Postpartum felt like drowning - Part 2: After giving birth

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 Then my son was born, sometime in the afternoon, maybe between 12 and 2 pm. My parents were already at the hospital, my mother in law and my aunt Mely.

Everything was beautiful. I was over the moon with my new born son.  Everything was so romantic, I had my baby in my arms, he was  healthy. 

Little by little hours started passing by, nurses and doctors were coming and going, my family was coming and going as well... and I  was awake with my son. I learned how to breastfeed him, and I remember the first time that I tried he was stuck for about 45 minutes... I had a wonderful nursing consultant, that I think had it not been because of her, I would have probably given up and not do it. 

Then the night arrived as soon as everything, I was exhausted.  I had been in labour since 2 pm the day before, then I had my child around 2 pm the next day and it was already around 2 am and I was still sleepless. Worried that if I would fall asleep maybe someone would steal my child. ( Even though there is all kinds of security in the hospital. All was explained to me, one how they have alarms and security all 24 / 7). But still, or maybe we would just fall asleep and not wake up. Maybe he would choke on his own saliva. MAybe the nurses would swap him. So many things were going through my head. And I could not sleep. 

The rush of having a baby and the adrenaline was still going through my body and kept me going.  I could not trust my husband, who slept like a rock on the first night. All the exhaustion finally made him give in and even when I would call him really loud he would not wake up. And I also wanted him to be rested for when I would not be awake.

The day came around again, and so the nurses and doctors did not stop coming and going throughout the night. Some would turn the lights on and some wouldn't.  I would only take naps when my mom was there. I would close my eyes and I would still listen to everything. 

I was aware but asleep. 

The day came that we were ready to leave the hospital. I thought I would be able to sleep once we were home and there were no nurses and doctors coming in and out of the room every 15 min. But we got home and it was during the day. So I stayed up. WE tried to start our routine. Feed the baby, wash him, and put him to bed.  But it was already too late. 

I had already started to breastfeed him everytime he would cry, I would check on his diaper and if dirty or wet, would change him and then feed him.  And so, the schedule for the rest of the year was unacknowledgedly made.

Every two hours my child would cry, I would get up, change his diaper and then feed him. Feedings in general would last 45 minutes. I also realized that my let down was a bit slow because when I would pump it would take about 30 min to fill up the two bottles.  But i didn't know at the beginning. Everything was new, and I thought if the baby needs more food, I would feed him until he is done.

I not once fell asleep with him on my arms. I am too  neurotic to fall asleep. What if he falls, what if I roll over him, what if.... So I never did, no matter how much I wanted to sleep. 

Then I got the idea that if I fell asleep and someone came in the house could take the baby and leave, and I would wake up and the baby would be gone. So I only slept with the ears in aware mode and always facing the baby. So I would not change positions, during the sleep, my shoulder would hurt, my neck would hurt, but every time I felt the need to move positions I would remember what would it feel like if I woke up one day and he was gone, and that would keep me pinned to the bed facing the baby. 

For the next year of our lives, I would wake up every 2 hours, change diapers and chance clothes for the baby if needed, breastfeed for 45 min, if during the day, pump the rest of the milk for 30 min, clean pump and bottles for 5-10 min, go to the rest room or take a shower  for 20 min.  That would leave me 30 - 40 minutes to sleep. 

I felt like a zombie ALL the TIME, ALL the time! I could not catch up with my life. Some times I Would wake up at night to feed the baby and then being unable to sleep for the 40- 30 min I could sleep.  My mother in law would offer to care for the baby, but she was gone within 2 weeks. And then my mom took over. She would come home after work and watch the baby until late at night and I would sleep during that time.  But it was not enough. IT was just not enough sleep, not enough time. and not the right times. I  wanted to sleep from night to morning, not in the afternoons. But I would take whatever was available. 

Steve and I would take turns during the night. Once I stablished having breastmilk available to feed the baby in the bottle, I was able to  sleep a bit more, some nights steve would get up to feed the baby, other nights I would feed him. 

Even with this alternate schedule, the sleep was not enough. The toll of taking care of a baby was too much for a neurotic person like me. I was worried all the time. 

Now that I look at it in retrospective, I see how unnecessary and how damaging that was. But I didn't realize this while it was happening. My feelings were so strong, I could not see it. 

I didn't realize that maybe my baby didn't need to be changed every time he was wet during the night. That maybe he didn't need to nurse for full 45 min during the night. That maybe he didn't need to be nursed at all, all the time. Maybe I just needed to shush a bit, to sway the bassinette a bit, to touch his face a bit, or to tighten the swaddle a bit.  But I wasn't thinking. For a whole year I lived in a haze. NOt thinking.... trying to catch up with my own steps. 

Yesterday that I was asked if I experienced postpartum depression I remember all of this and I could feel as if I was drowning in a deep pool with my baby, giving strokes however I would to stay afloat, but unable to swim to shore, unable to distingusih the edge of the pool, just trying to grasp air between sinks. Stroking, uncessantly stroking to be able to come up and grasp air to go down again.

Little by little as time started to pass by and feedings started to space out, I felt as I I was in the same pool with my baby, but I was able to touch ground in between sinks, I would sink, touch ground and impulse up to grasp for air again. 

Then more time would pass and the floor started to get closer, until I was able to stand and hold my baby without having to go up and down from the water. 

The more time passes the more I feel steady in the pool, with my baby in my arms. 

I am still tired, there are still instances where my muscles just do not respond to me. Where I wish I had the energy to get up from my couch after I just drop almost lifeless from the regular day and my son asking me if I want to play with him, and I do want to play with him, but there's only so much my body is capable of doing. 

There is also only so much my brain can take of child talk and child play. 

When we get tired from playing and running around, I let him watch some videos, and I have to work, I have to process numbers and be a professional. While he watches videos, I have to clean the house, cook and clean the kitchen. 

And then he is rested. He is ready to play again... and I am ready to drop dead.  The exhaustion is real, and I believe that this exhaustion plays a mayor role in our hormones and how we feel. 

Maybe I was diagnosed with postpartum depression because of my age. ( I do think that not being to sleep when I was younger would have been less damaging that at my age, but who knows, I have always been a sleepy bear, sleeping at least 8-9 hours a day to feel good through the day).

All of this is only one side, I also got depressed because of the hormonal changes in my body. My body had really strong reactions while pregnant. I got covered in hives for months at the beginning of my pregnancy. My throat closed one or twice while eating chocolate, as an allergic reaction.  Very early during my pregnancy, the doctor thought I was pregnant with twins because the pregnancy hormone was way too high in the test results. 

I also got depressed because my body changed so much. I am superficial like that. I have always taken care of my body and I like feeling and looking a certain way and pregnancy and delivery changed my body so much.  

Just after delivery it felt as if my body had been broken and would never be put back together. IT would hurt like never before. It would hurt so deeply like it had never hurt before. 

My body was bleeding and leaking without end for months. 

All of this of course adds to the depression. 

The isolation of a new mother.  

Yes, I joined a wonderful new mom's group that was my saving life at the moment. The only thing I would look forward to in my day was to the mom's group. A place where I could be surrounded by loving people that would not judge me. That would understand somewhat my situation.

Only one of my 3 therapies was good. The other two were a complete waste of time,  the would leave me more drain and more frustrated and before going to them.  The pills I was prescribed  (zoloft, sertraline) were a false heaven.

I remember taking the pill and the very first day I took half of one, I felt numb. And that is exactly what I needed to feel, just for a second, I needed to feel less neurotic, less sad, less angry, less frustrated, less  everything else I was feeling. I caught myself realizing " I am actually living this present moment" I felt "happy" without worries  for the first time in a really long time. 

But as it was, all my pregnancy I suffered stomach reflux and acidity. I had such bad heartburn I wanted to rip my head off. IT was insufferable. 

And just as I was gettin relief from the heartburn that lasted even after the delivery... these pills would make it even worse. 

I wanted to feel numb. I wanted to feel happy. I wanted to feel not sad, not angry, not worried, but the price to pay was way too high. So I stopped taking it. I could not take them. 

People as well as doctors would recommend, do not eat this, do not eat that, do not lie down after eating... but it was none of that. I know the heartburn was due to my high level of hormones still in my body and the pills were just making it worse. 

As time passed by my hormones started to getting to normal levels. 

So when someone asks me if I had post partum depression... I remember all of this. 

I relieve the pain, all over again. And I hear you! I feel you if you are going through this. 

This article is just one side of my postpartum depression. There are so many factors to it. ITs so complex that it has been very challenging for me to try to put it all in one writing. 

But I am here, I am here if you ever need to talk. I am here for you. I see you! I hear you ! 

I send you all my love.