Ditching the Zoloft for real feelings.

I’m almost done weaning myself off of Zoloft and in the process of doing so I’m rediscovering old feelings that haven’t been dealt with.  Mainly  surrounding those first few months after Max was born, among many other things.

I went on Zoloft, and Ativan as needed, just shy of two weeks after Max was born for postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.  I had made the decision later on to go off of it after Max had weaned from breastfeeding, because I was afraid with all the hormonal changes I would be going through, that the PPD/PPA would come back.  The last 5 months or so of taking it I’ve really felt the side effects: memory loss, loss of sexual desire, and the inability to really feel any emotion.  All of which made me all the more eager to get this shit out of my system.

When I started it, I needed it to get through each day.  I felt alone, scared that something was going to happen to the baby while it was just me and him home alone.  I wouldn’t let myself sleep during the day when he slept because I was so afraid something would happen to him.  I couldn’t eat because I was literally sick with worry and sadness over how he was born.  Nothing felt right.  My own house didn’t feel like home.  I was so uncomfortable being there.  I felt better being in the hospital and I remember thinking over and over how badly I wished we were still in the hospital.

I remember getting up in the mornings and making myself open the curtains to let the sun shine in, and making oatmeal that would sit on the coffee table for most of the day without being touched.  What I don’t remember?  Snuggling with my new baby, memorizing every little inch of his tiny body, actually enjoying my new life, because it never happened.  I was more depressed than I had been since the infamous high school days.  I didn’t want to be doing what I was doing.  I thought I had just made the biggest mistake of my entire life.  I never had thoughts of killing or hurting myself or the baby, but I had thoughts of running away, or “returning the baby” (whatever that meant).  I kept thinking about how great life was just two weeks prior when I was still pregnant, and can’t we just go back to that time and have a redo?

Big, bad, dark thoughts.  That’s all I had.

A week after Max was born I finally got the courage to call Katrina, who had moved to Texas for grad school just weeks after finding out I was pregnant.  I hadn’t spoken to her about his birth yet.  I hadn’t even called my best friend.  I couldn’t call her, it just hurt too much to admit it all.  It was so fucking hard to tell her about it.  It hurts still to even remember making that phone call.  At that point I knew something was very, very wrong.

It shouldn’t have been like that.  I kept thinking It’s not supposed to be like this.  This isn’t fair.  And it wasn’t fair, and fuck no it shouldn’t have been like that.  But it was and I can’t change it.  What I can change is how I feel about it now.  And I certainly do feel differently.

I have been so moved by my own experience that I’m thinking of getting into the birth education field or becoming a postpartum doula.  It’s taken me a long time to realize that this is what I want to do, and I’ve never felt like this before.  I want to help women realize the power of their own bodies and know their rights in giving birth in a hospital, birthing center or even at home.  I want to be the one telling the new mom that it’s ok for her to feel the way she does and it’s ok to ask for help and be there for her when she needs comforting in those early days of new motherhood.  I’ve been there and now I’m on the other side.  I’m not saying I know everything, because there’s no such thing as knowing everything in the game of parenting.  I’m saying I want to take what I know and put it to good use.  Now I just need to get the courage to actually go to the school I’m looking into, and enroll.

I’m absolutely terrified of, and incredibly excited about all the changes happening in my life, but mostly terrified.

(This photo is completely irrelevant to this post, but I wanted to share it.)

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Feeling it All

It’s so funny to think about what I was doing, and what I was feeling just one year ago.  Packing hospital bags, preparing the nursery, cleaning every nook and cranny in the house.  All the pregnancy pains and emotions surrounding our family that was going to become one person larger, and the sadness of leaving my old life behind.

It’s a year later and I’m feeling like I’m about to burst with emotion.  I’m just a mixed bag right now.  I’m still so upset with how the labor and delivery went and how I spent those first 6 weeks or so after Max was born, but I’m also just so damn happy with this little person I’m watching grow up.

I feel like I was robbed of a lot of bonding time with him.  I don’t really have any memory of what he was like as a newborn, except from what I see in photos and videos.  I didn’t hold him a lot because I was afraid of him (yep, I was afraid of my baby), I didn’t take any photos in the first few weeks(thankfully my mom did) because I couldn’t even bring myself to pick up my camera, unheard of I tell you.

This has been the hardest year of my life, hands down.  None of this came easy.  Not that I was expecting to jump right into parenting and know exactly what I was doing, but I didn’t expect it to be as hard as it was.  A lot of parents say it Oh, it was love at first sight for us!  It wasn’t at all.  We were strangers to each other.  Over time I fell head over heals in love with this guy, but it definitely took a lot of getting to know each other.

Part of me feels like I failed him (please know, that I know, I didn’t fail him).  I wasn’t able to be there for him when he really needed me, all of me.  Yeah, I was physically there and I was feeding him and changing his diapers but I wasn’t in the right state of mind.  I felt like I couldn’t take care of him.  I felt like something was going to happen if I was left alone with him.  Of course nothing did happen, but that feeling is one I hope I never ever feel again.

This was our second day home.  He’s still tan from the billi lights from the jaundice, and sleeping on me which was/is a rare occurrence.

When I think about all of the hurdles he’s jumped in his one year here, I can’t help but think about how if my labor went as I had hoped it would and he was brought into this world in a less traumatic way, he wouldn’t have had torticollis or plagiocephaly, and he never would have had to go to physical therapy or wear a corrective helmet.  And I also can’t help but think that in his first few months of life when he would scream and cry for hours and hours it was because he was in pain.  His head and neck were sooooo messed up, and I had no idea.  There’s a little mommy guilt for ya.  I wish I knew.  Every parent wishes they knew what was wrong with their child.  Neither of us had it easy.  No parent has it easy.

I was so fogged by crippling depression and anxiety, I couldn’t function on my own.  I felt like I couldn’t be by myself.  I had this feeling of impending doom.  I remember one night Rob had a meeting he had to go to and my mom was working so she couldn’t come be with me.  I was absolutely hysterical when Rob left.  Sobbing, and telling him I was afraid.  He left, I cried some more.  I called my mom, she talked me down.  And then my friend Jenny called, who is a nurse practitioner and has two boys of her own.  I don’t remember what she said but I just remember that she called just to check on me and she listened and was there.

If I could rewind and get a redo on the first few months of Max’s life I just might.  I know everything happens for a reason and all that jazz, but damn sometimes I wish we had a different start.

Right now, what Max and I have, is the stuff I dreamed of.  He’s my sidekick, my pal, my most favorite thing in the whole world.  I seriously could not have imagined a better life than I have now.  And I know it wouldn’t be this way had I not gone through what I did.