As our week in the NICU was coming to an end, I decided to stop ignoring the physical problems I was having. After delivery, my knees down to my toes started to retain SO much water. The nurses said it was normal and it would go down within a couple of weeks, but the swelling kept getting worse. I chalked it up to all of the walking I was doing going to the NICU and not having the chance to elevate my legs or rest.
By the middle of the week, I was getting headaches, chills and my blood pressure spiked. I was worried about postpartum preeclampsia, so I called my OB on Thursday. She told me to go straight to the ER. I was so scared that I decided I wasn’t going to go. I didn’t want to leave my son and I knew they were going to admit me into labor and delivery. I was mentally broken.
After a little bit of time and a frantic phone call to my father, I decided to walk over to the ER. My parents, bless their heart, drove to the hospital right away and spent time in the NICU with Atlas. I was so eternally grateful that my son had someone there that he knew since Lou and I couldn’t be there. I went through a series of testing and the doctor decided to admit me into labor and delivery for overnight observation because of the preeclampsia. I was put on magnesium and 24 hour bedrest. The magnesium is, by far, the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. I’ll go through labor ten times over before the mag. I was so sick and absolutely miserable. I hated it all and couldn’t wait to leave for good and be reunited with my son. I felt like my life had been on hold for an entire week. One more day is what I kept telling myself. ONE MORE DAY and life would be as it should be.
On Friday, I had a very special visitor. Marty, the nurse who helped Atlas get the care he needed, recognized my name and came in to check on me. No, she wasn’t my nurse that day. She just wanted to see if I was okay and see how Atlas was doing. We talked for a little bit, cried together and I thanked her a million times for all that she had done for our family. It made my heart so happy that she cared enough to come see me. I was struggling pretty hard and she truly lifted my spirits to get me through the rest of the day.
Friday night, my blood pressure stabilized enough for me to go home. They gave me a prescription for blood pressure medication and sent me on my way. Atlas and I were both discharged that night. We were finally going home, all three of us, together. While the stress of our hospital journey ended, the stress of motherhood began. That first night was TOUGH. The dogs were nervous and confused and scared. We kept them separated from the baby for a few days, with only a little bit of time for them to sniff and be by him. As tough as it was, they adjusted really well and really quickly. Now, you wouldn’t even know there was an issue - they’re always together and the dogs sneak in kisses when they can.
As time when on, I was physically feeling better because of the medication I was on but all of the stress and trauma of my postpartum journey left me mentally wrecked. During pregnancy, I had depression and really worried about postpartum depression, so it didn’t take me long to realize I had PPD. I was completely ashamed of the thoughts I was having. The words you’re about to read are words I couldn’t even speak to myself for a while, let alone anyone else. I never admitted these things out loud, but I missed being a family of four. I felt like every single day was a loop and that the pain was never going to end. I was so mad at everyone for telling me it’ll pass and it would take time - I felt like I didn’t have time because I was already a broken mess. I blamed myself for having to quit breastfeeding and pumping. I blamed myself for Atlas getting sick. I couldn’t feel a bond with my son no matter how hard I tried. I didn’t really want to hold him and couldn’t wait to get out of the house and away. I waited and went through so much to have this sweet baby boy and I knew these feelings were not normal because they were not me. Several times a day I would run into the basement because it was where I couldn’t hear him cry and no one could see me cry. This was not normal behavior for me. I just didn’t feel happy and I couldn’t understand why until I realize I was depressed. I have incredible friends that were there for me to talk to and it made me realize that I needed to get help. So I talked with my doctor right away and she got me started on medication.
It took quite a while for the Zoloft to help and I’m still not 100% myself, but I feel like I have a grip on my life again and finally feel the joy of motherhood. My son and I have a very close bond and I am starting to feel all of that goodness I had longed for all my life. Not only that, but I have bonded with SO many mothers, became much closer to so many of my mom friends and connected with strangers. Community has become a sanctuary for me, and the people who have reached out to me on this journey have touched my heart in a way I don’t think they know. I appreciate them beyond words!
This whole journey has made me realize that while my awful feelings and thoughts weren’t normal behavior, they are very common. So many women struggle silently with depression. It’s okay not to be okay. Let me say that again. It’s okay not to be okay. The stigma around mental health is shameful. No person should be ashamed to admit they suffer from depression and anxiety. No mother should feel weak in admitting she suffers from PPD and struggles to get through a day with the added responsibility of child care. This is why I use my social media platform to speak so freely and honestly about my struggles and I’m grateful I have the ability to facilitate such powerful conversations about this topic. I knew before pregnancy that moms are freakin rockstars. I’ve learned during my time postpartum that they are way more than that - moms are warriors. The stories women have shared with me about what they’ve gone through floors me. A lot of stories I have heard mirror my own, so I’d like to offer my blog and my social media as a safe space to continue this conversation. The more we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, the larger our community grows and the stronger we become. I am proud and grateful for my tribe and I ask you to join us. Leave a comment and share your struggles in being a mom. If you’re not a mom, leave a shout out to a badass mother and share this blog with them. Tell another mom that they’re doing a great job. Encourage them to take some time to themselves because they deserve it. Buy them a coffee because lord knows they need it. Make an effort to continue to build up our community because we’re much stronger together! <3