Adoption Timeline

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Darker Days and Brighter Endings: My thoughts on PPD...

My mind seems to always find its way back to some dark days.  Often, at night, when everyone else is sleeping…which, explains why I am writing this at 2am on a night I can’t sleep.  This is about 2 years overdue.  But, as part of trying to process some past feelings (or feelings that still can haunt me at night) I thought I would try to journal.  Maybe, this can bring some peace…if not to me, then maybe to someone else.

 PPD (Post-Partum Depression)…I had heard of it and read all about it before I had Wyatt.  Having a 15 year history of depression and anxiety prior to Wyatt, I knew that this was a possibility.  But, I guess, minus the hyperemesis gravidarium during pregnancy….I was feeling great.  I was excited, not really scared, and definitely not depressed.  I was prepared for this baby, had read every baby book I could find, was completely convinced I would have a successful vaginal delivery and of course breast-feed for a full year.  Mind over matter…right?

 Well, the Lord had slightly different plans.  Without going into too many details on Wyatt’s birthday…I will say I ended with C-Section.  At first, it didn’t shake me too much. Honestly, I had such a long difficult labor that just finally getting to know if it was a boy or a girl, a daughter or a son, was all I could wrap my mind around.  I couldn’t believe it…a boy. My precious son…Wyatt Locke.  You were here and healthy…I loved you.

 Fast-forward about 5 days.  Honestly, I remember it pretty vividly.  The day my milk came in. L  Before I knew it, it was as if this monster of fear had engulfed my mind.  I sobbed as the nurses told me I had to go home.  And the sobbing didn’t stop…

 What was wrong with me?  Here I was with a healthy baby, and it took everything in me to keep it together.  My mind just raced with anxiety.  Irrational fears that I couldn’t soothe my baby, that I couldn’t feed my baby, that I would fall asleep and miss something and he would be harmed.  The anxiety was crippling, like I was moving in slow-motion through a movie.  All the visitors, and their happy voices, were piercing to my heart.  Couldn’t they see it? Couldn’t they see that I was incapable of raising a baby? 

 This anxiety just fed the depression.  Day by day, hour by hour, I began to be convinced that I would never be the mom God intended me to be.  Flashbacks of pushing and pushing and pushing and still no baby…that had to be my fault right?  Not to mention, that I would just be paralyzed each time I fed Wyatt.  I am not sure if it was fear or sadness that crippled me…but I felt frozen in time.  Breastfeeding HAS to work though…I already had a C-Section, now if I can’t breastfeed, I really am a failure.

 I dreaded the phone calls, texts, people coming to visit.  I just tried to act like it was “Great” and that I was just sleepy.  But if they only could see into my mind.  My perfect and amazing husband recognized it all before I did.  I couldn’t eat…not even bagel bites. J I just wanted to sleep.  But when I would wake up I would just cry more.  I didn’t want to “harm” myself…but I just didn’t want to “be.” I didn’t want to wake up because these “daymares” and tears would continue.  And if one more person asks me “Are you nursing” I really might lose it.  When did that become a question that ANYONE felt like they could ask.  That question was a dagger to the heart.  I would answer “I am trying…”

 Add on guilt…guilty I had a C-Section, guilty I was having trouble with feeding, guilty I was anxious, guilty I was stricken with sadness and guilty that all while I was having these feelings, I had dear friends who were praying fervently for a child of their own.  Why did the Lord give me this child?  Obviously, I can’t do it…and there are others who would love the opportunity to raise a child, and they would be a “super-mom.”  Not me…no super mom here.

 A few weeks went by…and each day got worse and worse.  Being so hard on myself, I ignored some classic signs of mastitis.  Before I knew it I had another medical issue that I let get out of control.  So, finally, between this and the emotional pit I was in…I finally went to see my OBGYN.

We talked through everything, the guilt, the C-Section, breastfeeding, my history of depression/anxiety, mastitis. First up to address…mastitis…Not just, fever, flu-like symptoms, antibiotics will make it better mastitis.  Mastitits with an abscess that bought me a double biopsy because the muscle tissue was so damaged from the infection.  Second up…the anxiety/depression.  I so wanted to will my way through this one.  But given the fact that I was barely eating, having extreme panic attacks and of course my long history … her recommendation was to start taking a medication for PPD.  There were a couple of options, but going with my history and what had worked in the past, we came up with a regimen that would hopefully quickly work.  This is exactly what I was on up until the day I found out I was pregnant, when I stopped everything .  Unfortunately, this regimen, was a no-go for breastfeeding.  I knew that stopping breastfeeding would in itself help alleviate the depression and was also the recommendation from the breast doctor after my biopsys.  But the guilt…felt crushing. 

 So, I started on my new regimen.  And we started formula.  I couldn’t watch the first time Matt gave him a bottle.   It broke my heart.  I was failing.  Visitors continued to come…”Are you nursing?”  “How is breastfeeding?”…each time a dagger to my heart.  Seeing my friends nurse, or even the nursing room at church, again…a punch in the stomach.  A good friend kept gently reminding me…”Wyatt needs a healthy mommy more than breastmilk”  Thank God for this friend…those were the words I needed to hear. 

My family and husband constantly reminded me “You are a great mom”…those are the words I needed. 

Another healing moment for me…a dear friend and her mom came over to bring food.  Her mom is a prayer warrior. This same mom who prayed with me during high-school as I suffered through depression then, was here on my couch 10 years later.  She didn’t come to give advice, she just came to listen, to hug me and pray for me.  I sobbed…but these tears were different, they were healing.  That’s what I needed, someone to listen…someone to point me back to the Ultimate Healer, someone who could pray for me, as I was too weak to pray.

Fast forward 1 month later…the world was looking brighter.  I was laughing, smiling…(ok, actually I was still pretty stressed out over a crying baby…but I could totally handle it!).  I wasn’t paralyzed anymore…I was just a normal new mommy, who definitely still has her breakdown moments, tears and was exhausted. But deep down…I was joyous, despite normal daily ups and downs.  I didn’t feel like a failure.  Breastfeeding still haunted me some…still does today.  But, I love my son, I love him with every ounce of me.  And whether it was medication, stopping breastfeeding, lots of prayer or a combo of it all…I could be Wyatt’s mommy.  God made ME to be HIS mommy.  His plan was different then mine, and in the end…I think this whole experience reminded me that He is in control, He is the ultimate healer, and to seek his approval not man’s. 

A few thoughts for things you can do if you know someone who is suffering from PPD or has in the past…

1)      Be sensitive to their birth story.  Each story is different and God created that story.  But know that for some, there is a mourning process associated with it.  Some women will mourn not ever having a true “pregnancy” but their birth story being one of adoption.  Some women will mourn over not conceiving the way they had envisioned. Some women will mourn not having a vaginal delivery.  Be sensitive to this…and remember God writes our story, so each story is perfect.

2)      Be sensitive to breastfeeding.  First, is it really your place to ask a women if she is nursing? There were many who would ask me this when it was totally appropriate, but I also had complete strangers ask me. Really? None of your business. Some women never produce enough milk, some babies have an allergy so severe they can’t take their moms milk, some women suffer other illnesses that require them to be on medications they don’t want to expose their child too, some women physically can’t due to latching issues, some women have premature babies and can only do EBM, some women go back to work at 6 weeks and are at a job that pumping is nearly impossible.  For all these women, they may be mourning not breastfeeding.  Please , be sensitive in your comments on this subject.

3)      Be sensitive to PPD….Do not ask “What is wrong with you?” or “Why are you crying?”.  Trust me…these just make us feel worse.

4)      Don’t say “It’s going to get better.” Or “It won’t be as bad the second time”.  I know these actually seem like very encouraging statements. But, in the moment of PPD, we don’t really need advice, and honestly you don’t know when it’s going to get better…1 week, 6 weeks, 6 months. Only God knows. So, instead, pray that it DOES get better and gets better FAST.  Instead of assuming round 2 will be better, which in my mind minimizes the first episode, listen to their concerns and PRAY against it the second time.  Help them set up accountability to see an MD when things aren’t looking up, help them set up appts with counselors, help them recognize symptoms earlier, tell them that they are a GREAT mom.   

5)      Find anyone to talk to who has had PPD (not just baby blues).  It always helps to talk to someone who knows those feelings.  If you don’t know anyone.  Here is a helpful website  If you have had a C-Section and needing encouragement I recommend joining your local ICAN chapter.  They are very supportive and often women who experienced a C-Section have higher rates of PPD…so they are full of great information on the topic and support groups.  Breastfeeding support groups I have heard are great for this too if you are still breastfeeding.

6)      I didn’t really know anyone who had gone through PPD, except 1 work friend. And it wasn’t until I read Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields that I finally felt “normal”.  There was someone else out there that had been though those dark days.  A quote from her book…"I was in a bizarre state of mind," Shields describes, "experiencing feelings that ranged from embarrassment to stoicism to melancholy to shock, practically at once. I didn't feel at all joyful." Shields assumed she'd bounce back in a few days, after resting from her difficult labor. Instead, her feelings intensified: "This was sadness of a shockingly different magnitude. It felt as if it would never go away."
"Find rest, oh my soul, in God alone. My hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation: he is my fortress, I will not be shaken" Psalm 62:5-6
JJ Heller's "I Get to Be the One"
"I get to be the one to hold your hand
I get to be the one.
Through birthdays and broken bones
I'll be there to watch you grow
I get to be the one.
How does someone so small
Hold my heart so tightly..."
I love you Wyatt are my prince and I would do it all again just to see your face.
Helpful Links:
Interesting Blog on one mom's story about PPD and an Alternative Therapy