There's so much to say about bringing home our sweet, adventurous baby. Now that I'm at my keyboard I'm not even sure if I'm ready to say very much at all.
The reason I'm sharing our story, isn't so that you feel sad for me or my baby. It's not so I get attention and sympathy. It's to reinforce life is perfectly imperfect, hardships happen, messy happens, struggles happen and YOU are not alone. I felt alone, so alone. I had NO CLUE what PPD was and that I needed to ask for help. This is to shed a tiny sliver of light on PPD, because if you do happen to get the guts to start googling more information on it, symptoms are very cut and dry. If this helps just one person, than this hard stuff was worth it. I already know Evie and I have helped more than one mama. This is for YOU, sweet mom, as much as it is for me.
Bringing Evelyn home, was so much scarier than bringing Savannah home. People treat you differently; as if you've hit a "pro" level of parenting and need less help. The reality is you need more help than ever, at least we did. Drew and I both struggled to get back into the "newborn stage" while also still living in the "toddler stage" with Savannah.
Everything with Ev was different than it was with Sav and we didn't remember how to do a lot of things. Sav slept in her bed from night one, Ev refused not only the crib, but her room in general. Savannah was horrible at nursing, Ev was a natural. Savannah slept on us and with us during the day, Ev only slept in her swing. Savannah Slept through the night around 3 weeks, Evie didn't sleep through the night until 3 months. PLUS, we were dealing with separation anxiety, food and eating struggle, and other typical toddler things on top of remembering how to care for a baby.
I felt like I wasn't bonding with the baby, I wasn't fully satisfying my toddler's needs, I wasn't any kind of anything to my marriage, and when it came to myself? Well I never got that far down on the list.
It's difficult for me to remember Evie's first weeks with us, but there were such truly wonderful things that happened. Even though I felt like I had a broken bond with her, their sisterly bond was astonishing and stronger than anything I had ever witnessed. Savannah loved her baby so so much and took such great care of her. She also helped me more than she could ever realize. Evie was ridiculously round and cute, and she was such a relaxed and happy baby.
Good things were happening, but I have to remind myself of that everyday. When I think back to bringing home our second daughter I don't remember her soft skin and sweet smell, I don't remember snuggling and baby coo's. I remember loneliness and anger, I remember yelling a lot at a toddler AND a tiny baby, I don't remember ever soothing or even touching her...Here are some of the things that made me speak up to my doctor:
- I mentioned above, I had absolutely no bond with her.
- I didn't want to hold or touch her.
- Caring for her most basic needs felt like a huge burden.
- I cried 24/7. Not the hormonal "I'm happy so I cry, I'm sad so I cry, if I have any kind of emotions I just cry" cries. They were "real, life regretting, body shaking, who's life am I stuck in, get me out of here, I can NOT survive this" sobs.
- I did NOT have suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting my baby. [This is the first question health care professionals ask, but it does not define depression] One night, during a middle of the night feeding, she was refusing to latch [because she was too busy crying]. I envisioned myself pitching her at the wall [how one would throw a football]. I pictured her crumbling down to the floor into silence. I didn't want to do it, I didn't think of ways to hurt her. The vision literally popped in my head, as clear as if it were a memory. Drew had walked in the nursery shortly after, because of her constant crying. I stood up, body shaking, SCREAMED at Drew about him not coming in sooner to help [I think], set Evelyn in the middle of the floor, and walked out of the room and out of the house. I stood in my jammies in the freezing cold, shaking and crying in the middle of the night and wondering what was wrong with me.
Nothing was wrong with me. I am normal. 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression, and even more than that experience the baby blues. You are normal. We are normal.
Before I go on, I should mention that I don't "bond" with doctors. I don't hate doctors as people but I hate the experience of going to the doctors. I think I feel like it's weak to go to a family doctor? [LOL, I know, you guys have no idea how screwed up I really am!] And going to the OBGYN is just uncomfortable in general. I like to stick to the facts and get in and out. All three doctors in my OB's practice are just like that, in and out. Which I loved! Then, right before we got pregnant with Ev the practice welcomed a midwife. I don't know what it is about her, but I L-O-V-E her. I should have only had her for one, maybe two visits, but by the hand of God, I saw her almost every single visit. I felt myself opening up more and more each visit. At my last visit I begged her to deliver my baby, but she wasn't licensed to deliver at my hospital yet.
After you have a baby, the mother has a 6 week postpartum check up, with your delivering doctor; to make sure you're healing properly and okay you to begin getting back into you're normal routine, be it work, working out, removing lifting restrictions and so forth. Well, in the midst of my chaos at home, I totally forgot about my six week check up, rescheduled it for two weeks later. My delivering doctor had another delivery the day of my rescheduled appointment, so I had to see a different doctor... the midwife.
Guys. If I would have saw my delivering doctor I would not have said anything. I would have been in and out. But as I sat on the chair across from the midwife, she was reading down the list, checking off postpartum follow up questions. We were firing though them with quick "yes's", "no's" and "good's". She was even paraphrasing to shorten the "silly" questions. "Signs of postpartum depression?" she asks looking down at the paper with her pen ready to go. Silence from me. She looked up at me... I was having an internal "Just say yes!" "NO WAY!" battle still when she looked up at me, and it must have been of my face. She said, "Would you like to talk to someone? A professional?". Quickly I came out with, "No! I'm fine! Really". She tilted her head and shot me a sympathetic look, then got up and stepped out of the room. She came back with a card and said, "I can't recommend her enough, even if you don't have PPD, she's just great to talk to." Paused and asked, "Are you going to call?" I don't know why, but I was so compelled to be honest, and I told her no, I probably wouldn't call! She left again without saying anything. A few minutes later, she popped her head back in my room and said "My friend is free Thursday at 2pm, do you want me to tell her that you'll be there?" The room had no clock in it, but I could hear a clock ticking as she waited for my answer. For some reason I had my sister coming to the house that day to watch the girls, so I blurted out "yes!"
Today? I recommend a therapist to most sane of mind. Haha! But seriously, I was against going on meds...all pride. I had to take medication to bring me down a notch, get my hormones and endorphins leveled out, so that I could sort through my anxiety and depression. I was afraid medication would trick me into feeling better and then I wouldn't put in the work. That definitely isn't the case. Today, I'm not better, but I am healing, I work at it everyday. Somedays I regret that this is our story. Some days I straight up loose my shit. Some days we are golden! I'm not perfect, nobody is. [If you are like I used to be: afraid of doctors, viewing help as weakness- let it gooo! -yes sang like Elsa, except way off key.]
I know God has a plan for each of us, and I'm not putting this out in the world to say "I had PPD and I survived, you can too!" with a big "hip hip horray". Maybe, I had it to be knocked of my high parenting horse. Maybe, this happened to me so that I could see past perfect. Maybe, it's because I lacked empathy. Maybe, it's because there's a mommy out there thinking something is wrong with her, too, and maybe, just maybe, she'll get to read this. I don't know why this happened, but I trust in God's plan for myself and my family enough to know it wasn't an accident and we can overcome. Also, I'm a chronic over sharer. Ha.
Please, if you related to even one sentence of these TMI blog posts, talk to someone you trust, whether its a friend, parent, sister, spouse or medical professional... let go of the pride and reach out.
Pictured below, our imperfect family of 4. And a very HAPPY first birthday birthday to my wild little red head!!