How Finding My Tribe Helped My Battle With Postpartum Anxiety
Getting to that restaurant had become my mission. It was late July in 2012, and very humid in Brooklyn. My two-month old was in his stroller with the canopy up. My two-and-a-half year old walked beside me.
I worried about them being out in the heat, but we had to get there. We couldn’t stay the way we were for much longer.
Just a couple of months ago, on Memorial Day weekend, I had given birth to my third child. Although Owen was an absolute sweetheart, I could feel myself slowly unraveling. After a bleeding scare in the hospital, I came home just “not right.”
I was anxious, worried and very overwhelmed.
I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I didn’t know how I was going to handle it all. I was very isolated, and rarely left the house.
I went to see my primary care physician who didn’t understand why I was having frequent heart palpitations. He failed to diagnose me with something that I would later realize that I was suffering from. I was in the midst of severe postpartum anxiety.
I was also still grieving. My firstborn, also a boy, died at nine days old. What if something happened to Owen too? What if something happened to my husband? My other child? Myself?
I was in need of some major support.
While birthing a baby is certainly magical, it can also be quite traumatic. I sought to be around others such as myself. I needed to be around my fellow moms.
Prior to this summer’s day, most of my exchanges with other mothers were from online forums. For a socially phobic woman such as me, they were helpful. However, they also contained drama that I simply did not need. I was in search of something more.
After a thirty minute walk, we finally made it. It was through social media that I had learned of this gathering. It was aptly named “Mommy and Me Lunch.”
As I walked in, I got butterflies.
I am painfully shy, so the sight of a bunch of women that I didn’t know put me into a panic. Who was I going to sit with? All these women seemed to know each other already. Should I just leave?
A woman named Joy, the organizer of the event, saw me and quickly introduced herself. Joy was as cheerful and vibrant as her name. She introduced me around. I calmed down a bit. We could do this.
I made small talk with a few women, and began to feel happier. I did it. It was a great accomplishment.
While there, I overheard a few women talking about a fabulous monthly event that involved reading a book and drinking wine. I vowed to be there for the next one.
I kept my promise. My night’s out were just what the doctor ordered.
The connections helped me realize that I was not so alone. I met other women and we talked. We were all different, yet so alike. Some of us breastfed, while others didn’t. Some of us worked full time, while others stayed home. In this real life environment, there was far less judging. We all sought to help each other. We were accepting. We laughed a lot. We enjoyed the well earned “girl time.”
Getting well was not an overnight process.
I saw a therapist that specialized in post partum issues. I promised to not be so hard on myself. The experience was not without many tears. It was very cathartic.
In finding my “tribe”, the weight on my shoulders became lighter. I wasn’t alone. In fact, I never was. I needed to get out there to find that out for myself. I am so glad that I did. I hope every mom does too.