Friday, September 19, 2014

PPD: The Elephant in the Room

Thanks to reading a "Scary Mommy" post about PPD, I was inspired to share my own PPD experience in hopes that it will help a fellow mommy.  PPD is something that you don't hear much about; it's like the elephant in the room.  The most I would hear about it was when a mom with PPD drowned her kids in the bathtub or something horrific like that.

My first pregnancy experience, although unexpected, went well; a loved one thought it was a bad idea for us to have a baby at the time, but they got over it soon enough.  I didn't have much desire to eat, didn't have morning sickness, labor went well, and eventually I popped out a 10 lb. baby boy.  I can't remember the precise amount now, but when we got home from the hospital, I weighed over 10 lbs. less than I did before I got pregnant.

Well, about 16 months later we found out I was pregnant again, VERY unexpected news on my part.  I told myself I was happy about it, even though my kiddos were going to only be 2 years apart rather than 3 or more.  Then, we shared the news with family and friends.  As it turned out, three people decided to more or less tell us that it was a bad idea of us to have another baby.  While I understand their reasons: 1) we are not financially rich but are rich in so many other ways, 2) we were (and still are) trying to buy a fixer upper house and get it fixed up so timing was bad.  However, for whatever reason God decided that it was time to bless us with another child; I am a firm believer that God has a sense of humor, although me may not always find it funny or even amusing until later.

SIDE NOTE: My family is not the first nor the last to not be financially rich, but we meet all of our family's needs (food, clothing, shelter)  But most of all, we love each other and stick together, and that is how "rich" we are.

I had a rough go the whole time.  I again, didn't want to eat, and never had morning sickness.  I was constantly getting stomachaches, couldn't sleep, and I don't remember what all else anymore; I don't know how many times I left work early simply because I felt like poo and couldn't focus.  I was also an emotional wreck and felt crazy.  It was when I had four months to go when I discovered "Sims 2."  I think it has saved me because it got my mind onto something else rather than what was wrong with me.  Not only did I discover Sims, but I had finally admitted to my husband that I didn't want this baby.  (Keep in mind that I was good at hiding this "detail" from my husband, doctor, and all the rest of the world.)  With that came all the guilt of feeling that way; I hoped that this baby (we don't find out the genders of our babies during pregnancy) would at least be a girl so that maybe I would be happy to have it.

The last month of my pregnancy was unbearable.  I could hardly walk because it hurt so bad, and my son came to work with me each day from the time he was a baby, so at that point I had to have my mom to babysit because I could hardly keep up with a toddler in my tiny little house let alone at work.  I resented my unborn child for making me feel crappy all the time; I resented my unborn for not being able to get on the floor to play cars or tractors with my son, etc.  Attitude is everything, I didn't want this baby, and I felt like crap because of it; I will admit though that at a family gathering seeing my two cousin's new babies made me slightly happy to be having a baby, only slightly.

Finally, at 39 weeks and 3 days (my doc's first day back to work after her honeymoon and the day before I was likely be induced to avoid having another 10 lb. 41 week old baby), my water broke in the middle of the night, and 19 or so hours later, we had a 9 lb. baby girl.  It was also the day that I became a stay at home mom.  And, again, after giving birth I weighed less than I did before I got pregnant.

You'd think I would have been excited, right?  Wrong.  I put a smile on my face and tried to be happy, but to be honest, I was more concerned with my little man who was being taken care of by Grandma and Grandpa rather than being taken care of by met; I also wanted to know what his reaction to his baby sister would be, etc.  Literally an hour or so before popping that kid out, terrible contractions and all, I had to call him to tell him goodnight.  While holding her, in and out I would have happy thoughts about her.

We bring baby home to our one-bedroom house with an office room for a toddler's bedroom and put the baby's pack 'n play (because there's no room for a crib) in our bedroom.  Did you know that the more people you put in a small space to live, etc., the more damaging to a person's mental health?

Fast forward a little to when visitors stopped coming daily, when my mom stopped coming to help daily, and it was just me, by myself, alone, with a now 2-year old and newborn baby that I didn't really want to begin with.  I would of course take care of all of the baby's needs (diapers, bottles, etc.).  I got up with her in the night by myself because my husband needed sleep so he could go to work.  I resented my baby girl for everything I was feeling "because of her," I told myself.  I would snuggle her a little, but then I would go back to playing with my son because I loved him more.  I resented my baby girl for not spending the time I wanted with my son.  I was also exhausted due to a lack of sleep.

Once I healed a little, I started helping my husband fix up the house we had just bought so that we could some day soon live in it, and with the remodeling so that it's livable aspect comes added stress.

Finally, the stress of everything took over my body and transformed into something dark and hideous.  Rage.  I would not only cry about everything, but I would also get mad about everything.  After looking up PPD on WebMD, I kind of mentioned something was wrong with me to my husband, but we both kind of fluffed it off.  Meanwhile, the rage continued inside me.  I am a very motherly and loving type of person by nature; I always have been.  I am also not an angry person, but I am a sensitive 'ol soul.  However, on multiple occasions I came very close to hurting my son.  I constantly caught myself saying to myself how much I want to "smack the sh*t out of him."  I never did (thank you, God), but it took all of my willpower to keep from doing it.

One night, my husband said he would stay awake with the baby for her midnight feeding so that I could get some sleep.  Well, he fell asleep on accident (the poor guy was/is also exhausted from working his tail off to provide for his family and fix up a house), and I went ballistic on him because he had fallen asleep, which was totally irrational of me.  There was lots of screaming, yelling, and tears, mostly on my part.  I even woke up our son with my screaming and yelling.  After getting him back to sleep, I started in my husband again (the poor guy).  I actually started to collect my things and the children's so that we could leave my husband.  Yes, I was actually willing to get my children out of bed in the middle of the night and leave (almost divorce) my husband simply because he was exhausted and fell asleep.  However, my husband stopped me.  He grabbed our baby girl so that I couldn't leave because he knew I wouldn't go anywhere without both of my children.  My husband got me calmed down, and we talked.  It was at that moment when my husband and I both realized something was truly wrong with me.

We first decided that I would just have to try harder to get more sleep, and if that didn't work, then at my 6-week postpartum doctor visit in the upcoming couple of weeks I would talk to the doctor about it to consider medication.  Well, I still couldn't get much sleep, so I visited with my doctor and was honest about everything.  I hid my true feelings so well during my pregnancy that she had no idea I didn't want my baby.  I took the PPD paper test thing and failed miserably; my score was very high.  The doctor put me on Zoloft, and I've been on it since.

The Zoloft didn't cure me by any means, but it has helped tremendously.  I am relying on myself to cure myself, which is just a guessing game.  I try to find ideas that might help me deal with things, especially my anger and rage.  From "Peg+Cat" my toddler and I learned to use a similar counting method to calm ourselves down.  When he's throwing a tantrum that I can't get him to bounce out of, I play some music.  I say the Serenity Prayer or Lord's Prayer to help me through my anger.

I finally reached a point where I was so tired that I simply decided my baby was going to have to sleep through the night without a bottle because I was too tired to stay up with her anymore (falling asleep and waking up to feed her was worse than staying awake until her midnight feeding).  That helped a lot, but I still don't sleep much.

Since I can't do anything when our son is napping because it will wake him up, I usually play my Sims while he naps, which is still a therapy for me.  It is still a juggle for me to have a baby and 2-year old at the same time.  I also feel guilty for all the hurtful things I've thought, felt, and directed towards my children during that difficult time.  The guilt eats away at me, which I guess is part of the reason why I have a hard time going to sleep at night (see it's 12:42 AM, and I'm still awake).

I am still not myself though.  My tolerance level for people and things isn't like it once was; I've never spoken directly much, but here lately, I have started to be more direct about things because I am just too tired to tippy toe around.  I am still highly sensitive to what people say to me and/or how they say it.  I just try to avoid being around people that I know will probably make me feel crappy about myself, whether they do it intentionally or not, but in all actuality, I've mostly just tried to not be around a lot of people anyways (not 100% sure why).  Although, I've tried spending time with my sisters and have even gotten to spend time with one of my sister in-laws and her trio.

In a nutshell, I am still in survival mode, and I am a work in progress.  I can still get mad (or very sad) very easily for no apparent reason.

The Lord works in mysterious ways.  My children are my little miracles and both just melt my heart.  Though I didn't understand His reasons at the time (and still don't now), I am very glad that I have both of these babies in my life and that they get to call me "Mommy" (although now my son is calling me "Mom" instead *tear*)  If i had it to do all over again, I would because I know what I would miss out on, a little girl with an angel's halo being held up by devil horns.  And I am proud to report that I rarely think about smacking my son anymore (trying to achieve never wanting to smack him), and I love my baby girl just as much as my little man.  I have even started to arrange a marriage for her! HAHA!

If you have or think you or a loved one may have PPD here are some brief tips from one mommy to another, based on my own experiences:

  • Remember that the Lord works in mysterious ways.
    My minister has a saying, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plan."
  • Ask for help.
  • Surround yourself with loving, caring, and supportive people.
  • Don't give up because you will win, no matter how long it takes.
  • There will be good days.
  • There will be bad days.  Just try again tomorrow.
    My favorite quote from "Anne of Green Gables" is "tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it."  I've found this to be true in so many ways.
  • Find something that works for you to stay calm (e.g. counting to 10, saying a prayer)
  • You are not the worst mom in the world, even though it may often times feel that way.
  • You are NOT, I repeat NOT, a failure.
You may find this link to another one of my blog posts helpful.

I am NOT a professional doctor, and I don't work in the medical field.  I am just a stay at home mom.  I am simply sharing my own experience with you; don't hesitate to seek medical and/or psychiatric help if you feel it is necessary.

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