Hey there Mama,
For starters... trust me when I say.. you are not alone. I see you. I feel you. I am you. I get it... You don't understand why with this brand new baby life isn't all rainbows and butterflies. The guilt that comes with the negative thoughts and emotions... You struggle to do basic daily tasks.. like.. eat.. shower.. brush your teeth. I get it. You feel exhausted all the time no matter how much coffee you chug. You feel so alone and no one understands. They tell you to just snap out of it.. pray more... have more faith.. Well read my story below and you'll quickly see that you are no where close to alone in this.
January of 2017 I found out I was pregnant with my very first baby. After 2 years of infertility we were so surprised and beyond excited. I had just signed up for my college entrance exams and they were scheduled 1 week out from my 2 pink lines. I knew in that moment that God called me to be a Mom, not a student, although I know it is possible to do both and kudos to those that do. It was my dream to be a Mom and I never really knew what "I wanted to be when I grew up"... So I backed out of the tests.. told my managers at work after I delivered that I was not coming back. I just wanted to enjoy every moment of being a Mommy at home. We waited for ever it seemed for this day and it was finally here.
Fast forward a little bit.. There were no complications during pregnancy.. It was smooth sailing. My water broke on its own. The contractions kicked in on the car ride to the hospital. Things were moving quickly. They gave me something for pain and that was the last clear thing I could remember. After that I was in a deep sleep. I literally slept through my entire labor. When they woke me up for an Epidural I was sooo out of it. The room was spinning. When they woke me up to push.. I said "Wow that was fast" .. It had been 9 hours since my water had broken. That is also when my husband told me my Birth Photographer was not coming. The photos here are from a nursing student who took Adan's phone and photographed Ana's Birth for us.
This is a great example of why it is important to invest in a professional Birth Photographer. The girl that I hired was not professional and did not have enough money out of it to make it worth her while. Which is understandable. That is why a real professional and specialist is expensive. There are a lot of out of pocket expenses that Moms never even realize that photographers have.
I don't remember who was there. I know that my family was but as far as actually remembering it.. nope. My Birth Photographer did not show up. Oh how I wish I would have had my baby girls birth documented. Because I don't remember hardly anything but foggy snippets of the scary stuff.
I started pushing at 7:30 AM. I remember tiny fuzzy pieces.. Between every contraction I would fall asleep or go unconscious. I cried hysterically.. This went on for 3 hours. In and out of consciousness... They kept pushing meds to bring my BP back up according to my husband. I vaguely remember the doctor asking a nurse if it had gotten any better before everything went black again.. Apparently I couldn't even wake up to try to push her out anymore and they shoved on my stomach from my rib cage down until they could pull her out. They laid her on my chest and I woke up for a few seconds.. as you can see in the photo above.. I don't remember this moment hardly at all. It is amazing that even being in and out of consciousness that I could wake up the second they laid her on me long enough to look down before passing out again. My husband said the charge nurse said she had never seen anything like it.
One thing I do remember is this nurse in the photo above. She was there by my side through everything. Even the 2 ish weeks I was hospitalized. She skipped lunch to be with me when Adan and Ana had to leave the hospital and I was all alone. She was trying to get me to eat something so we shared crackers. She found me engorged beyond belief because I couldn't pump for myself and she pumped for me. She was there when the psychiatrist came to evaluate me... She called Adan trying to find him. As time goes on little bits of memory come back to me and most of them are of her. I have a very very vague memory of her at the birth. She was talking me through it. Every time I woke up I remember seeing her face. I was so dang out of it but I will never forget the angel God sent me in such a traumatic and scary time. She was a God send .. literally. I have always wanted to find her and thank her.
For the next 24 hours my family kept telling them something was wrong.. I just couldn't wake up. It felt like I had been under anesthesia and trying to come back but never fully could. The next day they attempted to take me to the restroom for the first time.. That is when it got really scary. I remember my entire body buzzing.. by the time we made it to the toilet I lost my hearing.. I remember telling them that I couldn't hear anymore. It sounded like I was under water and everyone was yelling outside... Then my vision was gone. Everything was black... I told my husband and my nurse that I couldn't see anymore. I was terrified.
Then that is when I blacked out cold... I woke up however long it was later to a crap ton of people in my room.. lights and alarms going off like crazy. My poor 16 year old sister holding the baby in shock and watching everything going down. But I will never forget Adan saying " Baby, you're back" when I came to. Shortly there after I was bed bound and hooked up to Blood Transfusions. Turned out I had hemorrhaged and they had no clue until they had to call the code/treat team in there...
Fast Forward a little more.. I never could really come back to full consciousness. For the better part of 2 weeks I was there. They couldn't figure out why.. I was on a bed pan... They were pumping for me... Nursing my Baby for me... because I just could not wake up. I started shaking violently and uncontrollably. I began seeing things that were not really there... but not able to see who was actually right in front of me. I was hearing voices that were not real people in the room while the real people still sounded like I was underwater. My short term memory was awful..
It was the most terrifying time in my life. I didn't know what was happening. I just didn't want to live if it was going to be that way. I did not even know what my daughter looked like. I couldn't hold her or feed her.. bathe her.. nothing. I waited so long for this moment with her and I wasn't even there mentally. While I was off in some dark evil world, I missed her first bath, the first time they laid her on my chest. nursing her.. everything. I wasn't with myself. I literally thought I had died and went to hell.. or was stuck somewhere in between.. or maybe even possessed. To this day this has been the single most terrifying time in my entire life. This... This was PP Psychosis.
After I was able to stay awake-ish they sent me home. I still stayed in bed 24/7. The slightest noise would make me instantly feel like I was falling.. a lot like the feeling you get when you are falling in your dreams. But this was in real life for me. The room was spinning... I was so nauseous... My body still buzzing.. My face was numb.. Uncontrollable shaking.. I had a full on panic attack anytime I even had the urge to pee because I knew that meant I had to get up and go to the bathroom. My poor Husband was trying to take care of this new baby and here I was not even able to go pee by myself. He had to keep her away because I couldn't even stand to hear her sneeze. His footsteps in the hall would send me off into La La Land. Unspeakable thoughts crossed my mind.. Things I didn't even tell my husband because it was so bad. You know what I am saying... Because you probably have had the same ones.. Just remember.. this is not YOU. This is the illness. It does not define you as a mother, a christian, a wife or anything else. And it doesn't define me either. This was severe PP Depression and PP Anxiety.
As time went by the medications they had given me before I left the hospital were finally starting to do their job. SSRI's take a couple weeks to really get into your system.. so I was in hell until they did. I took small walks in my front yard.. avoided going out in public because it was a major trigger.. ate healthier foods etc.. Once I was healthy again.. well.. never the same as before I delivered but way better than where I had been... I had decided I was done having kids. I didn't want to go through that ever again. I was still healing... at 3 months PP I found out I was pregnant again. yep.. that fast. I was angry and absolutely terrified. I didn't want to go through all of that again. Who would?
That led me to Dr. Jesanna Cooper. The OBGYN who not only helped me enjoy my second pregnancy, Adalynns birth... the precious gift God had given me.. but she listened. She heard me. She was the only person at the time who really listened. No one understood what I was going through. Not even my husband. He believed it was something I could just snap out of and move on with life. Spiritual Leaders in my life would indirectly say things like "You don't need some pill" ... My husband and I had some serious issues because of this. I was in this never ending battle with my own mind and I didn't know how else to stop it. Dr. Cooper was there for me. From the very beginning of a very scary time in my life. I felt alone. ashamed. judged. dismissed. scared. sad. angry. all of it.. But God sent me to her..
I trust Dr. Cooper with my own life. Literally... My Childs life. Literally.. She delivered Adalynn. That is another story for another post though..
PPD and PPA is something I STILL struggle with till this day... If you want to read "The TRUTH about PPD from an OBGYN" then click here to see what Dr. Cooper has to say about this diagnosis that unfortunately is more common than you would think.
This experience is why I became a Birth Photographer and serve the Mamas here in Birmingham. I don't remember her first moments with me. My Photographer did not make it and I now regret not investing in a professional from the beginning. I will never get to go back in time and have those moments with my daughter back. I cried and cried begging God to let me rewind and go back in time and just give birth all over again so I could remember... I don't have memories from her first month. All I have are these fuzzy phone photos.. Don't make the same mistake I did. Hire a specialist. This day will never happen again.
Always remember you are NOT alone. You are a Warrior and Stronger than you think. You CAN defeat this. And lastly.. it does NOT define you.
Thank you for reading my story. If you think that you may have PPD or any other PP mental health issue then please reach out to your doctor. Don't suffer in silence, Mama. We are here for you.
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From one Mama to another,