One Year

One year. 365 days. 4 seasons. Time has come full circle. 

Last year at this time, I was just beginning to open my eyes to postpartum depression. For some reason, I had been suffering for years, but had just started reading the symptoms. And it all made sense. It all came together one day while looking online what had happened to me. and when I spoke to my Dr. she agreed. She told me I had suffered a major depressive episode and anxiety after childbirth. Major depressive episode? That’s not possible. I went to work everyday, took care of the house and kids, I wasn’t laying in bed all day crying. 

Then I learned, that is NOT what PPD is. Not even CLOSE. Really? 

The trouble I had falling asleep, and staying asleep? That is part of PPD. The sound of hearing the baby crying constantly? That’s part of PPD. The loss of appetite and intense irritability? PPD. The difficulty concentrating? I couldnt even make a simple grocery list! You got it, PPD. The overwhelming feeling…PPD. The not feeling like I was a good mom…PPD. Unable to leave the house alone with the baby? PPD. Lack of patience….pure RAGE, feeling disconnected from everyone else, not bonding with my baby. PPD Then we go deeper…thoughts of harming your baby…PPD, Thoughts of harming yourself…PPD. Thoughts of running away.  That was me at my worst. Hallucinations…PPD. R hand tremor from anxiety..PPD 

That was survival mode. I had no clue what else would come of it. See, when your in it, you just want to get out. You don’t think of the repercussions after. So now I’m left with…guilt and regret. I never enjoyed my baby. I dreaded taking care of her. I dreaded when she would wake up and need to be fed and changed. I missed out on so many great things and I live with that every day. It hurts more than actually living through the hell I went through. It cuts deep to my soul and I’ll live with the scars forever. 

So, have some understanding for the mom with the 3 kids at the grocery store, chasing them around. Have sympathy for the mom with the crying baby in the target checkout line. What about that mom changing her baby in the stroller, because there is not a changing table around? But most important, look at that mommy, with the new baby…and when someone tells her how lucky she is, a dull look falls over her face; yet she still musters up a smile and says thank you. I can tell you exactly what she’s thinking, because Ive been her. And I love her, and I respect the hell out of her. She’s braver than you’ll ever know. She fights monsters all day long to take care of that little baby. And she pulls herself together more often than not. 

Something else you don’t expect. PTSD. Yes, when you live though something like this, it’ll come back to haunt you. My first daughter was born May 4, 2012. This would be a happy time for most people, not for me. My Daughter turned 5 this year and I had to hold myself together on her birthday. The spring, the days getting longer, the way the sun rises and sets all reminds me. It reminds me of those first days..her first days. How lost I felt, how exhausted I was. I remember sitting on the couch at 4 in the morning, the sun was rising and thinking….holy shit Ive been up all night? Because I had been. Breastfeeding and pumping, changing, pumping, breastfeeding. By the time you settle back down, the baby is up again. Those days were hell, and I wont go back, ever. I wont be that girl. But those times sit on my heart, they make it heavy. 

So let me say….enjoy your baby. They smell so delicious. They’ll cry and keep you up all night. Enjoy it. Enjoy their first smile, soak it all in. When they first laugh, when they’re sick and just want to be cuddled. They’re first roll, first time crawling, walking, first words. Don’t give it up for anything. They’ll be amazed at so many little things, stop and enjoy it with them.  
Trust yourself. Your feelings matter. Dont ever let anyone make you feel crazy because your not. If it matters to you, it’s important. Trust yourself, believe in yourself. You got this mama. 

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Healing…..

Healing….how do you know when your better? Your really not technically “healed”.

You have good days and bad days. But there are some things That have truly helped me. That without, I would still have all bad days….

1. Get a best friend, get some wine, and let it pour out. I am fortunate to have the bestest of girlfriends. She comes when I need her, she listens, shes ALWAYS on my side. She has literally saved me some days.

2. Get a therapist. I LOVE mine. She listens, but I get a real good picture, she points out things Ive never thought of, ways to handle things, ideas. Plus, I get to complain. WIN WIN

3. You time. IS SO IMPORTANT! (My therapist talking). You cannot take care of everyone if you are not taken care of. So I dont care what you do, workout, take a nap, go for a drive with YOUR music (not kids bop) playing, go out with friends, go to the grocery store alone. YOUR TIME is essential.

4. Sleep. HA. My first thought was yea right…with a baby want me to sleep? I sleep trained my last baby. SO WORTH IT. She was put in bed at 7, slept through most nights until 7 am! Sometimes, she wakes up for a drink, but goes right down. SAVES SANITY.

5. Remember you are worth it. Its so easy to push yourself last. Kids first, husband, cleaning. the car will not go without gas in the tank. Even now, when we get home from a long day, husband and kids are in their PJ first, go to the bathroom first, mom always last. Sometimes you need to stand up and say me first this time.

6. Get back to work. Yes I just said that. Im not talking some stressful, endless hours job. I was an RN before my last baby was born. I just wouldn’t get right back to it after 3 months. My husband and I own 2 businesses and I work at those. Or what about mothers hours job? Something simple and enjoyable so you are able to get out of the house and talk to adults! Not be ruled by changing diapers and feedings. No rush for this one.

All these have tremendously helped me. I have been on so many Med’s…tried so many ! They make you feel worse sometimes! Ive posted about my med experience. Back in November I was suicidal, had a terrible tremor, I was a mess. It was all attributed to Zoloft. And the crazy part was Zoloft had REALLY HELPED me! I was about 6 months in when this happened. Its so hard to find something that works ! ! Thats why its so important to not rely on Med’s. YOU are in charge, YOU need to control your days. And the best piece of advice Ive ever been given, YOU NEED TO MAKE GOOD DAYS. Isn’t that the craziest thought!? The good days dont just happen. You got this Mama, and you ROCK.

Love, XOXO

Jessica

Lies!

It’s all a lie!

Ive come to accept a lot of things. Being a mom is hard. It can seem impossible. For those people who gt up and go to work everyday, so do I. I just dont get paid. Well, I dont get paid in money. I get paid in giggles, smiles, laughs, being told “I love you”; “your the best mommy”. Before being a mom, my life was mine. I could do whatever I wanted. And, I think, that this whole mommy thing is WAYYYY lied about. For starters, ever walked through the baby store? See the pictures on the boxes of happy couples, sitting in bed while the baby sleeps between them? They are smiling at each other and looks lean and put together on clean sheets? LIE. For me, the baby never slept. I was rarely clean, my sheets were always covered in formula from spilled bottles. What about the commercials of the mom happily packing her kids lunches in the morning in a spotless kitchen? LIE. I usually toss money in my kids backpacks for hot lunch a few days after the notice has come home that its late. Thats only 2 examples.

Being a mom is hard! Its a 24 hour job with the enexpected, unplanned, messy, difficult tasks. But it doesnt look like this at all in movies or magazines. This makes us very unprepared. We go in thinking it will be like the perfect scenes we have seen and its not. Its disappointing. The other problem is thinking that everyone else has it all together while you dont. Um….very few have it all together. Im always saying I struggle through daily life. Nope, not kidding. Its a constant uphill battle every day. this is not what I had planned for! This is not what I expected! This is not how I pictured it!

The PPD and anxiety was not an expected part of it either. I never pictured myself screaming at my 3 year old to move faster, we were going to be late. I never pictured myself yelling at my baby in the middle of the night to just go to sleep. I never expected to feel the anger and rage….pure rage. Beyond anger. Im talking about hating everyone and everything.I never imagined I would sit in the shower, crying. And the pain. They say depression hurts. Yup. Every morning I would wake up literally in pain, like I got hit by a truck. I was tired to the depths of my soul. Like beyond tired. There is tired and there is TIRED. I never expected being unable to sleep at night. I never expected the doctor visits, the therapy visits, telling my husband my crazy thoughts. I never expected to totally loose my shit one day when my wine rack fell off my wall- the day my damn tremor appeared. Oh, I never expected to have a damn tremor! I never expected the thoughts of running away, suicidal thoughts. When your in public, and someone looks at your baby and tells you how beautiful she is and how lucky you are…and I would think to myself..Im not lucky…The lies the PPD told me, it lied to me, life lied to me. A dark time.

Today, I am still trying to recover. My Dr. says when something like this happens to you, it kind of lingers, its kind of always there. Always there. It’s the little monster in my head. Sometimes, on a bad day, he wins. But usually, on a good day, I win. Thats life right now. Wins and losses. On a bad day, Im terrified that Ill be back the way I was. But I usually bounce back. 2 weeks ago I had 2 days I couldn’t get out of bed. This week I’m generally doing well. Ive been able to go to the grocery store with the baby. Ive been able to make dinner a couple times this week. Ive gotten my kids to school on time. Yes, on dark days, my daughter is late for school and grocery shopping overwhelms me.

And the honesty just pours. Dont be afraid to share your story. Im hoping to help others. You are not alone. You are not crazy.

To my fellow Mommies:

This I dedicate to all my mommy friends:

Because you ROCK.

WE ROCK.

Honestly, isn’t being a mother SO much harder then you ever imagined??!!!!

To the mommies who stay up late to catch up on TV, and then JUST as your falling asleep, the baby wakes; to the moms who put themselves last- last to get changed at night but FIRST to be ready in the morning, last to go to the bathroom (when we are really the only ones who have to go). Thats right, not your husband who wants to sit in the bathroom on his phone for 30 min, or your toddler who thinks it’s still a game and sometimes you TRULY believe diapers would still be easier. But when we actually just need to go pee quickly! To the mommies who braid their daughters hair into 4 braids (a total of 12 braids with 3 girls) while your hair is in a ponytail or messy bun, You are awesome!

To the moms who sit up all night with a sick baby, who was JUST getting into a good sleep pattern. BAM! Thats done. To the moms who love their kids, they do everything for them, but nothing for themselves. To the moms who squeeze in a manicure every 2 weeks…this is quite challenging, but you are awesome! To the moms who have to BRING their kids WITH them to their manicure appointment, but go anyways…UMMMM yea your a boss lady!

To my fellow mamas who do everything, and I mean EVERYTHING…while suffering from a postpartum mental illness, I feel for you. I did it for so long, I still do. Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier if I was still working because at least I could get a 30 min lunch break to myself! To the mamas who smile on the outside, while inside they’re crying…um this is VERY hard to do. I have yet to master it and I salute you!

To my mama who drink a whole bottle (or 2) of wine with their girlfriends. Look, that is your sanity. Your way to let it all out! ANd THEN those moms take care of their kids, hungover the next morning. Been there. Almost never regret those few good nights with friends who just GET IT.

To those moms who buy their kids a pet, and then they actually have to take care of it…hmm…how did this happen? Its ok, you love those kids, want to make them happy. After a while, they forget these pets exist, and the pets are more excited to see you than anyone else, because YOU are the one feeding them and taking care of them!

Back to that sick baby. ear infections, runny, nose, fevers, teething, medicine, pedi visits. Its UNBELIEVABLE!!!! Up every 20 min at night because they cant breathe or their ears hurt, their teeth are bothering them. And then those moms who are always wondering why their baby cant sleep through the night….who have tried EVERTHING! Maybe the room is too hot, too cold, too loud, too bright, not bright enough, too quiet, doesn’t have the right aromatherapy (wait, thats a thing?), their hungry, their thirsty. You’ve bought everything to help them sleep…different pjs, night lights, heaters, noise machines, music machines, tried to feed them at different times of day….it could go on forever. Let me just say…been there, done that and I love you.

To the moms who lug that damn car seat around… that thing is HEAVY! I am praying for the day my baby will be walking so I dont have to carry that thing around! We look ridiculous lugging it everywhere, along with that massive diaper bag and purse! All off balance and about to fall over, squeezing through everything, bumping people left and right. Getting it into the car, out of the car, onto the stroller, out of the stroller. All while that little baby is either sleeping inside, or staring at you wondering what the issue is…And taking the baby on a few errands? No wonder it takes all day to do 3 things!

I could go on and on, but I wanted to get this out, I hope someone reading this can relate. My mommies, we are the best! Dont give up, it will get better. Someday these babies wont need us anymore, and we will miss these days. Wait, what? Right now I would love to watch a movie alone, pee alone, eat a meal sitting down, drive in the car and listen to my music. Someday, right now I will enjoy my babies.

JM

 

 

A Dark Side of Me

Summer 2012. I was now officially a “Mom”; whatever that means. I had my daughter May 4, 2012. I was back to work right after the fourth of July holiday weekend- about 2 months. I was lucky in the fact that my mother watched my daughter while I worked. She was in good hands- when she wasn’t with me. I was struggling, falling deeper and deeper. It sounds weird, but at the time I didn’t know what was wrong, I knew something was off, but I just told myself all new mothers feel like this. It was the anxiety, the rushing, getting up, getting the baby ready, rushing to work, rushing to get home from work. Looking back now, I dont even know how I did it. I dont know how I managed and survived. I was a mess. I had a baby who DID NOT SLEEP. Therefore, I DID NOT SLEEP. I was miserable. I would get mad at her when she was crying. I would get mad at her because she wouldn’t sleep. I would get mad at her all the time! And yet, on the other hand, she was just this sweet precious little girl. She deserved a better mother than me. Thats what I truly believed. A part of me still believes this.

I look back now, and a part of me hates myself. I have hardly any good memories of her as a baby. All I remember is the dark side of it. It hurts. It cuts deep. It takes a piece of my soul. I never ENJOYED my first baby. I was fighting to stay afloat so badly that I missed it all. I never truly bonded with her. I think it still affects my bonding to this day. It affects how I see her…Unfortunatley all I have seen her as is negative. I love her, dont get me wrong, I want what’s best for her. I want her to have everything and be happy in life. But something is MISSING. I didnt have the bond like I did with my second baby.

And the rocking chair, oh the rocking chair. I cannot tell you the hours I spent sitting in it trying to get my baby to sleep. Or how many times I fell asleep rocking her. Or how it still haunts me to this day. I have dreams about sitting in that chair. Im traumatized from it. I DID NOT put it in the baby’s room this time. It is in my basement. The frustration I felt, the anger I felt, the exhaustion I felt. Knowing I had to work all day the next day, exhausted. I cant tell you the number of days I woke up wondering how I would make it through the day. I woke up every day feeling like I get hit by a truck- mentally, physically, emotionally. And, somehow, I managed to carry on. I managed to work. I managed to live life. But I wasn’t in a happy place. I was living in a dark place. I had met the dark side of me.

This was a critical time where I had learned not to judge others. I was like a walking zombie, just doing the motions of life. I can say one thing though- that mother that drown her children in the bathtub…I understand why she did it. That mother that drove her car into the lake with her kids still inside, I get it. Shaken baby syndrome, I get it. Its a scary thing to face now. Its a difficult thing to accept. Although I had never imagined hurting my own baby at this point, I was so frustrated, so angry, so lost and confused, I GET IT.

And I was jealous, I still am. Jealous of the moms who can take their kids out to the park or away for the day. I never would! Not alone at least. What of things went horribly wrong, I had to be close to home at all times. I went to the mall, grocery store, occasionally the park for a bit. That was it. Dont get me wrong, I did things with my daughter- my husband or sister was there too. I always had a way of making sure I wasn’t alone…I didnt feel I could handle it alone. There was too much that could go wrong. Too much opportunity for my frustration to get the best of me. Did I mention, my daughter, not even 2 years old- frustrated was a word in her vocabulary. Probably due to the fact that I said it all the time. People would stop me while doing an errand, saying how lucky I was to have such a beautiful little girl…and my thought was…are you joking?! She doesn’t sleep, she’s always sick, I rarely get time alone, I rush everywhere, you think Im LUCKY?!

This is a rough side. Raw, honest, this was me. I hated myself. I hated everyone around me. I hated people who were happy. I hated the moms spending “normal time” with their babies. Because I never had that. I was afraid I never would….It was pouring in my life, full on hurricane.

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Every 3 hours…

I remember bringing my baby home. I remember the first day. Trying to breastfeed. I remember being so tired I could barley keep my eyes open. Not even tired, like exhausted. Due to my anemia, I was pale, weak, having difficulty breathing at times. I was very sick. I had just given birth, was bleeding, sore, stitches. On top of that, I had a new baby, my first baby and I was completely lost. I remember the first night. She was crying. What a great start!

My husband and I were trying to calm her. I remember freaking out because she wouldn’t sleep! My husband told me. Why dont you go to your parents house and sleep. It’ll be quiet there. Ill stay here with her.

Well, I said no. That’s not a good mother, leaving her baby to sleep. So I stayed. I struggled. I never imagined something could be so hard. Sometimes I wonder if I was even sane. I cried a lot. I was up with the baby every 3 hours to feed her. She never missed a feeding. I remember her first doctor appointment. The doctor telling me if I was going to breastfeed I had to feed her every hour and a half to two hours. I remember thinking…she’s crazy. When am I supposed to sleep?! The thoughts of sleeping and staying in bed consumed me. My first thoughts in the morning were who could I get to come watch the baby…because I couldn’t take care of her. I was lost in myself. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was a mom now, but I was so lost, felt so alone. I had days I wished I was back in the hospital, because I would be able to rest. But the funny part was…the few times I did try to sleep, I couldn’t! I fell deeper and deeper. My husband had come to one of my follow up appointments and he told the midwife I wasn’t myself. She asked me if I wanted to harm myself or my baby. I said no. And that was that. No other questions. I guess I must have been fine to everyone else. Inside I was screaming.

My baby also had jaundice, she had to be at the pediatrician office daily for blood tests and spend as much time as possible on her billi blanket to reduce her levels. I remember being told she would sleep better because the blanket was so warm with the light. Nope, not my baby. Same thing. She was up all the time!

The first morning my husband went back to work I was terrified. I was supposed to be home with her all day alone?! What if she cried? What if I couldn’t stop her crying? What if’s consumed me. I was still breastfeeding, but pumping more now. This made things more complicated because I would feed her the pumped milk, put her to sleep, then have to sit up longer to pump more milk. Needless to say, this did not last long for me. I remember sitting up at 430 am, pumping, exhausted, watching the sun come up. I remember feeding the baby and putting her in her swing and collapsing back on the couch thinking I have 3 hours to rest! Those 3 hours always went by so fast and I was back at it again. My life revolved in 3 hour increments.

Those first days are a huge blur. Blur of feeding, exhaustion, being sick, keeping up with life (what I could). One morning my mother had come to watch the baby for me because I had a Dr appointment. She came in to a screaming baby in her swing, nipples melting on the stove and smoking (water had evaporated while I was trying to clean them), and me- passed out on the couch. Not in my right mind.

Those days were so hard. I wouldn’t want to go back there for anything. I wouldn’t wish how I felt on anyone. I couldn’t describe the pain I felt. I wasn’t connecting with my baby. I never enjoyed her. I followed a schedule because I HAD to take care of her. And I didn’t really want to take care of her, it just was the thing a mom did. I want good at being a mom. I was lost, never did anything right, nothing ever went as planned. I missed out on those first days of my baby’s life. I remember being happy sometimes and playing with her now and then. I rember looking at her in the swing from the couch and thinking….3 hours…

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The Dawn of someone I didn’t recognize…

My first baby was born on a rainy Friday morning in May. Traumatized is a good word I use to describe childbirth. Let me make this clear…sometimes the things I say sound horrible. Due to my disease, the thoughts I have are at times horrible. This doesn’t mean I dont love my children. I love them dearly.

Back to the morning in May..I had been waiting for my first baby girl for months. I was so excited. I had no idea what awaited me….I had her room ready, crib, rocking chair, changing table, diapers, wipes, stroller, car seat. I couldn’t wait to be a mom. The day before, I had started having contractions, they were the most painful things I have ever had to go through. I sat up all day and evening. Then, around midnight, my water broke at home. I was 4 days early. My husband brought me to the hospital, leaking water everywhere, screaming and swearing. When I arrived, I was 4 cm dilated. My contractions were so bad I was holding my breath during them from the pain. I was brought to my room, terrified. In so much pain. That’s pretty much all I remember about labor. I had 3 epidurals. Yes, 3. The first one only worked on half of my body, I still felt everything on the other side. They acted like I was nuts but finally the anesthesiologist came back in and had to do it twice before I could finally rest. My husband and I slept until about 8 that morning. Then they checked me again, I was fully dilated and ready to push. Alexandra was born face up, which I am told is harder to deliver. The pushing wasn’t bad. I pushed for just over an hour. And she was here. My baby, my beautiful baby.

Now, you know in the movies, when a baby comes into the world, the moms water breaks, she rushes to the hospital, everything goes perfectly, she pushes twice and has this beautiful baby. Her and her husband kiss and they look down at the baby smiling. The baby goes right to sleep. WHAT IS THIS? Not even close to real life, not even close to my experience.

My labor was difficult on my body, it was tough. I suffered a hemorrhage after as well. I lost so much blood, I was so anemic. I was so pale, so exhausted, no energy. In the hospital, they did everything they could to get the bleeding to stop without having to send me to the operating room. I had injections, IV fluids, the midwife cleared all the clots out of me with her hand. TRAUMATIZED. This is not how you imagine your hours after giving birth. All that, on top of trying to breastfeed, family and friends visiting. I had initially thought I was falling asleep. I now realize that I was on the edge of passing out. Thats the funny thing, when you live thorough something, you dont realize what’s going on until you look back after it has happened. After you have had time to heal and process.

I had learned after the fact that a traumatic birth experience is a risk factor for moms with PPD..

The first few days in the hospital are now a blur. A huge change had taken place, had wreaked havoc on my mind and body, was going to affect me in ways I never imagined.

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