Friday, May 29, 2009

Medical Help PART 2

I continued to see the medical doctor for several weeks,kept taking my medicine, and began counseling sessions at a place called "Quest." Ian went with me the first couple of times, and then I started being "dropped off," and seeing my therapist one-on-one. My prescription dosages were increased. The Lexapro didn't help me much and I was hesitant to take Xanax because of side effects. But I took it when I had to, and happened into a routine of Lexapro in the morning and Xanax around bedtime (with a bowl of cereal)to help me sleep. I found myself in a frustrating, maddening Catch-22 of needing the med to get even a few hours of sleep, but then waking up every morning sick to my stomach from it, and nervous and depressed all over again. I dreaded waking up to another day. And I would still wake up in the middle of the night quite often, with anxiety, and hearing the sounds of my newborn...I would pass him in the living room, on my way to the kitchen. (I would eat a snack, pray, pace,cry, try to calm down and get back to sleep.)I felt guilty and grieved that I wasn't the one up with him through the night, giving him his bottle. For 4 weeks straight, my parents, mostly my mom, took on that responsibility. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

“It’s only 5:00, Mom!”

written 3/1/09

During the first few weeks of Israel’s life, time seemed to be my enemy. Because of the depression, every moment felt like an hour, and nothing got better or easier. It was a fight just to do the necessary things to take care of myself, much less all of the responsibility that comes with a newborn. I not only felt bad physically, but I was in such a mental fog and emotional mess, that everything was difficult, “pointless,” and painfully slow. Sometimes I couldn’t even shower. All I could do was sit and sob and say the same things over and over. “I can’t take this anymore.” “I don’t understand!” “It’s not supposed to be this way.” “What’s wrong with me?” “I don’t feel like I’m really here.” One of the hardest things about “time” was all of the moments I lost with my new son. My moments with him were not peaceful, and a lot of them were stolen all-together because of me having to “get rest,” or go to doctors appointments, counseling sessions, etc. It felt like I would NEVER get better. Even when we would all get out of the house and go ride around, grab lunch somewhere or go for a walk…anything we could think was survival…something to pass time. Nothing was enjoyable. I knew that if I did make it to the end of another day, I dreaded the thought of starting another day just like the one before. (Groundhog day!) I would look back on my day, and it was like a big, long, blur. The weeks went by faster than the days. Mondays kept coming, reminding me that Izzy was another week old, and that we still weren’t home. Another hard week was beginning. Oh God, how much longer? One day, I sat on the couch beside my mom, tissues in hand, and looked at the clock on the VCR. “It’s only 5 o’clock, Mom!” I cried and cried. I felt stuck in that moment. In the days that followed, we began to guard that time of day, and tried to do something besides sit on the couch and cry, before the clock hit 5:00pm again.

Medical Help

The MD listened to my heart-beat and said it was like a "race-horse." My anxiety levels were through the roof.My husband sat in the doctor's office with me while I cried through the appointment. My new baby was only 2 weeks old and in that short amount of time I had gone from being a happy, healthy mom-to-be, to feeling like a helpless child filled with fear and sadness.I was prescribed 2 more medications:Lexapro and Xanax.Dr. Balla, a kind Christian man, told me it would take time but that things would get better.I was devastated and scared. I didn't feel like I could handle it for one more day.I didn't have time for it to "take time!" I was desperate for relief.
We went back home, picking up one of the prescriptions on our way.I tried to rest, but was too shaken up. At this point, my parents were helping out and coming over at all hours and Ian had to return to work. We decided it would be best to just stay with them for the next few days. A "few days" turned into 6 weeks.We were in for a huge battle. Bigger than us, but not bigger than God. Within a few days of visiting doctor Balla for the first time, He called to check on me, and to let me know that the blood tests they ran all came back "normal."(They checked my Thyroid and other areas, but also said my hormones were still out of balance, of course, because I had just had a baby. It was too early to tell.)I tried to be positive about the results: at least I wasn't "sick," but I also felt like I still didn't have an answer or the validation that it wasn't just "in my head." Still, I took comfort in the sincerity of the doctor. He spoke with compassion, and seemed to be genuinely concerned for me. He kept me in his prayers, and left his personal number on my voicemail. God knew how delicate I was at that time, and that I needed to be in the care of gentle people who took my problem seriously.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Rocky Start

Israel Paul Goodman was born at 8:15pm on March 24th, 2008 at a birthing center. Everything seemed fine, we had successfully, all-naturally, delivered a healthy, beautiful baby boy. My pain was gone, I got a bath, ate some dinner, and we were home by 11:30 that night! Yes, I was sore and very tired (and a little "out of it") but just chalked it up (the numbness, shock, delirium) to child-birth. Every new parent feels this way, right? We couldn't believe what had just happened and that we were in our bed staring at our own son in a basket! Wow...

Well, I had maybe gotten 10 minutes of sleep during the 20 hour process, and had gone into labor at night, so I had also already been up that entire day before. My parents accompanied us home, made sure we were ok, and then left, (at our request) planning to return the next day and visit.

Over the next couple of days, I was still feeling okay, but not sleeping enough. Still, I was enjoying my baby and showing him off. Visitors were coming over. My hubby and I even went for the follow-up checkups and it felt so neat to already be out and about with our baby, grabbing breakfast and Starbucks and taking pictures of Israel in his car seat. I even remember one of the first couple of days, my mom asking me how it felt now- “Does it feel natural and normal to have a baby now, or are you having trouble? Feeling emotional?” I said, “No,” and that it felt completely normal, like he just fit right in as part of our family, nothing different...

So, that was our beginning, but over the first few days, I was having some trouble breast-feeding and I was trying everything! But Israel wasn't eating enough. This caused more lack of sleep and anxiety and tears over the frustration and concern about my son "not eating." I felt helpless. All of my emotions and fear were also magnified by the lack of sleep.

We had brought Iz home on Monday, and by Wednesday night Ian and I were about to lose it, not knowing what else to do with our crying little boy who wouldn't sleep or eat. I called my friend/neighbor over for help with the nursing (she's a mom of 3, was nursing her own son at the time, and was training to be a dulah) She came, stayed until after 4 in the morning and slept with the baby in the living room so we could get a little sleep. I think I slept for about 2 hours that night. By Thursday morning, I was starting to feel desperate and called a lactate consultant over to our house, and she helped us get started with "pumping." All day Friday I "pumped," and tried to play catch up behind my son's feeding schedule, while still exhausted and shaken up over the night before. (not to mention how draining-no pun intended-it can be physically to pump a lot, losing calories, energy, etc) My parents and others from our church continued to come over and help out, bring food, clean up the house, hold the baby, etc. But something had triggered by Friday. By Friday evening, I was feeling anxious, had a nervous stomach, felt overtired, like tired beyond the point of being able to relax and sleep. I started to tell my husband and parents that I felt really "weird" and to pray for me. Well, that "weird" got worse, and turned into one of the worst nights of my life.

Hours later, after feeling very sick, shaking, crying, feeling like I was "clocking out," and having several friends come over, (to pray, and give me Tylenol PM, Pediasure, Gatorade, anything to help "replenish my system" and give me some sleep) I finally settled down enough to go to sleep...for 45 minutes! I woke up with an achy head, and the feelings started all over again (not to mention the awkwardness and frustration of all of this even happening! My poor husband and my baby! Why couldn't I just feel okay and take care of my baby? I ended up on the bathroom floor, crying out for help, in a fog…I felt like I was dying. Little did I know this would be my first all-out anxiety attack. 911 was called, and an ambulance was sent out to pick me up from our house. They wheeled me out in a T-shirt and my husband’s boxer shorts. I spent the next four hours at the emergency room, a basket-case, with my husband on one side, my dad on the other, waiting with me by the bed. (My mom stayed home with the baby.) I was the picture of chaos and confusion, with an I.V. in my arm. To make things worse, my milk came in there, and soaked my t-shirt on the hospital cot. What a reminder that things were not going like we had planned.

The doctor finally came back in and reported that I "just needed rest" and also gave me a prescription for a UTI. WHAT? That's IT??

We went back home, and again I could not sleep, but now felt even more trapped, because I had already tried going to the ER and they didn't help me. (not to mention how expensive it was just to be told what you already knew. It was pointless to go back and waste more money.)

My mom started to call everyone she could think of to pray, while I lay helplessly freaking out on my loveseat in the living room. My husband slept on and off in the bedroom. I worried about him, the baby, my parents...but I also couldn't help or stop how I was feeling, and had to have their help. My body felt like it was spinning completely out of control. I have heard it best explained this way: “Your hormones are fluctuating too rapidly for your brain.”

Fast forward....(Friday and Saturday were horrible) By Saturday night (after hardly sleeping since MONDAY) I finally took a couple of sleeping pills and got some sleep, even though it was still very difficult to stay still and “let myself sleep.” But I finally fell asleep and woke up 7-8 hours later. (Mom stayed the night and took care of the baby, so Ian and I could rest.) I felt a lot better the next morning and we all ate a big breakfast. Ahh... I thought everything would get back to normal. I was wrong. I struggled to "keep it together" for another week or so, but I was falling apart. I got in to see a family doctor, who diagnosed me with Postpartum Depression. (I had to excuse myself while waiting to see him. I was having a panic attack in the waiting room.) That was the first of many steps I would have to take forward in the days to come.

I am still recovering from the symptoms and the post-trauma of PPD. No, not the "baby blues." No, not the "big adjustment of being a new mom." I am talking about the fight of my life! There is so little out there on the topic of PPD, at least the kind of extreme case that I suffered, and I am determined to help change that! Creating this blog is one small way I can do that. After 14 months, I am still here. There must be a purpose! More to Come...