Thursday, April 3, 2014

Avoiding PPD.

It is amazing what happens to a woman's body during pregnancy, birth, and then even post partum. Physically and emotionally - you are never quite the same.

After I delivered Anslee, I remember looking at her for the first time and melting. She could not be in my arms fast enough. Instant, unconditional, overwhelming love rushed through me. It was just as I had hoped. I was surprised that when we brought her home, I was quite "weepy". I was nervous that I was not properly equipped to keep her healthy and thriving. It lasted about 6 weeks, and then I felt like myself again. I still had hard days - but for the most part, I felt pretty emotionally stable.

Fast forward 2 short years later. I deliver my most precious Kens. The anxiety began with her 2 hours before she was born. I was in the hospital, getting IV'd up, and laying there waiting on the doctor to prepare for the repeat C-section. Strange feelings were coming over me. I was the most nervous I had ever been in my life. I literally was uncomfortable in my own skin and kept telling Tyler that I just wanted to pack up and go home. In that moment, I would have rather stayed pregnant. I was scared, and I really wanted to be home with Anslee. (Not to mention, it was getting close to her bedtime and I was really concerned she would not go to bed for anyone else but me or naturally, as I am about to have major surgery, I am worrying about my toddlers sleep.) I wanted to run away from the hospital as fast as I could. I was ready to meet Kensington, but I was so scared of so much - and I was confused about why I was feeling this way. Then she came! I remember seeing her for the first time and LOVING her with all that was in me - but I didn't feel an instant connection to her. I was so preoccupied with her health stats and the incessant itching that was overtaking me from the medication they had given me before the surgery that I could not seem to focus on finding a connection. She nursed liked a champ, and then screamed. And then screamed some more. Then screamed louder. I was so concerned something was wrong with her and I was so sad that my holding her didn't seem to comfort her. My 2 years of mom experience meant nothing - and I was back at square 1. My head was spinning.

My head was spinning for the next VERY challenging 3.5 months. We had a hard time adjusting to being a family of 4, and it sent me into a dangerous downward spiral of sadness. The first time I felt a strong emotional to Kensington was when I saw her smile for the first time at 5 weeks old. She continued to cry a LOT and I continued to not be able to comfort her despite my constant efforts to do so, and so I lost all confidence in myself as a mother - and at the time, that meant my world came crashing down all around me.

I knew I was suffering from post partum depression after Kensington turned 7-8 weeks old. Colic was peaking. One day during this week of her life she was awake for 7 hours in a row. For a newborn, this age - the longest they are awake including the time it takes them to feed is between 60-65 minutes. You can imagine my going crazy.

I didn't want to hurt her, but I also didn't want to hold her. When I became totally aware of this feeling - I immediately called the doctor. It could not be healthy if I didn't want to hold my new baby, who I loved so much. You have to understand, its hard to have a deep desire to hold your child when holding them won't comfort them. It only reminded me that I was unable to comfort her, and that I was failing at the most important job of my life. Oh sweet defeat.

I talked with my doctor and started on some medication. It was helpful! It wasn't the cure all, but it was the small boost I needed. Colic ended at about 3.5 months - and I was off all medication by the time she was 7 months old. Life became somewhat predictable, I was fully connected to my girl and I felt good.

When Kensington was just under 11 months old - in the second week of December of 2011 - it became evident that I needed to take a pregnancy test. Surprise! Laynee was on the way. Wait. Didn't life just return back to "normal"?  That day I saw the word "pregnant" come up on the test was the day I began praying for our family to not take the adventure back into dark again. We just could not handle that. I could not do that to Tyler again. I could not pull my family back through the fire again. They didn't deserve it, and neither did I.

July 31st 2012 rolls around, and Laynee joins our family. Thankfully, when God promises us something, he honors his word. He promised to hear me when I cried out to him, and he answered me. I didn't want to run away from the hospital this time. I was thrilled to meet her. When I saw her for the first time over the curtain, she took my breath away, and I needed to hold her. She didn't scare me. I relaxed. When I tried to nurse her for the first time, and it went terribly, I didn't stress. I knew I would get to try again. Then, when it was difficult every single time in the hospital that I attempted feeding her, I stayed relaxed. It was ok. I was happy!

Now, as I adjusted to life with 3 kids all 3 years old and under, I had some moments that were difficult and yes, tears were shed. I had low moments from time to time - but never anything like before. Thank goodness.

Laynee turned 14 months old, and we were trucking through day to day life comfortably. It was early October and I had been needing to go ahead and take a pregnancy test for about week based on my cycle, but I refused. I thought "no way." There is just no way. Oh way. There is always a way. I finally went and bought the cheapest test I could find - but I didn't need the test to show the results for me to know. I already knew. Hello, Wynn!

Starting in late February, anxiety started to over take me. I laid in bed one night and almost lost my breath because I was so scared. I began letting Satan speak to me. I was certain that I was doomed to PPD again. That feeling of wanting to run away? It came back - but I was at home! I wasn't even at the hospital yet!

So. Here I am now, about 8-9 weeks away from delivery again. I don't know what the hospital experience will be like this time. I don't know if I will want to crawl out of skin or if I will be cool, calm, and collected. What I do know, is that I can use this time I have between today and the day of her birth to prepare as best as I can to beat the possibility of falling into the fire again. Here is what I am doing

1. Talking to Jesus. All the time.
I am asking Jesus to take the burden. I am letting him go before me, and asking him to equip me for whatever is to come. I am asking him to speak to me, too. He is. His word is good and soothes my soul.

1 Peter 5:7
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."

Psalm 119: 143
" Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight."

Psalm 94:19
"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy."

Phillipians 4:6-7
"Do NOT be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition , with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

The more I have reached out for God's wisdom on anxiety and depression I have found that it can all be born from worry over things that are 1.) meaningless 2.) totally out of our own control and that when we do hand over worry to Christ, we find joy on the other side. Again, Christ gives us hope when we are uncertain!

2. Talking with Tyler.
Since that night in February, when I was almost paralyzed by my fear and anxiousness - I have been in continual conversation with Tyler. He knows what I am thinking and feeling. He is my prayer partner and has lifted me up time and time again since we first began this conversation. He is my support when I start to let it take over me again. He is my home base, bringing me back to where I need to be, resting in God's promise to bring me joy when anxiety is great within. He reminds me what we have studied and what God has said about how to handle my worries. Tyler is present, and aware, and everything I need him to be.

3. Talking with the Doctor.
I just want my doctor to have a heads up (so to speak) about my history (which he knows) and my fears this time around as well. I think being proactive "just in case" can never really be a negative thing. It puts my mind at ease to know that Jesus, Tyler, and Dr. Neel can all know where I stand. I feel my support team could not be more beefed up!

4. Thinking Realistically.
I want to have perspective. I want to be fully aware that yes, post partum depression is real and can happen to me. It can be a demon that I actually have to wrestle with. Having an instant connection isn't always a promise. It may take some time, and thats ok. If that happens to me and Wynn, thats ok. Its not ideal, but its a real possibility. Nursing may be difficult. I just want to let go and try again if that happens. I want to not be in denial about anything. I want to be shocked about nothing. I want to know the possibilities. Wynn could be a tough baby. Or she could be an angel baby. Who knows. God gives me what he gives me, and I thank him for that - no matter how he packages her. I want to approach her early days with a clear mind and a heart that is at ease. I think perspective can play a big role in how I respond to what happens, therefore, what mental state I will find myself in.

5. Hospital Care.
I am going to take full advantage of being taken care of in the hospital. I am going to rest and a hold and feed a baby. Thats it. I am going to fall asleep when I can and when I want. I am going to eat whatever I want too. I am going to enjoy visitors. I am going to not change a single diaper. I am also going to the hospital with certain items that I think will be calming and relaxing to me. My own pillow, new pajamas, and I am looking into bringing some essential oils to diffuse in my room with me - if that is allowed. Basically, I am going to use those two days to get to know Wynn, and let my body begin healing.

There are several things I plan on doing after bringing Wynn home to help myself in avoiding depression as well. I guess I just feel like if I can have a plan before the time comes, I am that much ahead of the game. It can't hurt, right?

After we are at home I plan too:

1.Talk to Jesus.
I just know that I have to have total dependence on him. I can't mother 4 children effectively without him. I can't mother 1 child effectively without him. There is nothing in me that can raise little lives, but thankfully he can. He can use me, and he has chosen me to parent these 4 baby girls - but I know that without his guidance, strength, and spirit I would fail and would fail each one of them. Talking to Jesus and meeting with him will be so very important, and I have to make that relationship the strongest priority or everything will crumble before my feet.

2. Be self aware.
I will need to pay close attention to my feelings and emotions. I will need to be able to recognize the difference between being a little "weepy" and falling fast into a place I don't want to go. I will ask Tyler to also keep a close on me and help me in acknowledging what I am really dealing with. Hormones will certainly contribute to my handling our "everyday" - but if it becomes more than something hormones can really explain I need to be clear headed enough to notice. I know that this is a possibility - so being prepared just in case will be beneficial.

3. Focus on the Blessings, less on the struggles.
There are sure to be struggles. There are sure to be hard days. It is promised that this life is less than perfect, and its easy to become fixated on the things that make it an imperfect experience. Its easy to begin to worry about missed naps and get worked up over a pre-schooler that isn't following through with my plan for her "first time obedience". These things can quickly shadow the moments that should be so bright in our day - like when the almost kinder kid makes her and her sisters beds without being asked, or when they thank me over and over for a meal they have had a million times. These are things I need to work on now - with no regard to being pregnant and having a baby!

4. Find our routine.
Our human nature needs normalcy. I mean - do we not eat 3 times a day (ha! or 6, but who is counting?) Do we not sleep at night and be productive during the day? Do these things usually take place at the same time each day? Yes. Order. We need it. I plan to work hard to ease this baby into our sweet routine that is already in place. It may take her a while to catch on, but even babies thrive off of knowing what is coming next and take so much comfort in that. I will provide that for her - but for us, as well. In doing so, I will find security in knowing what needs to be done or taken care of next. A plan of action that I know makes sense sounds good to me.

5. Give myself some GRACE.
Jesus gives me grace, so if the son of God can look at me and have mercy on me - I can have mercy on myself. I will forgive myself when I mess up. I will not hold myself to such a standard of excellence that I can't realistically meet. I have only been a mama for a little over 5 years - I mean in the school of mommy, I haven't even began MY kinder year. I am a work in progress and will strive to do good, but pick myself up when I fall.

I have so struggled with being too prideful to accept help in the past. I am going to really allow people who are willing, help me. Its ok for me to not be good at doing this 4 kid thing alone during the day. I don't have to have a perfect ebb and flow to my day from the day I get home from the hospital. I will need help and support and I will be ok with taking it this time. (Mom, if you are reading this - gear up. Sometimes you are 30 years old and still need your own mama to take care of you.) This will be harder for me than I am thinking right now, I think - but I am going to do my best to remember that having it all together without any reinforcements isn't something I can find self worth in!

I am hoping to hear from anyone who is still reading what avoiding PPD tips you may have. I really am 100% committed to being fully prepared to fight the monster - should it so attack - and am open to any kind of advice from others!

1 comment:

Jennie said...

THANK you. THANK you. THANK you. For sharing this, for researching this, for being proactive. It takes a great Mama to admit when she struggles and that will be rewarded!

As my particular tips - Vitamin B supplements. High quality, good stuff, not cheap. Also, high quality cold pressed fish oil supplements - head to a nice natural store to ask for a good brand. I also took 5-htp supplements.

Last but not least exercise and sunshine. Lots. And for me, I threw the dang schedule out the window until Evan was 4 months old. :)