Birth · Mom Life · Pregnancy

The long journey of postpartum depression

In continuing a theme, of things we don’t talk about as mothers. I want to take a second to talk about postpartum depression (PPD). With my first two babies, I didn’t have PPD, I have pregnancy depression. Pregnancy depression is awful. It makes it hard to get excited about the baby and hard to do things like decorating a nursery. With my first pregnancy, my pregnancy depression left me so anxiety-filled that I was riddled with worry over my husband’s safety at work. I would spend most days checking the police scanner facebook pages to make sure nothing crazy was happening and would be waiting by the phone for him to call me and let me know he was on his way home. With my second pregnancy, I cried all the way through it thinking about how my oldest wouldn’t be the baby anymore. I worried about how Tempest would like her sister and was concerned that we made a mistake by having more than one kid and not being able to give them all the attention.

But in both of these cases, there was an endpoint. The point I knew was coming when I was faced with the same depression for pregnancy number 3.  I knew if I could just hold on hope for a few more months, the anxiety and depression would fade away. With birth came relief.

That did not happen the third time. Instead Birth and postpartum sent me into a downward spiral of one of the most terrifying times in my life. I had given up on everything.

It started small enough. I was already depressed and anxious from suffering from pregnancy-induced depression. After I gave birth, I was expecting it to go away. I waited in the hospital to feel that rush of happy that I had felt with my other two births. It did not come. I noted that unlike the last two births, this time the hospital I was at let me get no sleep at all. There were a number of people in and out of my room. The longest stint I had without seeing a nurse or dietitian or lactation consultant was 2 hours. Which happened once. Most of the time there was less than 20 minutes between people coming and going. Checking my blood sugar. Checking baby. Checking me. I was exhausted and I knew that when I got out of there and back home it would be better.

It wasn’t. When I got home that rush of happiness didn’t come. Instead, My anxiety increased. There were no longer people coming in and out of my room, and we are lucky that our children sleep a significant amount when tiny (Opal was sleeping for 5-hour stints at 4 days old). But I still wasn’t sleeping. I was staring at a tiny baby, concerned she would stop breathing. I worried constantly about her. I couldn’t sleep. I worried about our other cuties in their bedroom. Where they too hot? Too cold? Breathing ok? I couldn’t sleep. I would drift off for moments at a time but wasn’t actually sleeping. The girls were waking up at their normal time. I couldn’t function. I was feeding them whatever they could find and bring me. Whatever I could do to make them happy and leave me alone. There were days the girls wouldn’t even eat one real meal. We were surviving on chips, candy, pepperonis, and beef sticks.

My Muscles ached. I was still bleeding. At night I was still holding myself up to walk. My legs were giving up. My mind had already. I was as close to autopilot as I could be. Any effort to pull myself out of it only made it worse.

And the most gut-wrenching, rock-bottom feeling of all. I hated everything and everybody. And I really mean HATED. I was so angry. I was sad, yes. I was anxious, yes. But the Anger I never expected. I typically do not have a lot of anger. I get frustrated and sad, but not angry. But now I was full of rage. Full-on white-hot rage. I hated the house and how messy it was. I hated Tim’s work. I hated my body for how tired I was. I hated my midwives and my hospital experience. I hated my husband. You should feel sorry for him. I was 100% full on bitch. I am lucky he didn’t walk away. I just wanted him to leave. I did not want to see him at all.

And the very worst point for me, I hate my kids. I could not handle any bit of complaining, whining, or yelling. I couldn’t even look at them without feeling frustrated. I just wanted them to sit and play quietly (something that does not happen ever with two young kids with Sensory processing and ADHD).  I wanted them to be asleep just for some peace and quiet. I did not want them to talk to me. I couldn’t handle them asking for one more thing.  It wasn’t because I didn’t feel the same love I always had for them. Or because I was actually angry at them. It was because I knew with every request they made, I was disappointing them more and more. I was failing as a mom every time they asked me to get them lunch and I couldn’t. I hated myself.

I suffered way too long. It was a couple weeks before I realized this was a serious problem. A few more before I knew that my efforts to get outside or sleep more were not going to change anything. And a few more before I would actually reach out for help.

I suffered almost 7 weeks before I asked my doctor for help. It shouldn’t have taken so long. But it did. And it did because I waited until my check-up appointment. I didn’t feel sick enough, worthy enough, strong enough, to call and discuss my feelings with my doctor. Making a call specifically for that was terrifying to me. Plus it was another “to-do” that I just couldn’t do. I have no doubt that if I had a midwife like I did with Tempest, I would have gotten help sooner. When Tempest was born, my midwife was back at my house the next day, then again 3 days later, then a week after birth, and again 2 weeks after birth. She had planned to be back at 4 weeks (but we were in the hospital with pertussis). She would have noticed my significant mood change. And even if she didn’t, it would have been easier for me to ask for help or ask if I should wait to try medication and when we should consider it. But I didn’t have that this time, I had wonderful midwives, but they were following standard protocol. They were there for the wellbeing of my baby. But that sometimes made me feel like I was just the vessel that you protect.

I finally did get help. I am still struggling with PPD. I am still on medication. But reaching out for help was the biggest thing I could have done. I still feel angrier than I used to. And I have a much shorter fuse. But I can feel myself getting better. I can take care and have fun with my children again.

PPD is a serious problem. The CDC estimates 11-20% of mothers will experience PPD, 80% will experience baby blues. You are not alone.  The more stories we share and the more we understand this is ok. Whatever you are feeling, it is ok. and there is help and support out there. Until the healthcare system improves, you will have to make the effort. But do it. Do not suffer. And if you know someone who has had a baby, go visit. Bring food and leave your judgments. Ask how they are doing. Really listen. Offer to go with them to the doctors or help them in whatever way you can.


Birth · Mom Life · Pregnancy

The Birth of Opal Octavia

I started having regular contractions at week 21, so when they started getting stronger and more consistent at week 30, 31, 32 I was expecting baby to be born any time. As week 38, 39, 40 rolled around I was over being pregnant. I was having contractions at least once a day that were 3 minutes apart. I could barely move from my bed, I was tired, sore, emotional. 40 weeks and 3 days, I woke up to a drip of liquid. I wasn’t sure if it was my water or not. It felt similar to when my water broke with Alice. Contractions started back up, strongly. I decided we had to go in.

A few hours later we got up and dressed, and headed to my mom’s to drop off the girls. We spent some time there getting the girls settled in and waiting for the contractions to get closer together or more consistent. They got closer, and more painful, but didn’t become consistent. I started doubting more and more that this was actually labor. or at least imminent labor. My first labor was 42 hours, and I was starting to feel like this was going to be the same. But we started to the hospital anyway. We stopped and got food because I wasn’t sure what my hospital’s policy was on eating (I probably should have found that out).

When we got to the hospital we got settled into the dingy, tiny triage room. Through out the second half of this pregnancy we had been here multiple times. This is when we got the news. I wasn’t dilated at all. My contractions were still inconsistent. Baby wasn’t close to being here yet. They took a bunch of blood and said they would be back shortly with our options, but we needed to think about if we wanted to try induction now (we were schedule for one 6 days later) or if we wanted to go home and probably come back in a few hours or a day when labor progressed.

Turns out we didn’t have to make that decision. Between 2-3 minute contractions, high blood pressure readings, and concerns about going over with Gestational diabetes the doctors told me, we would be staying. We decided to try medication to speed up dilation. But first, we had to slow down the contractions I was having. It seems odd that in order to promote labor that you would actually have to stop contractions, but this was the safest way. So with an iv of fluid and rest we got contractions to slow down. Once medication was given my contractions came back within ten minutes, this time very strong and consistent. When my midwife came back in 4 hours later she was surprised and excited that I was finally dilating. We were at a 5 and contractions were much stronger. We talked pain management and I said I wanted to get up and possibly take a shower.

So we unhooked all the monitoring and got up to walk around. once up I really had to go the the bathroom. So I peed and my midwife started the shower. Contractions really started to hit and I called for Tim to help me off the toilet. Before he could get in there I felt a familiar pop of my water breaking. My midwife suggested we get back to the bed and check again. She called for the nurses to come back and we got half way to the bed. I had another contraction and couldn’t move. My midwife got down to check the heart rate of the baby. I felt the urge to push. I felt baby’s head, but couldn’t manage to speak. Another push and baby was out. And we were lucky my midwife was there to catch her, otherwise she would have ended up on the floor. Moments later the nurse made it in and exclaimed “Oh! We have a baby!” That we had. In less than 5 hours we went from “I don’t think I’m actually in labor” to “Oh! We have a baby!”

Welcome to the world my beautiful baby girl #3, Opal Octavia Knott was born 9:18 pm.

Birth · Pregnancy

The Birth of Alice Ivy

I wasn’t sleeping. I knew I should be, after all the toddler would be up soon and being full term I was already exhausted most of the day. But my hips were killing me. The last few months of pregnancy I had been in so much pain I could barely move. If it weren’t for the toddler, who still wanted to be played with, despite mom’s grumpiness and short temper, I probably would not have moved from the bed. But there I was, awake again. 3:57 I saw the time on my Kindle and in an all too familiar rush, I felt my water break and trickle down my leg. I knew this feeling, baby was coming. My contractions were irregular and I knew from the birth of the toddler that I had some time, after all, that one was 42 hours. I texted Tim to let him know, he would be getting off work in a few hours, no need for him to rush home. I prayed this wouldn’t be 42 hours.

I was excited, but not nearly as giddy as the last time. 2nd pregnancy, especially this close to the last one, has a weird feeling of excitement, dread, and most of all boredom. Excitement because here comes a new baby. Both excitement and dread because everything was going to change, we were no longer a one kid family.Our precious daughter was going to be a big sister, a role she obviously had no idea what it meant and how this would change her life. Could we really handle two? Would she be ok? Would she love her baby sister? But oh baby, those firsts all over again. There was also a large amount of dread on the impending pain. At this early phase the contractions weren’t that painful, I knew that wouldn’t last. But with all this, there was still boredom. I knew it would be awhile and knew generally what to expect. I couldn’t start anything, but I couldn’t just expect to sit around and not do anything. Mostly, I paced around the house and watched mythbusters on the TV.

Tim came home around 7:30, I called my mom about that time too. I let her know that today was the day, but to not hurray. She had time to gather her stuff, maybe stop at the grocery store, and prepare for coming to my house to stay with the toddler. The toddler was just waking up when Tim got home. She seemed oblivious to mom stopping and whining with each contraction, she just wanted to know what was taking so long for her milk and breakfast.

When he got home, I sent Tim to bed. I was still doing well and I knew I would need him up and not grumpy and 24 hour shifts don’t do much for his disposition.

My mom arrived around 9:30. We sat and talked names, of which we still weren’t sure. Unlike last time we knew the sex of the baby, another little girl, But I still had no ideas about names. Sure we had our short list, but nothing seemed quite right.

I let Tim sleep until about 12:30 before coming in and telling him he should think about waking up. He got up took a shower and got ready. We packed everything in the car, made sure the carseat was properly installed, I ate half a leftover sweet potato from our anniversary dinner two nights before. And away we went at around 1pm. Toddler waving in the window.

The drive to the hospital was new. Since Tempest was born at home, I never experienced having to drive while in labor. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. By then, contractions were about every 4 to 5 minutes apart, the drive was close to 45 minutes, and of course there was traffic and construction. Every bump felt like a crater. I kept breathing, and honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I knew I wasn’t in hard labor yet, but I also knew it was coming.

Pulling into the hospital we had to decide, do we go through the front doors, or through emergency? I figured emergency was a bigger deal, and at least through the front we were close to parking and I knew my way. So in we went. Bag in hand, stopping every little while for me to catch my breath.

We sat in the waiting room for a few minutes before someone brought us back to triage. They checked my blood pressure and had me get changed. Then hooked me up to the heart rate monitor. The midwife who came in didn’t believe me that my water had broke. She took a swab anyway and sent it off to the lab. But she was pretty sure I would be on my way home soon, I knew different. A quick ultrasound showed baby was ready to go. Everything looked good. Tim and I sat alone in the intake room for what seemed like days, it was really only about an hour. Then the midwife came in told me that my lab results did in fact show amniotic fluid and that yes, my water had broke. I tried to contain the annoyance on my face and luckily another contraction took my focus off of it.

They finally got us our room and we got settled in. I was happy to hear that the midwife who checked us in was just getting off shift and was not the midwife I was delivering with. The nurses came by checked my blood sugar, told me I couldn’t eat, but gave me the “liquid” only menu that I could order from if I wanted. There was nothing I wanted less than food.

Or so I thought. Then they started the IV. I was GBS+ and needed penicillin (which ended up giving me two weeks of hives that turned into thrush). It burned. The good news was that it took all my focus off of my contractions. The bad news is, I would have rather had the contractions.

With a dose of Penicillin in, I was able to walk around a little. Tim and I did a lap around the floor and talked. The nurses commented on how it was amazing how chipper I was. I was having a baby, not dying.

By the time we got back to the room my contractions were a little stronger and very fast. A doctor stopped by to talk about my pain management options, of which I said. I am fine. They told me I was getting close and this would be the time. She said how she could never give birth without something. I told her I already had done so before. She was impressed. I was not.

The my water, which had already broke at 3:57 am, broke again around 8pm. In one big gush on the floor. I was helped by my loving husband to the bathroom so i could change gowns, while the nurses ran around and cleaned the floor. I got back into the bed, was checked, and told this baby is coming, like soon.

I was also told they had to get the full second dose of penicillin in before baby was delivered or we would have to stay another day. So they started the IV, on full, all the way up. My husband asked if it was another contraction, but I could only point to my arm where the burning hot lava was pouring into my veins.

They weren’t kidding when they meant it would be soon. The IV stopped the same time I felt my body pushing. They told me to hold on, but I’m not capable of stopping once it decides its time. The midwife got back into the room and it seemed like more and more nurses came in. We had given consent to have students come in to observe and apparently an all natural childbirth is crazy rare, even in a hospital with a fantastic midwife service.

9:07 baby was born. Luckily it wasn’t 42 hours, only a little over 17.

I knew right away that the precious little girl I held was named Alice. What we didn’t know was a middle name. After a day of consideration, we decided.

Alice Ivy

Birth · Pregnancy

The Birth of Tempest Elizabeth

I was exhausted. I had gone to sleep early that evening. And for my normal being 8pm, early in this case was 5pm. My husband, Tim, was at work on a 24 hour shift as an EMT. So there was no one around but the kitties and this baby growing inside me to see how pathetic I was for going to sleep when most people were barely off of work yet. By this time I was already 9 days past my due date and had succumb to the idea that I would be pregnant the rest of my life

41 weeks pregnant

I woke around 3 am on November 9th; I was uncomfortable and was pretty sure my belly had cut off all circulation from my hips down. So, I heaved it over and rolled on my other side. Finally getting comfortable, as much as you can for being 9 ½ months pregnant, I thought to myself “I have to pee”. Deciding that I was in a rare state of comfortable, it wasn’t worth it for me to move. Sleep was a better option.

That was until an hour later, 4am. I woke up to slightly damp sheets and instantly thought about going back to sleep. I knew a giant pregnant woman should not have passed up the opportunity to pee and now I was sure I peed the bed. I stood up to go to the bathroom and realized maybe I wasn’t done peeing, as I felt a trickle run down my leg. Still being half asleep I went to the bathroom and crawled back into bed. About 10 minutes after my face hit the pillow I sat up abruptly and exclaimed to the sleeping kitties “THAT WAS MY WATER”. The kitties responding by jumping 3 feet in the air and booking it towards the door. Because of excess Amniotic fluid I had been told that once my water broke I was to lie down immediately because of the chance of prolapsed cord. So even though I wanted to jump up and down and run around the house I stayed put in the bed. After a slight moment of panic, I grabbed my phone to call Tim. Oddly enough I had a text from him not ten minutes before which apparently my brain refused to hear. So I was sure he would be awake; I called him to tell him the excitement. He, of course, was with a patient and couldn’t answer. I left some ridiculously long message that I am sure made less sense than a vegan in a sausage factory.

After I hung up with Tim’s voicemail it was around 5am. I called my midwife, Wendy. To let her know that I was finally in labor ( I think she might have been thinking I was going to be pregnant forever too). I wasn’t really having strong contractions but I could feel them coming. Wendy assured me that if my water was only trickling that babies head was ready to go and my cord was fine. She said I could get up and move if needed, but that I should try to sleep some more and save my energy. I tried going back to sleep but honestly I don’t think any women could sleep, I was so excited.

My baby was coming! I pulled up my computer and poured over our list of baby names, which made me wonder even more if we could expect a son or daughter. I had so many thoughts running through my mind.

I finally got to sleep around 8am, just enough time to be sleeping for a few minutes before Tim got home. He was exhausted, probably even more than me. He was swamped at work all night and had hurt his leg extremely bad. Limping in pain, he tried to come in and help. But I didn’t need help; I needed sleep. I am pretty sure I sent him away, but it very well could have been his idea to leave my grumpy butt to sleep. I really don’t know and it really didn’t matter.

At around 9:30 my midwife stopped by to see how things were going and what we could expect. I was a whole 2 cm dilated and contractions were still weak and 10-15 minutes apart; it was going to be a long day. I still had a long way to go, I knew it, she knew it, but after waiting this long, I was just happy to get closer. With the examination we found out that baby was still posterior facing, supposedly this is pretty common in early labor and most babies turn pretty quickly after labor starts. She gave me some positions to help baby along, gave me a bottle of antibacterial wash, some instructions making sure I didn’t introduce infections and told me again to rest more. Then she left; I made Tim stay downstairs; I was alone again. I didn’t want to feel pressure of people sitting around waiting so I was grateful for my time to myself.
I spent much of the rest of the morning alone; don’t get me wrong, this was my choice. I wasn’t in too much pain, but I wasn’t up for chit-chat.

I lost track of time after that. I think it was around 5 when Wendy call to see how I was doing. I told here that the contractions were much closer together, and slightly more painful now. We decided that it was time for her to come.

Earlier in the pregnancy Tim and I decided to take part in a documentary featuring midwives and home births. So, soon after our conversation our camera crew (which was really only 3 people) started showing up, along with our midwife and two assistants. After monitoring my contractions for a little while we were about 5 minutes apart. The assistants, Wendy and Tim took turns rubbing my back and holding the heating pad against my contracting belly. At around 9, I was exhausted. I felt stuck and was starting to get annoyed at every little movement and word anyone said. My midwife suggested that everyone leave and give me the chance to sleep a little and that it might help move things along faster. So everyone took off. I made Tim lie with me for a while, but since I wasn’t comfortable or in the mood to cuddle I told him he should go relax. I slept most of the night all the way through, barely waking up with contractions. In the morning, i woke with new energy and hope (although I was right where I was when I went to sleep).

I went downstairs to take a bath because I had heard how water was soothing to contractions and that it possibly could help speed things along. So I lugged myself down the stairs, which probably took me about 10 minutes, because I had to stop every contraction. I got in the bath, and sat and watched 2 episodes of Mythbusters on my kindle. Tim came in a few times to check on me. The final time I was having a hard time talking. He knew it was time to call Wendy back.

We got me upstairs (which was much harder than going down) and everyone started showing up again. This time I was not all laughing and smiling. Wendy said she knew this meant I was in serious labor. She checked me again and found that baby was still posterior and that my water had reformed.

After awhile, (I would love to give you a time frame, but I really am not sure). She said we could re-break my water and it might help move things along. Since I was only at 4cm. I told her anything that helped me move faster would be great. She broke my water, which was just weird, not painful or anything. Then she manually turned baby around the right way. It would make it easier to deliver and supposedly hurt less. Turning baby hurt, but I felt an instant relief of pressure off of my back. re-breaking my water made my contractions hurt a ton worse. At this point I really couldn’t think much and talking was extremely hard. After what seemed like forever of contractions, Wendy checked again only 6 cm and baby had flipped back around again facing posterior. she turned baby once more and suggested we get back in the bath. So Tim helped me down the stairs, I am pretty sure he half-carried me, because I really couldn’t walk very well. The bath felt nice, but I was in major pain. I felt like I was in the bath for hours, but Tim says it was maybe an hour at most. I remember telling Tim I couldn’t do it, he had to get Wendy, because I was done, I had no more fight, it was time to go to the hospital.

He got Wendy, she suggested we get upstairs and see where I was at then knowing that we could decide. I agreed. So we trekked back up the stairs, which was much harder. When she checked we weren’t much further along from last time (still around 6 cm) but baby was pushing into the birth canal. She explained we could go to the hospital if I wanted, but I was still having the baby naturally because we were too far along and that I would probably give birth in the car on the way. So we stayed. It’s true that when you want to give up you are almost done. I labored on the toilet for a while, but baby’s heart rate dropped, so we stood up and gave me some oxygen. the heart rate perked up and I got onto the bed, in the most awkward position my midwife said she had ever saw, but it was the only position the relieved any pressure from my back.

My body started to push. I could not have stopped it if I wanted to. I couldn’t talk I just moaned to relieve pressure. This baby was coming, if I was ready or not. I was still only 7 cm but baby was not waiting any longer. A few pushes later Wendy told me to reach down, I could feel my baby. Tim said this was an instant change in my mood and expression. I knew baby was almost here, I was relieved and excited. One push later and baby shot out (seriously it was so fast Tim started cracking up laughing) and was on my chest, 9:37 pm November 10th, 2012. I could here baby fussing and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever saw or felt. One of the assistants asked if it was a boy or girl. Wendy, said “I don’t know, it was so fast we didn’t even look” “Tim moved the blanket off of the Tiny little baby, we had a girl! the most beautiful baby girl I ever saw.

She was still having a little trouble breathing so Wendy used the bulb suction for 15 minutes then finally brought out the actual suction machine that went into her lungs. I held her and Wendy suctioned, it seemed like forever but I am sure it was only a few minutes. After my baby girl’s lungs were cleared, we cut the cord, delivered the placenta and cleaned up baby (who had pooped about as much as she weighed, all over). Tim and I talked very briefly about names. Our front-runner for a girl had been Zoey, but she was no Zoey. She was Feisty, and Fierce, and granted a little stubborn and troublesome. Tempest, I knew it as soon as I looked at her. It was a name we had discussed and it was on our list, but honestly I didn’t know what I thought about it. But it was Her. I knew it, Tim Knew it, Tempest Elizabeth Knott was here!

After we got things cleaned up, Wendy stitched my second degree tear. This was one of the worst parts about the whole experience. It was uncomfortable and my legs felt numb.  I knew when I was pushing I was tearing, I could have stopped it, but after days in labor I was ready to be done and I didn’t care. For only being 7 cm dilated at the time of delivery, it could have been much worse, so after a few numbing shots and a lot of stitches. My birth experience was done.

Tempest was still having a hard time breathing, so Wendy stayed with us that night. I slept on one side of the bed, Wendy crawled into the other, with Tempest snuggled in between us. Tim got banished to the living room. By morning, her breathing was better and it was clear that she was healthy and happy.

It was such a whirlwind. It was amazing and awful, and loving and I would do it again in a heartbeat.