support system of other moms that told me I could feel like myself again. I was glad to be that voice for other moms, too.

For me, PPA looked like anger and emotion that came flying out at any given time. For other mothers, it's obsessive thoughts that something's going to happen to your baby. For others, it may feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and you can't stop worrying if it's ever going to be OK.

But it will be OK and you can feel like yourself again. Whether that comes from yoga, therapy or medicine it is true.

Anger doesn't always have to be present in your life.

Motherhood is stressful, but anxiety is not a prerequisite to being a mom.

Pervasive thoughts and a quickness to snap doesn't have to last forever.

Create a support system around you. You deserve to feel happiness and your family deserves the best version of you. We all have moments we are not proud of, but anxiety can bring out an anger in you that surprises you.

It's real and you are not alone.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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