Diary of a Postpartum OCD Mom

The biggest struggle I have had since having Postpartum OCD is feeling misunderstood and, at times, alone. It feels like your thoughts and feelings are yours alone and make you a bad mother. By writing about my experience I hope I can help other moms struggling with intrusive thoughts and Postpartum OCD to realize they’re not alone.

When I first started to notice my symptoms we were away on vacation in Florida, our baby was four months old and COVID-19 was starting to make its way around the world. Travelling is already something that makes me anxious and adding a baby and a looming pandemic to the mix was not the best situation. I started feeling obsessed with my baby; I felt like no one else could take care of her properly and became very possessive. I kept us on a strict breastfeeding and napping schedule that meant I barely gave myself time to relax and enjoy the vacation. I started having intrusive thoughts about my baby. We would be walking to a shop down the street and my husband would start running with the stroller trying to take the baby for a fun ride and I could visualize with vivid detail the stroller falling over and my baby falling out. Then I started thinking “what if I lose control of myself and drop my baby off the balcony” and I started to feel like there was something wrong with me.

When we returned home from Florida, I continued having intrusive thoughts and it made me struggle to feel close to my baby. I was scared of watching her by myself, scared that I would fall down the stairs while holding her or have a mental break and harm her. I felt unfit to be a mother and ashamed of the thoughts I was having. I even started to feel like my family would be better off if I just left.

I would become so obsessed with everything being so perfect to make up for my intrusive thoughts. The house had to always be spotless, our day always had to have the same routine for napping, feeding and bedtime. Everything had to be done a certain way and even my laundry was perfectly folded and put away in order every time.

I started googling the thoughts I was having and realized I wasn’t alone, some people even wrote about having the same thoughts as me. After some research I realized my symptoms lined up with Postpartum OCD. I decided it was time to tell someone about what was going on, so I told my husband. It was difficult for him to understand since he wasn’t very familiar with Postpartum Disorders, but after we talked about it and researched some more he supported me and helped me build up the courage to speak to my doctor about it.

Having intrusive thoughts is one thing, but having to talk about them is another. I was scared of being judged and having my baby taken away, but my family doctor was amazing. She referred me to a Postpartum Doctor who screened and diagnosed me with Postpartum OCD.

Following my diagnosis, COVID-19 became a full-blown pandemic and social distancing and quarantine set in. I had to face my fear of being home alone with my baby every day for 6 weeks straight. We couldn’t go anywhere; shopping was of course off limits and we were still on the tail end of winter so it was too cold to spend too much time outside. Thankfully, since I had opened up about everything I had an amazing support group even over FaceTime.

There were delays in getting the professional help I needed due to COVID but since things started opening up again I’ve started to get help from a few different resources.

Even though saying these things out loud (or writing them) is still difficult, accepting them instead of shoving them down and hiding them has made things so much better. I’ve come to realize that the thoughts and feelings I sometimes have aren’t from me and don’t reflect on me as a person or as a mother, they’re symptoms of Postpartum OCD and eventually, it will get better. So if you’re like me and can relate to any of this, don’t push it down. Talk about it with loved ones and talk about it with your Doctor, there are resources available to you for help. You can start with reading the book “Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts” (available on Amazon), then go from there.

Nap Time Diaries: Baby’s First Fever

No matter what you do and how much you try to protect your baby from getting sick or feeling unwell, you really cannot protect them from everything. The first time their temperature goes up so does your anxiety and anything else going on around you becomes a blur and you just focus on your toasty little one hoping they just get better miraculously.

Baby T had her first fever over the weekend. It was narrowed down to a teething fever from her two top front teeth. Now, trust me, I looked online and I know they say there’s no such thing as teething fevers and that there has to be some other underlying cause. But, she had no other symptoms (other than being a clingy hot mess) and I did my due diligence and took her to the Dr after two days of consistent fever. He found no other underlying causes and agreed it must be a teething fever. I’m not a Dr so if you’re reading this and your baby has a fever you should also do your own due diligence before narrowing it down to a teething fever.

What I’m trying to get at with this is when your baby gets sick or has a fever for the first time it is downright terrifying. We checked her temperature constantly and did everything we could to make her feel better. The whole time you’re trying to be calm and soothe her but on the inside it feels like you’re going to break into pieces. Before having a baby, I of course knew that at some point being a parent your kid is going to get sick and I thought “it’s okay, I can handle it”. But in reality it actually destroys you and you wonder how you ever decided to do this to yourself in the first place. That being said, obviously I love Baby T and would never change a thing, it’s just when they’re sick you feel so helpless and sick to your stomach which seems like a funny mix of emotions to willingly sign up for. But you also sign up for the rewarding feeling of your baby clinging to you for a hug when she needs you, the way her smile and laugh lights up your world and watching her learn new things everyday which I would say does outweigh the difficult times.

The last two days Baby T has probably cried more than she has her entire life and refused to be put down, like ever. But as a mom you have this little piece inside you that just pushes through and gives her all the cuddles and attention she needs. Then there are little glimpses of hope that she’s getting better like she smiles or she finally crawls around the floor by herself to play. Babies are tough little things, and I don’t know about you, but when I’m sick rest and snuggles in bed all day are the best medicine. Also children’s Tylenol.

So if this is also you, and you feel like you’re going to start crying as loud as your baby soon because you wish you could just make them better and take away their discomfort and pain, hang in there. Take a breath, take a break and take a nap (while your baby is properly supervised by someone else or also napping).

Nap Time Diaries: My Top Books for New Moms

I’m a big reader of fiction and non fiction books and when I was pregnant I wanted to read books that were informative about giving birth and being a mom but that didn’t scare the crap out of you. Here’s a little list of some of my favourite mom books:

1. Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: the Complete Guide by Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley, Ann Keppler, Janelle Durham and April Bolding (available on Amazon)

This book is extremely informative and helpful without being so daunting and listing everything that can go wrong with your pregnancy and scare the crap out of you. After a lot of looking online and reading reviews I chose this book and I’m so glad I did. It was great for if you were hoping to have a natural birth and gave suggestions for techniques on coping with pain. It also had really good information on medications for relief like laughing gas or an epidural. I found for me, the more research I did the less nervous I was about going into labour and the more prepared I felt to deal with whatever came up. I know everyone is different and some people would rather just not think about it in which case you probably don’t want to read this book.

2. Mom Truths by Cat and Nat

I bought this book as a gift for every pregnant girl I knew. It was not only hilarious but gave the absolute realistic picture of life as a mom. It was extremely relatable and gave practical advice on the new adventure of parenthood. They tell candid stories of their own experiences that I still laugh about. It made me feel like you were being warmly welcomed into this New Mom club and I will continue to buy it for every pregnant girl I know.

3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Okay so this book really hit me. It was one of those things that I think if I wasn’t a mom I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much, that’s not to say that anyone who isn’t a mom wouldn’t enjoy it. I felt like I related to it so deeply, reading about Elena Richardson and her need for everything being orderly and scheduled was like reading about myself. But it also had a way of seeming to relate to every mother or woman wanting to be a mother. There was one paragraph that is probably the most heart touching thing I’ve ever read, talking about your child not being a person but a place that you always want to return to and you can see their past, present and future self in their little faces. It made me think of after I put Baby T to bed I often find myself watching videos of her or looking at pictures on my phone because I don’t want to let go of seeing her face. Anyway, the storyline itself was very good and kept me up late trying to find out the ending! I did watch the tv show on Amazon Prime after reading the book and unfortunately they did change a good chunk of the storyline so I found it didn’t really do the book justice.

There you have it, my top 3 books to read as a new mom. I hope if you get a chance to read any of these books you enjoy them and find them as helpful as I have.

Nap Time Diaries: Postpartum Surprises

I’m currently sitting outside on a beautiful summer Friday afternoon while Baby T is snoozing, wondering if 2:30 is too early to have a glass of wine by yourself. Well, for this topic I’m sure it’s never too early. Everyone’s postpartum journey is different. Here’s mine and my advice based off of it:

I went through my pregnancy assuming labour was the biggest scariest part. In my case I would actually say the labour was pretty normal and quick, whereas the part afterwards was harder to deal with.

You’re told to buy woman’s incontinence underwear and pads for afterwards. I’m here to tell you, buy more. I could not believe how many of those suckers I went through. If you’re not good with blood (or you’re like me and passed out at a nail salon from them cutting your cuticle), brace yourself my friend. Also getting in a nice herbal bath is your new best friend. I was recommended something called a Shepherds Purse bath, which my husband so lovingly prepared for me, and not only does it have so many physical healing benefits, sitting in a bath by yourself for even 20 minutes does wonders mentally for a new mom. Take that time for yourself and ‘soak it up’. See what I did there.

Another thing, you’re going to get offered lots of help and meals and time to relax and rest. TAKE IT. The first couple of days after having my baby I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Which when you think about it isn’t that surprising because you use your entire body when you’re in labor for hours on end. You basically just did an entire weeks worth of full body workouts in one day. Thankfully I had so much help from so many people and I managed to spend the majority of time resting in bed feeding and cuddling my girl. Even if I started feeling better and tried to do more I ended up overdoing it (going up the stairs too many times counts as overdoing it) and needing to rest again the next day. Also, do your kegels, if you’re not sure what they are google them and then do them. Now I did also have some extenuating circumstances that made my recovery a bit more difficult and complicated, but I’d say for the general public this is all still true. Unless you’re like Wonder Woman or something.

There’s a saying my midwife told me, “when the milk flows, the tears flow with it”. It was her way of warning me that if you’re breastfeeding, the day your milk comes in is the most emotional day after having your baby you could possibly have. Not because it’s actually emotional but because your body is shifting all the hormones you just had for the past nine months and makes you about as fragile as the human ego, which according to my quick google search is the most fragile thing in the world. That day I was crying more than not crying. We were having people bring us dinner that night and to meet Baby T and I wasn’t even sure how I was going to be able to say hi to them. Sure enough though late afternoon my milk came in, Baby T was happily milk drunk and I finally stopped crying. My only suggestion for that day is skin to skin. Both Baby T and I seemed on a downhill spiral that day and I finally put us skin to skin and we cuddled for hours and I’m pretty convinced that’s what helped my milk come in. That and a Guinness.

My very good friend had given birth to her Baby Boy a week and five days before I had Baby T. Her pregnancy was very different from mine. She was due three weeks prior to me and while I was waddling around like a penguin she was strutting and glowing like a pregnant model. It was kind of funny to watch us walking side by side. She came to meet Baby T when she was 3 weeks postpartum and I was about 1 week and she could walk, and sit normal, and carry her car seat and breastfeed in front of people without spraying herself in the face. I remember looking at her with tears in my eyes leaning against the wall to hold myself up and saying “will that be me in two weeks too?” She looked at me like she truly understood what I was going through (and she did) and she said “I promise in two weeks you will feel so much better”. Just being able to see her like that and know that there was light at the end of the tunnel was such a boost for me. Sure enough in a couple of weeks I managed to venture out of our house and went to her house where they had a bunch of friends over and it was the first little bit of normalcy I had felt in weeks. It still took time to feel more healed but I would promise anyone else postpartum that it does get better.

Now I’m almost 9 months postpartum and I definitely don’t feel like I did before getting pregnant but I don’t think you ever do. You did this amazing thing and sacrificed your body to make this precious new life and it’s hard to accept the changes your body has made. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get my old body back, the one that did pretty awesome things weightlifting at the gym for the past five years, and while I do want to try and do some of those things again I do know that this new body is stronger inside and out. Having a baby changes you physically and emotionally, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s for the better or for the worse. It’s okay if there’s things you don’t like and okay if you want to change them. But there’s no rush. Your baby is going to love you no matter what, they just want that body, no matter what it looks like, to cuddle them and care for them. And it’s also okay if you want to have a glass of wine at 2:30 on a sunny Friday afternoon. So that’s what I’m gonna do.

Nap Time Diaries: Let’s Start at the Beginning

How does someone start a blog? That’s actually what I typed into google today. I’ve read some blogs. I’ve also watched tons of vlogs in YouTube (maybe I’ll write about my favourite?) but I’m one of those people who tends to make more funny faces at the selfie camera that nice ones. I still haven’t found the answers but I thought I should start writing anyway and figure it out later.

To start, my name is Evie. I’m 27 and a new mom to a little baby girl. For the sake of privacy we will call her Baby T. I’ve always loved writing, specifically fiction when I was younger, but I haven’t written anything in a long time and find I’m missing it. I used to write some pretty good stories when I was in school and I always thought I’d end up writing a full book. My favourite one was the closest I ever got, a book about a girl who was a secret musketeer who was avenging the death of her father and brothers. It was exciting, you know, for a 14 year old girl who was writing it. Side note, my husband just asked me what a musketeer is…. please tell me I’m not the only one who has seen every musketeer movie made? I still have the book but it’s unfinished. I did imagine the whole storyline in my head and remember the big finale I had planned but as a new mom finishing a story you started when you were 14 isn’t on the top of a to do list.

The point of this blog is to have a way to get all the fun thoughts out, hopefully whoever reads it will think they’re fun too. Life as a new mom especially during Covid 19 (we will talk about that later) has had a lot of its own challenges, including being diagnosed with Postpartum OCD (we will also talk about that later). I don’t want to write complaints and down thoughts all the time, it is good to share them with you to a point but it’s also important to share positivity. It’s called balance. As for the name, Baby T can be quite the needy little bean so this is currently being written during her nap. Need I say more? So, this blog will include a little bit of everything. Maybe a new book I’ve read, somewhere we visited, a new recipe I found for Baby T or some other funny tidbits I feel like getting out. We’ll see how this goes and how long it lasts. Don’t forget to like and subscribe! Oh wait, that’s YouTube.