Monthly Archives: May 2007

Last Memorial Day….

I was self-admitted to a psychiatric ward for postpartum depression with intrusive thoughts regarding both myself and my young infant daughter. I remember the day quite clearly, which is odd, considering I wasn’t myself. Perhaps I remember so clearly because it was such an unsettling experience. I am about to be pretty straight forward to if you’re not emotionally up for reading about the worst day of my life during this past year, I suggest you skip this post.

I woke up the Friday of Memorial Day weekend last year absolutely exhausted. No different than the days before but I could tell something was slightly amiss. I got my oldest daughter up, pumped, at breakfast, fed charlotte, and pumped again at 1045 am. During most of the time between charlotte’s feed and my next pump, I spent dozing on my oldest daughter’s couch sinking deeper and deeper into my pit of despair. I didn’t want to come out – not even when she tried to get me up. I fed Charlotte after I pumped and got Alli’s lunch together too. After Alli was done eating, I went and put her down for quiet time and waited for Charlotte’s pump to go off, signaling her feed was over. (Charlotte had a g-tube for nearly the first year of her life due to a cleft palate – you can read her story here: www.charlotteelizabeth.wordpress.com)

I climbed out of bed, hit the button to turn off the pump and went back to bed, curling up in the fetal position with the phone next to me. I had started to call the OB’s office the day before but chickened out before I could even dial the first three numbers.  After laying in bed for awhile, staring blankly out the window at an old oak tree, well, past the old oak tree rather, I finally gained enough strength to call my husband. He answered and I told him that I was not doing well and he needed to come home right away. He didn’t understand because I wasn’t PHYSICALLY ill – I told him that I was exhausted, physically and mentally and that I just couldn’t take anymore. I needed him to call the doctor’s office. He was a bit snippy and didn’t understand why I couldn’t make the call myself. I tried to explain but was too exhausted to do so properly. While trying to call the OB’s office after we got off the phone, he called back. I hadn’t called through yet. He was on his way home. I guess something suddenly clicked that things indeed were not ok. After we got off the phone, I felt relieved that he was coming home and this gave me the strength to call the OB’s office. I finally talked to someone. It was very difficult to let them know how bad I was feeling. I should mention that I was already on medication and at a rather high dosage. I was instructed to come in immediately to the office, which I did as soon as my husband arrived home. Looking back, I probably should not have driven myself but unless we were going to pack up the girls, I didn’t have a choice. It was nearly 3p when I finally left the house and Charlotte had missed her 2p feed and I hadn’t pumped since 1045 that morning.

Upon arriving at the OB’s office, I was immediately taken back and seated in one of the OB’s offices. I was very straightforward and honest – knowing that I needed to be. I remember mumbling something about not wanting to be Andrea Yates. I had been having visions of smothering Charlotte with a pillow and they kept getting more intense and realistic. The OB instructed me to go straight to the ER as it was toward the end of the day and there were no psychiatrists I could get into see on an emergency basis. I was asked what route I would take to get to the hospital and if I were going there directly after leaving the OB’s office. They were going to call the hospital and inform them to expect me and if I didn’t arrive, send someone to look for me. At the time I didn’t even care about being watched so closely and now – I am grateful for the precautions they put in place.

Once at the ER, I repeated my story to the doc on duty and was evaluated by a therapist/social worker (I think, I wasn’t in the state of mind to remember things) I managed to ask for a breast pump because my breasts were killing me by this time. Oh, and all of my things were confiscated – my purse, my cell phone, everything. Gone. Standard procedure they told me. I remembered thinking that was odd but I know they were protecting me from potentially harming myself with something I may have had in my bag. I managed to lobby for my phone back so I could call my husband and let him know what I needed to have him bring – I had him bring my breast pump and some clothes.

I left the ER that night around 8 or 9 p for a psych ward about 45 minutes away. Getting into a transport van in the middle of the night to head to a psych ward is unnerving. I stared out the van windows at the streets I knew yet that night they were very unfamiliar and unforgiving. The stop lights glared back at me and the cars seemed to be judging me. Once we were out of town and into the country, I was grateful for the stars in the sky. They didn’t seem to be as harsh.

We got lost near the psych ward due to a traffic jam – and I ended up having a conversation with the transport driver. I explained to her what was going on and told her a story about something that had happened between my mother in law and I while Charlotte was in the NICU. I remember the driver being very sympathetic and kind – and I became very grateful for her that night. She became my angel.

Upon arriving, we were greeted by a night security guard and I was led down a hallway to a small room where I was given the once over with a wand – the kind they use at airport security. The contents of my bag were sorted through and some items were confiscated. I was then checked in and the driver left prior to that. I thanked her for bringing me and wished her a good night.

During check in, there was a woman wandering about who struck me as very annoying at the time. I prayed she wouldn’t be my roommate. But she was. I pumped before I went to bed that night and left instructions to be woken at approximately 7a to pump again. I slept the bulk of the weekend, pumped, slept, pumped, slept. I asked my husband to bring me a book – I was in the Acute risk ward and let me tell you – there are scary people in the acute risk ward. It was a mixed gender ward too so it wasn’t all female. I certainly needed help but was aware enough to feel very out of place and very frightened. I finally saw a psychiatrist Saturday evening. He changed my med and said that as long as I felt better the next day, I could go home. I was already feeling better because of all the sleep. I had been running myself into the ground – no in home help and my husband worked as a restaurant manager. Long hours! Meanwhile I had been left home to care for a special needs infant, a two year old, two dogs, a house, and somehow i fit an exclusively pumping schedule and balanced moderating an online community board in there somehow too. The pumping schedule and feeding schedule left me homebound though and I was miserable.

The next morning, I was feeling a bit better and by the middle of the morning I decided I was ready to go home if that was possible. I stayed until Sunday evening though so my husband could come pick me up. My mother had picked me up after delivering Charlotte and had come down to help care for the girls while I was in the psych ward. I certainly didn’t want her or my mother in law coming to pick me up. I needed my husband. (Plus if I waited, I could sleep some more before having to be dropped back into reality!)

The drive home was a very weird one. We talked about the psych ward but mostly about the week ahead of us. Once we got home, my mom hugged me and it felt good to get a mom hug after having been in psych all weekend long.

Things didn’t improve immediately but they slowly began to improve. It was during my stay that I realized there is a need for a separate ward for women with postpartum depression. We are indeed a very specialized population. I mean, honestly, how weird was it that i was in psych ward and pumping breastmilk every three hours?!?! Come On! It also hit me that I needed peer support. And not just online anymore – real life peer support. And I began working towards that goal. I am happy to say that I achieved that goal on January 9, 2007 when I held the first meeting for my group, PACE. We continue to hold meetings and even if no one shows up, it is more support than was available last year in this area. We are also the only peer based group in the state of Georgia, according to PSI records. (PSI = Postpartum Support International) I am also now a Co-Coordinator with PSI for the state of Georgia and have personally helped at least 15-20 women or more since the inception of PACE. And there is no telling how many more I’ve helped just by being outspoken and honest about what happened to me and striving to educate others on how to recognize and seek treatment for PPD. I also managed to get into a class and become a trained Certified Lactation Counselor – for free. I got a scholarship through a local WIC office and I am grateful for that as well. I spoke during this training about the difficulties of trying to breastfeed an infant with a cleft palate and my breastfeeding blog was featured at the Motherwear blog site by Tanya Lieberman. I also formed a relationship with Cindy Maffei-Turner, a well known and well educated LC involved with Healthy Children and the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. I have been consistently amazed by the level of respect and admiration for little old me with the work and events I have survived this past year.

I am very proud to be where I am just one short year later. I started talk therapy this past January as well, through the foundation where I hold the PACE peer meetings. I am eternally grateful to them for this therapy and continue to go on a weekly basis – more for my marriage and the pregnancy than for the depression at this point. I have truly managed to climb out of the darkest hole I have ever come across and I am grateful that so many hands were there to help me find the top. One of the biggest things that helped me was my return to my faith in God and Jesus. Rediscovering my relationship with God has given me a true inner strength that I did not know I had. I’ve also realized that while I did wander, I didn’t wander very far from my core values and beliefs. I am grateful to my parents for instilling them so very successfully within me as a child and for being such wonderful caring role models. I am eternally grateful for my mother – she always emphasized keeping the communication lines open and I plan to emphasize this as well with my own children.

I am hoping this pregnancy goes forward with no bumps, bruises, or scrapes. But if there are a few bumps or detours, I now have the best support system in the world at my fingertips – God, my husband, family, my church, and all the amazing women I have come in contact with and who have strengthened my belief in women supporting women. God bless all of you – I can’t thank you enough for all that you do. Hats off!

The Insanity of Motherhood

Growing up, my mother had a black and white cartoon taped to the fridge. The cartoon shows a woman answering her door talking to a man. It appears he’s a census taker or something along those lines. There is one balloon of speech in the cartoon. It says: “Work? I just wake up in the morning and there it is.”

If I get nothing else when my mother passes on (and I hope that will be a long time coming), I want that cartoon. The past three years of my life have more than proven that statement to me and the past few days have been particularly difficult.

One of our dogs is ill. We’re not sure what is wrong with him – we thought it was a 24 hour stomach bug but he’s still not able to control himself and it’s quite disgusting, especially now that good old Ms. Morning Sickness is getting bolder. (I think I need to find my Louisville slugger) So my husband has had the lovely chore of cleaning up after the dog. On Monday I put the dog in his crate for the bulk of the day once it became clear he wasn’t going to be able to control himself – there was no way I was going to be able to continue cleaning up after him. He was fine yesterday for the most part but today he’s off again and we’re contemplating calling the vet.

Speaking of work – be right back. Charlotte is crying. (8:09 p.m.)  

Ok, so right after Charlotte got settled, the computer crashed and I have NO idea when I started this post! It took me almost 10 minutes to get her resettled by the way.

Ahah! I think I’ve got this figured out..

Woohooo!

Ok, so yes, Ms. Morning Sickness is here to stay. (AKA all day long and night sickness) BUT I think I have it figured out this time around. Thank goodness for Sprite Zero and a full belly. As long as I have a Sprite Zero to nurse and a full belly, I’m good to go. When I start to get queasy again, I know it’s time to munch again. I’m trying to keep fairly healthy food around to munch on – although I’m preferring mostly protein, today pretzels seemed to do the trick. Had a large steak dinner (YUM) and the mashed potatoes substited as my baked potato with tons of butter craving. Yeah, ok, so not exactly healthy but I ate light the rest of the day! LOL. Besides, when else can one pig out and have a legitmate reason for doing so? The BABY made me do it!!!! LOL!

I’m starting to do better with the fatigue too (darn, I was really loving that napping thing!) but hey, at least that means I’ll actually start getting stuff done during naptime again.

Today I finished Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston. And I have got to say that it was an absolutely amazing book. For those of you who are not familiar, Aron was the climber from a few years ago who got stuck in a canyon and was forced to break and amputate his own arm to escape. The book is superbly written and I would highly recommend it as an inspiring read. (Note though for you non-climbers- read the glossary before you start – I wish I had!) The part about the amputation is actually quite technically written as he was very methodical about everything he did during his ordeal. It’s truly amazing what the human body can survive when the spirit has the willpower.

I did take a nap after I finished reading though. Then the Babies Can’t Wait folks showed up and woke me up. GRRRRR. Charlotte barely qualified for an additional year of service due to language/speech delays. Although they did say that for everything she’s been through (cleft palate repair, g-tube, medically fragile for the first 5 months of life), she’s doing quite well. Besides speech, there’s really not much she can’t do. She’s still on the bottle but I think most parents have a hard time with that transition. It’s just a little harder on Charlotte because she can’t suck that well and most sippy cups require suction. We’re working on it though and have had the most success with the NUBY cups. She does better with the full size rather than the trainers though. The trainers leak entirely too much.

Gotta go – I’ve run out of Sprite Zero and I’m starting to feel a bit nauseous again.

A Mother’s Day Prayer for all of us…

God our Creator, we pray:
for new mothers, coming to terms with new responsibility ;
for expectant mothers, wondering and waiting;
for those who are tired, stressed or depressed;
for those who struggle to balance the tasks of work and family;
for those who are unable to feed their children due to poverty;
for those whose children have physical, mental or emotional disabilities;
for those who have children they do not want;
for those who raise children on their own;
for those who have lost a child;
for those who care for the children of others;
for those whose children have left home;
and for those whose desire to be a mother has not been fulfilled.
Bless all mothers, that their love may be deep and tender,
and that they may lead their children to know and do what is good,
living not for themselves alone, but for God and for others.
Amen.

Toddlers are so funny..

Our three year old, Alli, seems to have a grip on this whole baby thing. In fact, Thursday night while driving Charlotte and Alli over to Nana & Papa’s, Alli asked if we were going so I could show Nana and Papa where the baby was living. I replied that they already knew where the baby was living and I didn’t need to show them.

She’s constantly giving my belly hugs and kisses now and asking about the baby. Alli told me yesterday that it’s going to be a little girl because it has to be just like Charlotte. I hope she’s ok with the possibility of a little brother too because there’s a definite 50% chance either way…. ok, well, maybe not 50% because I can’t remember the genetic determining factors for gender at the moment and being that we already have two girls, I don’t know if that would make a difference or not. And frankly, I could care less what the gender is this time around. I almost want it to be a surprise but then again – what if it is a boy? Certainly he can’t wear the girl’s hand me downs! LOL! I think he’d be scarred for life and while parents inevitably end up doing that to their kids about one thing or another, my husband and I strive to do the least amount of damage in that department as possible.

 It hit me today that this will be the first Mother’s Day on which I will be pregnant. And the last. Kinda bittersweet all at the same time. I’m really starting to adjust to the idea of another child. While watching Charlotte and Alli play in the living room today, I realized that there was indeed something missing. It hit me that the “missing” was another child. I can’t wait to share that feeling with Chris because I know he will be excited to hear that I am getting excited about the pregnancy. Oh, and another first today too – my uterus is expanding – how do i know? I can feel it stretching. And lemme tell you – that is ONE WEIRD SENSATION. Almost as weird as the first time you feel an infant move inside you. Thank goodness I’ve never seen any of the Aliens flicks or my mind would really be going some weird places with that one.

I’m glad that I’m finally starting to feel at home with this pregnancy. And surprised that it hasn’t taken long. Surprised in a good way though. I feel very supported and loved and comforted by the network that I am surrounding myself with in preparation for this pregnancy. The only thing I am bummed about with this pregnancy at this point is that we had planned to go home to VA for Christmas. But with this baby due in January and Charlotte having popped out 3.5 weeks before her due date, I highly doubt that my OB will be terribly crazy about me traveling the two months before my due date. And that SUCKS. I haven’t been home for Christmas in a few years and if we don’t go this year, we probably won’t go until at least 2010 so we can be on the same schedule as my brother and his wife who live in Tennessee. I miss home sometimes. It’s nice being around his family but sometimes ya just miss your family! Guess we’ll see what I can talk my OB into…. but I am ready to accept the ban on traveling during the holiday season. In fact, I’m expecting it. (HAHHAHA….. no pun intended either!)

Gotta run. My tummy is growling and it’s time for Charlotte’s mid-day bottle as well.

Dose of Reality…

Tuesday evening this week I held my first peer support group meeting of the month. About an hour and a half in, I was ready to pitch in the towel and go home because no one had shown up. Just then, our one regular drove up. I recognized her vehicle and was happy to see her because I really needed someone to talk to this week. Turned out she needed to talk too but that’s confidential and I can’t share it with you! (sorry!) I listened to her first, and finally decided to share my news. She was thrilled for me and asked if I was scared – not only because of the PPD but because of the potential for a repeat birth defect.

At first I said that I was doing ok, then I stated that it kind of scared me that I’m doing so well with it. She told me not to worry about being scared and to just take the OK part.

Not so sure that I am doing that. In the back of my mind, I’m freaking out a little bit more every day. But by the end of the day, I’m ok again. I feel like such a yo-yo. And I had totally forgotten just how much early pregnancy can mess with your physical well being. Ok, well, pregnancy messes with you in general, but early pregnancy is my least favourite. I am horrible at being exhausted and queasy. I just shut down. I discovered yesterday that as long as I keep my belly VERY full, I don’t get queasy. So I pretty much need to be grazing all day long. Which means I need to find healthy non-fat stuff to snack on because I am determined to not gain a lot of weight this pregnancy. It’d be nice if I could actually end up losing weight when all said is done. Granted I want to have a healthy pregnancy but at nearly 100lbs overweight in the first place, the last thing I need to be doing is adding another 25-35lbs! I handled the Gestational Diabetes diet with my first just fine and she was great so I am trying to slowly gear my diet in that direction.

 As far as counseling goes this pregnancy, the first thing I did the day after I got my positives was call my therapist and find out if we could move my appointment up. She saw me the next morning at 730a. I LOVE MY THERAPIST! My husband and I have a joint visit this Tuesday at 6pm. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes. He’s having some stress issues related to the financial aspect and his overall responsibility in that department. I’m hoping we can work through those together. Although he abhors being “shrinked.” Sometimes though – it’s necessary to deal with a tough life situation. And I would certainly call what we’re going through a tough life situation.

That’s all for now – just gotta face my biggest decision of the evening – do I REALLY want to give into my craving for fried chicken skin or not? (yeah, I know, and it IS my weirdest pregnancy craving to date!)

Warmest,

Lauren

Dear Ms. Morning Sickness….

Well well well.

I was wondering when you’d arrive. I had started to think that maybe, just maybe you’d stay away this pregnancy and I wouldn’t have to languish away at home instead of going to a play date – or be able to happily spin my daughter around instead of telling her “Sorry honey, mommy’s already spinning!”

Welcome back Morning Sickness. And middle of the day sickness. And evening/bedtime sickness. So so sorry I didn’t hang up any Welcome Back signs or set out a buffet of ginger ale,saltines, and ice water. I am so screwed this time around. The first time, you blanched at the taste of spearmint gum. Now I can’t even look at the stuff. The second time, it was Dr. Pepper, oranges, and Will & Grace. Now, I can’t drink Dr. Pepper or watch Will & Grace re-runs. Oh and those preggy pop things? Apparently you’re immune to those when it comes to me. And just how did you GET the name morning sickness to begin with??? WHAT A MISNOMER!

 I just have one favor this time – please please don’t overstay your welcome again. 6 months the first time was way too long. I sincerely appreciated the 4 month stay the second time but did you have to be so active and raucous? Did you really? Was that REALLLLLY necessary? Maybe just the standard First trimester this time. That would be nice. Then I wouldn’t have to laugh at the doctors and experts who stand there and tell pregnant women all over the world that you magically walk out the front door at three months on the dot. Or maybe you could just stay a week and hang out quietly in a corner or something. Just don’t rock the boat so much this time and we’ll get along just fine.

Yours Truly,

 One queasy pregnant Mama

A Bit of Off-topic Good news….

I got the news today that I was chosen to receive a mini-grant from Postpartum Support International. The project I proposed is an event during which two DVD’s about postparutm depression will be shown and printed materials regarding Postpartum Mood Disorders will be handed out to attendees. A follow up questionnaire will be provided as well to gauge what people thought of the presentation. I am SO excited about this opportunity because it will help bring awareness about PMD’s to the community!

I am also excited because it just seems that God keeps opening doors for me in this area and has made it all just happen. He has truly provided for me with my work with Postpartum Women and I strongly believe He will continue to provide during this pregnancy.

Mixed Reactions from the Family

So far, Praise God, no one has outright disowned us.

My entire family knows, apparently my father didn’t have much of a reaction, my mother wants me to lose weight (and I agree, I am overweight), and one of my younger brothers is relieved because we’re “doing all the work” and have taken the pressure off them for yet another year at the least! LOL.

I told Chris’ mother this morning. She was hesitantly excited – nervous because of what another pregnancy means for us emotionally and financially, and excited because she’s going to be Nana to another baby!

Tonight I’ll be telling my father in law. I am not really looking forward to it but my gut tells me he’ll take it better coming from me than from Chris. I’ll update later as to how he handles the news.

 We’ll also be telling Chris’ brother & sister in law. I will be asking my sister in law if she’d be willing to let me borrow her maternity clothes because I have um, well, I was done! Who needs maternity clothes lying about?!?? Not me! (Hindsight SUCKS) At least we hadn’t had our big yard sale and sold all the infant stuff yet, right? And to think – that was going to be in just a few weeks!

Gotta run now, time for Alli’s quiet time – and my sanity saver nap!

150pm: Quick Update: Chris went by his dad’s office on his lunch break and broke the news. According to Chris, Dad was shocked but seemingly excited. Mom knows that Dad knows so now all we have to do is tell brother & sister in law. Phew. So glad all of that is over and done with! Now we can get on with the pregnancy and what’s to come!

Don’t forget to Breathe!

About three weeks ago, we experienced an “oops.” A lovely condom that didn’t work as well as it should have. At the time I was cramping and could have sworn that dear old Aunt Flo was right around the corner. A little alarmed that our accident might have larger repurcussions than a messier than usual clean-up, we discussed the “if’s” afterwards. We both decided not to worry about it at the time because hey, if I was pregnant, there was nothing much we could do about it.

 Two weeks went by and no Aunt Flo. I started to get fidgety. And tired. And HOT. I mean, sweating like a stuck pig HOT. It was insane.

This past weekend I went to the Atlanta area to visit some distant relatives I hadn’t seen in awhile. Wanted to take the test before going but my ever so brilliant husband told me that I should probably wait until I got back. By waiting I wouldn’t be tempted to tell everyone and would enjoy the weekend instead of introspectively tearing myself apart with all that “what if’s and OMG’S!”

Turned out he’s really a smart cookie. He bought two tests on April 29th (don’t you just love those two packs?!?!) I had to pee before he got home so I went ahead and peed in a cup because I didn’t want to have to wait any longer than I already had.

 I dipped the first test, capped it, and laid it down. It started to work and the negative line showed up first. I started to celebrate UNTIL I saw the positive line showing up. (it was a +/- test) At first I thought nah, it’s just an evap line – nothing to worry about. Until it started getting darker!

I fumbled furiously for the second test and nearly knocked the pee into the sink. (UGH!) I dipped that one, capped it, and laid it down. In mere seconds, another positive sign showed up, this one even darker than the first. I was in tears. And I am about to explain why.

We already have two beautiful little girls. Our first daughter, Alli, is nearly 3 years old. Our second daughter, Charlotte, is just 13 months old. Both pregnancies weren’t easy: 6mos morning sickness with Alli, 4 mos furious morning sickness with charlotte, I had severe pelvic pain with both, and suffered from Postpartum Depression after both births as well. One bout went treated, the other untreated (first one). To top things off, Charlotte was born with a rare condition, Pierre Robin Sequence, which is a combination of a recessed jaw, cleft palate, and a tongue that can block the airway, interfering with breathing and eating. She had jaw surgery at 9 days old, a feeding tube placed at 21 days old, cleft repair at 5 months old, and ear tubes & a MIC-key button placed just one week after her cleft repair. I exclusively pumped for her for 7 months. I also ended up in a mental ward at an area hospital as a result of a bad match with my meds for postpartum OCD. I am finally in therapy and will be for some time, especially now that I am pregnant again. In fact, the first thing I did Monday morning was call my therapists office and see if we could move up my appt to earlier in the week!

After I got the positive result, I handed kid duty over to Chris and went and laid down. Alli tucked me in and after they left, I got up and got my copy of “What am I thinking?: Having a child after postpartum depression”. I had it not because I had been thinking about having another child but for women in the peer support group I now run for women with postpartum depression. I read half of the book by the time the girls were in bed. The one thing Karen Kleiman states in the very beginning is that fear at a healthy level, is good. She worries more about mothers who are not afraid of relapse after an episode of PPD than mothers who are afraid, again, at a healthy level. Obviously being fanatically fearful to the point of it being interruptive within your life is not a good thing – in any situation, let alone pregnancy.

So I am afraid. And not afraid to admit that I am afraid. However, I am in a much better place than I was with either one of the previous two pregnancies, have done my homework, have access to a therapist, have educated my immediate family, and have access to the Postpartum International Coordinator group because I am now a Co-Coordinator for the state of Georgia and help women from all over the state. Our level of support is much higher this time around. I have also chosen a new OB who is more sensitive to PPD and his nurses even call new moms to check in on them. So even though I’m confident in that department, I’m still scared. What if there is something wrong with the baby? What if things are worse this time around? What if Chris can’t find a new job making more money? What if….

I have learned to give everything to God and I feel that He is testing me yet again. And as  a quote from Mother Theresa – “I know God trusts me – I just wish he didn’t trust me SO MUCH!” We had decided we were done unless God had other plans for our family. Apparently He does and we are now along for the ride.

 Make it a good one, God. We know You’ll be there with us and we thank You for this unexpected blessing.