You again? Medela Comes To My Door

I went to my 17 week appointment last week and my ob told me something that shocked me.  She said I could try breast feeding again if I wanted to.

Hold the pump!

What?!!  I thought she had told me that I could never do it again because of my ppd and what nursing does to a person hormonally.  She clarified and said that last time it wasn’t an option for me but that if I wanted to, I could try it again.  This time I will be on medication right away and I will be “monitored” so to speak because she will be aware of my past problem and she said this time could be different.

I told her that I had resolved and come to terms with the fact that I would never do it again.  I mean, I mourned that fact.  I cried over not being able to nurse another child on several occasions. It took me until Eden was a good 10 months old to be able to let it go and hold up my lactose free Similac proudly.  Finally, I came to terms with it and even wrote the declaration of my acceptance in the post “Here I Give To You My Dreams In This Fashionable Medela Bag”.

When I told my ob that I had resolved never to nurse again she said, “Then I wouldn’t.  It’s a big commitment and you have to be committed to doing it.”  She is so stinkin’ right.

I talked to Lance about the prospect of me nursing again and it makes him really nervous.  He is worried for me.  He said that he didn’t care if it was hard for him if I were to have a bad time but that he doesn’t want that to happen to me again.  He also said he would support me either way.

Drat!  Drat this prospect and drat this support!  Sort of =0)

Honestly, I just don’t know if I can even if I want to.   I think part of my “want” is to just be normal.  Just to do it like you thought you would pre-baby. Nobody plans on a c-section with their first.  No one thinks they will have ppd when they set up their nursery.  No one thinks breastfeeding will kill them when they buy their new shiny breast pump but in life, these things happen.

Those first three weeks were hell for me and I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t nurse! I couldn’t keep up with the every 2-3 hour schedule round the clock.  It was painful.  It was consuming and it was hormonal.  It kicked my butt so hard.  SO hard.  It was never easy.  I still look in awe when someone walks in our church nursery with an 8 ounce bottle of pumped milk.  How did you do that?  How was it easy to get?  Do you moo?  You are so a breastfeeding winner.

Breastfeeding defeated me. There is a part of me that just wants to be able to do it.  Nobody likes to be defeated.

I know it’s not worth the risk but I’m haunted not only by the defeat of something I wanted to do so badly but by the reality that maybe I could successfully do it.  If I’m on meds, what if I would have been fine?  What if it nursing would be easier with baby number 2 like it is for so many women?  What if?

Ultimately, I guess the “what if” has to be worth chance if my “what if” turns into “it wasn’t”.  In light of what I went through, I’m not sure there exists such a potent and nutritious breast milk that outweighs the benefits and  importance of a happy, healthy mom.

Thinking about all of this, I wrote a friend who helped me when I had my ppd who is also a 3 time ppd haver herself.  I laid out my concerns and my hang ups and she told me that the best advice is to do whatever will allow you to be the best mom, whatever that may be.  She also told me that she breastfed all three times and had to stop all three times because of emotional/hormonal reasons and that every time she got better afterwards.

She even shared with me about one of her friends who is one of my blog readers who just had her first baby maybe a month ago who has had a terrible experience.  Once this girl quit breastfeeding and went back on her anxiety medications, she got not only good but great.  I even say myself that my first piece of advice to ANY woman in throws of ppd would be to stop breastfeeding.  There is a science to why it exacerbates the problems when it arises for mothers.

I don’t know a person who had a good ole’ case of ppd who didn’t stop nursing.  It’s not only the havoc it brings on your hormones, but also the demand on the mom who is feels like they are losing it, or anxious, or depressed.  Even one of my best friends who didn’t have ppd but had a difficult start to motherhood said she cried inexplicably for the first year and only realized how much better she felt after she had quit nursing.  I know the reality is that nursing is not kind to the depressed mother or the mother who has had a history of emotional or anxious issues.

It seems so obvious.  I know I’ve given some reasons why I’m flip flopping a little bit in my mind but I just can’t fully explain to myself why I’m wavering back and forth at all.  I guess I just wonder, “What if I never did it again and I really would’ve been okay?”  Then again, what if i did it, had a hard time, and ended up never knowing what it is like to bring home a baby and not cry and have panic attacks and feel depressed.  I feel like that’s almost the greater loss.

I know for fact that I will do the first latch after birth and maybe some in the hospital just so she can get some colostrum and so I can at least have that small experience with her.  My milk is coming in regardless so at least then, I’ll have some of the experience and she will get the first nutrition.  I could stop then when I go home and it gets real all up in that piece.

It’s so easy to just give a bottle that doing some hospital nursing will either make me sad to stop OR remind me that anyone can feed my baby a bottle at 4 am and last I checked, it causes no pain or energy to shake a bottle around. =0)

Who am I kidding?  Formula is great!  Haha.

Sigh.  I’m such a schizo.  I don’t even have to re-read this to know that I’m more scattered than cats in a room full of rocking chairs.

I think what we may be experiencing here is the re-entering of the dream and the exiting phase which is marked by huge denial.  What?  Who said that?

Everything baby has been so different for me than I ever imagined it would be 3 years ago.  But then again, Eden is more wonderful than I ever conceived possible for a child of mine to be.  God has a way of trading our picketed fences in life.  Either way, you still end up happy looking through the planks.

 

Milkman by photographer Imgorthan

http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/108329479/Vetta

Grace at my Door

I layed in our bed surrounded by a pack-and-play, diapers, and breastfeeding paraphernalia of the night before.  Even though I hadn’t slept but a few hours, I couldn’t sleep with the anxiety that raged in my entire being.  I watched the clock and waited for the phone to ring for you to tell me you were coming. 

Bright and early at 6 am I get the text, “My kids are up and ready to go for the day so you just let me know when I can come and get Eden.”

I looked over at my 2 week old baby and the words “…my kids are up and ready…” followed by the time the text was sent at the break of dawn, confirmed that my life was doomed to continue on the path it was on that very moment.  How could so much change in 14 days?  Who was I?  What happened to my life?  Everything about me had become unrecognizable.

With shaky breath I layed in bed and waited for the door bell to ring.  I needed that break from my baby because I was sinking in the face of motherhood.  Fast.

When the doorbell rang, I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and stared at myself briefly.  Crackheads looked better.  Crackheads that lived in dumpsters who poured discarded litter boxes on their heads looked better.

My face was pail.  No make-up.  I was extremely sleep deprived and hadn’t eaten a full meal in a few days because the anxiety had wrecked my stomach.  I knew I should have been embarrassed to answer the door but I wasn’t.  I was too far gone and too desperate for help to be concerned with social graces.

I walked to the door and literally ran into the foyer wall because I was so exhausted that I staggered like a drunk.  When I opened the door, you were there bright-eyed holding two toddlers, one under each arm.  You made it look so easy.  I couldn’t in my best of days see how I would ever get to the place where I could be both bright-eyed and actually out of the house with one kid, muchless two.

You ran to your car to grab something and in the meantime, I broke down crying.  I sat over my little girl and felt an immense amount of guilt.

“I should be able to do this.  She is only 2 weeks old and I’m already needing for someone to take her.  Why can other people do this and I can’t?”

I felt like a failure.  Ashamed.  Like a bad mother.

Even still, in the middle of all of the sadness, I had this maternal pull to still want my baby with me even though I knew I needed to catch my breath.

When you came back and found me crying, you held me on your shoulder with one arm and your baby in the other and encouraged me.  It was like you had a maternal instinct and motherly understanding and compassion for how I felt in that moment.  I suppose once you become a mother, it’s like you start to look at everyone maternally.

Before you left, you gave me a bag full of Vitamin waters and a big jar of applesauce.  Those would be some of the only items I would consume over the next few days.

You nestled my tiny baby into your car seat and took 3 kids away with you for the day.

During the next 6 hours of silence you blessed me with, I layed in bed awake.  I faught panic attacks and tried to sleep.  I tried to find “me” somewhere in the madness.  The still of the house and it just being Lance and I again was reminder of the life that I had a few weeks prior and how shocking it was that it seemed years ago that it was just the two of us.  It was so disorienting.

Thankfully, it’s now been 10 months since I stared at the ceiling in fear of what my life as a mother would bring and whether or not I could handle it.  When I reflect on that time, there isn’t a memory recalled that isn’t follwed by the picture of you smiling and walking Eden out the door. 

I want you to know that you coming to take my baby that day was the kindest thing that anyone has ever done for me.  I know to you it wasn’t that much more than having another baby around for a few hours but from my perspective, my pain, it was grace to me that you will never know.  I probably hadn’t seen you in 5 years until you showed up on my doorstep that day.  As simple a gesture as you may think it was, it rescued me for a few desperate hours.

Later that afternoon, you brought Eden back to my door with a cute outfit and bow in her hair that Annabelle insisted she would wear.  You handed me a list of how much she ate and when she ate it and you were my temporary Super Nanny.

Long ago when my sister met you as a kid, you were her best friend.  You played with me when I was just Christina’s kid sister.  You gave me my first bra hidden in an envelope on my bed in elementary school.  You dressed me up in an outfit and put make-up on me so I could meet a little boy you wanted to be my boyfriend.  You were always a joy to be around and many of my childhood memories are seasoned with Marissa. 

I know that God brought you into Christina’s life to bless her as a friend but 2 decades later, I believe that he also put you there to love me then so that in my worst hour, you could love me again.

I’m thankful for the giver of bras who turned in to a wonderful mother who became my saving grace on my doorstep one mid-April morning. 

You make me proud to be a mother.

The Other Side of Motherhood: An Ex-PostPartum Mom’s Journey from Xanax to Overjoyed

I was digging through the big tub of clothes that Eden wore her first few months, trying to see if there were any pieces I could give to someone from our church. Somewhere at the bottom, I thumbed through the onesies that Eden wore over and over her first few weeks here. When I first stumbled on them, my face got hot and I felt a sensation similar to suddenly running into someone who you haven’t seen in a while…someone that it’s really awkward to see. Does that make sense? That feeling of being flushed, nervous, and uncomfortable, feeling the emotions that lead the situation to be uncomfortable in the first place….

I remember when I first bought some of those clothes. I was ecstatic for the little white one with red and hot pink strawberries. I had her wear that a lot when people came to see her. I thought when I bought that outfit that my memories of those days with her in it would be incredibly different. Seeing those clothes now triggered almost a flashback response of panic. An overwhelming sense of, in fact, how overwhelmed I was. When I told my sister about the incident, she asked me if I gave those outfits away, almost certain that I would have. I didn’t though. They are literally hard for me to look at but they were some of her first outfits and she was precious in them. Even if I was falling apart and they remind me of that, they remind me of her too and she was and still is a blessing.

I think what is so disorienting about that time is that I don’t know what feelings came from what. I can’t separate what was just normal new mom feelings and what was the postpartum. I guess in talking with other moms who didn’t go down the road I did, I know many things that are standard: anxiety, crying, sleep deprivation, and the sense of living in a fog. I just wonder sometimes when I look back, if I didn’t have PPD would I have felt many of the same things?

I’ll be totally honest with you. With a lot of guilt for a lot of months, I didn’t feel like ‘it was all worth it’. You hear moms all of the time say, “It was hard but I’d do it all over again.” Or some other passionate expression of their over powering love for their children. I loved Eden. I did. But with a lot of shame inside, I felt the truth of it all, at least initially, was that I didn’t feel like those moms. I didn’t feel like ‘I’d do it all over again’ or that ‘it was all worth it’. In those months, it probably made me feel even more depressed to know that I felt that way “but shouldn’t have”. At least according to the book of what a mom is supposed to be like from the get-go.

It was bizarre. I wanted Eden. I wanted to be her mom. I just wanted someone else to care for her and let me have her back when it was time to cuddle. I guess what I was saying is that I wanted to be Eden’s grandmother. I chuckle saying that because I think this is the first time I’m realizing what I was really desiring. I felt that way because I didn’t have the strength to cope with the shock of becoming an instant 24/7 caregiver overnight. I wanted her. I loved her because she was mine but I didn’t feel like I was tough enough to take care of her. Thankfully, that changed. And actually changed fairly quickly but when you feel like I did, time crawled. Sometimes it all but stood still.

In the beginning, it’s weird because you’ve always dreamed of the moment when the doctor hands you you’re baby and says, “Here she is, mom!”. And trust me, that moment was every ounce of what I had imagined and then some. BUT, I always watched A Baby Story on TLC and I remembered how every mom was like, “It’s instant love. Love like I’ve never felt.” Etc.

I had instant love for her, no doubt, but it was a different instant love. The kind of love that you have for someone because you have responsibility for them. Love because you labored for them and sacrificed for them. Love because they are beautiful. Love because it’s your family and you made them with your husband. There was a lot of that kind of love. What I didn’t feel though is love like I had known love. I know people always say that ‘it’s a love like they’ve never experienced’ but put that fluff to the side because that’s not what I’m talking about. Love before my child was always because of a relationship. Because I knew someone and built a relationship with them full of knowing them intimately and full of memories that made me love them. I was expecting that kind of love with Eden right away. But wait….I didn’t know her! She is a little face that’s reminiscent of family but she was a stranger. I didn’t know why she cried. She didn’t smile at me. She screamed and cried at me mostly. I couldn’t really interact with her at least in a reciprocated sense because, hey, she was only 5 minutes old.

So while I loved Eden, I didn’t know her. While I loved her, there wasn’t a bond…yet. There was a maternal bond but not bonding like I previously knew it. I think I felt troubled by that but the more I talk to other moms both PPD and non-PPD moms, I hear many singing the same tune. I don’t feel like anyone ever talks about it though. I know it really is that great for some women but it can’t be for all. We moms are supposed to be these all loving and perfectly maternal beings that pop a baby out with tears in their eyes with their baby in one hand and a tray of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in the other hand. We are the superheros of life. Literal life. Not much room left for looking at your baby with an ownership love and connection one minute and then looking across the living room the next minute thinking, “Who is that strange baby laying on the couch? Call the police! Someone left their baby at my house!!!” No one ever says that on a Baby Story. TLC should’ve had me on there. It would’ve been their most memorable episode. You could’ve been a star, TLC.

I’m telling you, both a Baby Story and Bringing Home Baby are as toxic to your expectations as Cinderella and Prince Charming to little girls learning about what to expect with a man.  No one even cries on that show except for the babies.  Give me a break.

In a non-TLC reality, I remember getting a letter from a mom who said, “It’s okay if you aren’t crazy about Mrs. E right now.” Funny, I hadn’t said I wasn’t. Again, I was but in that grandmother sort of way. I was crazy but a little crazy in the wrong the direction. I felt a bond and constant maternal desire to care for her and hold her to me but that drive mixed with anxiety and sleep deprivation was a lethal cocktail exploding in a mess of tears, panic attacks, and not knowing if it all felt worth it. It was nice to hear a normal mother of two on the other side of motherhood telling me that I was allowed to not be dancing around the crib singing praises of infants and my new parenting lifestyle.

Fast forward to a few months after that letter.

I remember when she laughed at me for the first time when she was 15 weeks old. I was holding her over my head while Lance took a picture and she giggled and my heart swelled ten times. There was healing to me in that laughter. I had been out of the fog for a while and enjoying motherhood but even after the weeks of her smiling at me, there was something extra about that laugh that really humanized her to me. I didn’t realize how much I craved that from her until she looked at me and laughed. I was desperate to hear it again because it was thrilling and THAT is what made the bond start to take off. Yes, smiling was such a reward but to have this little girl with a sense of humor that responded to things that really are only funny to a baby….it was amazing.

I can now say it was really all worth it.  The crying.  The laughing.  The screaming baths.  The pills.  The breastpumping sessions for 1/2 an ounce.  The doctors visits.  The pajamas I wore for 2 days with baby poop on them.   

I feel fearful to say I’d do it all over because just the thought of living through that experience again makes my heart beat rapidly as I type it. Still, I guess I would because I really look forward to another baby down the road and this time, I’ll have a toddler, too. Now I’m really getting cocky!

Ultimately,  what I would relive doesn’t matter because God doesn’t measure our love for our children or our devotion to them by what awful things we are willing to endure for them at our expense. Although I would endure a great many and awful things, I  no longer feel guilty that I’m not the first one to raise my hand and say, “I’ll do PPD again because I love my kid thhhhhhaaaaatttt much!”  Beat that mother’s of the world!!!!  (insert eye roll)

I love Eden. I truly, truly love her. I love her now in both ways: Because she’s mine and made of me and Lance AND because I know her. I know what makes her laugh and I’m one of the few people who can. I know which blanket she wants and what to do with her Zebra to make her smile. I know when I hear a certain sigh that she’s asleep in her car seat. I don’t even have to look.

When I see her trying to sleep in the car and the sun is shining on her squinted shut-eyes, I know I love her when I switch lanes to move the shade across her face.

I know I love her when I look for a tooth every day for weeks and then I find one and my cheeks hurt with a big smile and then my heart sort of breaks because she’s getting bigger. I know I love her because every day that passes, is one I wish I could have back. And those aren’t things that happen right when they hand you your precious wrinkly newborn and lay her on your chest. Some love is instant and some, takes time.

I may never know what it’s like to bring home a baby and experience as the “normal” version of me. I might always ask which of the things I experienced would I still have felt if I hadn’t had postpartum. But I suppose I’m no less the mother and a mother I wanted to be no matter how I got there. Maybe next time I’ll call TLC and see if they want to do an 8-episode series on me called “Crazy In Love”. Pun Intended. Now THAT’S a reality show!

One of my favorite quotes is, “There are two roads in life. One is hard, and one is easy and the only reward of the easy road was that it was simple.”

I may have unwillingly taken the country back roads on a rickety old moped wearing ripped sweats pants and a cracked helmet following an incorrect map from goggle maps but, hey, I got there!  And the reward at the end was multiplied. I worked for the love that now is the clichéd love of my life………..all daddies aside.

Traumatic strawberry onesies and all, I’m so glad I made it. There is nothing…nothing as sweet as motherhood.  And in true TLC fashion, I’ve never lived or loved like this.

The laugh.

Beautiful Redemption

This blog is for Marissa, Jayna, Charlotte, & Suzanne for reminding me that this would be a beautifully redeemed experience in my life.  And to my family, friends, and husband that God had grace on me to have. 

__________________________________________________________________________________________

REDEEM
(rĭ-dēḿ)
 

To fulfill

To set free; rescue or ransom.

To restore the honor, worth, or reputation of

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I laid there in the wee early morning hours after her 5 am-ish feeding with her fist by her face and her teensy body laying sideways beside me on the bed.  She loves to lay on her side and always has that little fist by her face.  That’s something she must’ve done constantly in the womb which I couldn’t have known just 6 weeks ago.

The birds start chirping in the background.  Blasted birds.  They are a reminder that the day is starting whether you’ve been awake at 5 with a bottle in your hand or not.  The sun was just starting to rise and it casted a colorful light on my baby’s profile as the light peered through our orange-colored curtains.  I just stared at her and listened her to breathe and squeak on that pacifier she adores while she sucked it intermittently.  I thought about who I was that particular morning in contrast to who I had been just a week or so earlier.  The difference in how I see her and the world is a stark contrast, comparatively.  I looked at her perfection of a flawless shaped nose, pure head of dark hair, intricate little fingers by her face and my heart softened.  I could look at her for hours.  I thought intensely about the past month and a half of my life and thought about what was said to me in my struggle:

“God will redeem this into something beautiful.”

I wondered if I should write this now.  This was such an intense experience that maybe it needed more time to marinate.  Barely anytime has passed and I’ve started to write this blog and stopped again just thinking I should really give this experience time to show itself redeemed in my life.  Then I realized that this will be continually redeemed and perpetually useful in my life.  I can already see the ways that God has used this to work out a purpose.

Me, being the perfectionist that I am, had less important things in life literally beat out of me. I couldn’t hold on to them anymore as the sudden mother of a newborn. If I tried to hold on to the perfectly put together house, I would’ve been consumed by postpartum all for the sake of freshly vacuumed carpet with the vacuum lines perfectly pressed in. The priority of a straightened even, dare I say, sanitized home…gone.   If I would’ve cared about the flab on my belly, I would’ve been overtaken for the sake of vanity. The need to look together….gone.   It’s funny how, even in moments of hysteria, God immediately changes your worldview and gives you some perspective in your life.  It doesn’t come in a subtle way.  More of a screaming baby and instant life change but clarity of what matters comes even in the fog of it all.  I feel more of a depth of myself now.  A wisdom.  A glimpse inside of a journey where the only things in life that matter weren’t what seemed to matter 14 hours of labor earlier.  Someone told me when I was struggling and feeling like a hamster on a wheel where time passed into time and my routine felt like that of an empty robot that…. “I was doing exactly what God intended for me to do each day: feed and love that baby of mine.”  All of the sudden what seemed like a hopeless tunnel of monotony and sorrow felt purposeful.  And even though in that moment I couldn’t fully see it,  I knew it was better than the restful days, cute homes, and toned body I had before.  It seems so obvious when you type it out but when you go through a total loss of who you were before in a hospital overnight, you don’t see how infantile and meaningless some of your everyday ways were before.  I still like a newly cleaned look on my floors.  I just like being in ragged pj’s all day and looking at a child who just smiled at me for the first time a lot better than the things that felt good to me before.  I can rest easy at night knowing that I took care of a beautiful little girl just the way I was supposed to.  Not only that but she knows me.  She senses me in the room.  She turns her head to hear my voice and she’s comforted when she cries when I whisper into her ear.  She’s mine and I get to take care of her with my unbrushed teeth and bags under my eyes.  I’m her only mother.  There will be other cute houses in my life someday.

Redemtion continues….

In a 6 year marriage and an 8 year relationship, a lot of damage can be done.  Somewhere in between “I do” and laying next to a tiny person that’s half of us both, somethings get lost along the way.  Namely, my vulnerability to Lance has been pretty well shot.  After time.  After hurts.  After daily life.  After failures.  After seasons of anger or pain.  2,012 days at a time parked me at a place with a man I loved, with a wall I despised but felt safe behind.  As I started to crumble in front of my family and Lance, I saw a man who I knew was there at an altar in Kentucky 6 years ago this August.  If I ever had doubts of the extraordinary man I married, they ended one anxious, sleepless, postpartum day at a time.  He took care of my every need.  When I would sit in an emotional void state with only hours of sleep in days and raging hunger and anxiety in my belly, he would sit up with me.  He would take our baby girl when I was crying and frustrated at 2 am and bounce her and sing her songs he had written about her being the best girl.  One night I got up to feed her and as I was pulling Eden out of her pack and play he woke up and said, “Do you want me to get behind you?”  He crawled over to my side of the bed and I sat in between his legs and laid on his chest while he held me and I nursed our baby in my arms.  In that moment, it was everything I needed. He was everything I needed. I needed him to hold me up both in his arms and emotionally and he was.  Without being asked.

Every night I would collaspse onto the bed desperate for sleep and he would come curl up behind me and spoon me for a minute.  I was like a child that needed their mother in the middle of the night to comfort them when they were sick and I craved that few minutes every night.  When you get married, you are passing the responsibility of care that your parents once assumed for you on to your spouse and he was fulfilling that role.  He would pray out loud while he held my hand each night and then we would tackle and battle through it all…together.  I haven’t been that totally dependent on another person since I was a newborn myself.  As I fell down hard and he rose to the occasion, I felt years of hurt and un-vunerability be chipped away until I found myself the blushing bride he married, ready to give her heart fully and trusting again.  I felt renewed.  I was his.  Again.

If I had to give a praise to this experience or a word to it that sums it all up, it would be rescued.  It was such a deep dark experience for me that really no one saw it but my family and husband.  I kept myself hidden.  To most people they talked to me before it hit and then when I was normal again a month later.  To most of the world, it was like it never happened.  But it was real and because of the reality of it I HAD to be rescued because I was in total dependence.  I couldn’t do anything for myself or pull from anything inside of me because I was 100 percent shot by it all.  There was no other choice but for me to be recused because I couldn’t save myself.  With every meal, prayer, my sweet doctor, and the Lord who gave me his mercy and grace to have all of those things, little by little I was being pulled from the waters I was being swallowed by. What was once drowning became floating to the surface being pulled from my circumstance.

Thank you, Jesus.

All of this to me is redemption.  Saved from my mess to wake up to a pint-sized, fuzzy-headed baby girl and find a clearer headed version of myself with a better perspective on life.  Redeemed to find a more well-rounded woman who is learning daily to be less selfish.  Redeemed to find a new pair of eyes for the man who I knew wouldn’t be a mistake to choose for forever.  Redeemed to praise God for his daily mercies and his sovereignty in my life with each family member, friend, and spouse He gave to me for such a time as this. Redeemed to praise Him for being Him.

The most wonderful thing about it all is that it will continue to show itself purposeful in my life.  Every time I can take a crying new mother’s baby so she can rest and talk to her and encourage her about the light and redemption that is hard to see.  Every time I get an email from a mom who has read my journey and says thank you and asks me how she can cope with this time in her life.  And redeeming still when I go to the hospital to see Eden’s first child and answer the phone a few days later to an exhausted and depleted new mommy on the other end.  I can tell her, “I remember when I was so weak and defeated that I couldn’t even pick you up.  I couldn’t stop crying and crying.  I felt like I could never be a mother on my own and then almost as quickly as I went under, I found myself cuddled next to you in bed as the sunlight traced your face and I loved every inch of you and being your mom.  Then I realized I was doing it.  And being your mom was the best thing I’ve ever done.”

I hear my sweet baby crying softly for me in the next room fighting the nap we both probably need.  I feel overwhelmed while I write this but for once, in a good way.  I’m so happy that after all the pills, prayers, shame, joy, rising, and stumbling that on the other side of it all was motherhood.  I suppose it was motherhood all along. 

I find myself where I prayed I’d be: a young stay at home mother to a child that I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to have.  I feel rescued. I feel hopeful.  I feel an abundance of love and the richness of the blessing of a child.  And as my eyes well up with tears, more than anything I feel myself and this miraculous disaster being redeemed. 

 And just as it was promised….

it’s beautiful.

Hi, My Name is Rebecca. I Like Long Walks on the Beach and I Have Postpartum Depression.

 

It’s nothing like I expected it to be.  How could this:

  not be a dream come true.  Maybe she is.  But, not everyone can see that through the whirlwind shocking transition of becoming a mother for the first time.  For me, it started with frustration and crying.  A lot.  A whole lot.  Then feelings of “I can’t do this!” All of that is pretty standard.  I don’t care who you are or what kind of super mom you are.  You will have crying spells.  Then somewhere in a fog of time that I still can’t distinguish or separate, it started to become worse.  I started to cry over things that were very irrational like not being able to hold my cats as much. I know if you are a regular reader that you might not find that surprising  but the thing is, I felt really sad about it.  I started crying over things that did matter:  my marriage never being the same again, my time not being my own, days flying by and one melting into the next until I didn’t know the month, the day, the time… Sometimes sadness would well up inside of me and I would audibly sob for no real reason at all.  I wanted help but felt like I couldn’t reach out.  I wanted to return all of your sweet calls but I felt anxious to do that.  I’ve cried till my eyes are swollen almost shut.  I’ve been so sleep deprived that I’ve staggered.  I’ve had thoughts that would alarm you.  I’ve worried my family sick and broke my husband’s heart as he’s been watching me struggle through this distress.

Sadness and being overwhelmed turned into a consuming anxiety.  Not anxiety like I’m worried about something.  It’s more like a feeling of a panic attack.  I would be so sick I’d dry heave when I put food in my mouth.  I have actually vomited.  Constant diarrhea.  Is that too much for you to hear?  You know me and my no boundaries. 

I wake-up and having shaky and hard breathing trying to get ahold of myself.  I’d have crazy, compulsive thoughts.  Moments of emotional deadness and just being a shell of a person.  Two weeks in, I finally called my doc.  I’m a person who doesn’t turn to drugs as a first option so the fact that I did so this quickly lets you know that I was a desperate woman.  And you know what, I needed the drugs. The drugs are fine and I shouldn’t and you shouldn’t feel ashamed to take them if you end up in my shoes.

Taking the drugs now a week leads us up to real-time.  I still continued to not eat, sleep, and have emotional breakdowns.  My nurse called to check on me and wanted me to come see the doctor face to face.

I did.  And she told me I had postpartum. Even after all I just told you, I was surprised to hear her say those words.  I had always pictured postpartum as a woman who drowns all her children in the tub telling everyone that God said to do it.  That is postpartum but I guess it’s a spectrum like most things.  Not at all that I’m taking what I’m going through lightly.  I have literally thought in my “rational” mind that I was going to die from this.  I have hoped to be hospitalized so that I could rest and recover and someone could take care of my baby for me.  If it continued at it’s peak, I would’ve ended up hospitalized for exhaustion.  These past 3 weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. I never felt so defeated by something.

I’ve sat on a couch crying out loud with my dad holding me crying and whispering encouragement in my ear.  I’ve had my sister pray over me on the couch, crying and putting her hand on my cheek saying she wishes she could take this from me.  She had postpartum 3 times.  My mom has rescued me more than one night and kept her all night for Lance and I so that I could recover from some sleep deprivation to give me some light for the next day.  Lance has held our baby in one arm and me in the other in the kitchen while I sobbed on his shoulder.  This has been and continues to be a whole body, whole emotion, whole mental, and whole family and friend experience. 

My doctor told me to quit breastfeeding which was devastating to me, albeit, necessary.  She said that breastfeeding is too physically demanding on me right now since I’m not eating or sleeping and that I can’t get help from others or my mind together without stopping the 2-3 hour demand on myself.  Also, she says that your hormones have to stay at crazy levels to sustain breastfeeding which sustains the imbalances I’m having.  AND she put me on something for anxiety that I can’t take while nursing.  Whoever you are reading this who understands all the feelings I’ve been explaining, I have heard from doctors and tons of women who’ve been through this that stopping will make a major difference.  I stopped not quite 48 hours ago so I’m not quite to relief yet.  I will say letting your milk dry out cold turkey is crazy painful but nothing pain killers and big ole’ cabbage leaves in your bra can’t ease. I don’t know why the cabbage works but I know a rabbit would love to get ahold of these knockers. Even through my craziness, I haven’t totally lost my humor and I told my doctor, “I never thought I could finally have boobs so big and be so sad.”  Bye, bye big boobies.  Hopefully I’ll get a little sanity in place of a stellar rack.

Going through this I’ve learned one thing for sure, PEOPLE HAVE TO START TALKING ABOUT THIS.  I posted something about this on facebook and I got over 20 messages from all sorts of people I’ve always known but never known they went through this.  Why don’t people talk about this?!  Even if it’s not postpartum, this transition kicks everyone’s butts all over the place.  Bringing home your first baby is the hardest thing you will ever do and I’ve heard that POST baby from a million women.  You will survive.  I’m still trying to survive but, oddly, I find comfort in going out in public and looking at a crowd of people and thinking, “For every person I see here in this store, someone brought them home as a newborn.”  We are in a world where people have done it literally billions of times.  Some of them did it with flying colors and some of them did it with flying snot, Xanax, Zoloft, and an amazing family.  I find myself in the second category.  I look forward to the day where my heart doesn’t race and I feel like I can do this.  I can’t wait to look at my baby with all the encouragement and excitement that I hoped I would when she was in my belly.  Until then I’ll savor the moments I can and be honest and reach out to people all the times I can’t. Little by little I’m having hopeful moments, hours, and occasionally a day or two.  My highs and lows are beginning to level out. 

So to whoever reads this out there in cyberland, if this is you,  it’s okay.  Someone encouraged me through a breakdown last night that this isn’t the new Rebecca.  This is Rebecca with a messy mind and hormones.  She told me that, “God will redeem this into something beautiful.”  I believe that’s true even when I don’t feel it.  Until then I have a perfect, beautiful child who I still love through this magical disaster.  Just waiting on the beautiful redemption.

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