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...