When Trevor and I got married we agreed to try to have a baby around our one year anniversary, but that first year went by super fast and we didn't feel "ready." Around our second year anniversary, Trevor wakes up one morning and says "ok, lets have a baby!" and I was overjoyed. But there was a problem... I had been told by a few different doctors that I was infertile because of endometriosis. We went to our doctor who had instructed us to stop birth control for a few months now to see how my fertility would go, suggested ovulation kits and etc, but still told me to come back in six months to try some feritlity treatments - which made me feel ZERO confidence that I would get pregnant. I guess I was meant to prove science wrong, though, because on our first month trying, we got pregnant! And I was freaking out! I wasn't feeling "ready" yet because in my head this wasn't supposed to happen, especially this fast. I mean, I had come to terms with adopting and everything! But there I was, with little seed in my belly.
My pregnancy was great. I worked full-time till a week before I was due. No sickness, no crazy cravins, no fatigue, gym and zumba, just a little heartburn close to the end, and a sprained ankle! Sometimes I felt this was a dream and I would wake up and not be pregnant because of how good I felt. Olivia's due date came and went and one week later I was induced, pushed for almost 6 hours, little stinker went UP and I underwent a c-section to get her out safely. She was born on March 21st at 7:47pm, 6lbs10oz and 20in. But it was when she first came into my post-delivery room that I noticed something was off.
I didn't want to hold Olivia. I looked at her in that little plastic box, so pretty, so peaceful, but I didn't want her close to me. My mom and the nurses would bring her close to me on the bed and tried to cuddle but it felt weird. In my head I was thinking, "if I don't touch her, I don't get attached, and if I don't get attached, she's not really mine." I think I was fearing all the responsability that comes with motherhood. Everytime I looked at Olivia I asked myself "What in the world was I thinking? I can't do this! I can't raise a daughter of God! There is no way! What the heck did I get myself into?" We went home and I seriously cried almost the entire day for about 3 weeks. I cried while I took a shower, I cried while I tried to eat, I ran to my room crying when people came visit, I cried when I looked at her, I cried when I watched tv, I cried... all...the... time! My poor mom was so worried, and thank heavens she was here cuz I was in no shape to cook or clean or take care of a baby. Trevor would call our dr desperately asking for a solution to my crying, to which he was told "it's hormones, it's normal, it'll go away in a couple of weeks." But it didn't go away. I think the fact that I couldn't breastfeed made it even worse.
My milk barely came. I mean, I had drops at a time. At the hospital poor Olivia was hungry for two days because the nurses wouldn't give me formula and I didn't have much to feed her myself. They brought a hospital pump and after pumping for 10 minutes still nothing came out. Nada! On our last night the nurses finally gave me some formula and told me to feed her 10ml at a time. TEN MILLILITERS! That's not enough, but I didn't know it then. My poor baby was still hungry, and I felt guilty.
My doctor told me it could be because of all the stress my body went through with the c-section and all the meds. He said while most moms get their milk by the third day, I might get mine by the fifth day. So when the fifth day came and went and still no milk, I started to freak out. I REALLY wanted to breastfeed! That was the plan!! I started taking brewer's yeast, mother's milk plus, my mother was making sure I ate 6 healthy meals a day, lots of fluids, I was stimulating, pumping to try to stimulate even more, I was putting Olivia on the breast at every feeding, I saw three lactation specialists and did everything they told me to... but what am I gonna do when my child starts crying because there is nothing there? Am I going to let her starve? I chose not to. Finally that week, her fourth week in this world, I started to accept that breastfeeding was not going to happen. My doctor asked me to relax and enjoy Olivia, he said breastfeeding is not supposed to be stressful or depressing for me or the baby and if it doesn't happen... move on. I cried almost every time I had to feed her a bottle and not my milk. I think this was my first experience as a mom that showed me that things don't always go as we planned, as we wanted, as we thought would be best. For some reason it wasn't meant to be that I breastfed my baby, my first baby, and maybe my only baby. It makes me sad, it makes me feel like a bad mother, it makes me wonder what else in the future I won't be able to do for my daughter...
Olivia turns one in a week. Things have been getting better but it's still a struggle for me to just feel happy, to have joy for life, to want to go out and DO things. I love her to death, I absolutely LOVE her and I tell her everyday that she saves my life. To someone who hasn't suffered depression, it is very hard to understand it. It's a fight, a daily counscious effort to want to live. It's counting your blessings and wanting really bad for them to make the black cloud over your head disappear. Over this past year I have tried four antidepressants, welbutrin, prozac, zyprexa and prestiq. if you don't know about antidepressants, they usually take four to six weeks to "start working." I haven't felt that one of these have "started working" for me, so right now I am not on any of them, but thinking about trying them again. I am thinking on trying another antidepressant again because once you find the right one, it WILL help. It will help you sleep better, it will help you not feel so anxious, it will help you not have crying spells on your way to work, it will help you have energy to get out of the couch, it will help your stomach and bowels work better, it will help you FUNCTION. Depression is not new to me, I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was in my late teens and since then have tried different types of treatment, so over the years I have learned some things about this illness. I know that counseling is key and I see a therapist a few times a month, which helps. Post Partum Depression, though, has been way stronger than any other phase I have EVER experienced. My depression worsens when I am under stressfull situations and I think we all agree that having a baby does add some stress to our lives.
Some days are harder than others. There are still days that I get home from work and lay on the couch and pray that Olivia won't get hurt playing by herself on the floor. Sometimes I fall asleep and wake up to her playing with my face, kissing my cheeks or laying her head on my stomach. There are days and days that go by without me showering, or brushing my teeth, or eating anything healthy or wanting to go out. I go to work and come back home and that's about 90% of my energy for that day. Sometimes I don't even talk to Olivia much... I don't know what to say, I have exhausted the word sorry and I just really think she would be better off with another mommy. There are days that I just cry all day, wanting desperatly for this "thing" to leave my mind, my body and my soul. Why me? Why ME? It will get better, right?
So this is my experience. The only thing that I really want to stress is that depression is a clinical illness that needs to be treated. Our society overall is so uneducated in regards to "mental illnesses". You have no idea how many times I was told things like "if you say your prayers you'll feel better" or "your problem is the lack of the Spirit in your life" and etc. Those comments are hurtfull but above all, they are ignorant. Actually Sundays are some of my worst days because when I do go to Church I feel even worse about myself, about not being able right now to feel the joy that I know I should be feeling in life. Being active in the Gospel and doing what we know is right does not keep us from being ill, unfortunately, and just like a diabetic needs insullin, someone who suffers from depression might need some medication too. So if you feel less happy than what you used to feel, if you sometimes see no joy in life, if you feel overwhelmed and desperate or if you just want to go back to being your "old self", talk to your doctor, be honest to yourself and to him/her. They are there to help us and we need to feel better, we DESERVE to be HAPPY! I can sincerely say I do not feel 100% happy all the time, but I am trying, a day at a time, faith and hope till the end. Good luck to us all :)
With love, Kika*
What are some of the things us moms can do to feel better at times of sadness, fatigue and distress? Please share your ideas! - Aline