I Made Excuses for My Postpartum Depression

One of the questions on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale asks if you’re having flashbacks of your birth experience. I have friends who have had c-sections that did and I was worried I would too.

Thankfully, I haven’t thought too much about Baby J’s delivery, but I have been experiencing is flashbacks to the first two months of G’s life. I cried daily, nearly all day. I had a baby who hated sleep. I felt isolated during the day.

I had postpartum depression, but I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) admit it. I thought I was just tired. I thought life would get better with the next milestone.

I thought I was just having a terrible time adjusting to motherhood. After all, they say it’s not an easy job, right?

This latest fourth trimester has brought me back to those nightmarish weeks seven years ago. Once again, I have a baby who hates sleep. Once again, I’m crying (though, it’s usually at the end of a rough day). Once again, I’m on meds for postpartum depression. But this time I haven’t made excuses. I’ve learned that, with time, things will get better. I just need to keep fighting.

Baby J – Who sleeps best on me and no one else.

I originally wrote this post for Postpartum Progress in 2016. But since I have been thinking back to those darker days, I wanted to share it here as well in case it resonates with anyone else who is struggling at the moment.

I found out I was pregnant on Christmas Eve.

I found out we lost our baby on Presidents Day, barely two months later. I had a D&C that same evening.

I did my best to act like I was okay after that when all I wanted was to crawl into bed and live there. Months went by.

I thought I would be better when I got pregnant again.

I was wrong.

I was terrified of losing another baby. I had anxiety attacks leading up to doctor appointments. My husband, who could clearly see I wasn’t myself, asked our OB if my level of anxiety was normal. Twice.

At each of those appointments, our OB simply stated it was perfectly normal to be anxious after a loss. I believed her. Our OB was the expert, right?

I felt anything but normal. Nothing could be the same as that rainy day in February when we were told there was no heartbeat. I refused to wear certain clothes. I considered rescheduling appointments if the forecast called for rain. I didn’t feel joy in being pregnant.

I had pregnancy anxiety and didn’t know it. I didn’t know it was a real illness. I didn’t know I could have—should have—been treated for it.

I thought I would be okay when I gave birth and could hold my baby.

I was wrong.

I became dehydrated during labor and developed a fever. When I gave birth to my eldest son, I only remember patting his head and telling my husband to hold him first.

I thought I was too tired to make the effort.

I was wrong.

I had zero interest in trying to bond with our oldest son at first. When I finally felt an urge to hold him, admire him, bond with him 15 hours later, he was promptly taken away for routine tests due to my fever. We didn’t see him for several hours.

We were told our baby was septic and needed to be moved to the NICU for antibiotics. He was placed under the bilirubin lights because he was jaundiced as well.

Hooked up to monitors and IVs and needing the lights meant we could only hold our son to feed him for the next five days. I cried. A lot.

When we finally came home as a family I cried all the time. I had thoughts of my baby getting hurt. I wanted to run away. I was exhausted. I was obsessed over the baby’s weight and whether he was getting enough milk from me. I felt a lot of anger and resentment towards my husband for being able to sleep through every little noise our baby made at night. I looked at my son and only felt the instinct to protect him—the love I expected to feel for him immediately upon seeing him hadn’t happened.

I thought I was having a hard time adjusting to motherhood.

I was wrong.

People could tell I wasn’t myself, but no one said anything until I broke down at our son’s one-month appointment and was encouraged by the nurse practitioner to ask my OB about postpartum depression.

I was diagnosed with it two weeks later at my six-week visit with the midwife, who also handed me a prescription for an antidepressant.

I began seeing a therapist several months later. She was a saving grace as she helped me work through my anger and anxiety.

I didn’t think I would ever enjoy my son. I thought I would need to take a pill for the rest of my life in order to be a mother that was just “good enough.”

I was wrong.

G was nine months old when I felt my heart swell with love for him. He was 15 months old when I realized I was enjoying being his mom—medication free.

One day you will find yourself smiling at your child as you watch them play. One day you will laugh with them and realize you’re truly enjoying them. One day you will look at them and feel all the love in the world for them.

You will.

Until then, keep fighting.

I Was Wrong - How I Tried to Justify My Postpartum Depression via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

I Was Wrong - How I Tried to Justify My Postpartum Depression via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

To the Mom-at-Heart Struggling After Miscarriage This Mother’s Day

To the Mom-at-Heart struggling after a miscarriage this Mother’s Day…

I see you.

I see you as you’re shopping for groceries, only to be met at various turns with reminders to buy greeting cards, balloons, and flowers.

I see you as you scroll Facebook and feel inundated with all the cute Mother’s Day crafts your friends’ children have made their moms.

I see you as you flip the channel when another commercial comes on for mom-inspired jewelry.

I see you.

I see you talk and interact with other’s children, wishing that the moments weren’t temporary and that you had a child of your own.

I see the tears you hold back. The rage you fight against. I see that deep breath you take as you check your jealousy. Again.

I know you wonder if you’ll ever have the chance to be showered with flowers, homemade crafts, or jewelry (shiny or macaroni) one day.

I want you to know its okay to feel a wide range of emotions on this day. It’s okay to feel sadness, anger, and, yes, even jealousy.

I want you to know that it is okay to declare this your day too. It doesn’t matter if you knew about your baby for one day or one month. You cared for it. You are a mom, even if society struggles to talk about it and acknowledge it.

Take your day, Mom. If you feel like sitting on the couch all day, do it. If you need to take a break from social media, do it. If you want to buy yourself flowers and acknowledge that period of time, however short, you cared for the life inside of you then do it. Acknowledge those feelings and make a safe place for yourself if you feel you need it today.

Mother’s Day is your day too.

I’ve been there. I see you. And I am sending you a huge virtual hug.

To the Mom-At-Heart Struggling After a Miscarriage This Mother's Day via muddybootsanddiamonds.com #Miscarriage #mothersday

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day 2014

Today I lit a candle for our Angel Baby, in honor of her and the other mamas who have been affected by pregnancy and infant loss.

red and orange candle Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day 2014It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 4 years since we found out we lost our first baby just a few days after our 8 week appointment.

The last four years have been the hardest, the longest, and somehow the quickest I’ve ever experienced.

With each year that passes, the tears lessen. With each year that passes the pain eases.

Her loss meant their lives, and that will always be a bitter-sweet thing.

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Community

When I had my miscarriage I was desperate to connect with someone who had been through the same thing. Someone who knew that saying “You can have more kids” or “It was for the best” weren’t the really correct things to say. I needed to know that grieving was okay. I needed to know that completely freaking out during my next pregnancy was okay.

It took almost a year after my miscarriage before I learned about the Adoption/Loss/Infertility (ALI) community and found the blog Stirrup Queens. A section of her super-impressive blog roll is for people who have suffered a loss. As she says, “If you think you belong here, you probably belong here” so I got my blog added, making it public and searchable for the first time, and started looking for others who were feeling or have felt similar to me.

Stirrup Queens has done a lot for the infertility community and that’s awesome! I tip my hat to her.

But I’m not infertile. I’ve only had one (confirmed) miscarriage. It hasn’t taken me too long to get pregnant any of the times I conceived.

Not to say I haven’t worried about infertility. I definitely have. It took my mom at least a year to conceive me, and being 35 when she started trying, that’s a big deal. There was one time in college my period was a week late. Idiot-me didn’t think to make Hubby take me to the store to pick up a pregnancy test to be sure, but my period has never been more than four days late. Ever. A month before we actually started TTC I learned what a chemical pregnancy was. Since then I’ve always wondered if that is what happened in college. The time spent between my D&C and getting pregnant with G I realized that every few months my cycle is a few days longer than usual. But that’s a few days, not a week. I won’t ever know if I was really pregnant, but what if I was? What if I had trouble staying pregnant?

Not too long after I started following Stirrup Queens, the blog Pregnant and/or Parenting through Adoption/Infertility/Loss (PAIL) was started.

I knew I belonged there too, in addition to Stirrup Queens who also has a “parenting after” blog roll, but I sometimes I feel like an imposter. Sometimes I feel that both blogs focus more on the infertile aspect, and since I am not infertile it’s easy for me to feel like I am on the outside of something looking in. Though my story hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, and my view of TTC and pregnancy has definitely been altered based on events leading up to G’s birth, it isn’t as long or as dark as others on either blog roll (you know, Pain Olympics and all that jazz).

The last couple of months I’ve really enjoyed Stirrup Queens‘ IComLeavWe — a place to comment on a lot of the blogs listed on her super-impressive blog roll. Those blogs range from people still in the trenches of infertility and loss to parenting after to living their life child-free. I find I gravitate more towards the “parenting after” blogs, though I sometimes have advice to offer those who are struggling with loss. PAIL focuses more on the “after” part of adoption/infertility/loss. Having a baby after struggling with infertility does not make things better. Having a baby after a loss of any kind does not make things better. Adopting a baby after possibly struggling with both does not make things better. Getting pregnant unexpectedly the second time after struggling the first time doesn’t make things better. We’re struggling with the day-to-day just like the couple down the road who got pregnant with no issues. We’re all grateful for the baby(ies) we’ve worked hard and prayed for, but sometimes venting about the hard parts of parenting every parent goes through makes us seem ungrateful to those who haven’t been through the struggle. PAIL helps us explore those feelings. It gives us a space to actively connect with others going through the “after” part.  Because “after” can be a messy mix of emotions.

Of course, I also find comfort in other so-called Mommy Blogs. I mean, I am a mom. I really like knowing the day-to-day struggles I have are ones that others have too — that my kid is really just a normal kid, even if he’s being extremely trying at the moment. Whether it’s the parenting community or the ALI community, knowing there are others out there feeling the same way as I do is a huge comfort. Having places I can turn to and feel accepted is a relief.

I just like knowing I’m not alone.

I Am 1 in 4: 2013 (Two Years After My Miscarriage)

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness/Remembrance Day.

2 years after my miscarriage- Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day via muddybootsanddiamonds.com #miscarriage #pregnancy

I am writing this post in the waiting room of my OB/midwife office. It feels weird having an appointment today.

Before I got here, I looked at G and was reminded that if I hadn’t had my loss, I’d be chasing a 2-year-old girl around the house, not an 18-month-old boy whom I love beyond words.

So I guess this day leaves me with a bitter-sweet feeling. I’m still not over the loss of our girl in 2011. It was an early loss, but one nonetheless. It hit me hard, and while I find myself being less and less sad about it, I can tell I will be one who won’t ever “get over it” the way some people think I should. The way some women seem to have done.

And I know that is okay.

Friends and family may forget. Or pretend to forget, because HEY! I have a kid now and another on the way!

But I won’t forget. Despite moving on to build my family, I can’t seem to forget: I am 1 in 4.

I am 1 in 4: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day via muddybootsanddiamonds.com