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Anxiety Strikes Again

I’ve started this post about 3 times, but never finish it because something always seems to come up. 

It always starts the same way though: 

It’s been ____ days since I’ve slept more than 2 hours. 

Today it’s been 5. 

Why? Because my anxiety issues have returned, and with a vengeance. 

Dumplin’ is sleeping well. He still fusses 3-4 times a night to be nursed, but I don’t mind because I’m awake and because I miss him so much. It’s seriously excruciating for me not to have his warm little body snuggled up to mine all night. I know we wanted him to sleep in his crib in his own room because Mochi is coming,  because it was often uncomfortable being stuck in a breastfeeding position all night, and so that he could learn to self-soothe, but I miss having him close and smelling his milky face. I love that kid so much that it aches.

DW is also not sleeping, as her body continues to swell and her nerve impingement problems have worsened from just numbness to pain and lack of motor control. Sometimes I open my eyes at night and she is sitting on the edge of the bed shaking her hands out in frustration. She eventually goes downstairs to the living room to watch Netflix because she needs to distract from the pain and discomfort. 

So almost nightly, the two of us are awake and doing stuff around the house from 1am-5am. All while Dumplin’ and the dogs are sleeping soundly in their respective beds.

While the insomnia is kinda comical, it’s taking its toll on me. I’m so tired during the day, and so frustrated that I’m kicking my feet and throwing tantrums at night in bed. My mind just won’t shut off, and worries about everything under the sun. At first it was about the Diono Ranier convertible car seat that we bought for Dumplin’ that does not fit into our Subaru Impreza. We both freaked out and decided that we need to buy a minivan or something equivalent in space before Dumplin’ outgrows his car seat (his head is about 1.5 inches from the top). R who blogs at Started In the Belly (and is a totally awesome person) even came over to help us, as she’s a car seat installing whiz, but the only way to get the seat in was with a seat belt install, an angle adjuster, and in the middle seat. While Dumplin’ is ginormous for his age (must be around 21lbs now at 5.5 months), his sitting isn’t where it needs to be for him to ride in the Ranier safely, so bucket seat for a little longer.

The next thing I started obsessing about was Mochi’s impending arrival. I am terrified of the chaos of when Mochi comes, as well as the logistics of who is going to take care of Dumplin’ who is exclusively breastfed while DW is in labour. I had grand day dreams of just being able to babywear Dumplin’ in the L&D room, but the midwives say that the hospital won’t let Dumplin’ be with us until Mochi is born and DW is in recovery. I worry about him being away from me for a long time, and for overnight because DW will recover better at the hospital (no dogs). 

I also stress about my workouts- not getting them in, not making enough progress, my ball hockey season starting in a week and a half…. I’m 5.5 months postpartum, workout about 5 days a week, but haven’t lost a single pound since 1 week postpartum. I’m sure that some of my fat has been replaced with muscle, but I still have this poofy fluff above my c-section incision that looks and feels awful. I have days where I’m proud of my progress- my butt is rock solid and has zero pinchable fat, my pecs and shoulders look awesome when I’m lifting, my quads are starting to show a nice sweep… But I’ve always had a flat stomach, and the two rounds of IVF plus pregnancy and the c-section have made some unfavourable changes from my normal. I’ve heard the “it takes 9 months to put it on, 9 months to lose it” blurb, but I have body dismorphia issues to begin with, so couple that with a anxiety disorder and I’m just a mess some days. 

So. 

No sleep in 5 days + clear signs that anxiety is back + Dumplin’ to take care of + Mochi is coming + regular therapist appointments not helping with this –> time to see the doctor about those meds that I keep avoiding

So today, we cleared our schedule and drove downtown to see my family doctor. 

I am starting Cipralex/Lexapro tonight. 

Apparently, the meds can cause more anxiety in the initial 2-4 week period, so shit might get realllllly bad before they get better. I’m nervous about it for various reasons:

1. Cipralex will cross into my breastmilk, so Dumplin’ will be getting some SSRI, but I hope that he’s unaffected because he’s so big, and from my own research, a nearly undetectable amount reaches breastmilk.

2. What does this initial anxiety exacerbating period look like? What if I just can’t deal? I’m not suicidal, but what if it pushes me over the edge where I’m not able to cope safely? I’m starting at a 5mg dose for a week, then up to 10mg the next week, and up and up until I reach an effective dose.

3. What if I still can’t sleep- especially if things get worse? I can’t even describe what it feels like to not have slept in 5 days. I’m trying my best to keep it together for Dumplin’, and DW has been struggling with her own discomforts but trying to help me too. I feel like a failure as a mother and as a partner. I feel terrible that I “need” to sleep more than I am- how ridiculous does that sound! I know, I’m not making sense, but these are the thoughts going on in my head. Those damn cogs don’t stop turning at all.

4. Weight gain from the meds. IVF has caused me to gain about 10lbs that I have not been able to shed. I’ve lost all my pregnancy weight (all 40lbs of it), but those 2 rounds of IVF has pushed my body weight baseline up, and I can’t seem to get back to my pre-IVF weight. 10lbs makes a huge difference when you are sprinting and doing shuttle runs like we do in ball hockey. 10lbs makes me so much slower and my recovery more painful. Not to mention (again) my body dismorphia and how more weight will mess with my head even more.

5. I worry that I will feel weird. I generally like being an empath and experiencing all of the feels that life provides. I am afraid that these meds will make me feel like a zombie. 

6. I worry that the meds won’t work, and that I’ll be stuck in this hell that exists in my head, forever churning and producing worst case scenarios.

Wish me luck.

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40 thoughts on “Anxiety Strikes Again

  1. For what it’s worth, I was on antidepressants while I was nursing Moose, and I don’t regret it at all. I would never have been able to survive the postpartum anxiety otherwise (sometimes I feel like I barely survived it WITH drugs) and I really believe that it helped me be present in a way that I couldn’t have been while depressed.

  2. I was just discussing this topic with Tony today. I’ve always been high anxiety and I’ve never taken medication bc I was too scared with RPL. I’m unable to breastfeed (which has hit me hard) due to PCOS and I’ve been feeling my anxiety rising and I’m worrying about so much lately. I wondering if I should talk to my dr about this too, but I’m not sure how much of it is my hormones crashing… Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to get at is thank you for writing this post. It’s what I needed to read tonight. I hope everything works out for you and the adjustment goes well.

    • I’m so sorry that your anxiety is worsening too, and that you’re not able to breastfeed like you want to. I didn’t notice a clear “crashing” of my hormones postpartum. I didn’t even really notice the “baby blues” hit me. For me, it was kind of a generalized sleep deprivation and lack of patience with people. I haven’t noticed any anxiety until now, which leaves me thinking that if you’re feeling anxious, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to your doc about it because from what I’ve been told, postpartum anxiety/depression can spiral out of control really quickly, and become unmanageable. Given my history, my doc had me checking in with her monthly because a history of any mood disorders predisposes you to ppd/ppa. Thank you for sharing your struggles. I hope you feel better soon.

      • Thank you so much.. I’m having anxiety over things that are beyond my control and I’ve always been like that. It’s strange though, I’m happy but anxious and worried about everything. Not breastfeeding does upset me immensely though. Tony agrees that it’s probably time to talk to my dr. Thank you so much for your input and advice. I’ll be looking for an update on you and I’ll be thinking of you both while her due date approaches. Sending lots of love.

      • My anxiety is the same way- very much control related, so it strikes even when things in life are going well. I guess that’s part of what frustrates me so much about it too- that I really am grateful for everything in my life right now, yet why can’t I be happy?

    • Sondra, I just want to let you know that I was unable to breastfeed due to PCOS as well. (I have put my body through hell to get it to produce milk so I am breastfeeding now, but I do not recommend doing what I did.) Anyway, my point being that it hit me so, so hard. I was inconsolable. I remember sitting with the lactation consultant after I gave C her first bottle of formula–she was 3 days old–and just sobbing uncontrollably. So I just wanted to say that if you ever need to talk to someone who has been through that brand of PCOS misery, I am here. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Lots of love to you and your beautiful baby girl!

      • Thank you so much Molly! I was able to for 3wks only supplementing with formula. I’m coming to terms with it bc I’ve met with my endocrinologist, 3 different lactation consultants, my pediatrician and my OB… I think it’s best for us, but it is so hard. I’ll definitely reach out if I need you. Thank you for commenting and being there!

  3. Oh my friend. I’m so sorry you’re feeling all of these feels. You know I totally relate. I will be following along to see how it goes with the meds. Twogeekmamas told me about the initial period of enhanced anxiety. She might be a good one to bounce things off of. Lots of love to you. Be kind to yourself, friend. You’re doing so great and you are so brave for tackling this head on. Hugs.

    • Thank you. It was such a hard decision to make, but there have been too many instances where this anxiety has robbed me of happiness when there’s been so much happiness to be had. It needed to stop. I will definitely catch up on 2geekmoms’ blog. I hope that you find some relief soon too, my friend.

  4. I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling so off with the anxiety, stress, sleep, and those extra 10 lbs. I wish I could take it all away from you so you could be free of it once & for all. Hugs to you, my friend. Xx

    • Thank you. It’s funny because DW and I have discussed how the issues aren’t really the issue- they’re just how the anxiety has manifested. It’s also interesting how I was happiest when I was pregnant. Somehow my hormones were all balanced then. Oh how I miss being pregnant!

      • Things will be crazy for a while, when mochi is thrown in the mix, but the good news is that you’re no longer *new* first time parents, and you survived a pretty rough first 3-4 months with dumplin, so you’re almost veterans now. 4 or so months from now, you’ll be past that 4th trimester again, and I believe you’ll feel less stressed. Hopefully once DW gets her hormones back in check yours will be too. I miss bring pregnant for a few reasons too, but mostly I’m glad it’s behind me because my anxiety was much worse then!

  5. I have had a much difference experience but did begun to experience some anxiety about 6 months ago. After having my boy I began to experience a giant increase in migraines and along with that came anxiety about them. I was always worried I would get one, that I was a bad mom because I coudnt care for my son if I got one, and on and on. I went to a naturopath who really upped my magnesium intake. She discussed with me how it would help calm my nervous system. Not sure how related it is but since I started taking it I do sleep much better.

    Do you have enough milk pumped for a night? We decided against that car seat as it didn’t fit in our Jetta. We got the clek fllo instead but we still are discussing a mini van.

    You are amazing! How many other people on your ball hockey team have a 5 month old? Wow!

    • I’m so sorry you had to deal with the migraines and the anxiety of having one unexpectedly. I do take Natural Calm, which is a magnesium drink. It has mostly helped with my digestive system lol. I do have some pumped milk, but Dumplin’ won’t take a bottle, despite many attempts and many different bottles. We have him sorta taking a sippy cup, but not reliably either. He needs to be in a good mood to take it, and even then, he doesn’t suck on it- he kinda just chews the tip. It’s a great source of stress for us too, with Mochi coming.

      I wish that I had thought about the Ranier not fitting before we bought it. We know we’re heading towards a minivan soon, just not this soon! It’s also hard to swallow another large cost when the both of us are on mat leave!

      Thanks re: ball hockey. Many of our teammates are super accomplished athletes. One played for Team Canada, and most that are over 35 play on a team that qualify for Nationals every year. At least 2 are moms with small kids. As a collective, we’re a pretty amazing group.

  6. I am so sorry you are struggling. But I’m so glad you took the brave step of seeing the doctor and getting medication that will hopefully be the thing you need to help you feel more like yourself again. I understand anxiety so well, and it sucks that you need sleep to help your anxiety feel better, but your anxiety prevents you from getting it! It’s a really ‘special’ kind of hell.

    I’ll be thinking of you and hoping things get better for you very soon. ❤

    • Thanks Linds. It seems like anxiety has hit many of us really hard this year (and particularly this week it seems). You’re so right- it really is a special kind of hell. I hope you’re doing better being back at work.

  7. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. As I said to Molly after her post, you can have everything in the world and it doesn’t mean you’re free from anxiety or depression. It’s not about that; it’s about past trauma and brain chemistry. It hurts me to read what you write about exercise because you have such a gorgeous body, blah blah blah, I know it doesn’t help to hear it. I’ve struggled with the same body image issues and exercise especially now that I’m working and I can’t exercise very much, and I understand that it’s in the perspective and everybody is different. This is just a long way to say that although you look amazing and it seems like you’ve gotten to keep up with exercise a lot, I know that doesn’t help to hear that and I’m just sorry for what you’re feeling. I can’t imagine another baby coming alone right now! I’m excited for your household but yes it will be chaotic! Xoxo

    • Thank you so much for your supportive and kind words. I agree- it’s not situational or really rational, how I feel, because the anxiety is on such a chemical level. If it’s not this, it’s that that I’m obsessing about. DW wonders if the sudden drop of the constant bedsharing nursings could cause my anxiety, since it kinda started when we transitioned him to his crib.

      • That makes sense – being separated from him and also sleeping alone and maybe worrying about when he is going to wake up, and being in bed alone with your thoughts could all be contributing. It’s really hard and I wish I could make it better. Xoxo

  8. You poor thing – that sounds horrendous. And for DW too. Insomnia probably fuels the anxiety which fuels the insomnia etc. I had terrible insomnia/post-birth trauma with my first – it’s just awful. I really hope the meds help break the cycle. And you won’t lose yourself – you will still be you and hyper aware if you feel like you are getting more and more distant from things. Wishing you strength and peace to get through these difficult times. Oh – and however you manage the birth and Dumplin’s care, babies are SO resiliant when temporarily away from mama. He’ll probably sleep and feed like a champ but then be super clingy when he gets back to you afterwards. I’ve always panicked about crying and hysteria whenever I’ve left mine (which isn’t often cause I’m so stressed about them not being looked after properly), but they have been absolutely fine. I know you probably know all this too, but I thought I’d say it anyway. Hugs to both of you.

    • Thank you for all of your reassuring and supportive words. You’re so right- Dumplin’ will likely be fine. Deep down I know it too. I guess the anxiety just prevents me from seeing things rationally. Hopefully it goes away soon, so that I can be happy and calm before the next baby arrives!

  9. My friend, I am so sorry you are struggling. Yet, I at the same time I am so proud of you for seeking out help and putting your well being on the list of top priorities. I have so much to say, but I am having one of those sleep deprived days from hell and probably cannot put a coherent sentence together. So for now I’m just going to say I am thinking about you and sending so much love your way. You know how to reach me, anytime I’m here for you.

    • Thank you, my friend. It was such a hard decision to be medicated. In fact, today I kinda felt weird and crappy and thought about ditching the idea all together (anxious about treating my anxiety lol). But I know I need to have my shit together for when Mochi gets here, so I am committing to giving this treatment plan a go, even though I am not feeling good from the meds.

  10. Oh, do I know that middle-of-the-night insomnia and whirling mind SO WELL. At our house we call it the “irrational hours” because I can ALWAYS find something to feel anxious and worried about, even if it makes no rational sense. I’m sorry you’re in a rough spot, but I truly hope your meds kick in and bring you back to a good place!! Keep fighting the good fight. This too shall pass.

      • Because I have a tendency to get angry at myself and my body for NOT SLEEPING when it has the opportunity, the first thing I do is try to calmly acknowledge that it’s okay not to sleep right now, and just accept that I’m going to ride it out. I figure that it might be 45 minutes or it might be 4 hours, but getting angry and frustrated will only make it longer.

        The next thing I do might sound odd, but sometimes it helps me fall back asleep. At the very least, it keeps me calm and avoids the anxious spinning wheels about work, life, pet health, dental care, aging parents, baby health… I start to design a cabin in the snowy woods. I think about the living room, the fireplace, the furniture, the smells, the sounds, what is cooking in the kitchen, where the boots line up near the door, etc. I go over every. detail. possible. If I’m still awake, I move from room to room, decorating. Sometimes I get to the exterior and work on Christmas decorations.

        Not sure if that is helpful or not! Sometimes it’s more successful than others. Sometimes I just cannot get comfortable, and I just tell myself that I’m going to ride it out and let it pass, trying my best to keep my mind on pleasant things.

      • Interesting visualization technique. I used to do something similar where I would try to imagine what our lives would be like in 5 years, 10 years, etc., to calm myself and to help me realize that everything would be okay.

  11. I’d take your body over my newly found saggy Mom ass anyday! 🙂 has Dumplin ever had a bottle yet? Is there someone you trust who you will be leaving him with? I struggled with anxiety when I first left Wyatt with my MIL or friend to attend appointments. Now I struggle with the concept of returning to work, sleep training etc. So, I’ve decided to not focus on those things until they need to happen – always easier said than done with the anxious mind. Hope the meds help immensely.

    • Thanks Linds 🙂 We still can’t get him to take a bottle. The boy is stubborn! My MIL and FIL will be taking care of him while we’re at the hospital. I have no doubt that he will be fine with them, but I am consumed with the stress around preparing him for the big changes that are about to happen I guess. Things that are out of our control I suppose. Being a mom is so hard that way- all of the worrying!

  12. Picturing the future is one big ball of anxiety for me! So many what if and how will we get there factors. I like the cabin metaphor because it’s like a safe, happy place. Do you have a place like that?

    • My past has been so traumatic for me that looking ahead at the future was always calming for me. “One day, I’ll move out of the house”, “one day, I’ll make my own money”. I think the gym is my happy place. It’s where I have control of what I do and what happens to me. I can focus on me and not on anything else going on.

      • Makes sense… I mean happy place in your minda eye though. Doesn’t have to be anywhere that exists in real life. (yes I’m getting all woo woo on you here)

      • I know what you meant lol. I don’t really have a happy place that I can use for visualizations. The closest is maybe in bed, cuddling with Dumplin’ while he breastfeeds.

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