The below post was submitted by guest contributor, Ashlee Rahmlow. Thank you, Ashlee, for writing about your experience with Postpartum Anxiety, and, for offering support for so many others. Please read more about Ashlee at the bottom of this post.
The first time crashed through me like a freight train. It took my breath away, paralyzed me, and terrified me. But don’t worry I’m a mom, so I looked just fine.
I had a vivid picture in my mind, like a film on repeat, of carrying my daughter, tripping over the cat, and falling down the stairs. The next involved a video monitor falling off the wall, hitting the mobile and it all crashing down on my daughter. And don’t even get me started on hot cars. The only common theme in each scenario was that my daughter was dead. She was dead, and I could see it, all of it.
These terrifying pictures were intrusive thoughts. And months later I would learn that these types of thoughts are pretty common among moms. We often hear about Postpartum Depression, even that is often associated with tragic events, but we almost never hear about PPD’s evil stepsister, postpartum anxiety.
For me, postpartum anxiety was constant worry that something bad was going to happen. It manifested in racing and intrusive thoughts and images of ways the world would kill my baby and it would all be my fault because I failed to protect her. Queue Mom Guilt! Postpartum Support International, an international perinatal resource agency, lists difficulty with sleep, an inability to sit still and physical symptoms of nausea, dizziness, and hot flashes as other common symptoms of PPA. The symptoms look different on every woman with PPA and can start during pregnancy or any time within the first 12 months after childbirth. Symptoms left untreated can continue on longer than that first year.
I was lucky. It took me awhile to figure out what was going on, but once I did I started feeling better right away. Here’s the thing though – I had to be the one to figure it out. No one told me, no one warned me and I don’t recall ever being screened. This reality is disappointing and scary. What about the moms who don’t have the background or resources to recognize signs and to access treatment? What about the mom who is too afraid to say something or so isolated that she doesn’t know there are more of us out there? These questions led me to Postpartum Support International and Postpartum Progress and to eventually found Mom2Mom – and to write this even though I am not a writer and I am far more comfortable hearing someone else’s story than sharing my own!
I want moms to know that they are not alone and help is out there. Mom2Mom offers phone and email contact with an experienced mom and monthly in-person group. We also have resource information on many of the other local resources for moms with Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. We hold our meetings in Oshkosh but our services are free and open to anyone in the greater Fox Valley Area including Green Bay and Fond du Lac.
If you, or a mom you know, are struggling please reach out and encourage them to as well. Call us, a friend, your OB, therapist or primary doctor. You do not have to keep feeling this way and you are not alone. I promise you are not alone. Mom2Mom can be reached at (920)509-0647, [email protected] or visit our website at www.mom2momoshkosh.com.
Ashlee is a wife, mom to a spunky two-year-old daughter and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for Affinity Medical Group in Oshkosh. After personal experiences with postpartum depression and anxiety, she founded Mom 2 Mom, a perinatal social support program. Ashlee has become a passionate advocate for mothers and serves as a volunteer State of WI co-coordinator for Postpartum Support International and is a panelist at Postpartum Progress’ upcoming Warrior Mom Conference in Atlanta, GA. In her downtime, you’ll find her enjoying coffee or ice cream with her family.