10 Jan It Took Two Days: A Walk Thru PPD & PPA
It took two days.
It was in my third trimester when my OBGYN asked me, “So how are you doing emotionally?” I absolutely love my OBGYN’s office, heck if they could be internal medicine doctors I would switch in a heartbeat, but I remember my answer being, “I’m doing great!” Why wouldn’t I be? I had been rocking a twin pregnancy, these kiddos were growing beautifully, my hormones were high and my emotions even higher. My doctor advised me that I was twice as susceptible to PPD and PPA due to having a multiples pregnancy and wanted to ensure support once I was home. I carried these little guys to my 37 week scheduled C-section. All be it I was exhausted, was carrying 13 pounds of just baby, had a horrible case of PUPPS and ended up having gestational diabetes, but I did it. Despite my history with anxiety I was always an independent and strong woman so I would be “ok” I thought. I could handle it. I had this.
It took two days.
Day two in the hospital was coming around and I noticed I had a hard time sleeping and my heart felt as if it was doing a marathon run. I was anxious but I chalked it up to the whirlwind of giving birth and the ignorance of not knowing what to expect. We slept the boys in the nursery each night and I would get out of bed each morning excited to see them. They would be wheeled to my room and nothing. I felt void of all emotion. When I showered and I looked down and didn’t recognize my own body. I soon found myself sitting on the side of the bed staring out into the parking lot. Just sitting there staring. I didn’t know why. I don’t know how much time passed. I lost all track of time. All I know was that I all of a sudden didn’t know who I was. I wanted someone so desperately to find me. I was gone, or so I thought. “What was I doing?,” I remember thinking to myself. On the night of day two friends of ours had driven quite a way to come visit us when I looked at my husband and said, “I feel like I want to come out of my skin and that I’m going to have a panic attack.” Soon nurses and doctors were rushing in. I explained how all I wanted to do was cry and felt as if I was going to have a panic attack. The lump in my throat was growing by the second. I remember telling the psychiatrist, “Please know I do not want to hurt myself and I do not want to hurt my children.” It came out of nowhere but I knew. It took two days.
We made it home two days later and I was numb. All I could do was cry. Many times I didn’t know why. It just came and took hold with an unbelievable grasp. How could I bring these little people into the world and not feel anything for them? I felt nothing. Their crying made me cry even more and sent my anxiety into a spin. What was I doing? I remember one of my sons was in his Rock-n-Play and had a bowel movement and all I wanted to do was leave him there. I didn’t care if I changed him or if he got changed at all. I wanted nothing to do with this new life. I wanted nothing to do with them. How could this have been my life? I didn’t want this. A few days after returning home we had their first pediatric appointment. My sister had visited the night before and thankfully helped pack their diaper bag because I literally could not figure out how to pack it and I didn’t want to. I didn’t care to learn nor did I care to pack it. At the appointment I had to remove myself and go into an empty exam room to cry. I needed an escape. Again it just came on. I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to be anywhere but there. But I wanted children didn’t I? Didn’t I? This was what we worked so hard to achieve wasn’t it?
This is postpartum depression. This is postpartum anxiety. This is me about a week after the boys were born. I remember this moment vividly. I remember this night. My sister thought that maybe doing skin to skin, which I didn’t get to do in the hospital due to complications resulting from the anesthesia, would help me connect. This was right before I asked for my husband and sister to “get them off of me.” Again I felt nothing and I hated myself for it. I was in a constant war in my mind. My husband and I conceived the boys thru our second round of IVF and all I could think to repeatedly cry out was, “Why did we put in two (referring to embryos)? Why did we put in two?” I began manifesting in my mind that life with one would have made me far more connected to this thing called motherhood. That I would have surely felt something then. This night will stay with me forever.
I was in hell when this photo was taken. Hell both mentally and physically. My mother-in-law had come over one day shortly after the snapping of this photo and forced me to go on a walk around the neighborhood. The anxiety that set in was all too consuming. I didn’t want to get them ready, I wanted to be me and just walk out the door. This “new normal” that I was waiting for had not arrived. I forced myself out the door that day and spent the entire walk cringing inside, silently counting the seconds until we returned home which all of a sudden that day seemed like a safe place.
I knew that hell was not where I wanted to be and I had to do something. I reached out to a counselor and sought out therapy. I reached out to every mom that I knew and to my surprise had moms that I had never met get in touch with me because friends reached out to send me support. I was desperate for help. I would have done anything to be able to crawl out of the hell hole I called my mind. I needed someone to say to me, “I have been there. You are not alone.” One of the most profound statements that was ever said to me by a friend during this process was, “Love grows.” I quickly realized that I didn’t know these new people in my life and these new beings depended on me for their survival. That statement helped me come to terms with the fact that they were getting to know me and I was getting to know them.
With help I worked thru the depression but the anxiety manifested quickly. Love grows it’s true and as the weeks went on I found myself more happily immersed in motherhood but then the thoughts, things that I would have never thought prior to having kids began to rob me again, slowly, yet fiercely. Thoughts that something was going to happen to me and that I was going to leave my kids, thoughts of them drowning in the ocean when we went to the beach, thoughts of someone coming into our house to kidnap them, obsessively checking the thermostat because an article I read said the temperature should be between 68-72 in their room and panicking that something would happen to them if the temperature was even a degree off, and thoughts that I couldn’t walk down the stairs holding them because I would surely trip and severely injure them to name a few. This is postpartum anxiety everyone. It has a name and it is real.
It has been a very long 21 months for my mental health but I will be forever grateful that someone, quite possibly my mother, was looking out for me on day two. As odd as it sounds I feel lucky that I was able to identify what was happening to me. I continue to battle postpartum anxiety every day but after investing in my health I feel armed with tools to combat “the new me.” That is not the case for so many women. Women are suffering, women are silently crying out, women need us. You may ask why I’m sharing this with you. It’s raw, it’s real but it needs to be shared. I need other women to know they truly are not alone. That their thoughts have run thru the minds of many of us. Their feelings have been felt by many of us and we get it. We are with you. We are you. We hear you and we see you. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and we need to work together, we must unite to make that tunnel passable. We need to keep this conversation going because PPD and PPA care must become a larger part of our prenatal care. Period.
To my sons, and my husband, I love you more than any word could express. Thank you for waiting for me.