PPD and Me…
I live in a rapidly growing community. In fact, we are ranked the third fastest growing community in the country. We are surrounded by construction, moving vans, model homes, more construction, new residents, and tons of newborn babies! They’re everywhere!
Don’t get me wrong. I love it here. It is absolutely perfect for my small family. My daughter is thriving here and, since day one of her life, has brought me nothing but life itself. I just have to admit that seeing all these young moms with new babies is making me a bit sad. I feel like I was robbed.
I was 43 when I got pregnant. We went through hell and a good chunk of our bank account to get there. My pregnancy was not void of minor complications. My C-section and 6 day stint in the hospital almost did me in. Bringing my daughter into this world was hard as hell in a lot of ways.
And still, that’s not what haunts me the most. And I do really mean to use the word ‘haunt.’ When I see the happiness, glow, adoration, and purity of a mother with her new baby, I can only think back to the first four, extremely difficult, months of motherhood. It was rough. It was sad. It was scary. It was disturbing. It is unchangeable, yet I truly wish I could go back and do it again.
I lost half my blood volume from the C-section. This was discovered after the persistent vomiting that kept me from holding my baby right away. The nurses were told to prep me for a blood transfusion, but my amazing OB was able to control the bleeding. The process was disturbing and scary, I hear from my mother and husband. I was too far out of it to know. So, I was a new mother and severely anemic. I will never forget the struggle between the desire to sleep when I got the chance and the sadness and paranoia felt when a nurse, or even my husband, took the baby away. I cried one night because I didn’t trust the nurse who came in to take her for a bath, but I didn’t want to wake my husband. I was a complete mess. In addition to the anemia, I was headed for post pardem depression.
When I look back on this part of it, I feel extremely pissed that no one saw it coming. I have been treated for clinical depression and anxiety since 2001. I had to go off my medication for the fertility treatments and had to stay on a low dose during my pregnancy. In hindsight, I truly believe that my doctors should have put me back on my normal dose the day she was born. My history had proven that the danger to me far outweighed the danger to my baby.
On about our third day of being home with our baby, even though I had three other family members to help me, I knew something was very wrong. I remember sitting in the glider, nursing my daughter, feeling so incredibly weak, not wanting to eat a single bite of food, crying frequently, still paranoid about my baby, shaking like a leaf, wondering how in the hell I was going to do this…I called my husband into the room, asked him to close the door, and insisted that he call my doctor.
It took about four months for my anemia to dissipate and my depression to get under control. In that time, I lost 40 pounds (30 from pregnancy and 10 more); I only ate bananas and Boost drinks, if that; I worried constantly about my daughter and hated to leave her for any reason; I wanted no one around, especially my in-laws; I didn’t want to leave the house, even for a walk; I had a very hard time sleeping, even when she was; at least once a day, I retreated into my room to cry, often while nursing or trying to take care of my baby. I felt like a terrible mother. The one thing I am thankful for is that I still craved being with my daughter and taking care of her. I know that there are mothers who have PPD so bad that they want nothing to do with their child. I feel so sad for those mothers.
So, when I see the new mothers on my block looking healthy, young, happy, in control, getting family portraits, posting on Facebook, celebrating, feeling great, welcoming visitors, eating, laughing, sleeping, being confident, walking/running with the stroller, etc, etc, etc., I truly feel like I was robbed. And I feel a sadness that will probably never go away.
As part of the ridiculous (and mostly useless) preparation for the big arrival, my husband downloaded a collection of lullabies and soothing sounds to our Ipads to use to help put our daughter to sleep. The one we used mostly was the sound of rain. We started it in the hospital on day one and used it a lot. I don’t ever want to hear those songs and sounds again. They bring up the most horrible memories. I remember sadness, fatigue, depression, anxiety, paranoia, anger, weakness, mistrust, disappointment, jealousy, fear, fear, fear…the fear that I would never be normal again.
Thank God, thank treatment, thank therapy, thank my doctors, thank my family, thank my daughter, that I am normal again…as normal as a woman can be after having her first (and only) child at the age of 44.