Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, depression!

Suck it, sadness!
Guess what, depression...I'm having a good day today and YOU can't stop me. It may just be one shining day out of a long string of craptastic-ness, but I will take it and I will celebrate it right in your face. You may think you own me, but you don't. You may try to come back with a vengeance tomorrow, but I am not even going to entertain that thought now. You can't cripple me with your worries and your lies. Get behind me and stay there, devil. Perhaps you thought you could bring me down with the road rage lady who honked at me for getting in front of her (at a stop light, no less...really, lady?!?!). But as you saw, I simply laughed at her for having such a sad attitude that something as negligible as a car getting in front of her (seriously, at a stop light) could ruin her day.  If you thought a lost checkbook, inconsolable crying baby, or embarrassingly messy house could knock me off course, you were sorely mistaken. You are a disgusting, terrible snake that sneaks your way into the subconscious of people who know better and you deceive them into thinking ugly thoughts. You are a coward. You are a thief who steals the blessings of those who deserve better and an evil, evil creep. I will sleep with a smile on my face tonight knowing that today you did not win.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another lazy Sunday

Sleepin' like a baby
I love watching her sleep. It's the sweetest thing. It's especially sweet when she and her daddy nap together on the couch. One of my favorite things to witness:
Hannah and daddy, another lazy Sunday
So precious.

Motivation has been hard to locate lately. I am lethargic and have no interest in doing a lot of things, which is unlike me. Pre-birth me had all kinds of things I liked to do (although I was always sleepy so that's not terribly new). I just want to feel like my old normal self again so bad and I just don't yet. It's frustrating. I'm weepier than usual, and although a million people tell me this will pass, I have an unrelenting fear that I'm stuck like this forever. I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow so we'll see if any medicine changes are made or if we're continuing on down this same trail. I am ready for something to really work already.

Hannah has her 4 month appointment with her pediatrician tomorrow. I can't believe she's almost 4 months old already. She's rolling onto her stomach now and keeping her head up really well. She has found her feet and her voice, so she's loud and roly poly, which is so cute. She likes her giraffe toy, Sophie, and pretty much enjoys putting anything and everything in her mouth.
The giraffe didn't stand a chance
I'm not sure she could be any cuter.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Putting today in a box...because that's how we roll

Rockin' the rollin'
See this little love nugget pictured above? She rolls. Yep! Hannah officially rolled over from her back to her stomach this morning. She has rolled from stomach to back before because sometimes she gets a little peeved at tummy time, and I thought perhaps she had gone back to stomach before because she's mysteriously made it onto her stomach when I wasn't looking, but since I didn't witness it live it didn't count. But this morning she definitely rolled over from back to stomach, and then this evening she did it again. BIG girl! I guess this means I need to start baby-proofing the house, right? I like to get ahead of myself.

Speaking of myself, I have had a few good days in a row now and I think that's pretty great. I'm scared to jinx it by admitting that I might be feeling better, but I need to learn how to encapsulate today into a little box all on its own and just be grateful for today, not fearing tomorrow or any day in the future, because today is all I know. Everything else is out of my control. I struggle with the concept of living in the moment and not having control sometimes. OK, a lot of times. I think a lot of us do.

But, I've decided to work harder at putting today in a box and staying there. Today is good.

Today my baby accomplished a milestone that I got to witness, and I wanted to hug her and hold her and somehow get across the message to her that I was proud of her. That I am going to be proud of every little milestone she meets.

Today I went to work and accomplished a fair amount. I had nice conversations with good people who genuinely care about others. I ran an errand with my friend Shayne and shared a great lunch with her (including the world's most delicious turkey burger, homemade chips, and chocolate chip and peanut butter cookie...my absolute favorite lunchtime meal that is surprisingly made in our simple little corporate cafeteria).

Today I did everything I could not to think about how I was feeling. I was tired because Hannah got up at 3:30 and 5:30 for feedings last night, but I didn't let myself dwell on how I felt. I kept myself busy and content.

Now I sit on my love seat with my favorite show of all time, Friends, on in the background as my angel naps on a blanket on the floor and my dog stares at me from the couch. Today is very good.

Random additional realization today: My blog background color scheme was depressing. I didn't intend it to be that way just because I have been experiencing postpartum depression. I actually just really liked the way the vibrant blue popped against the black background. I realize now that the colors were communicating a really melancholy tone, so I've opted for a nice, refreshing white background instead. I hope you like.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I feel like I get glimpses of myself nowadays, like someone with Alzheimer's. I went from having weeks on and off to having hours on and off during the day. The "off" hours can be minor or they can be devastating. Today I am running at about 80%, and yesterday was a good day - I felt like I was at 95% most of the day. The days leading up to that were not so good. I went to work Tuesday through Thursday but it was a real struggle for me to get going and I had moments while I was at work where I wanted to cry in my cube. But, it's good for me to stay busy and I'm proud of myself for fighting through it. I'm sick of fighting, though. It's exhausting. I have to keep moving. I have a lot to fight for.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

This disease is a liar

Thank you, Cari, for reminding me tonight that this disease is a liar. I struggled today going back to work and trying to convince myself that I was going to be OK. This disease wants me to believe that I will never heal, that I am crippled and incapable of doing anything, that I should be afraid and reclusive, that I am tired and cannot concentrate, that I should give up. I fight those lies every day, all day. I want so desperately to feel like myself again. I have to remember remember remember often that this disease is a liar.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Today was good.

I have Mondays and Fridays off work due to my new part-time schedule, so I spent today keeping myself very busy, and it was good. I made a lengthy list of chores and I crossed them off, one by one. I spent quality time with baby H. My friend Lara paid me a nice visit around lunchtime, Jason came home early from work and my mom stopped in for a visit. I even went to the gym. I'm doing everything I can to fight back against the postpartum bastard in my head that wants me to curl up in a ball and quit. Tomorrow I am going to go to work and I am going to lead a normal life, damn it. Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The view while scraping the bottom

Regular clouds
Postpartum crash clouds

One of the most bizarre things that occurs when I am having one of my severe postpartum depression crashes is that the world kind of changes contrast and color a little. That may sound weird, but in the three bad bouts I've had I have noticed how surreal and Vanilla Sky the clouds appear when I am scraping the bottom. Everything becomes more vivid and my senses become more acute, and I feel as if I'm in a foreign world where my life exists and I only watch. I think this is because when I go through one of these spells, the nerves throughout my body are on full blast so I endure an overly sensory experience. It makes my skin crawl and I don't want to hear, see, smell, taste, or feel anything.

After a little over a week in my third crash, I am finally starting to feel like myself again. Thank God. This one was rougher than the second crash, which only lasted five days and wasn't accompanied by a brutal sinus infection/cold/virus/whatever-it-was from which I am still recovering. I fought hard to avoid going back to the hospital, and I actually think the sinus infection saved me from that because I refused to go while I was sick. As usual, my memory from this crash is a little foggy, but what I do know is that I was terrified and once again saved by my support system.

This crash began as a small whisper in the back of my brain on July 2nd. The whisper kept telling me, "You don't feel like yourself. Something is wrong." I still went to work on July 3rd and fought through it, and it wasn't too bad. But then, on July 4th, the whisper began to scream. I spent the entire holiday in my pajamas on my couch with a broken record playing in my head, "You don't feel right. You might never feel right again. This is terrifying. You are stuck."

I stayed home from work on July 5th and coincidentally had an appointment with my psychiatrist scheduled for that day, so I went to that and told him what was going on. I was given additional medicine to supplement the current cocktail I'm swallowing and he encouraged me to enter an outpatient treatment program at Center Pointe Hospital.

I looked into the program and had a tough time deciding what to do. It was group therapy for three hours a day three days a week for a month and I would have a meeting with a psychiatrist once a week. I told the nurse in charge of the program that I'd think about it over the weekend.

That weekend, I fought the mental battle until I was physically worn out. Even though it was all I could do to get out of bed, I agreed to go with Jason to his uncle's house in Springfield, IL for his family's annual Thanksgiving in July pool party. It was overwhelming, and I started sobbing as soon as I walked in the door and had to run to a bedroom and hide. Once I calmed down, I did what I could to put on a good face and mingle with family. Hannah had never been swimming before and I wanted so badly to be there when she got in a pool for the first time, so I forced myself into a swimming suit and got in the pool. That was an enormous victory for me, and I am really proud of myself for doing that.

I fought so hard that day that my immune system gave out and I knew on the drive home that I was coming down with something ugly. By Sunday it had occupied my body. My nerves became sparklers, popping sporadically across my skin. My throat was on fire, my ears closed, and I couldn't breathe through my nose to save my life.

Jason has to get up early each Monday for a meeting, so Hannah and I spent the night at my parents' house so my mom could once again step in and relieve me. My mother is one of the most compassionate, generous people on the planet, and I'm so blessed she's mine. We would be in a really terrible place without her help through all this. There is a castle made of gold in heaven waiting for her.

We went to my primary doctor Monday and I was prescribed an antibiotic (because Lord knows I need more pills). The doctor also wanted to check my electrolytes and B12 levels, so that meant more blood work. Turns out the levels were normal. Again, for someone who feels so physically screwed up, I am perfectly healthy according to my blood and every other test that's been run over the past few months.

I spent Monday through Wednesday fighting the swirling thoughts about my physical state and my fears, pushing myself to go anywhere I could to get out and pass time, screaming, and sobbing to my mother. Hannah went to stay with Jason from Monday night on so she could go to daycare. I didn't get to see either of them all of Tuesday, and that was really hard. My mom consoled me, encouraged me, and cried with me.

I had decided against the outpatient program because I was too physically sick and because I wasn't sure it was right for me. I am not sure hearing other people's problems in group therapy will be the spirit lift I need. One-on-one therapy might benefit me more. So my mom called Mother to Mother and spoke with the director, Linda Meyer, who gave us some recommendations for therapists who specialize in postpartum issues. I was lucky enough to get an appointment with Stacey Greer that Thursday. After my hour-long conversation with Stacey, it is clear to me that this is what I need. I have already scheduled two more appointments with her and I am optimistic that she will help me get through this. It was a relief to hear from her that I'm not the only woman she's met who has the physical symptoms and she reassured me that this would pass and I would be myself again someday.

My brain and body started to reclaim its old ways again by Thursday, and while it was still only about 50 percent I was grateful for any sign of light. I returned home, and I have been making positive strides to normalcy (or whatever that means) in the past couple of days.

Now that I've been through this crash three times, here is what I know:
  • The devil inside will tell me I cannot heal, I will not ever have my life back, and I am ruined forever.  He is wrong. I have written myself a letter to read if this happens again to remind myself that he is wrong and that I can feel normal again.
  • I am strong even when I'm weak.
  • God allowed His son to suffer for the benefit of the world. He is allowing me to suffer so that I can eventually use my story to benefit a population that needs a lot of help.
  • This disease perpetuates itself and is not something I caused or can control on my own.
  • I will probably never bear children again. This is an incredible disappointment and complete abolition of the dreams I had for myself and Jason. But the severity of this postpartum depression, when I'm enduring a crash, is such that I fear what I might do if I cannot talk myself out of the evil things that race through my brain.
  • I WILL get through this.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Patience in pain

insult added to my injury in the form of a cold virus that decided to join the pain party in my body

exhausted but can't sleep without Ambien

I pray my family stays strong
we share this disease
ALL of us - even you, reader of this who has babies or wants to have babies or is close with someone who wants to have babies - we are exposed

and yet, most will never know

So many who experience it are quiet because it's a shameful thing to admit that you need help.
So many who hear about it don't believe in it, as if it were a fictional character.

I pray for medicine that works and doctors that make wise choices out of compassion and with the genuine best interest for their patients in mind. I beg for healing without medicine.

 I am in awe of God's magnificent, complex designs. The intertwining web of synapses and chemical-carrying roadways that cluster up our brains. Our functionality is at the stake of snowflakes packed together tough and fragile. Any piece can break off or melt. And then what do we do? Hope a new piece grows in it's place? Force a new piece in? What if it doesn't fit? When will we know?

My hope is that I can learn to be patient in pain.

All we ever want is coziness, isn't it? Comfort. Peace with decisions and people to hold us. That was my pregnancy vision. I have some beautiful people to hold. I am dreaming of the coziness that I will get when my brain and body are officially back in good working order and I can live without the fear that at any minute and without warning the heat will return and the snow will melt again.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Damn it

Unfortunately I've slid again. I've seen some signs that I've been a little more moody and anxious over the past week, but I officially hit the bottom again as of yesterday. Coincidentally I had my appointment scheduled with my psychiatrist today so we talked and he's made some medicine tweaks and wants me to go to an outpatient program but I haven't decided if I can shake the anxiety enough to go. The good news about the program is I see a doctor every day. The bad news is you have to sit through group therapy, and I don't know if I can do that. This time the burning isn't as bad - it's more localized to particular parts of my body. But the depression and fatigue are the worst. Yesterday was the 4th of July and I didn't get out of my pajamas. I had to miss work today because of this and I spent today at my mom's house so I wasn't alone since Jason had to go to work. I pray this passes quickly like it did last time a few weeks ago when it only lasted 5 days.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hannah turns 3 months old!

Our little doll baby is 3 months old today. So many changes over the past three months...she smiles big and giggles, rolls from stomach to back, almost grabs her feet, sleeps through the night, and continues to be the cutest thing I've ever evicted from my womb. Adjectives don't do her justice, so here are some pictures that speak a thousand gorgeous words.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hannah's husband is here!

Matthew Desmond Minder - who will go by Des - entered the world yesterday at 7 lbs 10 oz and 20.5" long. We have already promised Hannah's hand in marriage to this strapping young lad, and we are thrilled he is here! Cari had a bit of a frightening birth experience and we're so grateful she's OK. They may be distant and faint, but I hear little tiny wedding bells!
Des is here!