My husband was often gone for 12 hours at a time, working and commuting two hours back and forth from his job while I was at home, quietly losing my mind. I had been prepped that this would be hard work, that babies donâ€™t care if you havenâ€™t slept in weeks or had a conversation with a grown up in longer. But what I wasnâ€™t prepared for was how ill-equipped I was to deal with the relentlessness of life with a baby- a beautiful, yet nonstop crying one, at that.
Mom arguments aside, when you make the choice to stay home all day with your baby, you really take one for the team. Youâ€™re the one who changes every diaper, gives every bath, does every feeding and internalizes every cry. You rarely have the opportunity to eat and if you have a fussy infant, you are pretty used to the mom shower: Pits. Crotch. Done.
Taking a pee (or, letâ€™s be real, a poop) without a baby on your lap is pretty much the greatest luxury you can imagine. Even though youâ€™re the one thatâ€™s home all day, youâ€™ve got the boobs so youâ€™re probably going to be the one thatâ€™s up all night, too. You can read about sleep techniques, swaddle til you drop, nurse on-demand and do everything â€śright.â€ť But none of that helps the one person who really needs help- you.
About eight weeks into stay-at-home motherhood and my heartbeat was erratic. A trip to the ER with no answer resulted in several trips to the doctor. A diagnosis of stress and a prescription for Xanax was not the answer I was looking for and I spent the next several months convinced I was not anxious, but just had some rare heart defect and was dying. Then my daughter got sick with a rare infectious disease and we spent two weeks in the PICU while she regained her strength. Anxiety- 2. Me- 0.
When we got home from the hospital, I started taking the Xanax. Just a low dose at night so I could sleep but pretty soon, I was taking them every night. The day ahead was too daunting to do it alone and to do it on no sleep just seemed insane.
I realized thatÂ I could be a miserable, anxiety-ridden woman from now until infinity, refilling my prescription every month just to function, or not. To me, it sounded like an awful existence. But I knew that letting go of this new fear that had taken hold of me would be work and I had absolutely no idea how to do it.
When I got the go-ahead, I got back to working out. Having a short jog or weight lifting session at the end of the day helped me to have more energy, which I desperately needed. My daughter needed to nurse several times a night which left me seriously groggy each morning, Xanax or not. Though I was back to my post-baby body, and then some, very quickly (a result of never having time to eat and walking miles around the farm where we lived out of pure boredom), I wasnâ€™t emotionally where I needed to be.
It was time to find the missing piece.