The Birth of Claire’s daughter, Bug
A daughter: smart, kind, beautiful, and just as full of challenges as her birth. Bug (our older daughter) came into this world by C-section after a 24- hour labor in April of 2017. We were told that she needed help and they had to get her out, so we signed the papers and went to off the OR.
Of course, there was nothing easy about what followed an emergency C-section, but we were so taken with our fierce little girl.
Postpartum, I had some very intense anxieties that I would now say were not rational, but they were real. However, they passed. That following January we found out we were expecting, AGAIN! And I was already 3 months along! I was in denial, and for those 3 months I wanted to be in denial.
We already had the most amazing child we could ever ask for! I know how this may sound, but I was head over heels in love with Bug (our older daughter) that I didn’t know if I could have enough love for another one. I wasn’t ready to let go of it being just the 3 of us yet.
I knew before our new arrival came that “this” was coming. I knew it then just as much as I lived through it, and continue to fight against it. I’m not saying that I didn’t want Wili (our younger daughter), but I was already having feelings of resentment towards a child – my child – and she wasn’t even here yet.
Postpartum Depression Guilt Sets In
I resented her for taking away my time with Bug. There were many things that I wanted to do just Bug and I. I was working part time after Bug was born, up until I was nearly 39 weeks pregnant with Wili. So, Bug and I got a lot of time together, just us, and I wasn’t ready to let go of that. As I said I, worked until I was almost 39 weeks pregnant with Wili. I was trying to keep my mind off of the inevitable. She was coming and I wasn’t emotionally ready.
We scheduled a repeat C-section and Tubal Ligation for July 18, 2018. Having had a C-section only 15 months prior, a repeat was the safest option for delivery for a multitude of reasons not limited to my safety. My husband and I decided that I would elect to receive a Tubal Ligation (a form of surgical sterilization) after our daughter was born. We did not want to have more children.
When she came, she had low blood sugar and a low body temperature. While these are normal complications for infants at birth, I was totally unprepared. All I wanted to do was nurse her. I felt that the sugar in my colostrum (first milk) and my body heat could help her. I was told that she needed to stay wrapped up in her little cot beside me and be given glucose for her blood sugar or she would have to be taken to the NICU.
As I said, I know that these complications are fairly normal. But within the first 20 minutes of her life all I heard was, “She is hurting, and you’re not enough.”
The next 12 hours, she was awake; The whole 12 hours, with barely 5 minutes of periodic sleep every 90 minutes or so. Looking back, I see that her unsettled state was because she needed me to comfort her. I was convinced that I wasn’t enough. Instead of just soaking her up and holding her while she slept, despite needing sleep myself, I put her in her little cot beside me.
I was so afraid that they would tell me I was an unfit mother because I might “accidentally” fall asleep while nursing her. From the beginning, my Postpartum Depression was collecting little pieces to build on.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms Heighten
In the weeks following I went through the baby blues. But it didn’t go away. She was such an unhappy, unsettled baby. She was suffering from colic, and it seemed the crying was endless. It was at its worst at night, when everyone else was sleeping – everyone but the two or us. I hadn’t slept for more than 90 minutes at a time in weeks, and I was still trying to keep up and spend quality time with my little Bug.
I was overcome with guilt and exhaustion. I can remember trying to get Wili to latch onto my very engorged left breast, her screaming – unable to latch, and Bug just sitting there with sad eyes. In my mind, she was watching her Mama care and struggle to care for this tiny person that had just taken over her whole world, wondering when it was her turn. Her turn for a cuddle, a snack, a fun mama planned activity, anything just for her.
I was breaking.
I longed for Bug.
I felt that I couldn’t spend quality time with her or even bond with Wili. I was beyond exhausted – physically – mentally and emotionally. I had begun to see things and hear things. Not just at night, when your mind can often play tricks on you. I was scared – scared of myself.
I was convinced that I wasn’t good enough for my family. I couldn’t help Wili. Her crying felt so constant. If I couldn’t help her, I could never be free to be with Bug, or my husband or even be me. If I couldn’t help my infant daughter, what good was I? I wasn’t good enough at birth, I wasn’t good enough to help her and soothe her from her crying fits. I just wasn’t good enough.
My delusions not only distorted what I thought I was seeing and hearing in the world I lived in, but now they were haunting my mind, my dreams. The thoughts of what I might do to my daughter, myself, my family we overwhelming. Was I even capable of doing those things? No. I wasn’t. I was sick, I was hurting, I was delusional. My Postpartum Depression was haunting me.
That’s the only way I know how to describe what I went through. Even when my mind would stop spinning long enough to let me sleep, I was tormented in my dreams. In my dreams, Wili would have to be taken to see a specialist who would tell us that she was going to die. They didn’t know why, but there was nothing I could do to save her. After a night of terrifying thoughts and tormenting dreams, and a morning waking up to tears streaming down my face, I knew I needed to find help.
Claire Begins to Seek Help for her Postpartum Depression
I started with my OB’s office to find a direction to find the help that I now desperately needed. After many phone calls, I found a place that might be able to get me the immediate help I needed. I was convinced that I wasn’t strong enough to keep away the demon that was overtaking my mind, the demon of Postpartum Depression.
I sat down, with Wili safely beside me, in front of a stranger to be evaluated. With the results of the evaluation, he proceeded to make several phone calls to the facilities that were available and “equipped to deal with this type of thing.” They both wanted to hospitalize me for a number of days. However, if I went to the hospital, I would not be allowed to nurse my daughter. If there was one thing I wasn’t going to do, it was stop nursing my daughter. It was the one thing I knew that I was doing right. No one – not even me – was going to let me selfishly get this help at the cost of my daughter’s nourishment.
Sometimes the system doesn’t work. In my case it failed. I went home. I talked to my husband, my mom, my sister, my grandmother my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law. I spoke up. I told them all what I had been going through. I decided that, if the system couldn’t help me, maybe the people who love me could. I also knew that I had to help myself.
I have battled depression, medicated and un-medicated. I knew what it was going to take. The next day was different, and the day after that was different. The days looked a little brighter slowly but surely. I knew that I was sick and that this wouldn’t just go away from a little self-love or kick in the pants. It was going to take some real work, and real work it took.
I have been talking about Postpartum on my blog – specifically Postpartum Depression. I have written an entire post on How I Pulled Myself out of Postpartum Depression. Going through Postpartum Depression was horrible. I am so sad that I lost so much precious time because of my fractured condition.
I am often most upset about the moments that I missed, or couldn’t see because I was too low to notice any of the good still going on around me. I look back now as I write about what was going on for me during that time, and I look at what is going on today.
We have two beautiful daughters. I have an amazing husband. It is deeply upsetting to reflect on thoughts that Postpartum Depression might have taken all of this away. It is incredibly painful to put myself back into such a dark place. I do it so that someone, anyone, just one person knows they are not alone. I consider myself very fortunate to have a support system that allowed me to beat Postpartum Depression. So many do not.