Friday, September 2, 2011

Seasons of Change- Surving Post-Partum Depression- Red Writing Hood

There have been many seasons of change in my life-the transition from popular kid to outcast, loner who no one spoke with to college student with eclectic friends, miserable and engaged to single and pregnant, drug addict to sober mother.  But today, I'm going to tell you my story of change from post-partum depression sufferer to functioning and loving mother.

It's hard for me to describe how post-partum depression felt.  I'm sure those of you who experienced it can relate, but if you haven't, let me just tell you how awful it is.  I had no bond with T or Princess when they were born.  It was worse with T.  I felt nothing.  I didn't really want to even hold him- it was like someone handed me an alien and was trying, unsuccessfully, to convince me that it was mine.

I went through all the motions, feeding him and cooing over him, but I knew it wasn't supposed to be like this.  And it kept getting worse.  After a few weeks, I started to have awful thoughts running through my head.  I couldn't handle it when he cried.  I would cry and scream at him.

The crazy thoughts got even worse, and one day, I really wanted to throw him out the window.  That is the moment I sought help.  I felt so horrible that I even thought about hurting my baby.  It was awful, and I knew it wasn't really me thinking those thoughts.  I went on medication, and things got better.  I felt like I finally loved T, and the thoughts went away.

Then I found out I was pregnant with Princess, and I had to stop the medication.  I had been such a mess that I didn't even realize I was pregnant until I was showing.  I had to have an ultrasound to determine how far along I was (20 weeks-who the heck doesn't realize they're 20 weeks pregnant?).  I was hormonal and had my ups and downs, but things seemed pretty much okay until she was born, exactly one year and two days after T.  This time, I started medication at the hospital and was evaluated before I left.  I thought I was fine, and the psychiatrist agreed.  Everything changed when I got home.

I wanted to spend all my time with T.  I didn't want to look at or hold Princess.  The boyfriend had to quit his job because I couldn't take care of her.  We moved in with my parents, and for a good 6 months, they completely supported us.  I went back to my part-time job less than 2 weeks after she was born.  I couldn't wait to get away from her, but I missed T.  It was a strange and awful feeling.

When Princess was a few months old, I started having the same crazy thoughts I had when T was a baby.  It was so upsetting.  I found  a doctor and got my medication changed, and thankfully, it worked.  I finally loved both my kids.  I found a balance between work and being a mommy, and I enjoyed being with my kids and watching them grow up.

Things were really good until I found out I was pregnant again.  Princess was 9 months old.  I was excited to be pregnant, but physically, I felt horrible.  I went to the doctor and was given the awful news that I was miscarrying.  It totally spun me for a loop.  I felt like I  fell right back to the bottom of the hole I was in right after my kids were born.

My anxiety and panic attacks that I thought I conquered came back with a vengence.  It started affecting my job.  I felt like nothing was going to get better.  Around Christmas, I was having horrible back pain and ended up in the Emergency Room.

I found out I was pregnant again.  I was in shock, and in so much pain that I cried for 2 hours straight.  I didn't know whether to be happy or sad.  When I got an ultrasound, the OB/GYN on call told me that there was a lot of bleeding and an 80% chance I would lose this pregnancy as well.   I assumed the worst would happen and moped around my house for a couple weeks.  I wasn't functioning at work and kept getting in trouble for forgetting to do things that, after almost 3 years, should have been automatic.

I made it past the 12 week mark.  Then I made it past the 16 week mark.  My doctors told me at this point that it looked like a normal pregnancy and I was out of the woods.  I was so elated at that moment.  It was when everything changed, and life was on an upswing. 

I couldn't get enough of my kids.  I wanted to play with them and go places with them and do as much as I could.  I loved the baby that was growing inside of me.  Life was finally great.  Even our apartment flooding when I was 9 months pregnant couldn't bring me down.  I had to temporarily move into my parents with the kids while the boyfriend packed our stuff and tried to clean (I attempted to go back to the apartment one day, and the mold smell assaulted me before I even took 2 steps into the living room.  I ran out of that place, and never went back).

Since the landlords I wouldn't even look at the damage, I looked around for a new place, and found a great 4 bedroom house for rent down the street from my parents.  The landlord liked me so much that even though he already had someone coming that day to sign the lease, he told me that we could move in.  I left my job to get the house ready since the baby was due in a week.  Thankfully, Goober was 10 days late, so I had enough time to paint (it was low VOC, and I wore a mask, even though I HATE them) and decorate the upstairs (curtains are decoration, right?).

Since the rent was so high, we split the rent with the boyfriend's mom.  She lives downstairs, and we have the upper 2 floors.  We share a kitchen downstairs.  So far, it has worked out pretty well.

I went into labor with Goober and stayed home until the last possible minute.  At the hospital, he came so fast after my water broke that they didn't even have time to prepare the stirrups and get all the equipment ready before he was crowning.  I adored him from the second I had him.  It was like a mini vacation in the hospital, and he and I were the only 2 guests.

I stayed home with the kids for 6 weeks.  Goober was never out of my sight.  He will be a year old in 2 weeks and I've only spent one night away from him (there was a bad storm when I was with the other 2 kids in the Catskills, and I am terrified to drive in the rain).

Work didn't work out.  I wanted to be home with the baby.  I couldn't focus, and my boss' illness was making him more and more volatile.  After I forgot one little thing and got chewed out for it, I knew I wasn't going back.  I called out the next day (it was a Friday and would have only been a 4 hour workday), and my boss had my coworker call me to fire me.  I was mad I got fired, but it was also awesome.

I get to stay home with my kids.  I see them all day, every day.  I love being with them all the time.  Even when the older 2 get on my nerves (I never knew how willful toddlers could be!).  I wish I could have enjoyed them as babies like I enjoyed Goober.  Part of me feels I'm hogging Goober from his dad and grandparents because I want to make up for the lack of attention I gave the older kids as babies.  But now I want to make the most out of every minute with them while they're still little.

Surviving post-partum depression is one of my biggest accomplishments.  I transitioned from feeling like a horrible person to being a great mom who, although not perfect, does the best I can for my kids.  I love my life and feel like all the pieces are finally falling into place.

This post was written in response to this week's Red Writing Hood prompt from Write on Edge.
This week, with Labor Day and the end of summer rapidly approaching, we asked you to write about a season of change for your character or you. It can be literal or metaphorical.


  1. I admire you for your courage to share your story and also for conquering the ugly "post-partum depression" monster. I've never been pregnant, but I know depression all too well. I hope you never know that ugly monster again.

  2. So glad that you were able to share this story and that you have found a way through post partum depression and are now in a place where you can enjoy your children.

  3. This is so very powerful and important. I admire your reflections, your story, and your honesty.

    You're refreshing. :)

  4. Wow! What an amazing story! You are brave, strong, and back on track! Not sure of your faith but there is a great book called "Don't Make me Count to Three" by Ginger Plowman that is excellent on discipline and enjoying your kids. Thanks for sharing!

  5. A very real yet accessible experience of postpartum (not that I know the actual experience). Thank you for being brave enough to share this.

  6. Amazing story! You are an amazing woman, and you have every right to be very, very proud of yourself. I am totally inspired by this, and I wish you all the best that life has to offer for you and your precious family:)

  7. Amazing story! You are one strong woman!

  8. Thank you all for the wonderful comments. It was really hard for me to write this because I was afraid of negative feedback. I hope that, in writing this, I can help someone who is experiencing the same things to know that they are not alone and the the things they are feeling don't make them a bad mother; they just need to seek help. Thank you again for being so supportive.