Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Post Partum Depression
I debated about whether or not to write this post because this is a very difficult thing to talk or write about. You would think that it would be easier because this is a faceless thing, blogging, but for one, many people I know read my blog (I think?) and it's still this deeply personal thing to be experiencing and to talk about. For the first several weeks after Ella was born, everyone, including myself, was waiting with bated breath for post partum depression symptoms to show up in me. Being on bedrest, having a premature baby who was as sick as she was and the fact that I'm prone to anxiety and stress made me exceptionally high risk for PPD (PPD risk factors). I had a 4 week appointment and by then, I was so cheerful it was sick. I had an attitude that since Ella hadn't died those first 2 weeks when she was SO sick and on the ventilator that I could take anything that was sent my way. In fact, I was so disgustingly cheerful, it should have worried me. I went to the doctor for a check up since I had had such severe pre-e and they were shocked by my positive attitude. It seemed that I was in the clear.
It was about two weeks later when I started feeling different, give or take. I started getting crankier then usual. And not just, I'm tired and my baby is in the hospital cranky. Cranky like I was screaming at and spanking my 2 year old for the stupidest little things. Yes, spanking. I've been the occasional hand slapper and the very rare spanker but all of a sudden everything she did was setting me off. Somedays, I'd get up and just think that I was so sick of the same old shi* happening at the NICU, I didn't even want to go to the stupid place. I thought it didn't make any difference and I just didn't want to go. I was sick of it. I was stressed the heck out. I talked to my friends about it and I started retaking my placenta pills (yes, placenta pills. And yes, they are what you think they are) and I started evening out. I was still stressed and got irritated even more easily then usual but I calmed down a little.
One day after her due date, on December 17, Ella came home. I was SO happy. That first day was magical. We had big family cuddles and Olivia was so thrilled that Ella was home. Our family was finally complete and under one roof. My husband's work found a loop hole around FMLA (I don't even want to get into that) so he only had that one day off. It was the next day that the crying began. The hours...and hours...and hours of crying. Did I mention that she cried? And then...she cried some more. She would scream and cry and NOTHING I did would make her stop. For the first day or two, I rocked her and sang to her and loved her and it just didn't really bother me because I was so happy my baby was home. After that....my mind got to the point where the screaming was like nails on my brain. Sometimes she would nurse, sometimes she wouldn't. By the time Shane came home, I'd be sobbing that this baby was horrible and nothing I did made her happy. I felt like a rotten mother. I was failing. And then I started thinking things like, why didn't she act like this in the NICU? Why is she doing this to me at home? Why does she want to make me crazy? I hate this baby. I wish she'd stayed at the NICU. I would cry as I thought these things because I was a rotten mother for thinking it. It just got worse and worse. After about 2 weeks, I figured out how to stop the crying from lasting hours and hours but I had exhausted myself and was to the point where the smallest cry would immediately bring the stress from 0-100% in 1.5 seconds. I was a mess. I was yelling at Olivia and spanking her for no good reason again. Time out was like every 10 minutes at times. I would cry as I did it, knowing I was a mess but feeling like I was spinning out of control. I hated myself for how I was acting towards my girls, especially towards Ella who had spent 74 days in the NICU, fighting for her life and here I was acting like the crappiest mother ever.
The things I've thought and said to my girls during my episodes...I told them both that I hated them, that I wished I'd never had children. I fantasized about getting in the car and leaving my family behind. I didn't want to be around them. I can't even say everything I thought. It was putting a strain on my marriage too because I was uber sensitive to my husband as well. One time, I went to put Olivia (2 year old) in the car and went to the wrong side and my husband asked me why I did that. I LOST it. I screamed at him that I must be a loser and a horrible mother because I didn't know which side of the car Olivia sat on. It was at this point, after a horrible morning of me losing it and being on edge all morning, that I knew it was time to get some help. I wanted to leave my kids and go away. I constantly thought my kids didn't deserve this and they'd be better without me. A few days later, I called the doctor and made an appointment to be seen.
When I went and saw the doctor, I completely broke down. It was obvious to her that I was suffering from pretty bad depression. She prescribed me Zoloft and set me up with a psychologist. I've started the Zoloft and it wasn't long after that I started feeling better. It was like someone flipped a switch in my head. I could deal with my children easier, every word that came out of my husbands mouth didn't make me feel like I wanted to shoot him...and I just feel better overall. I have always had some issues with handling stress and anxiety so throw the fact that I had a traumatic pregnancy as well as a baby in the NICU and it was pretty much a guarantee that I'd have this happen. I could never have imagined that it would get as severe as it did and once it WAS that bad, I never thought I could come out of it. I went to the doctor and when they prescribed me Zoloft, I didn't actually think it would work because I didn't feel like I could ever feel better. I thought I would feel this psycho for the rest of my life and eventually I'd totally lose my mind.
Why am I sharing something so incredibly personal? Because I never, ever thought that PPD could be this bad. I never realized how deeply this can affect women. I was humiliated by my actions and my feelings. Absolutely humiliated. I didn't want to go to the doctor because I was afraid of what they would think, say or do. I wondered if having these kinds of thoughts could get my kids taken away from me. I had asked my husband to make a huge change in our lifestyle so that I could quit my job and stay home with our kids. I had asked for both my children to be conceived so how dare I feel anything but love and appreciation towards them? It seemed like a failure to ask for help from a doctor and even worse, to try medications. But I finally had to and now I realize that there was truly something going on that needed to be fixed. My patience has multiplied. When Ella cries, I don't automatically feel like screaming at her. When Olivia acts up, I don't feel like spanking her and when my husband drives his car into a median, I don't feel like stabbing him in the eye.
I wanted to share my struggles through post partum depression because if another woman experiences this I want her to get help. I want her to know she's not alone. So while it's incredibly hard to write this all, and share it, especially with strangers, I hope that other women know they aren't alone.