I started my blog centered on postpartum depression at the end of 2016 with my story as the first post. I am sharing it again here for the month of May as it is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. Please share this with anyone who needs to hear it because no one deserves to feel alone.
In March of 2015, my husband and I decided that we wanted to start trying to get pregnant. For so many reasons I was scared. The number one being that I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a mom yet. I knew I always wanted to be a mom, but wasn’t quite sure it was time for me. After doing a lot of praying, I knew it was right for us to start a family at that time.
In June we found out I was pregnant and I was SO excited when I saw those 2 pink lines.
I questioned myself a lot on whether or not I was fit to be a mom throughout the pregnancy . Looking back, I often wonder if I began struggling with depression during my pregnancy. Satan also worked hard on me mentally, making me feel like I would never be enough for my child. At one point I did mention to my OB that I was nervous about have PPD after my delivery. She told me that she would prescribe me medication so that I would have it if I needed it. I opted out of that because I didn’t want to take a anything if I didn’t really need it.
On January 16, 2016, baby O was born. I can honestly say it was the happiest day of my life next to my wedding day. There is nothing like holding a seconds-old baby in your arms. There is such a tangible peace in that room that you want to keep in your pocket with you forever. The best feeling is to know that you were able to bring that precious soul into the world. Watching your husband become a father is an even better feeling.
Breastfeeding was HARD for me. I had to use a shield and supplement from day 1 because of baby O’s birthweight. These two factors made it so I never really got good and it. Honestly, I just don’t think I had the patience for it. There was a lot of tears and stress over it. I now know that the amount of emotional trauma I put myself through over breastfeeding was not worth it.
I began to notice there was a problem around 2 months postpartum. I was having a REALLY hard time adjusting to being a new mom. I don’t just mean you are sleep-deprived and you haven’t curled your hair in a week. I mean…
I would get so anxious the night before days where I knew my husband had work and school that I wouldn’t sleep, even if my husband was getting up with the baby.
I would sob all day long when he was gone.
My thoughts would race ALL THE TIME.
I felt so spiritually disconnected that I often questioned whether there was a God and why I couldn’t find a source of strength from him like I used to.
When my baby would cry I would get so angry, like scary angry.
I had to put my baby down in his crib countless times and walk away when he would cry because I was so scared I would hurt him.
I began to have thoughts that my family would be better off without a low-life like me and make plans to run away.
I would have thoughts of hurting my baby.
I felt so alone even though I have the sweetest, most supportive husband on the planet.
I finally broke down and told my husband that something was wrong. We went back to my OB and she prescribed medication for me to start taking. In the mean time I saw a therapist twice and thought, “Hey, I feel better. I must’ve taken care of it.” and honestly, I felt close-to-great for six months.
In May, we moved to Preston, ID to live at a mortuary (awesome right?!). It is not that Preston is super far from Logan, but it was far enough that I began to seclude myself from friends and family. The depression started slowly seeping back in without my knowledge and I was drowning. I felt completely numb and couldn’t find strength from things I used to that gave me courage and motivation to keep trying.
At the beginning of October, the medication just completely lost its effects and the depression hit like a ton of bricks, only it was worse, much worse.
I started crying a lot again.
I was so lonely that it was crippling.
I had thoughts and images of not only hurting my baby, but of hurting myself, too.
I was so scared, yet, I didn’t want anyone to know because I was so ashamed that a mother could even think of doing those things.
Because it had been 6 months, I had an appointment to follow-up with my OB anyway. I am so grateful now that she scheduled that appointment clear back in March because I do not know if I would have had the courage to go back because my OB was now a coworker so I felt even more ashamed to admit that I was still struggling.
I felt stupid. Stupid that this had happened to me when I was so prepared and even asked about it when I was pregnant; stupid because I was a nurse and I had all the right education for this to NOT happen; stupid because I should love my baby and being his mom and I just… didn’t.
At my appointment, my OB told me that we were bordering the line of postpartum psychosis. I was told that if I kept having thoughts of hurting myself, I needed to go to the ER. I would NEVER do that. If I did, they would make me stay and I would have to be on the Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) with all the crazy people. Those were my exact thoughts.
Except in my heart I knew that I should stay and get the help I needed.
On October 13th, while I was trying to take a nap before working my 12-hour shift, the same images came to my mind. Only this time, I knew that if I didn’t get help, I would actually do the things I was picturing. My heart started to race and I started to cry. I needed more help than outpatient appointments and therapy. I ended up in the ER as one of those patients that I used to take care of. That was never supposed to be me!
The social worker gave us the option of me going home, with the contingency that I couldn’t be alone until my appointment with the psychiatrist in 4 days, or being admitted to the BHU. When she said I could go home I thought, “Sweet, let’s get out of here!” but she gave us time to talk it over.
As soon as she left the room, my husband looked at me and said, “I just want you to be safe.” as he started to cry. It was then that I knew I needed to stay.
The first day in the hospital was really hard. It was hard to take on the role that I was the person in crisis mode and I needed to be taken care of, not be the one doing the taking care of. The BHU is a lock-down unit and so my family couldn’t just come and visit when they wanted. I was only allowed to see my husband and my baby for 30 minutes a day and it had to be a supervised visit. The day was really structured with group therapy, meetings with the doctor, individual therapy, and more. I truly felt like I had hit the bottom because I was even more alone there than I had felt at home.
It got better. I was able to see that my husband and my baby were okay and that made it a lot easier for me to focus on myself. While it was hard being there, I am so grateful that I had the courage to go because I know there are a lot of people who would continue suffering in silence or end up acting on those frightening thoughts. I got the help a lot faster than I could’ve at home and I also gained so much respect for humans in general. We each are so delicate and have to face hard things. It was heartbreaking to hear and watch the things that people suffer through on a daily basis. I was truly humbled and it made me grateful for the good that I do have in my life.
It took me a lot of trial and error with medications. I saw a therapist and attended a PPD support group for months. I couldn’t be more grateful for the things that both of these taught and showed me that I was not alone in my fight. We were finally able to unpack our knives after being locked safely in my husband’s gun case. I became a pro at using a butter knife for EVERYTHING during that time.
One thing I have come to learn is that if this is the hardship that God has asked of me to have in order to have my babies, I would do it over and over again because being a mama is the greatest blessing. I might still have bad days but that’s okay with me.
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