Postpartum OCD: The Mom Who Couldn’t Stop Logging

Welcome Anne, aka Dou-la-la, a dear friend, birth activist, student lactation consultant, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanatic:

I couldn’t be more honored or stoked to be guest posting here for Arwyn during her babymoon. This piece was originally published in two parts: Postpartum OCD, A Retroactive Self-Diagnosis and Part 2: The Mom Who Couldn’t Stop Logging. Feel free to click over if you’re interesting in reading them in their original long-winded glory, but I think this version is a little more reasonable anyway.

For two solid years, I never thought of myself as having any kind of postpartum depression, only as a mom who had had an extremely difficult time nursing, and thus everything I struggled with was chalked up to that. Then, last summer, I read a piece written by Bryce Dallas Howard about her own experience, and I was suddenly staring into an unexpected mirror, revealing an uncanny resemblance to my own postpartum inner life.

It is strange for me to recall what I was like at that time. I seemed to be suffering emotional amnesia. I couldn’t genuinely cry, or laugh, or be moved by anything. For the sake of those around me, including my son, I pretended, but when I began showering again in the second week, I let loose in the privacy of the bathroom, water flowing over me as I heaved uncontrollable sobs. When I visited the midwife for a checkup, she gave me a questionnaire, rating things on a scale from 1-5 so that she could get a sense of my emotional state. I gave myself a perfect score. Despite my daily “shower breakdowns” months passed before I even began to acknowledge my true feelings.

Boy, do I know those shower breakdowns. But even beyond that, the last part really resonated with me, as I imagine it would with many women. The Edinburgh Scale – the standard for assessing postpartum depression – is a great tool . . . in theory. I suspect far too many women do exactly what Howard did above, and what I almost certainly would have done: answered dishonestly in order to prove our maternal aptitude (whether proving it to the person giving the test or to ourselves). Part of it may be pride in the sense of ego, part of it may be fear of having our children taken away from us if we admit to our true feelings.

But another huge part of it may be denial – I had a hard time admitting my feelings to myself even at the time, and I actually didn’t recognize many of my own symptoms until long after the fact, through the process of working with other women postpartum. This was heightened by the fact that I believe my own postpartum mood disorder is one that doesn’t get quite as much attention as “regular” postpartum depression (I say that with tongue firmly in cheek, as there is nothing regular about it for those who are experiencing it) or the extremely rare but headline-generating postpartum psychosis.

One of the two postpartum anxiety disorders that are part of the greater PPMD spectrum along with depression and psychosis is postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder (the other is a panic disorder). Despite being reasonably aware of postpartum depression, I had never even heard of the OCD variation at the time. Howard’s piece then spurred me to read more, and more, and suddenly my entire first year as a mother was cast in a new, much more revealing light. Many of you have read my nursing story, and I’ve always been willing to talk openly about that, but I had never talked publicly about the deeper psychological undercurrents that accompanied the whole saga.

Not a happy mama.

I did start off with a pretty acute case of the Baby Blues, the most benign and the most common of all postpartum mood variations. It’s hormonally driven, and not considered a disorder – frankly, it’s quite a normal and expected, temporary state, as 75 to 80% of all mothers experience this to some degree. This much of my tale I did actually write about already, in this post about the dreaded Third Day. From there, I got about a week of near-reprieve, until our breastfeeding challenges starting to become more and more apparent. It is here that the fears underlying the OCD began to send down their roots.

Not a happy baby.

Here’s the most emotionally difficult part to talk about, regarding this phase where more and more breastfeeding red flags were popping up: I was getting very frightened. And understandably, the people who were closest to me wanted to reassure me. I was told over and over that she was fine. Babies just cry like that sometimes. She’ll poo eventually – she has to, she’s eating, isn’t she? It’s good that she’s sleeping – you’re lucky! Look at those chubby cheeks, she’s not starving. She would be rooting if she was hungry. She’ll eat if she’s hungry enough. Sometimes breastfed babies just don’t poo for a while. Trust your body. She’s fine. And inside, my gut was screaming No. NO. She’s NOT fine. Something IS wrong. Her cries DO have meaning. She needs help. I need help. But I kept suppressing my gut. I listened to the reassurances and tried to ignore the sense of unease growing into dread and finally terror.

But I kept suppressing my gut. I listened to the reassurances from friends and family and tried to ignore the sense of unease growing into dread and finally terror. When we returned and had her plummeting weight confirmed. I just wept at that. I had failed her. I had not listened to my instincts when I knew deep down that something was going very, very wrong, and I allowed well-meaning others to reassure me and talk me out of my fears. And I had utterly failed her. My baby had suffered because of my incompetence at the most fundamental aspect of being a mother.

And so the stage was set. An intense case of baby blues, which dissolved into a few days of still-concerned but mostly oblivious reprieve, which then segued into the full-blown crisis of our multifaceted nursing situation.

Howard’s piece led me to find this excellent post by Postpartum Progress: The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression (In Plain Mama English). Reading this compounded the retroactive epiphany for me. There are so many bullet points that describe my state for months on end; I’ll go through some of them specifically:

  • Your thoughts are racing. You can’t quiet your mind. You can’t settle down. You can’t relax.

How I relate to this. I had to spend so much time both pumping (every 3 hours around the clock, 2 alarms were set for overnight) and on feedings themselves, and both required me to more or less not be doing anything else, at least on a physical level. The various techniques we used differed depending on her progress over time, but they all required effort and focus and some combination of equipment. There was no wearing my newborn in a sling and going about my business as she suckled away, no reading books, no idly jotting down precious newborn memories into a keepsake journal, no relaxing and snoozing as we nursed in sidelying repose. Nothing I had pictured my life as a breastfeeder would consist of. Every feeding, 8 times a day, was a major Process.

Pumping, which I did for 15 minutes immediately after every feeding, took less mental energy once I got myself set up, but I was still immobilized. And I vividly remember how my mind would just SPIN, thinking of everything I should be doing and would be doing as soon as I could leap up and into action. I would think and rethink, order and reorder, everything. Label milk, put into refrigerator, rotate the stock and transfer oldest into storage bags, relabel, put in freezer, clean pumping shields and collection bottles, change diaper, put amount she drank and the diaper onto the logs – NO, WAIT, log the amount she drank first, then put the leftover into the milk rotation, then change her diaper, then . . .

  • You feel like you have to be doing something at all times. Cleaning bottles. Cleaning baby clothes. Cleaning the house. Doing work. Entertaining the baby. Checking on the baby.

There were the normal mothering chores and the extra lactation-related tasks I had on my plate, both carried out in a sense of focused franticness, but even healing things became tools of obsession. My lactation consultant (the second one, the IBCLC with whom I worked for months) was very holistic, and she recommended a number of associated things that were meant to support the process. All of them good things, like cobathing, flower essences, homeopathy and EFT, but my own growing mania twisted them. The feeling that I always, always had to be doing SOMETHING was constant.

And it went on like this. One of the things that saved me, in several ways, was actually television. When nothing in particular was on, I turned it to CNN. Not only did this help with the mind mania, but it helped me feel somewhat – somewhat - less isolated. And, ironically, tethered to the real world, even if it was a fictitious one on the surface. The isolation was by far the most damaging factor, though, as a major risk factor for all types of PPMD. This was hard for me to accept, as I’ve always enjoyed time alone, even thrived on high-quality, productive introversion, but for new mothers, solitude quickly turns malignant.

I don’t waste much time on regret, and grueling as some of my experiences have been, I still cherish their lessons, but if I could change only one thing about the whole experience, the decision to live in such solitude would probably be it. I would go for days without seeing another adult, sometimes days without even leaving the house. Daddy did the best he could from afar. My weeks were built around Lily’s regular chiropractic/craniosacral therapy and the nursing support group run by my second lactation consultant, IBCLC Jennifer Tow, the one who finally figured out what was really going on.

Other bullet points that resonated, and by “resonated” I mean “slapped me upside the head”:

  • You are worried. Really worried. All. The. Time. Am I doing this right? Will my husband come home from his trip? Will the baby wake up? Is the baby eating enough? Is there something wrong with the baby that I’m missing? No matter what anyone says to reassure you it doesn’t help.

I mentioned one experience in part one when Lily had peed on a heating pad and I completely lost my mind over it. That was the first incident, but it somehow set a theme in motion, I believe. The first time she threw up I was utterly terrified that she was critically ill (I’m talking actual vomit, not just spitup), and every time it happened thereafter it would plunge me into absolute hysterics all over again. The first time I had to drive her anywhere alone was an hour-long drive to the chiropractor/craniosacral therapist, and I may have had the first panic attack of my life merging onto the highway. I think I drove about 40-45 mph the entire time, often on the shoulder, heart pounding, dumbfounded by the fact that other parents seemed to manage to do this all the time, putting their precious babes into shiny metal boxes and hurtling along at what now seemed like impossibly irresponsible speeds.

Those are just a few examples. Suffice it to say that everything panicked me, everything – most of all, her input and output. Repeating from that last bullet point:

  • Is there something wrong with the baby that I’m missing?

I described in part one the experience of having my fears about Lily’s issues dismissed only to later be proven right – you can imagine how this affected my parenting and my management of the situation. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it – I have pictures. This says it all, in its way:

Can you guess what those are? Here’s another shot:

Yes, readers, those are my logs. ONE FULL YEAR’S WORTH. I logged every single feeding and every single diaper for her entire first year. I’m not exaggerating when I say “every single”. I never went anywhere without them, perplexing my loved ones. No matter what, I could not change a diaper without noting it. I literally felt physically unsettled, queasy, blood pressure rising, until it was recorded, by time (after the first few weeks, if it was poo, it was noted as such, otherwise simply writing the time indicated a wet one). No, Lily, you don’t have a lovingly crafted scrapbook of your first year, with locks of hair, longhand memories and milestones recorded, but you do have a pile of chicken scratch on paper documenting every nuance of your digestive function. Precious.

And feedings? Oh, how I obsessed over the number of ounces she got per day – something no breastfeeding mother should ever need to do if things are going well. I tracked the number of ounces per feeding and added them up, and if it was less than what a normal breastfed baby was estimated to eat, I was despondent, set off into a whirlwind of worry about what was going on now on top of still not being on the breast. Eventually, when we transitioned to the Lact-Aid, I also tracked minutes spent with tube in use, minutes without, and total ounces consumed. It was positively algebraic.

That leads me to another part of that one bullet point:

  • No matter what anyone says to reassure you it doesn’t help.

Many of my late night phone calls (during which various members of the nursing group, Lily’s father, my friends, and Jennifer herself would take turns talking me off the ledge) were absolutely helpful. It lessened the despair, at least for the length of the call. But I know they must have been frustrating for them at times, because I had to run through the same conversations over and over and over. And over. And over. The same reassurances would be offered, and somehow I just could not let them sink in. This particular symptom came up not long ago, when a CLC-in-training and I were working on a case together, where the same information was being given to a mother, over and over, from multiple sources, and somehow it just could not get through. The CLC mentioned this aspect of postpartum OCD being discussed at her training, and I immediately recognized myself in it.

I remember railing to Jennifer about my terror that Lily just was not eating enough, she couldn’t be, she only got 23 ounces yesterday, how can this be happening? and on and on. Jen patiently kept bringing me back to her weight gain, which had been totally fine from week three on, and diaper output, which was more than adequate. This was just not enough to convince me. I’d repeat myself, again and again, she would respond with reason and evidence in the form of diapers, rinse and repeat. Finally, understandably exasperated, she said “Anne, it’s not like she’s taking it from the atmosphere!”

This broke me out of it, at least momentarily, and I laughed, and had a bit more self-awareness come back. My obsession with the logs wasn’t over, I couldn’t let go of them until she was just over a year, but my recollection was that after that conversation, I DID ease up on my fears a bit, as I was always able to come back to the idea that my baby had found a way to metabolize the moisture in the air just to throw off the diaper logs and mess with my mind.

Logs, man. They are a double-edged sword. Proceed with serious caution. They are useful to get an idea of what’s going on at the beginning, especially if you suspect something’s amiss. But I strongly recommend that if everything seems to be going well, DON’T. And even if there are issues, once they start to be resolved, give them up as soon as possible. It just becomes lunacy in the wrong hands.

  • You are afraid to be alone with your baby because of the thoughts. You are also afraid of things in your house that could potentially cause harm, like kitchen knives or stairs, and you avoid them like the plague.
  • You feel like a captive animal, pacing back and forth in a cage. Restless. On edge.
  • You have to check things constantly. Did I lock the door? Did I lock the car? Did I turn off the oven? Is the baby breathing?
  • You feel a sense of dread all the time, like something terrible is going to happen.

Yep, these too. I never had repetitive thoughts of intentionally harming her, luckily, but I did fixate on the possibility of accidentally harming her, in every conceivable way. The OCD manifested primarily in the logs and the whole ritual that was built up out of the 3 hour cycle of feed, pump, clean and prepare next supplement, then do everything else there is to do in life in between, but these other typical OCD thought patterns were there, too.

  • You can’t eat. You have no appetite.
  • You can’t sleep. You are so, so tired, but you can’t sleep.

On these physical symptoms, well, in the first case, I had just the opposite reaction, but this is not uncommon if there’s a history of eating disorders, which there is. I initially dropped about 25-30 pounds very quickly in the early weeks, but then I stalled, and eventually, I actually gained a bit of it back. Eating, along with Bravo, Buffy and The Soup, was one of my only sources of solace, and I gave in to it.

If you’re thinking I should have been working out, then, at least, well, sure, that would have been fabulous. I was originally a dancer, after all, and had thrived on yoga and Pilates for years as well. I love exercise. If I have it to do over with another baby someday, you bet I’ll find a way. But aside from walks every few days, I couldn’t bear to have another demand placed on me, especially a physical one, and that’s just the way I felt at the time. Judge me as lazy if you will.

The sleeping, I managed most of the time, though my racing mind would often cause me to take a long, long time to drop off (which I could never do unless EVERYTHING was done and set up just-so). Naps? Forget about it. I could be so exhausted that I was literally fighting off falling asleep at the wheel in the middle of the day, on the way back from nursing group (this happened far too often), and still I couldn’t follow the oldest new parent adage in the books: “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Impossible. There was just too much to do, and no one else to do it.

One final bullet point of note:

  • You are afraid that this is your new reality and that you’ve lost the “old you” forever.

This one cut pretty deep. This was the crux of so much. One of the most affecting things Judy did for me in her first visit, when I was at my most despondent and vulnerable, was to grab my hand, look me in the eye, and say firmly, “It is not always going to be like this.” And though it took longer than usual for us, eventually, she was right. In a broader sense, I’m still working on this in a way, as integrating parenthood into one’s identity is a process, not an event. But compared to the freefall of the first 6 months to a year, I can assure other moms from experience that the best qualities and passions of their former selves are still there, even if on the back burner; hell, even if in cold storage.

She finally began nursing at five months old, but it took a bit longer for the OCD to fully recede. We eventually emerged, slowly, as she neared her first birthday, partly because nursing eventually became so successful that even I, with all my doubts, couldn’t deny that all really was well at long last, and, not coincidentally, because we moved to live with her daddy full-time.

Another difficult admission: It took a long time for me not to feel gripped with jealousy every time I heard a new mother describing her blissful babymoon with little to no relative difficulty, and I still occasionally get pangs, if I’m to be completely honest. But as much as I think is possible, I’ve grown to accept that this was my experience, and that it has its own gifts, especially in the form of my drive to help other new mothers, in various contexts, as my true life calling. (This is also emphatically NOT to suggest that in the absence of challenges like mine, motherhood is always a breeze. Far from it)

The irony is not lost on me. The OCD manifested itself in the things I had to do in order to make nursing work. Breastfeeding was thus both the means of its expression and the very thing that saved me . . .


. . . along with Lily herself, who gave me glimmers of hope all the way through, who continued to draw out my love with her glorious baby self, and who never, ever, ever gave up on me.

Please check out these links on Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:

Postpartum Progress: Rate of Postpartum OCD May Be Much Higher Than Current Statistics

Babble on Postpartum Anxiety Disorders

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18 Responses to Postpartum OCD: The Mom Who Couldn’t Stop Logging

  1. My postpartum problems after my son didn’t follow the ones Brooke Shields outlined in her book, so I couldn’t believe I had postpartum depression. The knives? In the house? CONSTANT paranoid fantasies that they flew out of the butcher block and impaled my son as I walked past them. I stayed awake all night long to watch him sleeping in the video monitor. One night, when I decided he hadn’t moved in awhile, I ran into his room. Without even touching him, my mind decided that he had died and I started screaming hysterically. My husband came running in and the baby was awoken by my shrieking. I felt so stupid. But I still didn’t think anything was wrong. It wasn’t until I was 1 yr postpartum and my OB’s new partner OB (a woman this time) told me that she didn’t want me to get pregnant again until I got treated for postpartum depression. So I took a script for Zoloft. To this day, I’m sure it was Postpartum PTSD mixed with depression and an anxiety disorder. I took Zoloft throughout my whole pregnancy (we were pregnant again a month after my visit with her, first try) and gave up when I decided it was causing breastfeeding problems. I was fine. Things got dark again when the breastfeeding hormones slowed down when that baby was about a year old, but I’ve fought off treatment since then (over 2 years.) It’s a hard thing for me to deal with, or admit to, or even decide if I have. I tried Zoloft again during my last pregnancy and it made me feel suicidal, so that won’t be happening again.
    Sorry for the long reply. Suffice today, I appreciate you coming forward with your postpartum issues. It will help lots of other moms recognize their own problems, I’m sure.

    • TheFeministBreeder — I didn’t have the thoughts of harming the Boychick, but was more like you with the visions of random death, especially SIDS: starting one night when I put my hand on him and he was cold, I was regularly (many times a day; basically any time he wasn’t awake and moving or I couldn’t at that instant feel him breathing) completely and utterly convinced he was dead, and would be frantic until I could confirm he wasn’t (and the confirmation sometimes needed to be extensive, or I’d think I was just imagining it). To the extent that sometimes I’d think he really had died that night, and all the rest of it was a dream. It took around two years for me to figure out that no, that really wasn’t normal and maybe I did have some disordered mood postpartum (at the time, I thought I was “a little off, but not that bad”, in part because I’d just come off a many-year episode of majorly disordered moods, and by comparison I was practically fine! only, not.), and around three years for the thoughts to fade to where I wasn’t regularly going into panic because of them.

      So yeah. Atypical postpartum experience for the… win?

      Many, many thanks to Anne for sharing her story here.

  2. Another thanks here for sharing all this with the interwebz. I had some of that same anxiety, even in the hospital (sigh) I couldn’t regard balconies without a visceral feeling of terror/certainty that she was going to go sailing over it, somehow, quite probably thrown by me. I had no real impulse to DO this at all, but it didn’t change the terror I felt at the thought, like motherhood was going to suck out my self-control.

    I logged feeds, too, but somehow forcefully stopped myself after several weeks. Not sure how. I think I was saved by already being on meds, after a previous major depression and anxiety episode in my 20s, I was PETRIFIED of depression associated with pregnancy and the first years. To the point that my anxiety about it was probably actually a symptom of it, in a fit of somehow appropriate irony.

    So, thanks for more about the every-dayness of this openly, so that some woman out there reads this and feels that reassurance in her heart that she is NOT alone! Thanks!

  3. Yuuuuuuuuuup. I actually had full-blown post partum psychosis due to an undiognosed bipolar disorder, but after I was treated successfully for that (thank goodness), we later learned that I also had post-partum OCD & anxiety–issues that lasted at their most intense for at least 18 months. When it comes to the feeding logs, I hear ya, mama, loud and clear. This article just *nailed* the ppOCD experience.

    I am so glad that you’ve recovered enough to be able to write about this issues. Thank you for sharing your story, and pictures of your beautiful baby!

  4. I had a terrible time trying to nurse, also. I was, of course, doing all these things you talk about, and reading your account, I wonder whether I would have been successful if I’d had the OCD symptoms you’re describing here. I VERY briefly wished I had (but that is stupid, I know). Surprisingly (given my history of mental illness), my only symptom was an irrational fear while she was in the hospital for two weeks (and I was staying there with her) that someone would take my baby away because my husband wasn’t keeping the apartment clean enough.

    I gave up after two months, at the urging of my midwife (who also functioned as a lactation consultant). Of course, for me it was a bit different, in that my baby was perfectly physically capable of nursing, at least with a shield, and seemed to have some mental block (she gets very, very angry when she “fails” at something, and usually wasn’t patient enough to succeed because she was HUNGRY AND WANTS FOOD NOW). I also had supposed supply problems, which meant I had to supplement with formula (though, when she nursed, she behaved as if she got enough–I think I actually had pumping problems). Anyway, part of my decision to stop was just that she was SO UPSET for SO LONG every single time we tried. Screaming inconsolably in anger for twenty minutes every time (aside from the once in three days or so that we succeeded). She was often so angry that she couldn’t even eat from a bottle until she calmed down. I can’t imagine being unhappy that much is good for anyone, even a baby who won’t remember it.

  5. Wow, reading about your nursing difficulties and resulting self-depreciating thoughts and obsessions were like reading my own diary from 5 years ago (if I’d had the motivation, concentration and courage to record my worthlessness). The feeling of not being ‘me’ and being so removed from ‘me’ as to believe I was lost forever is today still my most over-powering memory of that first year.
    Not wanting to dwell on the negatives, my second attempt at motherhood was poles apart and the very type of experience that I too envied in other new mothers. In fact, with my first-born I was convinced they were faking it and there was a massive motherhood conspiracy going on. I’m pleased to report my membership of the ‘bliss club’.

  6. I don’t know if I had full blown PPD, but I’ve always had bouts of anxiety/depression since my teenage years. My daughter’s birth was certainly a huge shock to my system. I ran up against many issues with nursing, which were only exacerbated by severe sleep deprivation and anxiety over the possibility of the dreaded SIDS. I logged for a while too, but stopped myself at some point when her dad started making comments about how pointless it was.
    Isolation is something I came up against too. It felt like nobody understood her like I did, and I didn’t want to admit to needing help from anyone. I feel as though our short-lived nursing experience could have been prolonged if I would have gotten the help I desperately needed. I didn’t want to admit failure, and in that, I think that was my biggest mistake.
    As you know, its important to share our experiences, but I try not to dwell on the negativity of that time. Instead, I chose to use the memories of that time as fuel in my new nursing/parenting journey with my son. Maybe I did have PPD then…although the memories are mixed with joy and a normal feeling of having an enormous new responsibility, there were a lot of overwhelming emotions, and nightmares. All I can say is that the second time was infinitely easier to handle, which I believe had a lot to do with my placenta encapsulation, and with a lot more support, self-education and past experiences to learn from.
    Thanks for sharing yours. Love and best wishes always.

  7. I have a ninth months old daughter and feel to deep in the trenches to adequately explain how much I appreciate what you’ve published here. So I’ll have to leave it at Thank You.

    • Sophia,
      I urge you to ask for help.
      The best wisdom I heard during my recovery was ‘this can only happen to strong women because only strong women believe they have to do it alone’. Equally, it takes a strong woman to accept help.
      I want to send you strength, courage and hope.
      Please don’t suffer in silence. Life can be wonderful on the otherside.

  8. This brings back so many memories. I entered parenting my second full of blithe confidence… and kept that confidence for five days. Breastfeeding didn’t hurt, therefore I was doing it right!

    The world came crashing down 5 days after the birth, when the doctor said, “She’s down a pound from her birthweight, and I think she might have something wrong with her chromosomes.”

    From there… the constant nursing/pumping/feeding, weighing weighing weighing…. She figured it out around 5 months, too, but three of the preceding months I resorted to simply manually expressing my breasts into her mouth to get the food INTO a baby who never ever asked to eat. The alarms. Feeling like sleep=failure. Disasterizing, imagining every possible thing that could ever go wrong anywhere, anytime.

    I’d sworn I wouldn’t have the same PPD issues I had with my first… and I didn’t. They were new and exciting variations!

    It’s hard to stay sane when you’re completely afraid of sleep, because sleep means the baby wont’ get fed, the baby doesn’t get fed, the baby doesn’t grow, and someone will come and take her away, and some days that feels like it might be a relief, but at the same time, merely having that thought is just the end.

    And it was temporary.

    Still took me another six years to be willing to contemplate ever doing it again.

  9. I totally had PPD. I didn’t realize until I read this. I thought it was just the stress of a tongue-tied baby who had trouble figuring out how to latch, the pumping, breastfeeding two children, the lact-aid, the unhelpful lactation consultant and nurses, being left by my “partner”, etc. And while the situation may have caused depression, OCD, extreme stress and other problems by itself, it was definitely PPD. And now I’m just angrier at my ex for leaving me because he couldn’t deal with my anger and depression and couldn’t or wouldn’t step up and help with the care of my older child (who wasn’t 2 yet). Thank you for sharing this, valuable, important info.

  10. Thank you all so, so much for your responses. It really warms my heart and chokes me up to know it clicks with other moms, it truly does. I wish you all the very best!

  11. wow, … is this me? i’ve had a kid every few years for a while now. i’ve recently begun treatment for anxiety/panic attacks… and i think it started way back with kid #1. i used to panic that i was going to put my pillow over her face & suffocate her. on purpose, on accident… i’ve had similar fears with each child, culminating in me panicking every time i got in the shower (and didn’t have them in my line of sight), waking in the middle of the night with panic attacks, having to check all the windows/doors all the time… *sigh* if i knew what i know now then, right? thank you so much for being open and honest with your story- it will help so many. xo

  12. I did the round the clock pumping and feedings for 6 weeks, the sleeplessness, obsessive behavior, worry, despair, isolation… It was the worst, darkest time of my life. Then there is the guilt for thinking of those first weeks with my daughter as the worst of my life, then the sadness. I maniacally logged how much I pumped and how much she ate at each session, along with other pertinent details. I finger fed my daughter with a curved syringe because I refused to accept we weren’t going to nurse and I wouldn’t let anyone else feed her, a bottle was out of the question. We saw IBCLCs, chiropractors, ENTs, and a pediatric acupuncturist (she started nursing the day after she had acupuncture, no needles for infants.) I also had morbid fantasies about her falling out of a window, of birds pecking her eyes out, and I would not go up or down stairs wearing flip flops. Luckily the worst of this all faded after we got nursing but it has taken a year and a half to feel in my skin, and I’m still working on it.
    Thank you for the article, I feel much less alone and crazy.

    • The honesty here is so refreshing! I think as mothers, we try to portray the Mary Cassatt version of motherhood. Mom and baby, serene and happy. But if you can get women to be really honest, it’s heavy and hard. I felt like I had landed on another planet after I had my baby. And it takes a long time to get mothering sea legs. You are FAR from alone and not remotely crazy. If we were all this honest, a lot of misery would be spared.

  13. Thank you for posting this. I think the more women talk openly about PPD and anxiety the more we’ll be able to support each other. I struggled with breastfeeding too, as well as PPD, I found solace in new mom’s groups. I volunteer for an amazing non-profit, MotherWoman, who does a lot of work around PPD, facilitating support groups, outreach, and working with hospitals and practitioners in the area about signs for PPD. If anyone is Massachusetts, there are resources to help and lots of amazing groups to attend.

  14. Anyone who ever says the first 6 months post-partum are anything less than a mind-fark are liars. It is so hard, and it’s impossible to imagine easier days. But it always gets better… great post. I think every mother can relate.

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