‘The baby started screaming and I snapped. I hurled my coffee mug at the floor. It was the wakeup call I needed.’: Mom shares journey with postpartum anxiety, ‘We’re just trying our best’

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Trigger Warning: This story contains mention of pregnancy loss and miscarriage that be triggering to some.

“The day I forcefully smashed a ceramic mug into a million pieces was the turning point in my motherhood journey. I could no longer deny something was wrong. I wasn’t myself.

What I didn’t realize at the time was the events that led to that very moment started building up long before I gave birth to my then 5-month-old son. It all started about a year and a half prior, when my husband and I quickly discovered conceiving wasn’t nearly as easy or as fun as everyone made it out to be.

We found out we were pregnant soon after our wedding. We were so excited. We told close family members and friends and started mapping out our future as a family of three. Then, a few weeks later, I started spotting and called a friend to take me to the hospital. After three long hours in the waiting room, we were ushered into a private room where the doctor queued up a beat-up, old ultrasound machine. After some awkward small talk, he placed the probe onto my stomach and said the words no one ever wants to hear, ‘I can’t find a heartbeat.’

Courtesy of Marise Varanda

My body instantly went numb and I broke down in tears. How could this happen? I thought, ‘I’m young, I’m healthy, I’m active. How could my body fail me like this?’ I spent the next several weeks feeling sad, confused, angry, in denial, and most of all, guilty. I didn’t feel I had the right to mourn a pregnancy that was lost at only 7 weeks gestation. People would tell me, ‘It’s going to be okay. You will get pregnant again soon.’ Some even had the gall to, in not so many words, tell me to get over it. I pushed my feelings aside and tried my best to go about my daily life as if nothing happened.

We jumped right back into trying to conceive because I thought it was the only thing that would make me feel better. This time around, though, trying to get pregnant felt more like a strict science experiment than anything else. My life revolved around my cycle, ovulation tests, and perfectly timed sessions. Sexy, right? The 2-week-wait was agonizing and the whole month was spent on a wild rollercoaster ride of emotions.

Alicia Hall Photography

Two cycles later, I saw those two pink lines, only this time I was almost entirely robbed of my joy. Instead of excitement, I felt sick to my stomach when I found out. I was anxious and afraid it was all going to end in another miscarriage. Every time I went pee, I was terrified to wipe for the fear of spotting again. I bawled my eyes out and shook uncontrollably on the car ride to every ultrasound appointment. I bought a Doppler I used almost every day to make sure I could still hear a heartbeat. It should have been crystal clear back then I wasn’t okay, but I didn’t think much of it. I thought everything would be fine once my son was finally here.

On June 16, 2018, we welcomed our beautiful, healthy baby boy into this world. I’ll never forget those sleepy newborn skin-to-skin cuddles. I could have spent forever in that single moment soaking in the new mommy bliss. And then it was time to bring him home.

Courtesy of Marise Varanda

Nothing can prepare you for what it’s like to become a first-time mom. My first major hurdle was breastfeeding. It was something I assumed would come super naturally to both me and my baby, but it turned out to be the exact opposite. I quickly developed cracked and bleeding nipples and was in excruciating pain during every nursing session. I got angry and cried every time he wanted to feed, which happened to be every hour during those first few months.

Sleep was basically non-existent because any time that wasn’t spent nursing him, I was obsessing over whether he was breathing or wondering why he refused to sleep in his bassinet. I spent hours on my phone in the middle of the night Googling, ‘How to get your baby to sleep better and nurse better.’ I Googled every other minute ailment, like whether newborn pimples were normal and how to dress him so he doesn’t overheat.

Courtesy of Marise Varanda
Courtesy of Marise Varanda

I didn’t have a lot of support at the time nor did I know how to ask for it because I felt like I had to do everything myself to ‘prove’ I was a good mom. Put this all on repeat for 5 months straight and it basically becomes a form of torture. I stopped wanting to do the things that made me happy like seeing my friends or going to the gym. I was no longer the shiny, bubbly person that people once knew. I just wanted everything to stop.

Now we’re back to that one fateful day. After what felt like my 500th nursing session, I finally got my fussy baby to sleep after hours of failed attempts. A couple of minutes later, my husband came home from work, the dogs started barking, and sure enough, the baby started screaming. I snapped. I hurled my coffee mug towards the floor so hard without a second thought. It wasn’t the only thing that broke that day. This was finally the wake-up call I needed.

Tiny Marvels Photography

I reached out to a local mom group and voiced my feelings. I was confused as to whether I should seek help because I never had any trouble bonding with or caring for my son. Another fellow mom reached out to me privately and shared a very similar experience that drastically changed once she got help for her postpartum anxiety. I worked up the courage to see my doctor and, despite him trying to convince me, ‘You are just tired,’ he begrudgingly wrote me a prescription for Zoloft and referred me to a therapist. And that’s the day my life finally took a turn.

The changes were small at first. I was in a better mood, I was sleeping better, and my fuse didn’t feel quite as short. Over time, I started making more significant life changes. I started a new job, worked out regularly, and invested in the relationships that mattered to me.

Courtesy of Marise Varanda

One year later, I found out I was pregnant with our daughter, and aside from the normal nervous jitters during the first trimester, I had a wildly different experience. I actually enjoyed my pregnancy (heartburn aside) and never stopped doing the things I loved. I also immediately asked my doctor to increase my medication, booked a therapy session with someone who specialized in prenatal and postpartum anxiety, and voiced to my partner and family what I needed from them once my baby came.

Creation Behind the Lens Photography
Courtesy of Marise Varanda

Our daughter is almost 1 month old, and I can finally say my kids are getting the best version of me. Perfect? Not even close. But a mom that knows her limits and isn’t afraid to admit when she’s struggling and needs more support. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

I don’t know how much longer it would have taken me to realize all this if that one mom hadn’t been so vulnerable and open with me. It turns out, the most powerful tool in our mommy arsenal is our shared experiences. Not every story is the same, but the more you share and the more you listen, you quickly realize we’re all just trying our best.

The chronic over-sharer in me tells this story to any new mom who will listen. Because the sooner we realize we all need each other, the less alone we’ll feel as we go through the trials and tribulations of this crazy thing called motherhood.”

Mom in a Flash Photography
Courtesy of Marise Varanda

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Marise Varanda from Ottawa, Ontario. You can follow her journey on Instagram and on her blog. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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