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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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As a mom of three, I frequently get a question from moms and dads of two children: “Ok, so the jump to bad is it?"

Personally, I found the transition to having even one kid to be the most jarring. Who is this little person who cries nonstop (mine had colic) and has no regard for when I feel like sitting/eating/resting/sleeping?

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