Even As A Specialist, I Could Have Never Predicted How My Postpartum OCD Would Make Motherhood Unbearable

How often have you heard someone say, “I’m so OCD?” We all have idiosyncrasies, but organizing your sock drawer or color-coding a schedule is not the same as OCD. Obsessive compulsive disorder involves terrifying thoughts replaying like a nightmare in your mind, so much so that these intrusive thoughts and compulsions severely interfere with daily life.

I faced my own battle with OCD in childhood, beginning at the age of four. I finally triumphed over it in my 20s and later became a specialist treating the most severe cases. When my twin boys were born two years ago, within the first week, I was shocked to find the devastating effects of OCD gripping me once again. It had returned with a vengeance, in the most nebulous way — my intrusive thoughts were even more creative and obscure than before. Even as an OCD specialist, I couldn’t recognize it in myself because my symptoms presented themselves so differently than any way I had ever experienced before. Yet once again, my OCD felt like claws against a chalkboard.

My obsessive fear was that I would love one twin more than the other, which would cause emotional damage to their well-being. To appease my intrusive obsession, I drove myself crazy attempting to neutralize the feared consequence with silly compulsions. Everything I did for one of my sons needed to be done exactly the same for the other. I even attempted to come up with strange mathematical formulas, so I could measure and ensure that each baby consumed the exact amount of milk when breastfeeding. How does one measure how much milk a baby gets from breastfeeding? Length of time multiplied by rate of sucking multiplied by milk production multiplied by time of day… The insanity of it all was impossible to cope with.

“My OCD turned my first few months of motherhood from bliss into torment.”

Exhausted as I was from those newborn days, I would lie awake every night ruminating and analyzing on the amount of times I had thought of each twin, while comparing the thoughts to each other. I had to be sure I was treating them equally, so that one twin wouldn’t feel more favored than the other. My OCD turned my first few months of motherhood from bliss into torment.