June 28, 2012

The Highs and Lows........PPD

I don't know how many people will really get this.....probably the women who have been where I am.
Maybe this will help some folks understand the reality of Postpartum Depression-the reality I've been living for over a year now.

I always thought that PPD was a severe mental disease that made women want to kill their babies.

After having three children I never experienced more than a couple of days worth of the 'baby blues' which consisted mostly of post birth 'let down'-of no longer feeling the anticipation of meeting my baby....and of course a few tears.

I didn't feel like I needed to worry about ever having PPD-it just couldn't be in the cards for me....right?


When I unexpectedly found out I was pregnant for my fourth baby,I was in the midst of planning our wedding (yes,we do things a bit backwards around here.....) and had just become a full time stay at home mom.
I wasn't upset that I would be a mother again;I feel that children are the biggest blessing in life and I felt honored that God chose to have me experience this again.

I ended up with a really bad ear infection-which gave me a fever of 102.2 for over a week.
I also had morning sickness ALL day and my energy levels were non-existent.
For almost 2 months it felt as though I had been run over by a train.

I noticed that I was really emotional and I cried a lot.

I was sick once more around 24 weeks and this time it was a cough/fever combination.
Our marriage was struggling....with my lack of energy and illness,I could barely keep it together to get out of bed when my husband had to leave for work at 3pm.

I also had soreness related to my pregnancy-my pelvis felt like it would split and my hips hurt so bad I could barely turn over in bed.
At 39 weeks I had gained 50 lbs-but I didn't really worry since in the past I always lost the baby weight within 3-4 months,so this wouldn't be a big deal......

I put SO much thought into how peaceful and natural my homebirth would be-and it was.

It was perfect.

The transition to life after the birth of a new baby always takes a few weeks.....so when the overwhelming emotions kicked in,I wasn't too concerned-"Just give it more time" I would tell myself.

On Facebook my mama friends would post how they took their children to a park or a store and it seemed so 'free' and easy for them......I on the other hand could barely feed my children supper without feeling suffocated and anxious.
I really just thought I was a bad mom....maybe I just wasn't cut out to have more than a couple of kids-or any at all.

Each day was a battle....and it continued.
After a couple of months,I noticed that the 18 lbs I had lost after Jacobi's birth,had crept back on.
I realized that everytime I felt stressed or overwhelmed,I was darting into the kitchen and eating something.
I felt unattractive......And I was sore-my pelvis was still very tender from pregnancy.

I also wasn't sleeping well.....even when Jacobi would go to sleep at night,when I SHOULD be sleeping I couldn't.
I would stay up late and watch TV or be on the internet....relaxation was far from possible.
Most nights I would sleep less than 4 hours total....and it was broken up.
A few times I just couldn't take it and I would impulsively get in the van barefooted in the middle of the night once my husband was home and just drive for a while.

Being a patient person-mostly by nature-I barely recognized myself at times.

I would ask my oldest child to do something and if he had a difficult time following directions (which we usually struggle with) I would feel breathless and irritated.
And then the guilt would kick in....I would end every day thinking "What's wrong with me? Why can't I just be the mom that I want to be so badly????"
The phone would ring and I just didn't want to answer it......but at the same time I felt desperately alone.

It took everything in me just to take a shower....let alone even imagine entertaining anyone!

My husband didn't understand how to help me and he would get frustrated.....I would cry over everything-sometimes it was because of his just not being there for me like I needed.
I would blame myself....I tried so hard to keep the house tidy and have dinner made for him.
I wanted to enjoy the baby,be a good,involved mom to my other children....but much of the time I would sit and cry while my older children watched episode after episode of Dora the Explorer.

I never really had serious 'suicidal' thoughts-thankfully.....but I did want to run away.
There was never once I wanted to hurt my baby-or any of my children.
A lot of times I would be so upset that I would frantically tell my husband to "Take the baby!!" because I felt so much tension in my body that I felt like throwing something and I didn't feel I should be holding the baby.

When Jacobi was about 6 months old,I was researching a breastfeeding issue we were having......I stumbled on a page in my Ina May Gaskin's guide to breastfeeding :

Risk factors that are associated with postpartum depression-and I had 10 out of 16.

THIS is my problem?

I looked at the symptoms:
Sad or anxious feelings
Mood swings
Poor appetite (which I later read that weight loss OR gain are symptoms)
Panic attacks

And I had almost all of them.

Not being a big fan of doctors or medication,I decided to try to 'cure' my own PPD.

I started out with just vitamins and exercise,followed by attempting a healthier diet and some 'self care' which consisted of taking a little time for me every day.

Things seemed to get a little better for the next couple of months....I would have bad days here and there,but I thought I was handling it much better.

A couple of months after we moved into our new house (Jacobi was 9 months old) I had to pull my oldest son-and our only school aged child-out of public school due to it not being a good fit for his special needs.

I started homeschooling him.
At first,it went really well....but after a week he started regressing and having meltdowns.
I realized that trying to homeschool a child with autism was putting me in over my head.
And I started feeling guilty and incompetent once more.
Here I was,unable to teach my child-and still not being the mom I 'wanted' to be...all the while seeing how my 'facebook mama friends' were homeschooling their children and/or doing all sorts of activities.

I couldn't do it.

I wanted to bake bread,play with the kids and teach them how to make their beds.
I wanted to make cookies with the boys,sing fun songs and take them to the park.

And I just couldn't do it.
I felt the anxiety creeping in....it was dreadfully overwhelming.

I told my husband one day "I feel it happening all over again....I feel smothered and hopeless"

Sure enough,within a week or so,I hit that deep,dark place.
I would just sit and cry....I would stare off into space and wish the world would stop spinning.

I am still struggling....

Nothing I have done has helped very much-although I do notice the highs are usually closer together and last longer than the lows.

I feel like I don't really know who to turn to...I can't afford counseling-and we're not considered low income,so I can't recieve 'sliding scale' fees.
I'm scared of medication and what it might do to me.

The thing that bothers me the most is that I can't stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan.
I 'eat my emotions'.

I eat to fill the void in my life where I feel out of control and alone.

I really want another baby......and my husband does too.
But I am concerned about my mood swings and how pregnancy would effect that.
I am also bothered by getting pregnant when I need to lose at least 45 lbs to be at a decent weight (and even that isn't close to my 'ideal' body weight).

When Jacobi suddenly stopped nursing at 11 1/2 months old,I thought "Oh no....I don't know if I can handle this!"

It's hard,but I'm getting through it.

I want so badly to be in control of my emotions.
I want to feel confident and healthy.

I want postpartum depression to hit the road.