Baby Blues

Summary: My story on post-partum depression

I’m a private person, so only a few people know about my struggle with post-partum depression. This is one of my most honest blogs and it wasn’t easy to write, but I think it’s important to share my story.

Before the birth of first child, I’ll admit I knew nothing about babies. I hardly ever babysat, and I had only changed one diaper. As if I wasn’t anxious enough, the baby was breech and wouldn’t turn, so we had to schedule a C-section (more about that in a later blog). On December 10, 2010, at 6:11am Maddex burst into the world kicking, screaming, and peeing.

It’s a strange experience watching a baby being pulled out of you and then whisked away. I was stuck on a table being stitched up, in some strange out of body experience. I got a quick look at him and then he was gone.

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Maddex just a few hours old

After an hour or so, once I was all settled in the room and hooked up to a million tubes, the nurse finally handed me Maddex. Immediately, I was told, by a nurse, to try feeding him. Silly me, I thought breastfeeding would be this magical, natural moment, but it was difficult. Somehow, after much frustration and stress on my part, I managed to get food into him (more on that in another blog).

Later that day as I lay in the hospital bed, I remember looking over at my son in his bassinet and feeling indifferent. Everyone talks about the love and immediate connection you feel toward your newborn, but I didn’t feel that. I watched him from across the room as if trying to figure him out, but I wasn’t antsy to hold him. I let other people take care of him. I would nurse him and then hand him off.

When I came home, I was exhausted, hardly able to keep my eyes open for more than twenty minutes at a time. My mom came to help for the first few weeks, and I’m glad she did. I felt like I would never get over this exhaustion. I would sleep for hours at a time only waking up to feed the baby. It hurt to move because of the C-section, it hurt to breast-feed, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open for the life of me.

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There I am looking a bit exhausted

I felt the depression coming on almost immediately. Was this how my life would be now? Would I ever feel normal again? All I wanted to do was sleep.

The first night at home felt strange. He was sleeping in his bassinet and I missed him. I missed him being in my belly, and I felt an aching emptiness. All these feelings felt strange, like nothing I had ever felt before. I found myself crying a lot, in the night or the shower, anywhere I was alone. My emotions were all over the place.

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Grandma and her boy

The day my mom left, and I was alone with Maddex for the first time, I cried. I had no idea what I was doing, I was anxious and scared, and I still didn’t feel an emotional bond. He felt like a ‘job’ to me, like laundry and the dishes. It sounds harsh to say it, but that’s honestly how I felt.

There is a reason moms don’t talk about post-partum depression. We are supposed to immediately feel connected to our babies and then perfectly care for them. If you feel indifferent, then you must be heartless and probably a bad parent. Society puts too much pressure on women and how we are “supposed” to be. The reality is that bonding can take time. Not to mention, most first-time parents don’t have a clue what they are doing.

It is perfectly normal to feel the way I did, but no one told me that. I thought I was supposed to fall in love and have this amazing bond from the first moment I saw my baby. All the feedings and diaper changing were overwhelming.

Over time, the anxiety and self-doubt began to ease. I healed from the surgery and slowly regained energy. Things began to normalize. One day, I looked at my son and I felt a love I had never felt before. The feeling finally hit me and though it hadn’t been immediately, it did come. He was no longer a “chore”. He became my world, and, in that moment, everything changed.

Being a first-time mom is hard; it is the most intense on the job training one can ever have, but we learned together. I still get anxious and afraid I’ll do something to mess my kids up later in life, but I do the best I can.

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I was well into my second pregnancy before I realized I had experienced post-partem depression. I hadn’t understood exactly what it was. I thought it meant crying all the time, being overly emotional, and avoiding the baby altogether. My experience was more about feeling anxiety and helplessness, mixed with a sense of dread.

I was afraid I would have post-partum depression with my second child. I sought help and went to see a counselor for several weeks leading up to the birth. I felt much more confident the second time around. My experience with Mila was completely different. I felt a bond almost immediately and I was more hands-on. I didn’t have any post-partum depression with her.

Now, my baby is almost 9 years old and our bond is still strong. At the time, I had no idea that thousands of other women experience what I did. I felt alone and I felt like a horrible person. I doubted my ability to be a good parent and I struggled in silence.

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A much bigger Maddex with Mila and me at the park

My advice to others is to ask for help. Do research to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of post-partum depression. It’s okay if you don’t feel an immediate bond with your newborn, it will come as you get to know him/her better. Find someone to talk to and don’t be afraid to voice your feelings honestly. Every parent goes through moments of self-doubt, anxiety, and frustration. At the end of the day, if your child is happy, healthy, and loved, then you are doing it right.

 

A few more pictures:

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Attack of the puppies

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Maddex and Daddy

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He still eats like this

 

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Three out of four kids, not baby’s anymore

 

The Broken Collarbone Incident

Summary:   In a horrible case of parenting gone wrong, I overlooked what I assumed to be a minor injury only to discover we had a broken collarbone situation.

Lesson: Bad judgements happen, don’t beat yourself up about it.

It all started on a rainy Sunday. We had guests in town and wanted to venture out to the city, crossing our fingers the rain would subside. As the children were running down the sidewalk, Khaleesi dropped a toy, turned to pick it up, and ended up flat on her back. She was in tears, but kids fall all the time (mine especially) with nothing but a few bruises. I didn’t think anything of it, picked her up, and sat her in the stroller.

She cried all the way to the LUAS stop (tram into town). As we waited for our tram, I picked her up to console her a bit. She screamed out in pain and I knew we had something a bit more serious than a simple fall. Of course, I still figured it was no big deal, she probably twisted or strain a muscle in her neck/shoulder area. That’s what it looked like, pain when moving the neck or arm and no pain when sitting still. We checked for broken bones and couldn’t feel any.

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A little read and slightly bruised

Monday, we kept her home from school because she was couldn’t turn her head without pain. I debated whether to take her to the Dr. or not, she seemed fine as long as she didn’t move her arm too much. I have never broken a bone in my life, neither has my husband, but we both figured the pain would be so much greater if she had broken something and again, we didn’t feel any breaks. We used heat and ice and gave her medicine for the pain.

Tuesday, she seemed to be feeling better. I crafted a makeshift sling to help immobilize her arm which reduced the pain and we sent her to school. I talked with her teacher briefly to explain what happened and request she take it easy with no running outside and no P.E. until she was feeling better.

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The sling I made

Tuesday night, I noticed she now had a bump on her collarbone. That wasn’t there before, and my mother instincts kicked into high gear. The bump was sensitive to the touch. I took to the internet, I love to research, and realized she may have a broken collarbone. Time to go get an x ray.

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Now she has a bump, right side.

 

Wednesday morning, we went to the Swift Care. When the doctor showed us the x-ray, I could clearly see the crack in her collarbone. Luckily, it was a clean break, meaning it would heal up perfectly in no time. There isn’t much they can do for this kind of break, just keep it in a sling and try to limit movement for a week or two until it heals. Lucky for her, it only takes about 3 weeks for children her age to heal from this. The doctor told me I did the right thing making a sling, but they did upgrade us to a more stable one.

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New sling from doctor, and mad face because she has to go back to school.

Khaleesi spent the next two weeks with the sling, she didn’t use it all the time; it was a bit big on her and as she healed, she didn’t need it as much. We went in for a two-week check-up with a clean bill of health. Now she is fully healed and its as if it never happened at all.

This is only one story where I feel like I failed as a parent. I should have seen the signs, I should have taken her immediately to the doctor, maybe I shouldn’t have moved her from the sidewalk at all. All these thoughts I allowed to enter my head and fill me with self-doubt. The truth is, I’m only human and I make mistakes. Khaleesi is fine, she is healed, and only the bump remains on her shoulder (new bone growth, should go away in a year).

Moral of this story is sometimes we make the wrong decisions when it comes to our kids. We can’t beat ourselves up about it, it happens. We do the best we can with what information we are given. Kids are so resilient and unfortunately, they get hurt a lot. We do our best to make the right choices when they do get hurt. In most case, they are up and running in a matter of minutes; minor bruises or scrapes.

I’ve never been one to go to the doctor over a little fever or a small injury, not that there is anything wrong with that. I tend to assess the situation, do a little internet research, and then give things a day or two before I bring doctors into it. This is simply part of who I am, I’m a problem solver and I want to try to solve the problem on my own first.

All of this to say, I’m not a perfect parent. Kids are clumsy and aloof, and they will fall no matter how hard we try to keep them upright. My Khaleesi is one strong, brave, tough kid. She doesn’t let much keep her down, and she never let a broken collarbone keep her down. She even won Golden Rules Super Star for being brave and working hard, even with an injury.

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Award she got

 

More Pictures of the kids:

 

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She turned left-handed for a bit, like a pro

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Mila and Khaleesi on the LUAS, nothing stops this girl.