This piece is a follow up to Tamara’s previous story about her experience with postpartum anxiety.
I have always been high strung, a classic type A personality. I set goals for myself, reach them and instead of patting myself on the back–I examine what I could have done better and set a new goal. Most of my anxiety about things is fear-based, specifically a fear of failure or not being good enough. Motherhood is the perfect petri dish to cultivate this sort of self loathing. All of this resulted in my crash-and-burn frame of mind and a little back patting was in order.
In therapy, I worked on building confidence in my abilities to parent. After all, I was succeeding. My son was gaining weight. He was happy and healthy… and perfect. I just needed to recognize it and trust in my abilities as a mother. Each week I set small goals for myself –goals that either I could think about accomplishing, make some step to accomplish in the near future or actually accomplish.
And this is how I gradually got better.
I worked on “positive self talk.” I know it sounds kooky, but every time I would fret about SIDS, I would tell myself my fears were irrational and my baby was fine. My husband bought me a video monitor and gradually my trips back to check on a sleeping babe were fewer and fewer.
I wanted to go to the public library for baby story time, but I always had an excuse. I didn’t shower, he was hungry, it was nap time, maybe next week. Finally, one day I was done with the excuses. My baby was tired and even a little bit hungry but I fumbled with the Moby, the diaper bag, the house keys and left the house.
I was late. I was walking in LATE with a tired, hungry 3 month old. WHAT IN THE HELL WAS I DOING? I walked the three blocks to the library the entire way repeating to myself, “You suck at this. Man, you’re a shitty Mom.” It was packed, there were probably 30 moms and babies sitting in a circle. I sat close the door so not to disturb anyone and watched my son’s eyes light up for what was left of baby story time. After it was over, the girl next to me leaned over and asked if I was new. I said we had just relocated for my husband’s job. She said, “Oh yeah? Us, too.” the girl next to her said, “We just moved here, too. Welcome.”