Archive | November, 2011

You down with PPD? Yeah you know me!

22 Nov

What’s funny is that I specifically remember telling  Michael that I was sure I was going to have postpartum depression.  Of course I was probably joking or, more true to form, making a joke about something that I was actually worried about, but it had definitely crossed my mind that this could really happen to me.

Sure, I was expecting the first couple of weeks after having the baby to be difficult and emotional and all of that.  I had read about and been warned about the “baby blues” which affect pretty much all women during the first two weeks after giving birth, but I still wasn’t prepared for how I felt.  I loved the baby.  I was taking care of the baby.  I was having normal conversations with people.  I was showering.  I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing.  Only I couldn’t stop crying.  And crying.  And crying.  Of course we were dealing with all of the breastfeeding crap, but it was more than that.  I was an emotional wreck and this was uncharted territory for me.  Yes, I’d consider myself an emotional person and I have been known to enjoy a good cry, but I’m not used to feeling unstable.  I have it together.  I’m dependable.  If there’s a problem I think of some kind of solution and move through it.  I wasn’t used to feeling like I didn’t know what to do.

After some emails and conversations with friends that confirmed that the first few weeks after giving birth are in fact the Worst Weeks Ever, I felt better.  Or at least I felt like there was light at the end of the tunnel–I was heading somewhere and, slowly but surely, things seemed to improve.  By 10 days out I was actually feeling pretty good.  I was ready for visitors and the crying had slowed down.  I was feeling more and more like myself everyday, but then I kind of flatlined.

As much as I was telling myself I was “better” and “doing great” I still didn’t feel like myself.  It’s hard to put it into words.  The crying wasn’t totally going away.  I still got this sick feeling in my stomach each night when I knew that it’d be morning before I knew it and I’d have another day with the baby all by myself.  Then, after Michael left for work each morning, I’d hold the baby and cry, telling myself over and over that it was going to be okay.

I knew that Michael was worried.  I knew that he hated leaving us each day.  I knew that he was emailing my parents telling them to check in on me because I was having a hard time.  I was willing myself to go back to normal, but it just wasn’t happening.  Three weeks after Oliver was born Michael and I went to an appointment with my OB.  A 10 question survey confirmed what we already knew.  What I was feeling had veered out of baby blues territory and into postpartum depression territory.  My OB was wonderful, just like he had been when he delivered Ollie.  He made me feel like it was okay.  He told me it was going to get better.  He let me cry.  He wrote me a prescription for ambien.  He set up an appointment for me with a psychiatrist.

This is where things got harder for me.  Even though I’m a school counselor and I spend most of my job talking with students about their problems and their feelings, I’m really not comfortable being on the other side of that relationship.  I don’t like talking about my feelings.  I don’t like admitting that I can’t handle something myself.  I didn’t like the idea of taking drugs to sleep or feel better.  I was scared and embarrassed to tell my parents, who had been nothing but supportive, what was going on.

But I did it.  I talked about my feelings.  I admitted I needed help.  I told my parents.  I took the ambien.  I am taking the anti-depressant.  I did all of it.  And I am SO GLAD I did.  I started feeling better the day after my appointment with the psychiatrist.  Of course the anti-depressant wasn’t working that quickly.  Of course one night of sleep thanks to ambien hadn’t fixed everything.  But I had a plan.  I had support.  I felt better.

Tomorrow I go back for my two week follow up visit with the psychiatrist.  It also just so happens to be my 30th birthday.  It’s pretty humbling, going for this kind of visit on this big birthday.  But I’ll do it.  Just like I did it last time.  And I’d do it again, all of it, a million times over, to start feeling better.  To go back to being me.

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Deep Thoughts on Turning 30

21 Nov

On Wednesday I’ll be 30 years old.  While this day has mostly been overshadowed by the fact that I just had a baby, it still feels like kind of a big deal.  I mean, other people are 30, not me.  I’m in my twenties.  I’m hip.  I’m supa fly.  I’m clearly lame enough to actually be turning 40.  Anyway, turning 30 has really brought about a higher level of consciousness for me.  I’ve been having deep thoughts.  DEEEEP THIRTY YEAR OLD THOUGHTS.

  1. Holy Moly, I’m actually getting old.
  2. Shouldn’t someone have gotten me diamonds of a significant size by now?
  3. Am I supposed to be a Serious Professional Person at this point?  Because even when I dress the part, I still kind of feel like I’m just faking it.
  4. I really hope that being 30 doesn’t mean I have to start wearing heels with jeans.  I’m just not into that.
  5. Now that I’m 30 and have a baby but still love everything Twilight does that make me one of those creepy Twilight Moms?
  6. I always thought I’d have a big 30th birthday party with a “Sarah Through The Years” slide show.  I guess I’m supposed to be too Grown Up and Mature to still want that but who am I kidding?  I still totally do.
  7. Sad but true:  I’ve started to enjoy wearing sneakers with my jeans.  Like regular old New Balances, not cute fun sneakers.  I don’t know if this has more to do with turning 30 or becoming a mom, but either way, I don’t think it’s cool.  At least my jeans aren’t pleated…yet.
  8. What are 30 year old’s supposed to watch on tv?  Because I like watching the Hallmark channel more than MTV and nothing beats the Food Network.  This feels more like 60 than 30, but you’re going to have to pry Chopped and my Hallmark Channel Original Movie from my cold dead hands.
  9. The first thing I could think of when my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday was one of those battery powered nasal aspirators to suck boogers from the baby’s nose.  SAD.

So I guess that list turned out to be more of a look into how Not Cool I am instead of Deep Thoughts, but really, turning 30 actually doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to me.  Yes, it’s a milestone, but I don’t feel all of the angst that it looks like most people associate with turning 30.  I’m in a good place.  I have a happy marriage, I love my job, and I’m a mother.  As long as being 30 doesn’t mean that I’m supposed to have it all figured out then I’m ok.  I’m doing good.  Really good.  I can’t ask for more than that.

Month 1

17 Nov

Oliver,

When I woke up this morning I didn’t even realize that today was your one month birthday.  This is only significant because since we brought you home I’ve been telling myself that if we could just make it to one month then things would be better.  And now here we are and I didn’t even notice–1 month–we made it.  I guess that means that things are better.  Of course all this talk about things getting better makes it sound like everything has been woe and strife which is not the case at all.  Any woe and strife there has been this month has been all mine, not yours.

I tell everyone that you are a “good” baby and I actually mean it.  I am sure I am going to jinx myself by saying all of this, but it’s true.  You don’t cry unless you need something and when you do cry it’s almost always easy to figure out what you need.  You eat like a champ and aren’t picky about which formula or which bottles we offer you.  You let everyone hold you and, for the most part, you sleep for long stretches of time and can sleep through anything–the dog barking, plumbers drilling, vacuums–nothing wakes you up.

This month you’ve gone from a super sleepy newborn who never wanted to open his eyes to what your daddy and I have dubbed “happy baby.”  Happy Baby is when you’re super alert, usually just after you’ve eaten and have a clean diaper, and looking around wide eyed.  We sit beside you making faces, talking, and watching you lie on your back kicking your legs and waving your arms.  You’ve even started making little oohs and ahhs and basically it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever heard EVER.  Even though I swear you’ve smiled at me, no one else has seen it, but I know it won’t be long before you’re smiling at everyone.

Your only bump in the road this month has to do with poop.  Or lack there of.  It’s kind of becoming a thing for you to decide to stop pooping for a couple days, making yourself miserable with gas and a tummyache and making me crazily obsessed with trying to will you to poop with my mind.  It always, shall we say, works itself out, but those nights where it’s been a day or more since your last poop and you’re stretching and crying in pain are not fun for any of us.

Oh, Oliver, I could write pages and pages about you.  Your chubby cheeks, your sweet ears, your fuzzy hair, the way you’re warm and smell so good–it all kills me.  We barely know you and you’re already the best thing we ever did.  I’m still learning how to be your mother and it’s not always easy, but I wouldn’t change it for a second.  I knew that once you arrived things would change, but to say that you’ve changed everything during your short time outside my body is still the understatement of the century.  Everything in our world revolves around you and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Love, Mom

Adventures in Breastfeeding or How I Almost Lost My Will to Live

17 Nov

I always assumed that when I had a baby I’d breastfeed.  There wasn’t much thinking beyond that.  Maybe some hazy visions of my sweet chubby baby and I having these special nursing moments, but even those were only on the edge of my thoughts.  Oh to go back to the days of the sweet, innocent joy of being COMPLETELY WRONG.

Looking back, it feels like breastfeeding, Oliver, and I were not meant to be.  What I had assumed would just feel natural and “right” was uncomfortable and complicated.  Because of the drama at the end of my delivery I had to be flat on my back being stitched up for over an hour instead of having the immediate skin to skin nursing we’d heard was essential to laying breastfeeding groundwork.  Then, when I was finally able to try for the first time, he was already in his newborn coma and, when awake, couldn’t seem to latch on right.  We tried different holds, each one more awkward than the next, and then it was off to the nursery for a bath for him with the assurance from the nurses that we’d try again later.  Barely into it I was already feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing and that what I was doing, I was doing wrong.

Over the next two days in the hospital we kept at it.  Nothing was going wrong or badly, but I didn’t know if it was going well or right either.  Even though the nurses and lactation consultants were positive, I was just so unsure.  I didn’t know about the latch, whether or not he was getting enough to eat, if my supply was coming in or not, and really, it just hurt.  I met with a lactation consultant every chance I got and I swear I showed my boobs to half the hospital.  In fact, if you wanted to come in my room you had to look at my boobs first.  If you wanted to stay more than an hour, you had to touch them.  In other words, I was trying to get all the help I could get from anyone who came my way.

Although I’m jaded now, when Michael and I left the hospital I was still sure that I was going to breastfeed–using formula hadn’t even crossed my mind.  We had a great visit with a lactation consultant right before we left and I was sure my supply would come in and it would just get better and better.

Long story short, it never got better.  Actually, it got worse.  At the pediatrician visit the next day Oliver was right at the 10% mark for weight loss.  We came the next day and while he had gained weight it still wasn’t enough to get us through the weekend without a visit.  This was also the first visit where I cried in public about how hard breastfeeding was.  My nipples were cracked and blistered and bruised (sharing is caring, right?), it was taking me 90 minutes to feed him and then 45 minutes later he wanted to do it again.  My supply was sort of there, but mostly not and definitely not like it should have been.  Breastfeeding hurt, I was exhausted and I still hadn’t had my zen moment of breastfeeding bliss.  I guess my woe and strife was major enough that by the end of our appointment we were out the door with formula and instructions to “top him off” after I fed him so my boobs (and mental state) would have time to heal.

We gave him formula the rest of that day and that was that.  Six days later I had decided to quit breastfeeding.  In between the first night of formula and quitting there were multiple appointments, phone consults, desperate emails to friends, the purchase of an expensive breast pump, herbs, and about 1000 emotional meltdowns.  I couldn’t do it.  I would cry.  Oliver would cry.  There was nothing for him to eat.  Pumping sucked.  And, no matter what, after all of the nursing torture, we’d still have to give him a bottle to fill him up–the ultimate slap in the face after the struggle of a nursing session.

Now, when I think about it too long, the decision to give up breastfeeding makes me feel guilty.  I wonder if I should have tried longer.  Tried harder.  Tried something different.  I wonder if I was doing something wrong.  I wonder if it was my lack of confidence that did us in.  I wonder when I’ll stop feeling like a failure each time someone asks me whether or not I’m nursing.  I could wonder forever.  But no matter how much guilt I feel, all of that is overshadowed by the sick feeling in my stomach, the anxiety, the dread that comes back when I think about those days and nights at home trying to get it right. I was missing out on my baby.  I was making myself crazier than hormones were already making me.  And while a part of me feels like I’m almost anti-breastfeeding at this point, of course I’m not.  If it had worked for me I’d be doing it right now. I guess I just wish someone had told me it was going to be so hard.  That while some people have zen nursing moments from the beginning, it’s not like that for everyone.

Now if only I could go back and give my pregnant self a heads up.  Hey, by the way, breastfeeding isn’t going to work for you but  IT’S OKAY.  You’re going to give it a shot.  You’re going to try long enough, hard enough and in the end you’re going to make the decision that’s best for you and your baby.  Yeah, it’s formula, but it’s been a happy baby (and mama) ever since.

O, Baby

15 Nov

Oliver Andrew was born at 7:54 on Monday, October 17, 2011.

He was 10 days late.  Well, 10 days late if you’re committed to your due date which, I was, I SO was, so when October 7 came and went the disappointment was huge.  After a week of waiting, on October 13 our OB scheduled an induction for Monday morning at 7 AM.  If we made it through the weekend, which he halfheartedly told my desperate crying face that something might happen, we’d head in to have a baby on Monday. I was scared to be induced.  Aside from a c-section, it was at the top of my list of Things I Do Not Want To Happen.

Needless to say, the weekend came and went and Sunday night found us preparing to head to the hospital the next morning.  Alarms were set, the car was loaded, and sleep was attempted.  Monday morning I couldn’t stop myself from crying.  After weeks of telling everyone who asked that I was beyond ready to have this baby, I was scared, overwhelmed, and anxious.  The car ride to the hospital was spent mostly in silence with Michael trying to reassure me that it was going to be okay, we were going to meet our little boy that day.

We arrived in labor and delivery a little after 7:00.  Our nurse, Chris, got us set up in our delivery room and I changed into a hospital gown to wait for Dr. Levit.  Meanwhile, Chris got all of my baseline data– baby’s heartbeat, my blood pressure, etc.  It was all I could do to hold back tears.  The anticipation was just overwhelming.  In fact, if I had to describe the labor experience in one word it would be overwhelming.  My blood pressure was high, from anxiety and just in general throughout pregnancy, but it did go down after a little bit.  Dr. Levit came in around 7:40 and, after a quick ultrasound to make sure that the baby’s head was indeed down, laid out the plan.  Since I was still only 2 cm dilated he wanted to use cytotec instead of pitocin so I’d still be able to move around.  Chris had me sign a consent form and Dr. Levit got the cytotec ready.  At this point I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore.  I tried to explain that this was just nerves–I was fine–more like FINE, freaking out, but normal for me.  Dr. Levit put in the cytotec, Chris set me up to be monitored for an hour, and then Michael and I were left alone.  Labor had begun.

At this point I don’t know what I was expecting to happen.  I could see from the monitors that I was having contractions, but I didn’t feel them.  At least I didn’t think I did.  At that point I was still not really sure what a contraction should feel like.  I could feel something, but it didn’t hurt exactly…expect for when it did.  I did some texting, Michael took a short nap and my mom showed up to hang out.  Around 9:30 Chris came back in to check and said that everything was fine.  She took me off the monitor and basically told us that we were just waiting for the cytotec to do its job.

Before I had any idea what labor was really like

At this point I kind of lose track of when everything was happening.  It felt like time was flying by and dragging all at once.  By 11:00 I was sure I knew what a contraction felt like and I was sure that I was not a fan.  It wasn’t unbearable, but it wasn’t fun.  Chris came back in and said that Dr. Levit would be there in 45 minutes and she wanted to hook me back up to be monitored before he got there.  I was feeling really uncomfortable at this point and was sure that I had made major progress.  HA!  Dr. Levit checked me around 12:30 and I was only 3 cm.  Womp Womp.  Despite the fact that I was sure I was going to be in labor forever at this point, he was really pleased with how things were going and decided to break my water.  This was NOT FUN.  It didn’t hurt exactly but the sensation of warm fluid pouring out of me was gross and really made me uncomfortable.  Chris encouraged me to get out of bed and move around so I decided to try sitting on one of the exercise balls like we had done in our baby class.  This would have been fine except for the fact that every time I had a contraction a huge gush of water came pouring out of me.  Hi, I’m in labor and I am disgusting and miserable.

Around 2:00 I couldn’t handle the constant I’m peeing myself, gushing feeling and contractions were really painful so I decided to get in the jacuzzi tub.  During my entire pregnancy I was adamant that I did NOT want to be in the freaking tub despite the fact that it was a huge selling point for the hospital and the baby class teacher.  I just knew it wasn’t for me.  At this point though, I was willing to try anything.  As for whether or not I hated it, for the most part I was right, it wasn’t for me.  The water was warm, but not hot like a soothing bath and, because I had the IV ready in my right hand I couldn’t put it in the water.  This meant that after the first few minutes I felt cold.  All of that aside, the tub was probably worth it because it meant that I couldn’t feel the gush of fluid when I had a contraction.  It was when I was in the tub that the contractions got truly painful.  I remember consciously trying to find a place of zen, do the baby class breathing, and will myself to relax and work through it.  It was awful.  I remember telling Michael that I couldn’t do this, I needed drugs, everything hurt and that if I wasn’t dilated more than one cm I was sure I was going to die.  The nurse overheard this and helped me get out of the tub and went to call the doctor about getting me some drugs.  Even though it felt like I had been in the tub for hours, it had really only been about 40 minutes.  It was almost time for Chris to leave and I remember telling her that I thought I was going to die if I hadn’t made progress.  She said that based on how I looked and was acting she was sure I had.

After I was out of the tub and back in the bed the anesthesiologist, Dr. Mathis, came to talk to me about the epidural.  Dr. Levit had said that he didn’t want me to have the epidural until I was at least 4 cm.  At this point we didn’t know how far along I was and I was still holding out thinking I might be able to go without.  The nurse offered some drugs through my IV while we waited for Dr. Levit to come back and check me.  She said fentanyl would offer some relief but wear off pretty quickly.  The good news was that she thought it would last me until Dr. Levit arrived to check my progress and she could keep giving it to me over and over.  Let’s just say that fentanyl made me feel like I was high.  Not that I’ve ever been high, but it made me feel more drunk than I’ve ever been and completely out of it.  It did help, but I was still feeling each and every contraction and it definitely wore off quickly.  Before 45 minutes had passed I was begging for another dose just like a true junkie.  As Frances, my new nurse, was getting me another dose, Dr. Levit arrived.

Frances explained to Dr. Levit that I was feeling major pain (the understatement of the year) and that my contractions were on top of each other and not giving me any time to rest in between.  Apparently my body is really sensitive to cytotec.  The second does of fentanyl made me feel high again but didn’t do much of anything to help me with the pain.  Dr. Levit gave me the ok to get the epidural and Frances called for Dr. Mathis.  At this point my pain outweighed any leftover fear about an epidural.  Thankfully Dr. Mathis had already done his whole “epidurals are dangerous but okay, you should get one” speech so he could get right to work.  I don’t remember feeling any pain, just a little pinch, and by 6:00 I had the epidural and was feeling SO MUCH BETTER.  After the epidural Dr. Levit checked my progress and FINALLY I was 9 cm.  To this I say THANK GOD.  I can’t imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t been this far along.  I would have died.  DIED.  Instead, Dr. Levit said it was almost time to start pushing.

I started pushing right around 7:00.  At this point everything really started to slow down.  I remember Frances lowering the end of the bed and setting up the warming station where they would put the baby.  I remember Dr. Levit washing his hands and putting on gloves in the corner of the room.  I remember them explaining to Michael how he would help hold my left leg and explaining to me how I’d breathe and push.  Because of a lingering baby class memory that pushing could take hours I remember asking Frances if she thought we’d have our baby before her shift ended at 11:00.  Yes, she assured me, it wouldn’t be long now.  Finally, after one last check, Dr. Levit said we would push with the next contraction.  Still feeling like I really didn’t know what I was doing, I pushed, took a breath, and pushed again.  It was so surreal.  I kept thinking, ‘this is it–we’re having our baby.’  I kept looking at Michael, asking him if he was ok.  Of course my contractions, which had been on top of each other up to this point, decided to space themselves out.  We were having 2 or 3 minutes between contractions.  The room was really quiet. At some point Dr. Levit said he could see the head.  He asked Michael if he planned on cutting the cord.  I got better at pushing.  Things started to speed up.  Finally Dr. Levit said that the next push would be it.  He told me that in order to not tear I needed to stop pushing when he said stop.  The contraction came, I started to push and then everything got hectic.  Dr. Levit was telling Frances to get a step stool, more nurses came into the room and our quite calm space all of a sudden felt frantic.  I remember thinking that something wasn’t right.  I didn’t know what a step stool had to do with labor.  Dr. Levit, our quiet, cool and collected OB was giving orders in a tone of voice I hadn’t heard before, Frances seemed so serious and hurried.  Dr. Levit never told me to stop pushing.  Frances was standing on the step stool next to the bed pushing down over and over on my abdomen.  I heard everything and nothing.

And then he was here.

Oliver.

Dr. Levit laid him on my stomach and I just remember that he felt so warm.  But he wasn’t crying–I was.  I kept asking if  he was okay and no one would answer me.  Then he was gone, they had taken him over to the corner of the room. And still I was asking, “is he ok?  is he ok?” And I’m sure it was seconds but it felt like hours and then there it was–he was crying.

Our baby.

Our son.

Just like that, I was a mother.