I don’t know the exact moment it happened but I think I noticed that my Postpartum Anxiety was gone when I’d be in a situation that would normally cause me to feel super anxious- but I noticed that I wasn’t anxious. I felt ok. I then began to notice this shift happening in my response to stress, shifting from feeling irrational panic to a sense of calmness.
I’d notice it at times when I’d be at a playground and I would lose sight of my son for just a minute, but rather than feeling anxious, INSTEAD- I felt ok. It’ll be ok.
Am I still a helicopter mom? Yes. Absolutely! Is that normal? In today’s world, I just don’t know another way to be.
However, now I can address these stressful parenting moments for what they are without letting myself assume the worst-case scenario. Do I still have the fears? Yes. But I consider it a normal, healthy amount.
Almost every time I was in a situation that felt similar to the trauma I had felt after he was born, that same fear-based response was triggered in me. My motherhood brain had become conditioned to this particular thought pattern until it became a deeply set recurring, automatic response.
If he was out of my sight- I was in fight or flight. Yes, I just rhymed!
My postpartum anxiety had gone on for so long, and wasn’t getting any better; I really just thought this is it. This is motherhood.
I decided I would talk about it, and share my story. I took a deep dive into motherhood, and postpartum mood disorders- specifically ones that came after a traumatic event around birth.
I began to write in my journal and on this blog. And through the writing, I found a release. I accepted what I went through, and how it became the place I parented from. I shared and heard stories from other moms ( and dads ) and felt empowered that I was no longer hiding my postpartum difficulties in shame. I went running head-on into the pile of bricks that I had built around this pain to protect myself from feeling it. Instead of hiding it, hoping it would go away- I ran towards it. I broke the pile of bricks down and I felt the pain. I allowed the feelings and I accepted the vulnerability.
And THAT was when the magic happened. I no longer stand at the playground suffering in silence worrying about everything that could go wrong. I am able to respond differently, more consciously and more relaxed. A new pattern of thinking began to take over the previous default panic pattern I was so accustomed to. Or maybe it’s actually the absence of thinking rather than a new pattern. Less thinking, more being in the present.
Now I’m just a mom at the playground, able to stand at a reasonable distance from her child and enjoy it. The past trauma is no longer stealing the joy I feel in the present.
I mean! How amazing is that! It’s amazing. I wish I could brew it up in a tea and give it to everyone who is suffering. Write out the protocol step by step- so people could have a plan for healing.
But I can’t. As Trevor Hall says, “You can’t rush your healing”
Some times, I do wish it hadn’t taken so long, but I am grateful for the journey. Because now I feel lightness where it used to be so heavy. And without that contrast, I don’t know if I would appreciate it as much.