We have three more days to go in Guest-blog-a-palooza for PPD and PPA Awareness. (And even though I think that might be the most RIDICULOUS NAME EVER, it’s kind of stuck with me.)
I need to apologize to my Guest bloggers–everyone’s posts got pushed back a day when Dan agreed to guest blog for me. And I forgot to email y’all and let you know. Blogging fail. 🙁
I have three more stories to share after today’s, and today’s story is awesome.
Today’s story comes from Grace. Go check her out. She lives in Mexico, y’all. And while she may not live in a resort, she’s probably closer to one than I am! I mean, go check out the picture she has in this blog entry. Oh, and her son is adorable. SUPER adorable.
Here is Grace’s story:
Hi! My name is Grace and I’m new to the wonderful world of blogging; I began my blog this month (after being a lurker for a while). I think, for me, it is divine that May also happens to be Mental Health Awareness month. I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to be a guest blogger for Miranda in the effort to raise awareness about what PPD/A looks like. I hope you’ll visit my site when you get a chance, Arms Wide Open, and join me on my journey to wholeness.
Thanks, Miranda! (You’re most welcome, Grace!)
My husband and I had been married four years. We lived in Guadalajara, Mexico (still do) and we were talking about trying to conceive in January ‘08 so that we would still be able to attend my sister-in-law’s July European wedding. Things happened a bit faster than we planned…
November 2007: Missed period
Pregnancy test – positive. Oh.my.God.help.us. (!!!!)
Totally overcome with excitement, and a bit bummed out that the July wedding would be out of the question, being 8 months pregnant.
My pregnancy was fairly smooth. I had the typical morning sickness the first trimester. I lost a molar. I had a couple UTI’s. I grew foot fungus. My hormones went whack-o. My husband was supportive. My doctor, notsomuch. You can read about my unfortunate and, most likely, unnecessary C-Section here.
The result of said C-Section was the beginning of my feelings of inadequacy and failure as a new mom. But, this is normal, right? We all feel inadequate at times, right? Yes, of course. It’s when the inadequacy turns into shame, which turns into guilt, which translates to horrible anxiety … which results in the inability to function … that you start to wonder what the hell is going on.
My first few months of motherhood were a blur of fatigue and having the life sucked out of my boobs pretty much constantly. I was a little bit obsessive about keeping track of everything. I would count the hours of sleep at night and then obsess about how long the naps the following day should be in order to add up to the amount my Dr. Ferber chart says for a daily total. I would write down the times of feeding, which side I fed from, how many poopy diapers I changed, etc, etc. With time, I relaxed a little bit.
Fast forward to 5 months post partum. We flew from Mexico to Oregon for Christmas. I was filled with so much anxiety about flying and traveling and winter flu season and the time change that my sleep started to be affected. I tried to enjoy my vacation with my family that I don’t see very often, but I was overwhelmed with all the worry and anxiety that was overcoming my mind and body. After a two-week visit we had a red-eye flight home to Guadalajara (Mistake #1: Anxious people should NOT fly red-eyes with an infant) and would be moving in the days following our arrival (Mistake #2: Anxious people should NOT move during the first few months of motherhood). The night before our travel day I couldn’t sleep. No, I wasn’t restless; no I didn’t fall in and out of sleep. I DIDN’T SLEEP AT ALL. This was the beginning of a six-month battle with severe anxiety, depression & insomnia, benzodiazepine
weaning & withdrawal, and finally finding the road to healing.
Those first few weeks of “insomnia – hell”, as I like to call it, should have landed me in a psychiatrist’s office immediately. But, instead I suffered in silence for FIVE LONG MONTHS. Well, not complete silence. I should mention that my husband dragged me to Urgent Care because I was acting like a crazy person (due to extreme anxiety and not sleeping at all, and I mean AT ALL), which is where I got my prescription for the benzodiazepine that eventually somewhat-regulated my sleep and anxiety. (Note: We live in Mexico. Don’t try this at home.)
I endured five months of taking the benzo and hoping and praying it would make me sleep and make me well, and waking up with extreme guilt and shame. I was still breastfeeding during this time, and I felt like a horrible mother for possibly exposing my child to a narcotic. (For the record, I wouldn’t feed until about 10 hours after taking the med…but, still…it’s a drug) The bottom line is – I was trying to help myself. I thought I could do it on my own. My support system was my husband. That was it. (My dear family is wonderful, but we live in another country. There’s only so much you can do). No ONE person should have to carry the load of caring for an infant and a depressed mother and work full-time. My husband is a saint, by the way. (Mistake #3: Anxious people… or any people… should not have children without a support system).
In May of 2009 when I finally saw a psychiatrist I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. That was my first step on the road to healing. I endured months of unnecessary suffering. This could have been avoided had I humbled myself and had the strength to ask for help from a professional. The irony of it is that during this time I was in grad school studying counseling. I realized what I hypocrite I was, and I went to see a counselor, too. Once again… weight… shoulders….lifted.
It’s been a year since my first step to healing. I’m many steps further. Have I arrived? I’m getting there. Patience, people. There is no cookie cutter answer or timeline for healing. It will look different for each individual. What’s important to me now…. now that I have some time under my belt, and time brings healing and perspective, is this: I can and will be whole. During the worst of my PPD/A, my number one fear was that I would never be myself again. I would never be normal. I would never be whole. What my PPD/A journey has taught me is that, YES, I will be myself again. But, surprise, surprise: it’s an entirely different self. It’s a scarred self. It’s a broken self. But it’s also a more compassionate self. It’s a more understanding self. It’s a kinder, more loving self. It’s a wiser self.
I’m a mom now. I’ll never be the same again.