Postpartum Anxiety

Dear Joelle,

The last sixteen months have been the hardest months of my life. While I’ve always been a worrier, nothing could have prepared me for the gauntlet of anxiety that is having a child. The bad news is that some of this anxiety, this propensity of mine to be worried about every tiny thing that could go wrong, will absolutely transfer to you. With that in mind, I’ve been working hard to limit your exposure to my worrying. However the pediatrician recently said you might have a speech delay and it’s taking everything I have not to completely lose it.

I’ve been burying it in my body. I cram it down between the fibers of my muscles and sweep it underneath my organs. It feels like my skin has become the final line of defense protecting the beauty of who you are from the rot encased within me. (Sometimes I try to imagine a million tiny corks being wedged into each of the million tiny pores covering my body.)

I’m normally someone who believes in the cloying cliche of ‘what you resist persists.’ But this anxiety is too much. I can’t let the wolves in for even a second. So I just keep burying it.

That’s why Daddy has to turn away sometimes when we’re playing. I don’t want you to see me unravel. I know you can probably sense it. Maybe there’s some sort of tell: a momentary dullness behind my eyes or the way my body seems to glitch for a second. You’re probably too young to name what you see. I bet you can feel it, though.

I’m writing this to you but I’m not sure it’s really for you. I just have to do something with the anxiety so I don’t choke. Maybe writing about it will help me excise it. Every paragraph another slice.

Nah. I’ve been writing and hurting long enough to know that the former doesn’t always alleviate the latter. Well, maybe it can, but the reprieve is ephemeral. I would have to chain myself to a pad and pen in order to sustain some sort of emotional equanimity.

It would be impossible for you to somehow avoid soaking up my anxiety. That’s why I recently reconnected with an old therapist to explore ways to help me deal with this constant panic that everything is already ruined. I want you to know that no matter what happens with Daddy, he’ll be ready to help you navigate your own mental health struggles.

Time to go. You just woke up from a nap and you don’t sound too happy about it.

I love you so much.

Daddy

4 comments

  1. Angela

    How lucky she is to have you for a daddy. One day, when she has a child of her own perhaps, she will be unraveling as well. And she will remember how her dad was just as human. And she will feel like it’s all going to be okay. Because it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hides Chase

    One of my students disclosed they had/have a speech delay and shared that singing helped them A LOT. Might I recommend a few fav kiddie albums/songs? OBvi anything Raffi/Mr Rogers/Muppet BUT have you heard of Linda Arnold #swoon, the Musical Really Rosie (Carol King f-yeah)….LMK XO Hides

    Like

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