May 20, 2010

Personal History: Post partum

This is my story straight up. It's long, boring and totally self-indulgent. It's for me to remember so I don't forget my feelings. 

After my labor and delivery I felt so out of it, which I know is totally normal but I honestly felt like I  was outside of my body and couldn't act normal.  I remember wanting everyone who came to see us to go home, but also panicking at the thought that I couldn't sleep or relax without them there because I was in charge of Gus.  I woke up in the middle of the night realizing they had taken Gus to the nursery, I remember feeling frantic.  I walked the halls and banged on the window crying for them to give me back my baby.  I saw all these other moms walking the halls wearing their robes and looking rested and happy, but I did not feel that way at all, I felt horrible.  When Gus was taken in for his circumcision I waited out in the hall for him and James to get finished.  I watched from the window when the doctor looked my way with a concerned look then he came out to tell me that Gus had a condition that he found during the procedure that would have to be fixed.  Are you kidding me, I was at a loss.  In the end it was really no big deal, but to a mom with post partum depression/anxiety every little thing feels like the end of the world.  My independent nature didn't even think of planning help ahead of time, I had meals coming from the ward and I had made some frozen meals earlier.  I realize now that I didn't need food, I needed someone to talk to.  I came home knowing I was on my own, James had finals, my mom was planning a wedding, and I was alone.  One of my earliest struggles was that I didn't produce milk, I took all the herbal stuff, I pumped, but I never got a drop. Nursing is another thing that just added pressure and stress and made me feel horribly guilty.  I struggled with other things too, we had 1/2 the income, no insurance for me or Gus and we made just enough money to qualify for nothing.  When Gus was seven days old he spiked a crazy fever, I took him to his pediatrician who sent us straight to the hospital.  I could do nothing else but cry, I was devastated.  I sat in the hospital room waiting as they ran all the tests and worried and cried.  I was tired, and so out of it. Some of the staff at the hospital was kind, they sympathized and I'm sure could see I was struggling. I had one nurse that would routinely stop in and ask to hold Gus so I could get out of the room to take a walk.  Even the lactation consultant gave me the green light to stop nursing, she knew I needed the reassurance that I was making the right choice.  At this point my family and friends were aware that I was having a really hard time with Gus being in the hospital and with my emotions.  I had such great support, my mom and sisters and my best friend rallied around me, listened to me and sacrificed countless hours to ensure that I was alone as little as possible.  With all their help, the guilt I felt was immeasurable.  I was taking people away from their families, my husband was sleeping and studying for finals in a hospital room and I was so mad that I couldn't get my crap together and take care of my family.  I played a good roll, I would put on a happy face and make sure I looked fine, but I was not okay.  The next few months flew by, I couldn't sleep, I never ate, it was rough. The emotions and anxiety were relentless, everything was magnified, I was sure the whole world hated me and thought I was a horrible mom, I felt guilty, lazy, and I was always sure that Gus was going to die. James was amazing, he worked hard all week, woke up at night to take care of Gus and also worked a landscaping job during the weekend. I could go on and on, there were so many feelings and emotions that made me feel like I was on a roller coaster. It was a hard year, but with love and support things got better.  I  took me two years to feel like I had my personality back,  I still have the anxiety, just not as extreme, I've also been able to overcome the guilt; it was a hard time, and the people who loved me wanted to help so I just accept it and will try to pay it back.  It's so crazy to look back on the experience at this stage and think of how random it was.  It was a growing experience for me and has really helped me develop my ability to accept help and give help to those who need me.


Anonymous said...

a. men. I know exactly the feeling, becuase I felt it too. And it's crazy, the more people want to be there for you, to help you, the worse you feel. we know for next time, and I certainly will get help. Thanks for putting it into words.

Danika said...

Thanks for sharing this! Most women (probably more than we know) go through this to some degree or another. We're expected to be strong and happy at the time when we're feeling the weakest and most insecure.

I didn't write much about my postpartum experiences on my personal history entries, but I had them (thanks for the reminder - I will have add them before I print up my books).

Sorry I wasn't any help for you - I was obviously focused on myself and my own issues after having Natalie!

Cicily said...

Just knowing other people understand makes me feel so much better. When I posted this I was worried people would think I was bratty or just liked to complain. So the understanding goes a long way, thanks Ashley and Danika.

Ginger said...

I think it's great that you posted this. I believe that writing things down really is therapeutic. I really enjoyed our talk on the retreat about this issue. It affects many women. You are amazing!

Jill said...

I had no idea. I mean a little, later, but not at the time. You were so different, it was clear once you fully came back how significant it was. That's just crazy. I hope you know when it comes time for round two, all of us will be there to help and you don't have to feel guilty about it. Got it? good.

mrs t said...

Good post. I think so many can relate to this, in one form or another. Why is asking for help so hard? And why does it leave us feeling guilty?

PS Gus has not changed at all! That picture is like a miniature version of the current Gus. So cute!

Jenni Coberly said...

I was the same way when Morganne was born. Every time they wheeled her away I would cry and every time they brought her back to my room I cried. I had to put my head between my knees MANY times and take deep breaths.

I tried all the herbs, lasers and breast feeding tricks and was not successful. That of course did not help the anxiety. Then at 4 weeks I found out that her skull was fused and she had to have her head opened up from ear to ear and have part of her skull removed. Oh boy...that did NOT help!!

I so wish that I would have been there to help you realize that you were not alone. It's SO hard...motherhood. You made it through the hard first on to ages three and four!! Hold on!! :)