It all came out of the blue. Why now? It made no sense. With Mark, it was my first child, I wasn't used to the sleep deprivation, the hormone changes, the colicy baby. It all was the perfect storm for me to suffer from postpartum depression and anxiety the first time around. So this time, this time I was ready. I would be different I said. I felt so calm and peaceful the entire pregnancy. I was over the moon to be having a girl and make our family complete. Yes, it was a much harder pregnancy and delivery than Mark, but I didn't see how that would affect me postpartum.
The moment when she was born was on of the most peaceful and joyous moments of my whole life. (Mark bless his heart cried for an hour straight when he was born. Not so peaceful). She looked up at me with her big blue eyes and didn't say a word, she just stared and stared.We locked eyes and I felt so much love for both of my kids and husband in that moment. Little did I know that that would be that last time I would feel any kind of happiness and peace for over 5 months.
I noticed it a couple days after she was born. The familiar anxiety and restlessness, the trouble sleeping when Hadley or Jesse slept. The unshakeable sadness. I immediately started my antidepressant medication that had worked wonderfully after I had Mark. I was a little sad to "need" to take something to help me, but I figured why suffer like I did with Mark? I wanted to nip it in the bud and get back to the old me and be the best mom and wife I could be. But after a week or two, I didn't really feel all that much better. in fact, I felt worse. And I started to feel really sick, and went to my OB who diagnosed me with mastitis. She gave me antibiotics and I went home to rest. I was a mess.I felt like I'd been hit by a mack truck and I was trying to take care of a newborn and 3 year old with a 102 fever and inability to get out of bed.. Thank God Jesse was able to help with the babies. I figured the medication hadn't helped me yet because I got mastitis which stressed me out and set me back some. After I kicked this mastitis I would feel better.
The infection did clear and I felt a little better. Then, right before Thanksgiving, I started to feel really ill. I was going to the bathroom up to 10 times a day. It lasted for 3 weeks. My primary doctor dismissed it as having a virus, and I continued to suffer. I was starting to lose control of my life. I couldnt eat, I lost all of my pregnancy weight plus 15 lbs, I couldn't sleep and that became a huge anxiety producing cycle between not sleeping and wanting sleep so badly. I didn't want my husband to leave me alone with the kids. I didn't feel like I could handle them on my own. i would cry and cry for hours and hours. I didn't feel like "me", I felt like I had lost myself forever. On top of that, I knew in my heart that something was wrong with my physically and yet my doctor dismissed me. I coudn't rest. The hardest part was that i was so restless and anxiety filled that I literally could not sit for ten minutes and play with my son while he was playing. It devastated and crushed my heart. I hated myself for being this way. My husband would tell me to "just relax". If he only knew what I would give to be able to relax. To be able to sleep, to be able to hold my newborn without crying for hours on end. With depression, you are in this tunnel of sadness and no matter how hard you try, it is impossible to notice all the blessings around you. Its impossible in that moment to ever feel like you will ever get better. Or smile again. Or laugh again. All I knew is that I didn't want to feel that way anymore. I felt likd my kids and husband were better off without me. I daydreamed about driving off in my car and crashing it into a wall. I never in my life had ever had suicidal thoughts before. But at that time, I would have given anything to stop the pain. Why now? the medication worked last time. Why was I suffering this time, and feeling lower then I had ever felt before? I thought for certain I would never be able to work as a nurse in the ER ever again, I was angry, devastated, hopeless, and terrified..
My tests finally came back and I was diagnosed with C.Diff, an intestinal infection that at its worst can claim the lives of those who suffer from it, or need their colons removed. My nursing mind started wandering and thinking the worst. My anxiety went through the roof. Cdiff affects every part of the body;, the gut, the mind, physically and mentally. I started medication to treat it, but it came back. And back again.And kept coming back despite the strongest antibiotics out there. for 5 long months.
I told my husband I really needed help. I told my best friend I really needed help. I told my mom I really needed help. Luckily my best friend, she heard my cries for help and I got into an outpatient treatment program for those with depression and anxiety. I became my own advocate and found myself a couselor, therapist, psychiatrist, accupuncturist. You name it, I tried it. I got a new doctor, and a new antidepressant. I was terrified it would not work and I would always suffer and be depressed. But I had to try. For my husband, for my little ones. I was also determind to beat Cdiff, and researched the best treatment for my disease. I finally found a doctor with a 3 month wait list and made an appt. i had a procedure done called a fecal transplant, which ended my 5 months of suffering from this horrible and god awful infection.
I am so grateful and happy to say that 6 months later, I consider myself out of the woods of both Cdiff and Postpartum depression. It was not an overnight success by any means whatsoever. Sometimes it was an hourly struggle to get through the day. Then i would have a couple good moments in my day, and see a sliver of hope that I would one day be myself again. I went on walks, did meditation, went back to work, called people for help on a bad day. And sometimes that meant calling several people until I found someone who heard the fear or sadness in my voice and would take me out for coffee or a walk. I am truly forever grateful to them. it took a village to become well again. Friends, family, new friends, new doctors, strangers, therapists, accupuncturists, yoga, websites, my husband, my children- they all played a pivotal role in my recovery. Without them, I don't think I would be sitting here writing this. And my husband, my dear husband. He was our rock and glue for 3 months and how he kept us all together I have no idea. but he did. He took care of the kids many a days and nights when I was unable. He never complained once, but I saw the stress and fear in his eyes wondering if his life would ever return to normal too.
I am telling my story in the simple hope that I can help at least one mother suffering from a postpartum mood disorder. Some nights, reading a blog or story, or listening to my new friend who had suffered from postpartum and survived was literally all that kept me going. The postpartum progress was the most important and helpful website for me. Without it, I wouldnt have had the access to rescources and information about what I was suffering from.
I am here to tell you to hang on. For just one more day, for one more hour, for one mor minute if you need to. To stay connected to people, and things, no matter how simple they seem. You WILL get better. In fact, you can be better than the "old" you. A stronger, wiser and fiercer person than you were before. I found my voice admist all this suffering, and I know that you can too. Lastly, learn to accept yourself and what YOU need. I learned I need more alone time than a lot of mommies. So I have my daycare provider watch the kids one extra day so I can have some alone time. That's ok, don't feel the least bit gulity about it. Don't compare yourself with any other mom but yourself and what YOU feel is right.
So to celebrate, I am climbing on the lightest day of the year, june 21st. To celebrate climbing out of the darkest time of my life, which interestly enough happened during the shortest days of the year. Join me in helping to raise money for this wonderful cause that has helped me and so many women across the country. Thank you
love and light,
Climb Out of the Darkness is the annual awareness raising and fundraising event for Postpartum Progress, a nonprofit focused on supporting pregnant and new moms with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum . depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum psychosis and pregnancy depression. Also, Climb Out of the Darkness kicks ass. Just so you know
Help us raise money so that we can continue to raise awareness of how women are devastated by perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, make sure women know what they need to know about PPD, eliminate stigma and support the mamas who need it.