I remember my first time.
𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘺. 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘯𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘰𝘶𝘴.
I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and had never felt more lost and confused in my entire life.
Oh—oh! Wait! No, no, no. Not THAT first time.
The first time I truly experienced anxiety in motherhood.
I was completely naïve. I thought that I had come out of my pregnancy, labor, and delivery unscathed. I didn’t feel invincible, by any means, but I thought maybe, juuuuust maybe, postpartum anxiety wouldn't come knocking at my door.
𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐨 𝐰𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐠.
The idea of leaving the house with a newborn always made me feel uneasy, as there were so many things that I thought could go wrong. I’d ask myself a million questions—“what ifs”, really—of what could happen when we were out. What if I got into a car accident? What if the baby falls asleep in his car seat and his airway gets blocked? What if a blanket, that is buried in my trunk, miraculously becomes unburied and falls over the baby’s face and he suffocates?
Some of these thoughts, I knew in my head, were completely asinine. The blanket thing literally could never physically happen. However, I could feel that powerful monster of anxiety slowly taking hold of me; its hands squeezing tighter and tighter around my throat.
Every single time I would muster up the courage to get everyone ready, have the diaper bag all packed, and load everyone and everything into the car, I would find myself just sitting in my driveway for what felt like hours, until I found myself unloading everyone and everything from the car. I would hate myself for not being brave enough to face my fears.
No matter how many times I would get told that everything would be okay and that I was strong enough to handle this, this small voice in the back of my head made me feel worthless and weak.
The small voice would just get louder and louder, until it was screaming directly into my face.
𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘤𝘢𝘯'𝘵 𝘥𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴.
𝘠𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘣𝘢𝘣𝘺 𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘦𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶.
I would try to shut it out. I would try to shut that voice out so, so hard, but it was like a weight that was pressing down on me. I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
Maybe it was right. Maybe I couldn’t do this?
So, I continued to sit home with my baby, where we would be safe. I imagined that our house was a bubble, protecting us from any harm that the outside world could inflict on us. I didn’t have to get in a car. I didn’t have to go into any store. I didn’t have to interact with people. We could just sit inside, I could hold him close, and we would be okay.
But, I didn’t 𝐅𝐄𝐄𝐋 okay. I knew this situation was wrong in every single way possible.
I knew I was stronger than this and I knew I had to overcome this.
One day, it was time.
I went through the same routine. I loaded the baby into the car seat, packed the diaper bag with an insane amount of diapers (that would take me months to go through, probably), wipes, baby food, toys, etc. I packed things in that diaper bag that the baby probably wouldn't even use for another six months, but I wanted to be EXTRA prepared.
I loaded everyone and everything into the car and there we were, sitting in the driveway again. I kept looking in the rearview mirror to make sure that blanket wasn’t peeking at us from the trunk.
I sat and sat until finally, I put the car in reverse. I started to back down the driveway until I was on the street.
I turned the wheel and put the car in drive.
I felt the hum of the engine beneath me and as my foot slowly pressed down on the accelerator and we pressed forward, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders, and I knew it was that anxiety leaving my body. That grip around my neck began to loosen.
I realized that I was exactly where I was meant to be, doing exactly what I was meant to do.
And in that moment, I knew I would be okay. We would be okay.
This post was originally published on the author's Facebook page.
Art by Amanda Oleander Art