My Crippling Postpartum Anxiety Was So Overwhelming, Even Simple Play Dates Were Impossible
Being a second-time mom, I expected to be an expert. I figured I had it all down, from diaper changes to naps to social outings with other moms.
But I was exhausted from a lack of sleep, an energetic toddler, and a teething baby, and while I knew I needed to get out of the house for my own sanity, there was something holding me back. The roadblock? My overwhelming anxiety. I had developed anxiety prior to my first baby. At the time, a lot of stress from a new job sent me into a spiral of anxiety. I had overcome the majority of my panic attacks, trouble sleeping, racing thoughts, and excessive worry after I left the job. But when I became pregnant with my first child, my anxiety had something else to focus on. All those first-time mom worries kept me up at night googling. And when the second baby came, I had the majority of my worries already googled, and this time I started feeling the overwhelming thoughts about getting out with two kids. Socializing, the thing I needed most, is what triggered my postpartum anxiety.
My anxiety really smacked me in the face three months postpartum. The thrill of the holidays were over and family was no longer visiting. The reality of getting back to everyday life was starting to set in. I had to find a way to keep my toddler busy and active while giving enough attention to my baby. I started feeling the pressure I set on myself to be the best mom while still getting everything done around the house. I was having a hard time sleeping, even after my baby would go to bed. My heart would race while driving and I couldn't venture far from home. I would start feeling panicky leaving with both girls. Frankly, I was a nervous wreck.
My heart would race while driving and I couldn't venture far from home.
I knew finding other moms to relate to would help calm my increasing anxiety. In addition to different types of medication, my doctor told me that having a good support system would make a difference — "Take care of mom first." I googled local playgroups, classes, and events, and was all set to put myself out there. Then the thoughts crept in. Will I be up to par with the latest mom trends? Will the moms like me even if all I do is talk about how many times my baby woke up last night? What if my second daughter cries too much and my toddler gets bored? These thoughts raced through my mind, but I knew I needed someone to share this journey with.
I finally made it out to a few playgroups and as I looked around, I saw that all the moms were sitting together chatting while their babies played. It seemed like they had been life-long friends. Inside my head, I was urging myself to go over there and talk to them. I couldn't even concentrate on the class because all I could focus on was how scared I was to go talk to the group of moms. I wanted to put myself out there, but my anxiety won yet again.
I was so desperate to have moms to talk to; all I kept thinking was that I wanted to laugh and joke while my kids played.
One day I was on the App Store looking up mom apps. I thought that I could find an online community board to find someone to relate to about my anxiety. That's when I came across Peanut. I read all of the online reviews and I was intrigued. "A Tinder for moms" sounded like a pretty genius idea to me.
"A Tinder for moms" sounded like a pretty genius idea to me.
I downloaded the app and instantly found some moms with children around my kids age. I read through their profiles and couldn't wait to match with them. Instantly my phone started pinging from moms matching me back. What I loved most was how easy it was for me to chat, something that was previously so overwhelming to me. Suddenly I was making small talk!
As a personal challenge to myself, I set up a play date at the same place where I was too overcome with anxiety to participate, but this time I was not going in terrified. I was going in with a friend that I already knew. I messaged my now-best-friend on Peanut and told her, " I am going to probably be shy upfront because I am nervous."
I remember her telling me, "Why? We talk everyday and already know each other!"
I have officially made my own mom tribe, and while I'm happy to see the anxiety go, I'm thankful that it led me to Peanut and my own community of amazing moms.
Gabby Brown has a 3-year old and 7-month old and is a member of Peanut, the app for modern moms to make new friends, chat, and be a part of a community of supportive, like-minded women. This content was created in partnership with Peanut.