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My Postpartum Journey | PPA

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Mother stands in front of a blue pond, with one hand on top and one hand below her pregnant belly.

Deep breaths.

I still feel vulnerable talking about this delicate time from a couple of years ago, but as I’ve grown as a mother and as a person, I know the beauty sharing our story brings, especially to other mothers.

I frequently share about how romantic motherhood is. I do believe there is so much beauty, truth, and strength in motherhood. However, there are also really, really hard moments – and seasons.

Close up of red roses in a garden with a family farther back, holding their infant daughter.

I experienced mild postpartum anxiety when I had my oldest, Perry. He was slow to gain weight, and I was breastfeeding, pumping, and supplementing. He also had a tongue tie, and nursing was NOT easy. He would spit up a lot, and I remember being so worried about how much weight he was gaining. I eventually began feeling more like myself as the months wore on.

When I had Rosie, things felt fine and normal at first. I had experienced high blood pressure in the pregnancy but thought I was out of the woods after her birth.

Mother sits on a blanket outside with a Moses basket, cradling her toddler son.

There was a day two weeks after she was born that I felt a little “out of it” with a headache. I took my blood pressure at home, and it was 160/110. We called my doctor who suggested we go to the ER to be on the lookout for eclampsia, which can be a threat in those first few weeks postpartum.

My bloodwork checked out fine, and my blood pressure eventually leveled. I was sent home, but this was the beginning of a long journey of postpartum anxiety.

Mother cradles son's head with her hand.

From that initial ER visit on, I would analyze how my body felt all the time, taking my blood pressure often a few times a day. It was pretty high every time I took it. I ended up being put on medication to manage, yet my readings still remained higher than normal.

In early March 2020 I remember talking to my mother-in-law on the phone, and we began talking about the hand sanitizer shortage. I gradually began to feel numb over my entire body and like I could barely move my lips. My mind felt fuzzy, and I couldn’t think straight. I thought I could be having a stroke because of the blood pressure – little did I know, I was having my first full-fledged panic attack.

Couple stands together in a garden during their maternity session.

From that point forward, I struggled with random episodes of panic. I began taking Zoloft, which helped with preventing a full panic attack. However, I would have these surges of adrenaline and anxiety wash over me, sometimes a few times a day.

Of course, my postpartum anxiety peaked immediately before the pandemic began, so COVID did NOT help my anxiety. Who knows what my anxiety would have looked like if COVID never happened.

Zach had fortunately scheduled therapy for me beginning about two weeks postpartum with Rosie based off of my experience with Perry. For those first few visits, I felt fine and that it was a little overkill. However, it became a lifeline once things got really hard.

Father holds newborn baby's foot while they sit on a blanket in a garden.

As the months wore on, I began to become accustomed to my “surges,” even though they were still hard. We had looked to see if there were any other issues going on, such as thyroid, kidney, or cortisol issues. Nope. It was all anxiety.

My blood pressure eventually normalized about 10ish months postpartum. Isn’t it crazy how long it takes our bodies to adjust from childbirth? My surges began to decrease when Rosie was a little over a year old. I finally began to feel close to normal.

Baby held to mother's chest.

When I became pregnant with CeCe, I was SCARED. Scared of adding a third (because, hello – outnumbered!), but more importantly, I was scared of my mental and physical health. However, I had done so much foundational work that helped make CeCe’s pregnancy, labor, and postpartum my best yet.

The months of therapy, the medication, and positive affirmations were transformative. I realized I had internalized thoughts that I was unsafe and unwell, so I had to retrain my brain how to think. I would journal positive affirmations, which I once thought were a bit too “woo woo” – yet these allowed my mind to reform once negative thoughts into positive ones.

Mother bends down to help son walk around a garden.

This work truly helped me get through CeCe’s pregnancy and postpartum. I am happy to say I didn’t have ANY postpartum anxiety with CeCe. Did I occasionally experience irrational thoughts or anxiety? Yes. BUT, I was able to identify and call out any irrational thoughts and move on.

Honestly, my journey was hard. But, it gave me so many powerful tools to cope and manage anxiety. I also learned the power of affirmations, and this helped with other areas of my life. I now know how to reform negative thoughts, and I’m able to realize the beauty of seasons. So even if you’re currently in a difficult season, please know that is DOES get better. I hope this story provides something good to you, whether that’s comfort or just knowing that it’s going to be okay. Because it will.

Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer | Marie Elizabeth Photography

Marie specializes in Northern Virginia Newborn Photography and creating a luxurious, full-service portrait experience. From planning your session to delivering custom fine artwork to your home, Marie takes care of all of the details. All Marie Elizabeth Photography clients are pampered with included professional hair and make-up and an array of whimsical dresses from the client wardrobe. Marie then will create exquisite works of art, such as heirloom albums and fine art matted prints to grace your home and lay your legacy.

Interested in both a maternity and newborn session? Marie offers a luxury membership to best document that first year with your little one. With perks such as birth announcements and album credit, the luxury membership is the perfect way to remember this special time. Reach out to learn more.

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