Wednesday, September 6, 2017

My Experience with PPD

I have been open on here that in the past I struggled with depression and anxiety. I also stated that everyone expected me to struggle with post partum depression after Charlie was born. That was not the case. Even the standard two weeks that you are expected to be "extra emotional", I was not that emotional with Charlie. I just jumped into Motherhood and honestly, it felt like a natural fit for me. As though, I had finally found something I was good at.

Then we unexpectedly found out we were expecting our second child. I think there was SO many changes and so much happening after we found out that we were pregnant that I never really had any time to fully accept it. I knew it was happening, and I prepared for it in the appropriate manner. However I never accepted it or got super excited about it. And honestly, no one else really did either. Everyone kind of treated it the pregnancy like something that had happened to us. People were obviously politely happy, but no one was celebrating our baby. Which it was not their jobs to do that either. Everyone was super helpful with everything, so I 200% appreciate that.

Then our sweet little Henry was born. This time when he was put in my arms, I knew he was mine. He was my second baby and he was so sweet. Immediately, it seemed like he was happiest in my arms and I honestly never put him down in the hospital. He was born at midnight and I stayed up almost all night just holding him and admiring him. Because he was mine, and I could do that.  Literally from the moment he was born, he has been a Mama's Boy.

I think my first clue that something was not going right was when we left the hospital and started driving home. My husband, called his mom to update her on everything. I heard her make a comment about how crazy things at home were going to be now and how much was about to change. For the first time in my life I had a legitimate panic attack. I started crying, I could barely breathe, it was like the world was crashing in on me. Poor China Man was driving through a busy section of town, holding my hand and encouraging me to breathe. I kept telling him, that I was not ready to be the Mom to 2 little ones. I felt like I barely survived the day with an 18 month old most days. How was I going to survive with a newborn and an 18 month old?  He kept telling me that it would be okay and that I was a good mom.

The first few weeks, I had a few more anxiety attacks over relatively minor things. But we just assumed it was the "2 week emotional period". When China Man went back to work, I was so scared. I cried a lot the day before he went back to work. Even though my Mom was coming up to help with dinner, bath and bedtime ( China Man was still on second shift). I felt like I was in such a fog and I could not shake it. Henry was a very, very gassy baby. So I eliminated a lot of food from my diet, and he still just cried ALL the time. China Man left for a hunting trip when Henry was 3 weeks old. Everyone thought he was nuts for leaving me so soon, but I kept telling myself. " I am an Type A, independent person. I can do this". My sister even came up to help for some of the time. She took me out for dinner, and I remember sitting at the table listening to her talk and all I could think was "I want to run away".

When Henry was a month old, we finally came to the understanding that he had colic. Aka, he cried from 3pm to 9pm (at least) every single night. It was awful.  For anyone that has had a baby with colic you know, how nothing makes your baby happy. How no matter what you do, or how hard you try he will just scream and scream. So naturally, people don't really want to hold a baby with colic and China Man was usually busy with Charlie. So I always was holding the fussy colic baby. Which means, I got really good at learning how to soothe him. Which meant, I held him even more. When other people would hold him, I would get so nervous because just the slightest wrong movement might mean 30 minutes of pacing, rocking and swaying for me.
Passing around Henry during family photos had me SO stressed out at 6 weeks old 

Then when Henry was between 1-2 months old, Charlie hit a HUGE sleep regression. He started waking up for 2-3 hour chunks in the night himself. I was going 24 hours a day on Mom duty with no real break or substantial sleep. The thing about your 2nd baby, is that everyone expects you to have everything under control a lot sooner. The thing about being Type A is that you expect yourself to have everything under control and when you don't you get very upset with yourself. You start to lecture yourself about getting it together, and telling yourself lies such as "You are weak, and a bad mom". Now I see that Charlies sleep regression was his way of dealing with all of the changes in the house.

I was in a fog and I could not wake up. I would look at my children and feel nothing. I knew what I was expected to feel and I could go through the motions very well. I would wake up and just start the countdown to bedtime. I tried to talk to the midwife about it at my follow up appointment, but I am not very good at talking about how bad things. I portrayed it like things were getting better. To be fair, at the time I really did think they were. I believed they were getting better because when I look at my 2 month old, I actually was starting to feel some fondness for him.

One day I tried to go to the store with both boys and it was not the most successful trip. Henry screamed the whole time. Charlie tested his limits and I remember sweating through my shirt. People made comments like " Oh you are the screaming baby I heard on the other side of the store". Which is not a big deal, but to a sleep deprived, sensitive Mom it was the meanest comment ever. After that trip I refused to go anywhere with both boys alone for 3 months. I saw pictures of friends with their newborns and they were just loving life and adoring their baby.  I wondered what was wrong with me. Why did I not love newborn life? Why was my baby so unhappy? Why was I failing as a Mom?

When Henry was around 3-4 months old, I had to rush him to the doctor because apparently he had developed a really bad ear infection but never gave us any clues until that one afternoon. They said scary things to me like " Permanent hearing loss". I cried and cried on the way home because I felt like such a bad mom to this little human. I wondered what he did wrong to get stuck with me. Everything just seemed so hard and impossible. For the record, his hearing is totally fine and it was just freakish scare.

In January, I just stopped trying. I just did not have it in me anymore. For as cliche as it sounds, when I stopped expecting certain things and for life to be a certain way, life improved for me. I stopped worrying about everything.  I did not worry what I was not getting done in the day. Instead when I got annoyed about how messy the house looked, I started listing off the things that I did accomplish so far. It also helps that Henry is no longer colicky, Charlie is back to sleeping normal, and we sort of have a routine around here. It was a gradual thing and did not happen over night. Hindsight is always 20/20 because now I see a 100 things I should have done differently. I basically did everything they tell you not to do. I did not ask for help,  I kept assuming it would get better and just struggled for six months in lonely fog. People will frequently ask "Why I didn't say anything at the time".  But honestly, I was so tired, so depressed and so isolated. I was always hoping someone would notice me drowning and just take over. That is not real life though.

Now Henry is 12 months old. He is almost completely mobile, definitely a climber and life has reached a new level of crazy with 2 mobile little boys. I still have days where I am extremely happy to see bedtime arrive but I do not spend my days counting down for it. I am no longer afraid to leave my house with the 2 boys. In the spring, I made a goal to visit one place a week with the boys. That helped all get really good at going places the 3 of us. We have been lots of places exploring this spring and summer. We have tried music classes, story times, visited parks and been beach bums all summer. I absolutely love my boys with all of my heart and love our little adventures. Some may not always be successful but we try.

I don't really know why I decided to share all of this. And mad props to you if you actually made it all the way through. I think maybe just to say, even when you think someone has it all together, that does not mean they really do. If you have the thought to do something nice, or even just say something encouraging. Do it. Because how many other people do you think are thinking about doing something nice for that person? Sometimes don't just say " Is there anything you need?" If that person looks like they need something just deliver that freezer meal, just help fold that laundry or ask to spend time with them. Little things go a long way I think.

Linking up with Annie and Natalie today:-)