STRONG MOMMA - KARLY
Hi, my name is Karly. I am a mama to the most beautiful little boy, Benson (Benny). I’ve waited my whole life to be a mom and on April 25th/2019 my dream came true.
I have been very open about my story because I never want anyone to feel as blindsided as I did. I plan to share my experience in hopes to spread awareness on maternal mental health.
I have been struggling with postpartum anxiety, and intrusive thoughts since my son was four days old. Although my story starts much earlier than that.
Benny is my rainbow baby following multiple pregnancy losses. I clung to hope but I was riddled with anxiety and fear not knowing how this pregnancy would end. The additional layer to my story is that I have an autoimmune disease, which labels me as high risk. Due to this I had some serious scares during my pregnancy. I had multiple anaphylactic reactions to a medication I had to take. Then things took a very scary turn when I got influenza A at 38 weeks pregnant. I became very septic and things were not looking good. Being in hospital, monitored ever 15 minutes, and Isolated due to contact precautions. I spent my last weeks of pregnancy horribly ill and praying I wouldn’t go into labour until I had more strength. Luckily, I made another 10 days before my water broke. Still sick with the flu but better than before. I had a very long labour which resulted in an infection, fever, and me being very ill. When my son finally made his debut, I was numb and I didn’t cry. I could barely hold him because the medications made me so shakey.
Here I was holding my rainbow baby that I waited years for and yet I was miserable. I was sick, drugged up and more exhausted than I ever knew was humanly possible. All of this trauma piled on top of me which sparked the anxiety and intrusive thoughts.
As I laid on the couch with my 4 day old son snuggled up on my chest. I look down at him and admire how perfect he is. Suddenly a vision flashes before my eyes. A vision of smothering him with the very blanket that he is wrapped in.
Terrified of the thoughts, I wonder to myself, am I capable of acting on them? I’ve never felt so monstrous in my life. I was blindsided and felt like I couldn’t trust myself. I put my son in the bedroom closed the door behind me and ran out of the house, then spiralled into multiple panic attacks. How could a mother have thoughts of hurting her precious little baby or myself. I was holding my beautiful baby boy, yet my brain was telling me to hurt him. These thoughts and vision were constant, always changing, and relentless.
Surrounded by my family, they held me as I cried harder than I ever imagined possible. They explained to me how this was not me, this was a biochemical reaction in my brain. It took me weeks of physically sitting on my hands when I had visions or thoughts before being able to trust myself again. Feeling betrayed by my brain. I did everything in my power to regain control of my brain using sleep, exercise, medication, therapy, etc. It was months before I felt more like myself again and I am still not totally better. I am adjusting to this new life and taking each day as it comes.
As horrible as this experience was, it is 100% normal and affects many mothers following birth. I took comfort in hearing other people’s stories and I hope you can find comfort in mine. If you are going through this, know that you are not alone and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am getting past this, I see my strength, I am stronger than the Intrusive thoughts and the anxiety. I will win!