Mothering while having Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
The story of how I escaped the prison in my mind
I am so blessed. I have a two-year-old daughter and she is thriving. I am like most mothers now, I have good and bad days. My path in motherhood is calm and quaint. However, for the first year of her life, I painted on a smile like I did makeup to hide the inner turmoil I was experiencing.
My daughter’s name is Willow-Cordelia. Willow had a tough time coming into this world, resulting in my body having third-degree tears. My doctor informed me that only 4% of women have third-degree tears during childbirth. It is said frequently that you cannot plan childbirth- this is very true. It is also said that childbirth is a beautiful experience. For me, this was not the case. Childbirth was primitive, stressful, gory, and terrifying. I actually thought I was going to die and take my daughter with me.
After Willow was born, my husband and I cried a lot. Those first days in the hospital were spent trying to breastfeed on morphine while listening to “Linger” by The Cranberries and “Trains” by Altitude on repeat. My husband is a spectacular man, he never left my side, sleeping on a cot next to my bed for days. I had to be catheterized again. My mind wouldn't allow my bladder to work correctly due to the pain of the tearing. The agony in my body was extreme. I was completely broken inside.
Thankfully, my baby thrived immediately. I breastfed her within the first two hours after birth because I was worried about not bonding with her. She gained weight steadily and we left the hospital to go home after a few days.
Unfortunately, once I arrived home, I began to notice a disturbing pattern of thoughts developing. Every time I picked my daughter up, I worried about dropping her. This is a common fear, but it wasn’t so much the thoughts that concerned me, as the imagery. I would picture myself dropping her, and her being a paraplegic for life. I would picture horrible bloody scenes of her death every time I picked her up. They were vivid and so real. It was like I was stuck in a horror movie on repeat. Sometimes I would feel a jolt afterward as if an electric shock ran through my body.