Wednesday, September 30

My Postpartum Realization

I debated back and forth about posting my experience with postpartum depression, but in hopes of helping another mama out there, I decided to put aside my own insecurities and go for it.  It all started about twelve months ago in the delivery room, I'm pretty sure that was the beginning of it all.  After Lucy's traumatic birth, I was never the same.  To this day it is still a hazy blur.  I remember being so completely exhausted after Lucy's birth, I couldn't even muster up the strength to hold and enjoy my own baby.  I so deeply yurned to hold her and never let her go.  I so badly wanted the same incredible experience that I had with Penelope.  Those first few minutes, I believe are so crucial, especially if you have had a positive experience in the past.  I kept my eyes closed for what felt like days, it took too much energy to even open them.  I wanted anyone who came to visit to hold sweet Lucy so that she could have that bonding time.  The pain of the c-section and the recovery were extremely rough on me.  Most people I talked with would tell me that theirs wasn't too bad and some would even say they would prefer a c-section over a vaginal birth.  I felt so unvalidated in my recovery.

I remember getting home from the hospital and feeling so overwhelmed.  I had no idea how I was going to manage having a newborn and a toddler.  I wasn't allowed to pick up P or even drive.  I just couldn't wrap my head around it all.  The thought and process of nursing was almost too much to bear.  The pressure I felt with nursing was at times unbearable.  It was painful and a lot of work.  If I could go back in time, that might be one of the first things I would have changed.  It's not the end of the world if your baby has to take a bottle.  I realized now you have to do what is best for you and your baby. 

The day after we got home from the hospital we had Lucy's newborn photo shoot.  I don't even remember why, but I broke down afterwards to my sister-in-law.  I figured it was the baby blues that I had heard so much about and assumed it would pass as I adjusted to being a new mama to two little ones.

I had a lot of help the first couple of weeks and I could never thank all of those that helped me and my family out.  I about died when the time came for my mom to go home.  I was such a mess inside that I think Tyson could sense something was up and he flew my sister out to be with me.  It was again a HUGE help.  After the help went away I felt so alone.  More alone than I had ever felt before.  I had so many different battles going on in my head.  I wanted to just take Lucy away with me and snuggle with her, but knew that was not possible with a near two year old at home.  I wanted to steal P away and just spend some quality time with her.  Trying to find the balance between the two was so hard.  Getting out of the house wasn't even an option, it hurt so badly to even walk up my stairs.  Physical and emotionally I was hurting.  I didn't know how to even begin processing all the emotions that I was feeling.

Life seemed to be moving forward but I somehow still felt like I was strapped to that operating table shaking and praying I would survive.  It seems dramatic, but it's honestly how I felt.  The busy season of photo sessions rolled around and I thought taking some "me" time would be great.  I figured I would channel my emotions and get lost in my photography.  I was still recovering from my c-section and can remember how badly it hurt to get low to take those pictures.  I smiled through each photo shoot and went home exhausted.  I stayed up way too many nights editing and felt like the room was slowly closing in on me.  I had the hardest time saying no to people when they asked me to take their family photos.  So I kept saying yes, even though I was screaming no inside.  The sessions seemed to keep piling up.  The only thing that got me through those months was telling myself I would have a break come January.

Tyson was away for business for what felt like months.  I was homes struggling and couldn't quite find the words to express to him quite how I felt.  Anytime I would try I'm sure I came across as the worst mom ever and oh how the guilt would set in.  It wasn't the typical mom guilt it was the heart crushing, gut wrenching kind.  I couldn't grasp why I felt so horrible.  I knew I had a great life and had so much to be grateful for, so why did I feel so terrible?  Why couldn't I connect with my new baby and husband?  I just couldn't seem to wrap my head around it all.  

I remember calling my mom multiple times a day in tears.  I honestly didn't know how I was going to make it through the day.  I felt like the worst mother possible and wanted so much more for my girls.  I knew what they deserved and felt like I wasn't giving them what they needed.  I felt like I fell short each and every day.  My anxiety was through the roof and I couldn't seem to hold still for too long.  Anytime someone would ask me to bring something to a party or do something that was out of my normal routine, it about threw me over the edge.  I would just smile and say yes.  It all added to my guilt.  Why couldn't I pull it together?  How was everyone else doing this mom thing and with way more kids than I had?  I just felt like I would never match up.  The weight was not coming off physically or emotionally.  My self esteem was at an all time low and I honestly just felt worthless.  I knew I had to keep pedaling, but wasn't sure how much longer I could do it.  

Anyone who knew me just thought I was stressed, because to this day, people still say, "I don't want to stress you out."  I was stressed, but it was so much more than that.  I didn't want to tell anyone how badly I was struggling other than my mom and sister for fear they would judge my mothering and knew it would only add to my downward spiral of emotions.  I hated asking anyone for help and it killed me anytime I had to ask someone to watch my kids.  It seriously ate at me.  Tyson ended up getting me a nanny for the girls two days a week so I could have some alone time and catch up on my editing.  Sam was a life savor and helped me out so much, but for some reason that still wasn't relieving all the feelings I was having.  I decided to put my photography on hold, until I could figure out what was going on.  I kept eliminating things, but it seemed the more I eliminated the heavier the weight I was carrying around got.

It got pretty bad towards the end.  I had feelings that were not so good.  I felt my family would be better off without me and figured there was someone out there that was much more suitable to raise my family.  There had to be someone that could make my husband and kids happy.  I felt like I wasn't doing a good job and just wanted to run away.  I knew this wasn't an option, but it crossed my mind more times than I would like to admit.  
Enough was enough!  The weight become too heavy to bear and I had to get some answers.  Why it took so long I have no idea.  There was a night awhile back were I was sitting in my favorite chair the words postpartum depression came to mind.  The words were clear as day.  I immediately looked up the symptoms online and instantly knew that's what I had been suffering with.  I never had trouble when P was born, so I had no idea I was susceptible to this kind of depression.  I called my mom and told her I finally realized what was going on.  She had mentioned previously that she thought I might be struggling with depression, but would always blow it off and would sometimes be defensive.  I guess it took realizing it on my own.  

I called my doctors office and they got me in that day.  I talked with the nurse practitioner and told her all of the things I had been feeling or not feeling for the past nine months.  She immediately prescibed me Zoloft.  I was desperate and was willing to give the meds a shot.  I swallowed my pride and knew this was a battle I just wasn't ever going to over come on my own.  We talked a bit about the triggers of postpartum depression and for once felt validated in everything I had been feeling.  She said how terrible she felt that I was battling this for so long.  If only I had known.......  She referred me to a social worker who specialized in postpartum depression and anxiety.  I couldn't wait to meet with her.

I took my first pill that night and after a couple of days it was like the clouds parted and the sun's rays were bursting through all of the darkness.  For the first time in almost a year I felt like my old self.  I felt joy!  I didn't feel like I was near drowning and the daily nuances didn't make me feel like I was jumping over a hurdle.  Life slowed back down to a pace I could keep up with and I started to appreciate each and every moment.  The downward spiral of guilt was finally broken.  I could be the mom that was so badly wanting to escape my broken heart.   
The social worker I was referred to had me fill out a questioner that rated my emotions from 1 to 10.  I knew in that moment the meds were working.  I told her that if she would have had me fill it out a couple weeks ago, what I now rated as a 9 or 10 would have then been a 1 or 2.  It was seriously like night and day in comparison to how I had previously felt.  I met with her a couple of times, but didn't feel I needed to meet with her any longer. 

Tyson purchased me a bike that was therapy enough!  It felt soooo good to be back on my bike.  I had never felt so free and alive.  My bike has saved me more times than I can count.  I am able to sort through my feelings out on the road and always come back in a great mood.

I am still currently on the meds and don't plan on going off of them any time soon.  I have a whole new understanding and perspective on depression.  I was able to understand the chemical imbalances that my body was going through and the importance of getting those happy receptors back on track.  I know meds aren't for everyone, but they worked miracles for me.
 
This motherhood thing is rough, definitely the hardest thing I have ever done, but by far the most rewarding.  Please don't think for one second I ever stopped loving my kids or husband.  I love them so deeply and I think that's why it only added to the hurt and guilt I was feeling.  

I still have a hard time looking back on the first three fourths of Lucy's first year.  It was a bit of a haze and so badly wish I could go back.  I know that's not possible, so I have been trying my hardest to be the best mama I can to my girls.  I don't spend time beating myself up at the end of the day and can see light at the end of the tunnel on those hard days.  I can laugh now at situations that at the time seemed unbearable. 

I'm hoping that by opening up about my experience, someone out there might not feel alone any longer.  I felt alone for too long and don't want anyone to suffer the way I did.  I have more compassion now towards others and has really had my eyes opened to the fact that we truly don't understand what others might be going through.  To not judge anyones mothering because for the most part, we are all just trying to do the best that we know how.  

I love my family more than I could ever possibly express.  They rock my world in the best way possible.  Each day I strive to be a little better, but also make sure to give myself a break every once in awhile.  The mom guilt stuff can get the best of us.  I feel like satan wants us to get down on ourselves and make us feel inadequate.  We are so much more than we ever give ourselves credit for.  If we could only see our true potential and the way God see's us, I think this world would be a better place.
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8 comments:

  1. I am not one to comment much but thank you so much for this. Reading this made me realize I could have the same issue. My daughter is two and I can't seem but think - have I suffered for 2 years? How can I be so miserable when every one around me tells me how great of a life I have? My hands are shaking and I am in tears!! Reading this has made me realize and understand what I've been dealing with. Thank you! Glad you are feeling better <3

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    1. You are so welcome Rosa! I hope that you are able to get back on track as well. There is nothing better than being back to you. You deserve it! A huge hug goes out to you and praying you get some answers. Hang in there, it does get better, so much better!

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  2. You are amazing, thank you for sharing your story because I am sure it wasn't easy. You truly are so courageous!

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    1. Thanks so much Nicole! You comment means a lot!!!!

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  3. Tears are streaming! Janessa, you are such an amazing person!Thank you for sharing! I've felt these same emotions after having Tatum, and a little after ChloƩ. About 5 months after Ivy I started to crumble. It really is hard and so hard to adjust to basically zero time for yourself. I can relate to all of these emotions and came to the exact realization as you at 6 months postpartum. Unfortunately Zoloft didn't work but the clouds have finally parted for me, too! Thanks so much for sharing! I know it took a lot of courage. I already looked up to you in so many ways. You're such a good role model for your girls and others. Xoxo

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    1. Thanks so much Ash! I feel the same way about you. I look up to you always and so wish you lived closer :). I am so happy that the clouds have parted for you as well, there is nothing quite like being back to your old self. You are so wonderful and are the best mama! I love following along with your beautiful life.

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  4. so proud of you for being so honest and raw.

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