Depression

How does one even begin a post like this? Is there really a way to gently ease into the subject or some joke or metaphor to make it less heavy? Probably not.

On July 27, (I know, specific right?) I was in Houston visiting with a friend before heading off to a beach vacation with family, when I had finally got enough courage to tell her that I had been “feeling” off. I say “feeling” because I really wasn’t feeling much of anything these days, except for maybe, guilt, apathy, anger and an extremely overwhelming emptiness. After a long conversation and contemplating what could possibly be wrong, I ventured down the road of depression.

Truth be told, this wasn’t something that had recently developed. I had been feeling this way, with gradual intensity, for the last 10-12 years. I had always wondered if I was suffering from depression, but would quickly banish those thoughts from my brain as I did not want to have the label “depressed” attached to me. I had only negative associations with the word and thought that surely I would be judged if I had spoken up. So, I brushed it off as just needing to try harder and make my own happiness. Naturally, I tend to lean more towards being an introvert, so I used that as my scapegoat with excuses like, “I’m just not good at being social”, “I am not good at small talk”, to even exaggerating on the good qualities that I already possessed, like being a good listener.

Of course, in the beginning, I didn’t always feel depressed. I would have days, maybe weeks, where I felt happy, creative and energized. The more time that went by, the fewer good days there were. I started to lose interest in the things that I loved and was so passionate about.

Fast forward a few years. In 2009 I got married. This was an exciting and VERY much anticipated event for me. I had been dating my husband for six years before he proposed, so I was ready. The morning of my big day that I had been waiting for so long for, was here! I remember sitting down to breakfast with my parents and them asking if I was nervous or excited. I was excited, I had wanted this day more than anything, but it wasn’t the exhilarating excitement I was expecting. I have a lot of moments like this. They have increased in length over time.

Eventually, it got to the point to where I needed to force, and over compensate for my lack of happiness or excitement. I didn’t want people to think that I didn’t care or that I was not happy for them. I was…….but, I wasn’t. Depression is a strange thing. Depression doesn’t always mean that you feel sad, but empty. I certainly felt this. Sometimes, I think that I mistook my lack of sympathy and emotion for an “I don’t give a crap” attitude. I thought that I was “tough” or “thick skinned”. Truth was, I was neither one of those. I was so weak. I constantly felt scrutinized and judged. I was racked with guilt and self loathing and eventually saw myself unworthy of happiness. I started to have paranoia, I feared that my husband, then boyfriend, was cheating and that at any moment he would break up with me. I began to read in between the lines of conversations I had with people, assuming that they meant something other than what they said, and felt like I deserved their scrutiny and judgement. Depression can really distort your perspective and cloud your judgement.

So, now I have been married for four years, and we recently welcomed a daughter. Another excuse that I told myself was that maybe I am just a super mellow person, and I just don’t excite easily, but surely a life changing event like finding out your pregnant would cause some over the top excitement. Nope. I WAS happy. I couldn’t believe it, but I was happy that I was expecting. Again, the excitement that I had hoped to feel, just wasn’t there. I was disappointed, sad that I couldn’t feel the joy that I was sure everyone felt. Now, I didn’t have the easiest pregnancy. I was sick for almost all of it. It was either morning sickness, the stomach bug or a staph infection. I felt like crap the whole time, and then had several stressful incidents throughout the pregnancy concerning her development and testing for chromosomal abnormalities to finding out that she was breech a week and a half from my due date and scheduling a cesarean days later. It was devastating. Everything that I had been planning for, hoping for some fluctuation in emotion and a sense of empowerment had been stripped away.

So, now, I have my beautiful baby at home and we are adjusting to a life as a family of three. I am not only learning the ropes of caring for a newborn, but am recovering from surgery, which was not easy. I got an infection due to an allergic reaction that I had to my sutures and was in pain for a couple months. Having a new baby is hard. Having a new baby and having the baby blues is really hard. During my pregnancy, I wondered if I would have the baby blues or postpartum depression. I wondered deep down if I was depressed, and felt like I might be predisposed to them. While I was convinced that I was suffering PPD, for reasons I had never told anyone, people assured me that it was just the baby blues and that it was normal and a common thing. I left it at that.

My daughter is now six months old, and the “blues” have not gone away. In fact they are worse than they have ever been. I had no joy, no happiness. I was angry and impatient all the time. My bad days were terrible and my “good days” were just less so. I had bad days and blah days.

Three weeks ago I decided that I had to say something. I had been having an exceptionally hard time. I was not necessarily suicidal, but was having thoughts of my own death. Since I obviously couldn’t feel happy, I thought that maybe I didn’t deserve to feel happy. Maybe everything and everyone would be better off if I was just not here. I was angry all the time. I was always in a bad mood and short with my husband. I was impatient with my child, and my anxiety was at an all time high. I didn’t want to be around people. I just wanted to be alone. But I didn’t. I was broken over the fact that I just didn’t have joy in anything. I didn’t even enjoy my child! This broke my heart, but I just couldn’t get out from under the dark cloud that has followed me for so long. So I spoke to a friend, I spoke to my husband and I spoke to my mom. I think that I am depressed. I have no idea who I am anymore, the person that I was has seemed to disappear. I don’t like myself and I don’t want to feel like this anymore. Something is wrong with me. I shouldn’t feel this empty.

So, here I am. I spoke to my midwife on August 8. Explained to her everything, relived moments over the past 10-12 years that made me pause and wonder about depression. I am depressed. I have realized that this is not something that I should be ashamed of. While depression by no means, defines me, it is a part of me. Treatment, generally, is medication, but does not have to be forever, which is positive. I had some bloodwork done and I am currently waiting for results. My midwife thinks that possibly, I may have a dopamine deficiency which would explain my lows and mediums but not “highs” or enjoyment. She is checking for other things as well, like my thyroid and cortisol levels. I also only have one kidney and one adrenal gland which could be problematic as well. The one adrenal gland that I have could be over compensating creating an imbalance. Thursday I find out the results and hopefully will have a bit more insight into my depression. Thursday will also be a week that I have been on medication to hopefully help my brain keep what dopamine I do have, circulating long enough to use it. Instantly, I seemed to feel better. I was lighter. I was not as impatient and angry. The more days that I am on it, the better I feel. By no means am I rainbows and sunshine, but I am seeing more and more of my old self each day.

I know that this is a terribly long post, and if you have made it all the way through, then thank you. I do not seek pity or special treatment, I am not ill. I have held all of this in for so long, that a post like this was a long time coming. I was not prescribed therapy, but in a sense, sharing is therapy. Depression is not a skeleton in the closet, you don’t have to hide it or be ashamed of it. I should have brought this up a long time ago though. If by chance, there is anyone who reads this, and suspects that maybe, the person you are now is not who you REALLY are, and there is a chance you are depressed, there is no shame in seeking help. It is OK to not be OK, but you don’t have to let it be your identity.

Overdue

So, I know that in my last post I had said that I wasn’t going to go so long before posting again…well, here I am THREE MONTHS LATER, before writing my next post. It doesn’t seem like it has been three months. Time kind of passes by in a blur when you have a newborn. Before I introduce her, I should probably play catch up. In my last post, I had learned that Norah was breech and that this had come as a shock, considering that I was 38.5 weeks pregnant! How does that slip by?! Anyways, I had been trying everything possible to get little miss to flip, with no luck. I was going to the chiropractor everyday, doing everything from the Spinning Babies website and even attempted an External Cephalic Version (ECV). Nothing ended up being successful and Norah was still breech and we needed a cesarean, which was really hard for me, and there are days that are still hard and I feel like something was wrong with me that made Norah not want to flip. I know that this is not the case and truly, breech positions are just another variation of normal. I do hope however, that baby #2 will be a VBAC and at home! I really want my natural, unmedicated birth!!

I am not saying that because I had a surgical birth that I had a negative experience. On the contrary, my experience was amazing. If anyone reading this is in a similar situation and a surgical birth is your only option, PLEASE request a Gentle Cesarean! (Also called Natural Cesarean, mother-Baby friendly cesarean.) Please see the video at the end of the post for an explanation. Despite having major surgery in order to meet my daughter, I can honestly say that my experience was so so good. Terrifying, but good. The worst part is probably the spinal block. It was moderately uncomfortable just really just scary to think that they are putting a needle in your spine and that you can’t feel your body from about the chest down. Once that is done, the rest isn’t too bad. You can’t see anything because of the sheet that is up and you can’t hear anything except the occasional suctioning and all the equipment. the surgery itself is actually, in most cases pretty quick. I my case, Norah was not in the best position and was actually kind of stuck. The doctor had to work pretty hard to get my little girl out. As soon as she was out, they put her on my chest, skin to skin. Normally, you don’t get to meet your baby for a while after they are born. This was the single most greatest moment of my life. Everything just melted away at that moment and all that mattered was the little girl on my chest. She was perfectly content to be there too. In fact, she wiggled her way all the way up to snuggle right at my neck and anytime anyone tried to mess with her she let them know that she was not happy about it. She knew who her mama was!! Getting to go skin to skin so soon, we were able to attempt to breastfeed, which Norah was a champ at and latched on and began nursing with in 20 minutes of being born!!! I am such a proud mama. Everything from the moment she was born to the time they took us back to the room is sort of a blur, but she did stay on my chest the whole time, minus a brief moment where her daddy held her so that they could detach me from all the machines and move me off the operating table. She wasn’t weighed, measured or anything until we got back to labor and delivery and then later that night she got her first bath. I really couldn’t have asked for a better experience and the hospital staff was amazing as well. There is so much more, but it would take a really long post to write it all down and that would take a really long time. This post is taking me two days to write as it is.

Fast forward three months…

Norah is growing like a weed! I think that she is going to be very strong willed and determined. She is ready to move and be mobile and has to have constant stimulation when she is awake. I think that we have a smarty pants on our hand. She is so observant and curious too. More than any three month old I have ever seen! She is a lot of fun but being a mommy is hard work too. I am glad that I get to stay home with her.

This past week, I started working from home. So far it is proving to be challenging. Mainly because Norah has also decided that she would fight every single nap. i can get her to fall asleep in my arms, but the moment that I put her down, it’s over. She wakes up and after much effort, I have to pick her back up to soothe her back down and get her to sleep. We will see though. I am trying to keep everything a organic and free as possible, so I don’t have my day regimented and Norah on a schedule. She gets fed on demand and is usually awake for 2-3 hours and then naps for 2-3 hours. That’s about all the scheduling that I am doing. I feel this would be easier to work with and to just get up and go when needed. I am going to give this work at home mom thing a go, but I don’t know how long it will last, but i am going to give it my best effort.

Being a mommy is very challenging and very demanding. While, I have loved being a mommy, it hasn’t been easy. I suffered from baby blues after she was born, and while she is not a difficult baby, she is not the easiest. Also, we just overcame hip dysplasia too. Poor thing had to wear a harness for about 14 hours a day because her hip joints were not completely formed. Although, I think that was more difficult for mommy and daddy than for Norah. Being a mom also teaches you a lot about yourself too. I didn’t think that I was as impatient and ungraceful as I am until Norah was here. There are days where I am so frustrated because Norah is unhappy and crying and won’t sleep and I can’t do anything to make it better or control the situation. While I thought that I was a patient person, I am realizing that I need a lot more work in that area and that I myself need as much grace as I need to give. There are days where I feel like the most awful mommy in the world and a terrible person. This struggle has been even more difficult considering that I am alone almost all the time, and haven’t had much social time with other mama’s who have been through this already. So, I have struggled alone. I am trying to spend more time in prayer and in scripture, because I have found the most peace and comfort there. I think that there are still days where I feel like I am in survival mode, but I am getting better.

Well, this post has gotten really long and I feel like I have repeated myself a lot, so I think that I am going to end it here. Please check out the link to the video on gentle cesareans below!

Gentle Cesarean

Breech Baby

I realize it’s been a while since I have posted. A really long while. This was something I never meant to happen, but time has flown by and here we are. I promise to be more diligent in the future to update, bare with me, as Norah is still not here and I am not sure what life looks like with a new baby. 🙂 However, here is an update as to where we are.

On Thursday I went in for a routine, weekly prenatal visit to my midwives and found out that Norah is breech or in a ‘heads up” position instead of being head down. Being almost 39 weeks pregnant, this was not only very shocking, but I left feeling very defeated. Two weeks prior I was told that she was heads down, so the midwife at that appointment was either wrong, or Norah had flipped. I left my appointment, head swimming and very emotional. These days, a breech baby is most always an automatic c-section. Something Brad and I never wanted as we intended to have Norah in the most natural way with
little to no medical intervention.

As of right now I am still struggling with this, more than I would really care to admit. I am angry and fearful. I am angry because I know that the odds of a baby flipping out of the proper heads down position is very unlikely unless the baby is very small or there is an
abundance of amniotic fluid, or that there is something wrong with Norah that would keep her from flipping into the correct position. So is there something wrong with me? Norah? Am I just one of the rare ones that this happens to? Or was the midwife 2 weeks ago wrong? Why wasn’t I made aware of this sooner? If she has been breech this whole
time, than why was it never caught?

I have moments of braveness and determination, optimistic that we can get Norah to flip. Even if this means that I try every crazy thing in the book. Last night was a sight, I had my hips propped up higher than my head and an ice pack at the top of my abdomen and heating pads at the bottom hoping to get Norah out of my pelvis and to flip her head
towards the warmth.

This afternoon we are meeting with a midwife outside of the UNT Midwives that I have been seeing. Her name is Donna and our doula referred us to her. She is one of the very few that perform breech births. This is encouraging, exciting and frightening. I have never
known anyone to give birth to a breech baby. I was raised in believing that breech automatically meant a c-section. Donna is also a believer, so it is comforting to know that we will be able to have our questions answered and our options gone over with us and that this meeting will be full of prayer and seeking out God’s wisdom.

On Thursday, January 24, I am scheduled at Harris Methodist for what is called an External Cephalic Version. This is where the doctor will manually try to flip Norah. I have heard that this can be painful and is not without it’s own set of risks. I am praying that Norah will
flip before this appointment.

It has helped me to type all this out and sort through everything that is tumbling around in my head. I know that everything will work out. God’s plan is much bigger than my own. I know that whichever way that Norah arrives, God knows this and planned this. I know that Norah was His before she was ever mine and that God IS good. Brad and I have been so blessed despite this and have seen how great God is. How ever, I have some tunnel vision that is keeping me from truly seeing this, and I am only recognizing the problem. So please pray. Pray that God would flip Norah. Pray for Brad and most definitely ME, to have peace. Pray for wisdom for the midwives and other medical staff for wisdom and ableness. Pray that no matter the outcome, and how Norah gets here, that it’s ok. God is good, and God is sovereign and a healthy baby and healthy momma are really what’s important.