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Reeham on postpartum depression, anxiety and panic attacks

reeham with baby- postpartum panic attacks

Content warning: Discussion of postpartum depression, birth trauma, domestic abuse or other tough topics ahead. If you or someone you know is struggling with a postpartum mental health challenge, including postpartum depression or anxiety, call 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (tel:18009435746)—The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline This free, confidential service provides access to trained counselors and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English, Spanish, and more than 60 other languages. They can offer support and information related to before, during, and after pregnancy.

I had an amazing first pregnancy and worked until 38 weeks. I remember at my 39th week checkup, the doctor measured my baby at 9.7lbs.

I was due for induction at 41 weeks, which ended with an emergency C-section after 12 hours of labor. I could barely remember how I felt due to being on so many drugs. I remember hyperventilating in the surgery room and lying to the doctor that I was just cold.

After the pressure of getting cut open and having my baby boy Ezra pulled out, my mouth opened and tears overflowed from holding in all my emotions.

Little did I know what awaited me in the recovery room. I was told to let the nurses know when my pain was a 6-7 after feeling so numb after the surgery. I couldn’t even ask for pain medication in time. They didn’t put Ezra on me right away. I struggled to breastfeed and was unable to carry him on my freshly cut abdomen.

I remember having to care for him through the day and nights at the hospital, constantly changing, rocking and feeding him. At this point, I was so out of it. The nurse noticed how pale I was and that I wasn’t eating, which contributed to the loss of my milk supply. Then, I had to get a blood transfusion during my stay before going home.

The first night, I almost dropped Ezra. I remember rocking him on my living room couch. He did not fall asleep until six am. I only slept for an hour. I couldn’t even recover from my surgery because I had to keep getting up to pick him up from his crib.

Related: Your postpartum recovery kit: Feel your best after a C-section

Fast forward, and as I learned my baby, things got a bit easier. We developed a sleeping and feeding schedule and I was able to get a full 5-6 hours of sleep around six months postpartum.

What I thought was the baby blues turned out to be postpartum anxiety and depression. I didn’t understand why I cried every night and had panic attacks. 

I hadn’t left the house unless it was for errands or to meet family. I was also always the one with my baby most of the time before going back to work at five months postpartum and suffering from lack of sleep.

I remember relying on the internet to Google questions I had and what I was experiencing. I felt unsure of myself and embarrassed. No one told me that my behavior was different. I had to keep things to myself as to not show my tears, which usually came out as anger.

I recently started accepting all these changes after having Ezra and letting others know I haven’t been okay and have started doing something about it.

Working and taking care of a baby after work is exhausting. I remember voicing my concerns and realizing I need to befriend those who have also gone through a similar journey so I can feel understood. It can be hard explaining my experience to people who have no idea what postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are. I now realize it can affect anyone and just how important it is to have support. I have read books, spoken with other moms, read articles and started therapy for the first time.

Writing has always been therapeutic for me, so I recently published my first book of poetry and feel very proud of sharing my thoughts with the world, knowing they resonate with so many others. My hope is to overcome the challenges I face as a new mom trying to keep it together while working and balancing being a mother, daughter, partner, sister and friend.