Hey guys I finished my story last week and put it up on my blog. It's really long, but I wanted to post it all at once rather than spam you with multiple posts like I did on my blog. I know that there are others here that have gone through the horrors of AD/ PPD and I feel like the more stories that are out there the better that we can connect with each other, and other moms/ women who may not have gone through these things but would like to understand them. I thank you in advance if you get through all of it- it was pretty difficult to write and re-live but it's a story with a happy ending, and that's what I wanted to convey!
On July 24, 2010 N and I were married.
On August 9, 2010 N's father was tragically murdered.
On August 26, 2010 we found out we were pregnant.
Grief is a funny thing. Especially when it hits suddenly and all at once. It can completely overpower you like a psychedelic drug trip- but without the ability to hear colors or see dragons. It can make you lose control over yourself. It can propel you to do things that you wouldn't usually do in order to find some semblance of solace. After N and I learned about his father's death (from his ex-stepmom who heard it on the news) we were thrown into a kind of grief I had never experienced before, and hope to never experience again. We clung to each other as we felt the world slip out from beneath us. I'm sure I don't need to outright say what happened that night. Only that it didn't happen out of any sort of lust, but a primal need to be as close to each other as possible. In our haze we didn't use protection, didn't even think about using it or what the possible ramifications of our actions were. It just happened, and that's the only way I can explain it.
The next week was a steady stream of visitors, ignored calls from news outlets, and conversations with the police/ victim's advocates/ etc. It wasn't until after the funeral, and after N had returned to work that it hit me what had happened, and what possibly could happen. At that point in time I knew nothing about fertility, and turned to the internet to research what my chances were of being pregnant. I found an ovulation predictor and typed in my information. My last period had come during our honeymoon. When I saw the results my heart dropped. My calculated ovulation happened exactly on the day it had happened.
N was convinced I was probably pregnant but I wouldn't hear a word of it. He went out and bought me a two pack of pregnancy tests and I took one immediately. It came back negative and with a relieved sigh I threw it in the trash can, hoping to just move on. As the day of my expected period got closer I started to get the precise kind of cramping I always get when it's close. But there was still a tiny seed of worry in my mind that I had tested too early, and that I could still be pregnant.
On the night I decided to take the second test I couldn't sleep. I waited in bed with baited breath until N's alarm went off signaling him to wake up and go to his second job delivering newspapers. He hit snooze a few times and I practically exploded with impatience. But I didn't let on that I was awake, and when I finally heard his car drive down the street I dashed to the bathroom. I grabbed the second test from where I had stashed it at the back of the cabinet and suddenly feeling hesitant, sat down on the toilet to take it.
I watched the test saturate slowly. I watched as one line appeared... and then another. I immediately dropped the test to the ground as if it was burning my hands. I pulled up my pants and flushed the toilet before sinking to the ground in uncontrollable sobs. At that point the sobs were from fear. It wasn't a good time to be pregnant, my parents were going to be so upset (my mom had explicitly told me not to get pregnant right away if ever), and I was scared of the actual pregnancy itself. The sickness and the stretching and how the baby is supposed to come out of course.
My sobs dissolved into numbness and I went and got my phone.
"Can you pick up a few more pregnancy tests from different brands?" I typed to N.
"Was the other test positive?" he replied.
He brought home 3 other tests from different brands and I took them all at once. N watched with me as they all came out with very clear positives. I was crying and shaking again but he was comforting me. "It's all going to be ok," he reassured me. But I wasn't so sure.
I didn't sleep for the rest of the night and counted the hours until I knew my psychiatrist would be in. I called him immediately and let him know that I was pregnant. He advised me to stop the anti-depressant I was on cold turkey (I was on an MAOI which is a medication that is poorly studied in pregnancy/ breastfeeding and is not considered safe) and let me know that I could continue on my mood stabilizer if I felt it necessary, but that it would give my child an increased risk of birth defects. I decided to stop both, but in a few days later that decision wouldn't have been my own anyway. I got so sick I couldn't keep anything- especially pills- down.
The second call I made that morning was to my (feisty) gynecologist. "Oh shit your mom is going to be so mad!" she exclaimed, and I had a bad feeling she was right. Since her practice didn't oversee pregnancies she referred me to a group of OB/GYNs at a local hospital. I gave them a call and they scheduled me for an appointment- over a month away. They let me know that they don't see patients until they are at least 8 weeks pregnant, but I got another appointment for the following week to talk to one of the doctors about my psychiatric medication. During that appointment the doctor essentially said the same things as my psychiatrist, but as I said before continuing to take pills wasn't an option anymore. We decided to continue to monitor my moods throughout my pregnancy, and she wrote me a script for Zofran.
When it came time for my first real baby appointment I was a ball of nerves. N had taken the day off from work to go with me, and sat patiently by my side. When we were called back (after waiting for what felt like forever) they directed me towards the ultrasound room. I was confused, and told the nurse that I hadn't even had a blood test yet and wasn't sure I was pregnant (despite all the positives tests, lack of a period, and constant sickness I didn't feel, deep down, like I was pregnant.)
I got on the table in the ultrasound room and was disappointed to hear that it was going to be internal. I had had an internal ultrasound before to check for ovarian cysts, and let me tell you, it's not exactly a fun experience. As the technician did, uh, her thing I kept waiting for her to turn to us and go, "Well you're not pregnant! You can be on your way now!" But that's not what she said to us. In fact, I don't remember what she said to us because I went into a sort of shock. She turned the monitor towards us and there was a funny little lump on the screen, with an even smaller pulsating lump at the top of it. "That's the heart," she pointed out, "let's give it a listen." And for the first time I heard a heartbeat inside me that wasn't my own. I was shocked, incredulous, and to be honest, a little bit horrified. It was getting harder and harder to try and convince myself that this wasn't actually happening.
When N and I left that first doctor's appointment, we knew we had to do what we had been putting off for six long weeks. We had to tell my parents. I've never been so nervous to tell my mom something, even though keeping the biggest secret of my life for six whole weeks was about to land me in a padded cell. Telling my dad in person was out of the question, my mom was going to have to handle that eventually.
Before N and I got married my mom had explicitly told me not to get pregnant right away. She reminded me that I wasn't ready to be a mother, and might not ever be. I can't say she wasn't right or that her concerns were unfounded. And I didn't think that the fact that the pregnancy was an accident would make any difference in regards to her previous opinions.
But to my relief she didn't explode. She didn't seem angry or upset. She wasn't particularly happy, and her first concern was the fact that I had been taking psychiatric medication. I told her that I had gotten off it right away and called my doctor mere hours after finding out, and that eased her mind. Eventually she told my dad, who was similarly concerned about my taking medication. He constantly sent me information about birth defects (this would have really pushed me over the edge if I hadn't been too numb to think about anything except my crushing sadness), and when I was 18 weeks along he paid for me to have an extra ultrasound to make sure the baby "had all 10 fingers and toes."
It did. And that's when we found out it was a she. She was Reagan and not Joshua. Finding out her sex was an incredibly difficult situation, and despite my attempts to be completely open, it's not something I feel comfortable talking about yet.
I thought that knowing my baby's sex and her name would finally connect me to the pregnancy. So far I had felt nothing. If I wasn't so sick and ballooning up in the abdomen I would have never guessed there was another person growing inside me. (Of course there's the missed period as well but you know what I'm saying.) I was so sure that as soon as a woman got pregnant she had some spiritual sense of the life she was incubating. That she had some connection to it- especially one of love. But I felt nothing. Nothing at all.
The first time I felt R kick I was about 20 weeks along. I was sitting at my desktop computer when I felt something and screamed. I wondered if I had felt my first kick, and seconds later came the second, and then the third, and then the fourth… R's kicks were the first thing I felt when I woke up in the morning, and the last things I felt before I fell asleep at night. It was constant and painful, and the novelty wore off quickly. I still cringe when I see videos of babies kicking.
So far, these are really the only "milestones" that I can remember in regards to my pregnancy. The rest of it was a thick haze of complete and total depression and overwhelming nausea. I spent my entire pregnancy in three rooms of my house. My bedroom (in bed), my bathroom (on the floor or huddled on a mat in the dilapidated shower), or on a "good" day in my office sitting at my desktop computer. I didn't cook, I didn't clean, I didn't groom myself, and I didn't leave the house.
The number of times I left the house alone while I was pregnant was a whopping one time. I had been craving tacos and drove to get some. When I got home and ate them they gave me a horrible bout of reflux and I ended up not leaving the house alone again for many more months.
I was having a constant stream of severe panic attacks. Of course, having multiple panic attacks daily is just a day in the life for me, but these were different. These were hyperventilating, slamming my fists on the ground, and shouting to the heavens bad. I'll never forget the worst one.
[From a piece I wrote for a Creative Non-Fiction Course]
I was lying on the bathroom floor letting the waves of physical sickness toss me about (per usual) when the feeling first hit me. I was in my second trimester, and was supposed to be feeling better. Everyone told me that I wouldn't feel so sick once I passed the mythical 12 weeks. Everyone lied.
I was spending the majority of my days in the bathroom. Lying on the floor or resting my cheek on the cool (faux?) porcelain of the toilet. When I felt particularly ill I'd sit beside the toilet, hands folded in mock prayer, begging the god I don't believe in to ease my suffering. The bottle of Zofran helped a little, but divine intervention would have been nice.
So I was lying there like always, crying softly and trying not to throw up, when it felt like a weight had been dropped on my chest. My breathing became labored and a sort of panic I had never felt before took a hold of me. I felt trapped. I was trapped.
Not literally, although I suppose I could make an argument for that, as the physical side effects of my pregnancy kept me home and bathroom-bound for nine months. But this feeling of being pinned down came from another fact; the fact that I was growing life inside of me. I was pregnant though I did not want to be, I was going to be a mother though I was not yet ready. There was nothing I could do. Even after the misery of my pregnancy was over I would still be trapped. Trapped into the role of motherhood. Chained to a child. My child.
December rolled around and so did N's last weeks at the newspaper. He was being laid off after 7 years because the higher ups suddenly deemed it a conflict of interest that his mom also worked for the paper. He was allowed to send out holiday cards (FYI: ALWAYS TIP YOUR PAPER DELIVERY PEOPLE AND TIP THEM GOOD!) and then he was done. In the past he would collect at least a few thousand every holiday. But as fewer people bought papers, his routes became smaller and we ended up taking in only a few hundred dollars. We decided to use some of the money to buy nursery furniture.
I put aside my dreams of a solid wood crib from Pottery Barn and we found a set- crib, changing table, and dresser- at Walmart for around $200. We also bought a cheap upholstered rocking chair. My mom bought me crib bedding for Christmas, and we eventually painted the room a calm shade of moss green and put up beautiful birch tree decals. Sometimes at night I'd pass by the room and would feel drawn inside. I'd sit in the rocking chair, look around, and sob until I couldn't produce any more tears. It should have made me happy, but all I could feel was pain. Eventually I closed the door to the nursery and kept it closed.
Although the doctor had recommended taking labor classes or at least going on a tour of the hospital, I declined both. I didn't want to even think of labor until it was thrust upon me. That all changed when I was admitted to the hospital for high blood pressure. My blood pressure had been slightly high at my appointments, so I monitored it frequently at home. One night it kept climbing until it reached a truly concerning rate. I called my doctor's nurse line and they told me to head to the hospital to be checked out. Of course, I got there and my blood pressure went back to being perfectly fine, but the damage had been done. I had seen, and been in, a L&D room. I could now picture what it was going to look like and I was a mess.
On Sunday May 1st I had another severe panic attack. I started hyperventilating uncontrollably and N had to put me into bed and beg me to take an anxiety pill (for which I had been given the go-ahead by all of my doctors for use in emergencies.) I fell asleep and slept until the next morning. When I woke up I was cramping- which was strange because I had not cramped since before I found out I was pregnant. Something inside me knew that labor was starting and I sent N to get food- breakfast sandwiches from Subway- knowing that it would be my last meal for awhile. The cramping slowly got worse and worse, and luckily I had a doctor's appointment later that morning.
When I got there the doctor check my dilation and did a sweep. She confirmed that I was having contractions and was in the early stages of labor. She said she'd call the hospital to let them know I'd be over sometime that day. After the appointment N and I went home to get the hospital bag, car seat, etc. We also went to Target for slippers and snacks that I thought I'd eat. Ha!
We went to the hospital and in hindsight it was too early. I should have labored longer at home, but I just felt more comfortable laboring in the hospital. They had me pace the corridors while N walked beside me. I'd have a contraction and then keep walking, have a contraction and then keep walking. At one point N asked me, "Are you still even having contractions?!" right as a hard one hit. I almost slapped him.
I wasn't dilating very quickly and when nighttime came they offered to either send me home with an Ambien, or let me stay until morning with a shot of morphine. Without thought I opted for the morphine but all it made me feel was nauseous and anxious. I was in so much pain that sleep was out of the question, and when the contractions finally got so bad I didn't think I'd be able to stand it anymore I called in the nurse. Praise be to god I had dilated enough to get the epidural! You can bet I got that RIGHT AWAY, and was able to sleep for the last few hours in the night- until we were woken up by a visit from my MIL's husband at 8 in the morning. I don't think I've ever snapped at someone to go away so meanly. I feel bad now, but not that bad.
I hadn't dilated much more at night so they decided to start me on Pitocin. I didn't give two shits, I just wanted the baby out, so I agreed. Around 11:50 something started to feel… off… I was feeling painful contractions but they were different, and I was feeling a VERY strong need to push. I had also regained full mobility of my legs. I told Nate that I thought it was time to push and I needed to see the nurse. He told me I should just wait until noon when she came back in for a regular check, but in this short amount of time my body was like "I'M GOING FOR IT!" and so I made him page the nurse immediately. He also called my mom who had been at home.
When the nurse came in she told me I was fully dilated and it was in fact time to push. I told her that I was feeling EVERYTHING and that I needed a boost to my epidural. She called the anesthesiologist and after much frantic tinkering I realized with horror that nothing could be done.
The next six hours, yes I said SIX, were a blur. Machines kept beeping, the nurse kept urging, N and my mom kept holding my hands and telling me it was going to be ok, and I did a lot of crying. You see, I have a condition called Vaginismus where my pelvic floor muscles are constantly clenched. Do you know what a kegel is? It's like my muscles are doing that all the time. And things get especially bad when I am stressed out. I had been told that the hormones of labor would override this condition but they didn't- not completely. God bless her soul, the nurse kept her hand all up in there the whole time, pressing on my muscles to try and get them to relax.
N and my mom like to say that at one point I said I was going to "give up" and that they were scared that I actually had given up. What they don't understand (my mom had three gloriously effective epidurals and an easy time pushing my siblings and I out) was that I couldn't have given up if I tried. My body kept pushing for me! It was excruciating and exhausting like nothing I have ever been through.
Eventually the baby came down towards the exit and everyone got really excited. I pushed out her head and the nurse told me to wait until the next contraction to push out her shoulders and body. And you know what I did? I went "FUCK THAT!" and pushed her out completely and all at once! I wasn't going to spend one more second pushing.
And there she was. There was my baby.
I had decided before giving birth that I wanted them to take the baby first to clean/ weigh/ take vitals, etc. before I held her. This ended up being a great decision for me because once she was finally out I needed a few moments to collect myself. Of course, those moments were filled with being stitched up (and able to feel everything), but I needed them nonetheless. Both N and my mom can clearly recall the wide eyed, deer-in-headlights, look that was frozen on my face for those first few minutes. Everything felt unreal.
And finally they brought her to me.
Note: This is another particularly painful admission. This is something I've only spoken about to a very small amount of people, but I promised to be honest so here goes…
And my first thought was, "Oh my god she's so ugly!" And that is all that I felt about her.
And my next thought was, "Somebody take this baby and bring me the dinner menu!"
I handed the baby to my husband and quickly scanned the dinner menu as the kitchen was about to close. It was a Tuesday evening and the last time I ate was Monday morning (and there had been intense physical exertion) so starving is probably an appropriate word to use. I ordered a grilled cheese, and looked forward to eating it more than any other meal in my life.
When it came I took a hungry mouthful. And it tasted like cardboard. I'm not sure I've ever been more disappointed in my life.
After eating all I could (a few bites), I was walked to the bathroom and cleaned up a little. Then we were all taken into a recovery room- which I was sad to see was much smaller, and not as nice as the delivery suite. With the baby fast asleep in the bassinet, N fell dead asleep on the couch and I too tried to get some rest. I was absolutely exhausted after all.
At some time during the night I awoken to the sound of a baby's cry. The sound of it sent shivers down my spine and I immediately broke out in a cold sweat and started to shake. I looked over at the bassinet next to me and noticed that my baby was still sleeping peacefully, the cry was not coming from another room. Shaken I paged the nurse immediately and asked for an anti-anxiety pill. I was brought one with no hesitation. We all slept for the next few hours.
The next day both N and I took MUCH needed showers, and we had a few visitors come by to admire our new addition. I was mostly concerned with learning how to breastfeed, and my baby seemed to latch well. We had two different "lactation nurses" come in to examine us and both said the latch looked great. I started to feel like things were going to start going smoothly- although I still didn't feel anything for the tiny little creature I held to my chest.
The morning that we were supposed to go home a doctor came in to give the baby a heel poke to check her bilirubin levels. He saw her sleeping and was able to pick her up without complaint. Beaming, he told me that he was a firm believer that a baby's temperament in the hospital was a good predictor of how they'd act at home. I sighed in relief at the prospect of having an easy baby. Truly that thought went through my mind.
Then the doctor pricked her heel and she let out a scream that could rival something from a horror movie. She wouldn't stop screaming, even when he gave her to me and I frantically tried to calm her. He gave me a concerned look and left in a hurry.
I felt more than ready to leave the hospital. I felt like things had been going pretty well and there was nothing more I wanted than to get home to my comfy bed, and my DVR'd episodes of 16 & Pregnant.
As we were driving away from the hospital I noticed that N was going very slow and acting very careful. Quite the change from the previous drag racer! He had said he wasn't going to be phased by having our baby in the car, and I teased him about being wrong.
When we got home I immediately settled into bed with the baby. I got her situated on the nursing pillow and turned on the TV. N left to go to the drugstore to pick up some of the supplies I had no idea I'd be needing, and I felt confident letting him go. I heard the car drive off... and all hell broke loose.
Looking back on what happened next is almost comical because it was so terrible. As soon as N left the baby started SCREAMING and would not stop. I started to panic and then she broke out into a rash. I was completely over the edge. When N got home he tried to comfort the screaming baby as well with no success. Then my mom showed up and she too could not quiet the baby. She made a frantic run to Babies 'R Us to buy a swing and N called the doctor to ask about the rash. They said it was probably nothing and to keep an eye on it, but I had already lost my mind. I was sobbing uncontrollably by this point and when my mom got back to our house she couldn't get the swing together fast enough (she's not very good at assembling things.) My mom was downstairs banging around and cursing at the swing, N was holding the screaming baby, and I was crying almost as loud. And then my mother and grandmother-in-law showed up with a beautiful fruit tray! And what a scene they came across! I was having a melt-down in the shower and told my husband to tell them to come back another time. It was all just too much.
I'd like to tell you when the baby stopped screaming but I can't remember because she screamed for at least three straight months. And I call it screaming as opposed to crying for a reason. She did three things and she did them well- she ate, slept, and screamed. If she was awake she was screaming. I did not see her awake and not screaming for a few months, and she refused to be held when she was sleeping. In fact, the only way to get her to sleep was to put her in her car seat and swing the car seat back and forth. That was it. There was no medical reason for her screaming, she was eating well (more on that another time), gaining weight like a champ, and sleeping for normal stretches when we could get her to sleep. It was just some sort of "colic" that she'd have to grow out of.
Meanwhile, I was being completely smothered in the depths of Post-Partum Depression. Although I had started on the SSRI anti-depressant Lexapro in my third trimester to try and assuage my Antenatal Depression and prevent PPD, it wasn't doing much.
Now, having been born with Bipolar and various anxiety disorders, I have fallen into many a deep depression. But PPD was unlike anything else that I have ever experienced. One of the strange side effects was the complete loss of my appetite, and the paralysis (?) of my taste buds. I am a comfort eater and always have been, but just the thought of even my favorite food completely repulsed me. And when I would try to get something down for the sake of making milk everything tasted like sawdust. N and my mom tried to bring me anything and everything delicious they could find in hopes I'd find it appetizing, but it was all the same. I could barely bring myself to eat.
Another of the side effects was the complete loss of my ability to use my imagination. This may sound strange, but it was terrifying. One of my lifelong coping mechanisms is to image things, i.e. "go to a happy place." When I'm feeling down or anxious I'll imagine myself at a beach or by a river in the mountains. On a limitless shopping spree or eating something delicious. But when I closed my eyes I could think of nothing but blackness. That was truly one of the scariest experiences of my life.
My anxiety, which has been out-of-control for as long as I can remember, was also affected in strange ways. One night when N and I had finally gotten the baby to fall asleep in her car seat I found myself staring at her, dreading with all my soul the minute she'd wake up and we'd have to repeat the soothing process over again. I began to taste blood, and saw that my thumb and index finger were also covered in blood. I had been picking at the skin on my lips to the point where they were cracked and bleeding. I hadn't noticed it before, but whenever the anxiety had gotten too overwhelming my hands would be up at my mouth picking away at the skin. Once I realized what I was doing I tried consciously to stop it, but it's a habit that remains to this day.
I wish words could adequately describe the depression and devastation that both N and I felt during this time. He may have not been suffering from PPD himself but the screaming, and his concerns about me were hard on him too. He had to go back to work two weeks after I gave birth. This may sound like a luxury for some (of us Americans) but it just wasn't enough for me. He only had three weeks of vacation for the whole year and also wanted to take some time off for the criminal trial regarding his father's murder that was set to take place at the end of the month. I was a mess when he had to go back. The thought of being alone in the house with the screaming baby all day was almost too much to bear. And my mom was too tied up in her own personal issues to be there. For many months I would spend all week waiting until Saturday night when I knew N would be off for the next two days. And then on Monday nights I'd be a disaster once more, dreading him leaving in the morning.
And all this time I felt no emotion for the baby. I felt nothing. There were certainly times I disliked her because of the incessant screaming, but I never hated her and certainly never wished harm upon her. Luckily my PPD never devolved into Post-Partum Psychosis. In fact, I was saddened and ashamed with my inability to feel a connection with her. Although she was a tiny newborn, I felt like she knew my feelings and that she hated me. I was convinced she hated me. I tried my best to be a good mom. I nursed her throughout excruciating pain, I held her as often as she would let me, and I tried to never look at her without a smile on my face. But inside my heart would have broken if it had been there at all.
I'll never forget being at my parent's house one night for dinner. I had gotten the baby to sleep and we were sitting down to eat (meaning I was sitting down to pick at another meals worth of food.) My dad turned to me with shining eyes and asked me if I felt the all-consuming parental love for my child yet- the kind of love he had felt for me. I shook my head and croaked out a "no" before collapsing into tears. Both my parents were concerned and reassured me that it'd happen one day. I hoped so, but I didn't know how I was supposed to try and develop something that I thought would appear automatically and naturally. I felt completely broken and useless as a person and especially as a mother.
I had never felt more alone in my life. Even N loved the baby, though he too had been greatly taxed by the colic.
During the constant nursing sessions I spent a lot of time on my phone googling anything and everything. I was desperate to find the stories of anyone, anyone at all who had had similar experiences. I was googling things like "hate newborn phase," "don't love new baby," "don't love my child," etc. It was a dark time and there were very few resources out there to shine a much needed light.
I should have gone to therapy. In fact, I considered it a few times. N left a message with the OB/ GYN during those first weeks and they gave us the names of a few therapists, but I just couldn't do it. I couldn't bring myself to leave the house and face the reality of my situation. And therapy is expensive and the baby was nursing all the time- I reasoned to myself. So I put it off and put it off and eventually never went. But I did make a call to my psychiatrist saying that I just didn't feel like my anti-depressant was doing enough. He had me ramp up to double the dose, and in a few weeks I finally started to feel better.
It's difficult to recount how the fog lifted, but it did, and it did slowly. I decided to make an effort to get out of the house. I connect with a group of local young moms on Facebook and joined a few of their meet ups and outings. It was probably one of the smartest moves I could make.
The first time I met up with these moms, I met a girl who had a baby just two days younger than mine. The baby had been born on her due date, which was my baby's due date as well. I watched her carefully as she interacted with her baby. She held her baby a lot and give it lots of kisses. This seemed so strange to me. I had no interest in picking my baby up, and even less interest in placing my lips on her. But I decided to try and mirror her images. I picked up my baby as she slept and kissed her on her tiny, wrinkled forehead. This of course woke her up and set off her typical screams. Flustered I put her back in her car seat and swung it until she calmed down. I was mortified but all the other moms were very supportive.
For one outing we went to the zoo. I was glad to go somewhere fun, but the baby screamed like she was being tortured the entire time- and would not stop. Strangers were giving me dirty looks and all the other moms tried to hold my baby in order to pacify her but nothing was working. I had driven another mom and her kids there so there was no way to duck out early. When we sat down to eat I went to get the bottles I had pumped for the baby, only to realize they were still in the car. By this time the screaming was out of control and distracting from other people's lunches in the picnic area. I went with my friends to buy a drink and that's why my baby had a diaper explosion.
The baby was screaming and I was panicking so I took out her changing pad and changed her right there on the sidewalk, not truly realizing the extent of the blowout. Let's just say I was getting a lot of dirty looks, and rightly so. I was using cloth diapers (and just getting the hang of them) and the process of putting one away and putting another on was not exactly simple. The baby screamed and screamed and I knew she had to eat. I searched frantically for a secluded spot to nurse- still weary of nursing in public at that time- and finally found a rock among some trees. The baby nursed voraciously and fell asleep when I later put her in her car seat. It was an incredibly stressful ordeal but I left feeling more empowered than hopeless. I didn't take her on many outings afterwards though.
The colic lessened in time as well. When she was a few months old she woke up without crying and even smiled for the first time. Ecstatic I grabbed my camera and filmed it. She started screaming as soon as I stopped filming but those few minutes had been precious. I didn't love her yet but I started to feel hope.
The months wore on. The weather got warmer, nursing went better, I got used to mothering, and as I said before, the crying subsided. Between those events and the fact that I had doubled my dose of anti-depressant I started to feel feelings for my baby. I started to find her appearance cute and endearing; I started to post more pictures of her online. I started to enjoy dressing her, and I found a new hobby in cloth diapers. I started not to cry as much on Monday nights when I knew N would be going back to work. And in the fall I started school again and came to realize that I sort of missed my baby while I was away.
And then it hit me. I don't remember the day, or even the month. It may have been August or September. But it was at night, and I was nursing her. We had transitioned from the car seat to nursing her to sleep at night in our bed and then co-sleeping. It was an arrangement that worked out wonderfully. That fateful night she had unlatched and rolled over in her sleep. She signed and smiled as a little dribble of milk rolled down her face. I thought to myself, "god I just love her" and then realizing what I had just felt I started sobbing. I had sobbed a lot during those months but this time it was out of happiness. I loved her, I LOVED HER! And the love was consuming at intense.
It was like a switch had flipped, and though I still often felt sad or resentful or a tiny bit numb, things were different. There was finally joy for me in being a mother, and I knew that I would have never wanted it any other way.
Today my love for my daughter, my amazing Reagan, is stronger than ever. She went from a surly infant to an equally surly toddler, and she may be difficult (and I mean difficult) but she is also funny, talented, and completely wonderful.
I was crying as I wrote this, and she was in the room watching cartoons. She crawled up on my lap and pushed the hair out of my face and wiped my cheek. "Don't cry mama. Don't be sad. I love you too much!"
I love you too much too sweet baby. I will love you forever.
ETA: I just wanted to let everyone know that I have been completely floored by all your kind words and positivity. This was a very difficult story to share but if it makes one woman going through similar trials find solace then it was all worth it.
There have only been a few negative comments and I'd rather not respond to those personally so let me clarify a few things.
1) I am pro-choice. This is not an anti-choice story it's just not an abortion story. I just didn't think about getting one, and I didn't get one. That was my choice. Isn't that what we fight for?
2) I react badly to hormonal birth control so were using condoms. It worked out well until that crazy night mishap.
3) I am a big advocate of Plan B- I have taken it a few times myself. In retrospect of course it seems crazy I didn't take it but as I tried to explain- the horrific situation that we were in led us to not even think of anything else for a few weeks. Also, the very next day we were awoken early in the morning by the police who gave us the official notice. We spend the rest of the day talking to the police, victim's advocates, and ignoring calls from the news. It was a truly awful day and Plan B was the last thing on our minds.
4) I had wanted kids. In fact, I had had a particularly bout of baby fever right before my wedding. For some reason when I saw those two lines a switch flipped and became nervous and depressed to the point of not wanting any. But that's the thing about mental health issues, they don't always make sense. I had just wanted to wait until the ~right~ time to get pregnant like so many other women, and it didn't happen at that right moment, like so many other women. But I was in an incredibly stable and loving relationship, we had our own house in a wonderful community, my husband had a second job that he was promoted in very quickly, a large support network from our families, and on and on. My daughter did not know what was going on in my head when she was a newborn, and she has known nothing but love and stability in her life. I have overcome PPD and it has not affected my relationship with her in the slightest. We have a very typical, and boring(!), suburban life.
Post-Partum Depression can happen to anyone. It can happen to women who have normal pregnancies, it can happen to women who wanted to be pregnant more than anything in the world, etc. This was just my own unique story- one of many that happen, and of few that our shared.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255
Postpartum Support International - http://www.postpartum.net/
PPD FAQ from the The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists [PDF] - http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20…
American Psychological Association on PPD - http://www.apa.org/pi/women/resou…
If you or someone you know is suffering from the signs of Post-Partum Depression please seek help/ urge them to seek help as soon as possible.