I can’t even begin to recount how many times I’ve imagined the absolute worse happening to my child or created freak accidents in my head while my son was not in my care. And if I’m being truthful, I’ve even imagined something happening to my son while he is in my care.
I had often heard of anxiety but I hadn’t any idea what anxiety actually looked like or how it impacted people, specifically new moms. It wasn’t until I was doing my nightly scroll on social media that I ran across a video of a mom talking about how she battled with postpartum anxiety and would create fake traumatic accidents in her head. At that moment, I instantly felt seen.
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My revelation was cemented once more after watching LeToya Luckett’s video on YouTube discussing motherhood and battling mom guilt.
All this time I had made myself believe that my thoughts were unique just to me. That I was the only mom having these thoughts. And prior to watching the video, I hadn’t even correlated my thoughts with anxiety.
In retrospect, I can clearly identify other points of my motherhood journey when I was experiencing severe anxiety. As a breastfeeding mom, a lot of times it looked like intense emotions of feeling overwhelmed and at my breaking point. The mental load of breastfeeding while working and being a wife felt like it was taking me under most days.
I was in a constant mental cycle of determining when I would need to pump again, obsessing over my supply, making sure my freshly pumped milk wasn’t left out the fridge too long, and suffering from sleep deprivation. I placed a lot of pressure on myself to breastfeed my child and shunned the idea of formula. I felt inadequate, comparing myself to moms who had nursed longer than me, had a larger stash, or whose supply always seemed to be on point. Even now, I still compare myself to moms who nursed longer than I did, wishing I had the opportunity to do the same.
And let’s not even mention the Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex I would experience that caused me to have extreme bouts of sadness while nursing.
However, I had to prioritize my mental health, and that meant weaning my 8-month-old son off the boob and supplementing with formula.
But now that I’m 16 months postpartum, I’m learning that mommy anxiety can go beyond breastfeeding. It’s being forced to still maintain an identity outside of being a mom— moments that take you away from your child whether if it’s to hang with friends, have alone time with your partner, indulge in self-care, or travel for work.
The mom guilt of having to leave your child behind to handle your mom responsibilities and duties will have you curled up in a ball of regret. And while mom anxiety will leave you feeling hopeless at times, we have to remind ourselves that everything. Will. Be. Ok.
Remember, you are allowed to feel your emotions—actually, you should embrace them. And while it may seem significant in magnitude now, you will look back and see it was such a minor spec in the larger picture of your motherhood journey.