Personally I told myself that I would sleep when the baby slept...that I would take off work for at least two months...and that I would still be on time for things.
Yet three months in...I am awake for hours after the baby goes to bed...I was back to work two weeks after I had her...and no matter when I PLAN to leave my house...I end up anywhere from 5-15 minutes late for the majority of the things I do.
But that's all okay...because in the grand scheme of things...who the hell cares? We are doing what works for us. I am learning, we are adjusting as a family to everything changing completely.
There was one more lie I told myself though...and it's been the hardest by far for me to swallow.
I told myself I wouldn't get postpartum depression.
I mean how could I? I have been through SO MUCH in my life...that having a baby couldn't possibly make me feel horrible. I was told I could never have a baby...so the fact that God gave me this miracle is huge all in itself.
When Emmalynne was born...I couldn't have been happier. I held her and sobbed because I couldn't believe that I had been trusted to be this tiny little girl's mommy. I had never wanted anything as much as I wanted her. I was on a high then...and I still am.
I didn't have the "baby blues." I am so bonded with that baby that sometimes I feel like we are the same person. She's with me 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. And on that 7th day she's only away from me for about 8 hours. I love every second with her...(okay maybe not EVERY second...).
I'm not sad. I've never been so happy with my beautiful life.
I couldn't POSSIBLY have depression. I didn't "fit the bill."
So when the anxiety started I figured it was just being a new mom. Of course I worry about everything she does, and everything people do around her. I'm her mom, and it's my job to keep her safe.
When it escalated into always wondering "what if" about everything around us...I blamed it on the new mom hormones. Until it got worse. But then I blamed it on sleeplessness. Until it got worse. When the full blown paranoia hit...I tried to stop it. I used all the tools from past times in my life and would sit alone at night saying "this is an irrational thought, everyone is fine" until it passed. I would find something around the house to do to keep myself from thinking at all.
Nights Nick was gone...I would clean until late in the night. I would go up and down the stairs to double check the locks on the doors. I would repack the diaper bag multiple times, or reorganize something that wasn't that important.
I would make lists at work about the things I needed to do that day, over the next week, over the next month, etc. I would make lists about what needed to be packed in the baby's bag, what I needed in my school bag vs. my work bag. I would recount the ounces of milk stored in the freezer, and then do the math to figure out how long it would last the baby if I wasn't there...just in case. I would meal plan for two to three weeks out...and then truly debate waking the baby in the middle of the night to go to the store and pick up everything I would need.
I had this side to me that couldn't rest. Despite the fact that I was completely sleep deprived...and dragging all day...at night I couldn't stop and let myself sleep. I couldn't let myself think about anything that wasn't work related.
I mentioned calling my doctor. I thought about it.But nothing was really "wrong" that I could pinpoint. I kept stopping myself because it wasn't depression!
I wasn't overly tired, I had seemingly endless energy.
I wasn't withdrawing, I was overly engaged.
I wasn't in a fog, I was hyper aware.
Until one night...Nick was at work...and I realized I had hit a wall.
I put the baby to bed...and went around the house cleaning like a nutcase. I cleaned out the dining room, reorganized the bar, did two loads of dishes, laundry, painted my toes, made the bed (mind you it was like 2 am), and cleaned the baby's room. I reorganized wedding stuff, worked on the invites, made two new wedding lists about random crap...and finally decided to shower. As I got my stuff ready for the shower...I grabbed the baby monitor off the bed that I had been carrying around with me. I saw Emma sleeping soundly and sat down for a second. The thoughts started again...
"What if someone breaks in while I'm showering? She's sleeping...so maybe they won't notice her in there. If I move her they will hear us because she will stir and might cry. If I hide, I can see her in the baby monitor. But if they got to her, hurt her, and I couldn't do anything about it...I could never forgive myself."
I debated with myself for 15 minutes and by the time I finally showered...I was in tears. I had these horrible thoughts of something happening to the most important person in my life...and I was absolutely paranoid. I wanted to wake her and just hold her to reassure myself that she was fine.
These thoughts happen every day. They spiral all the time. I would be driving down the road and see a river. I would have some horrible thought about what if someone hit my car and I crashed into the river. What if I couldn't get the baby out fast enough?
It was exhausting. It was painful. And that night I had had enough.
I called my doctor first thing the next morning. She very calmly asked what was going on...and immediately referred me to the women's health psychologist she works with. She didn't judge, didn't sound surprised...she said it sounded like PPD and OCD.
I met with the psych the next morning and I kept telling her I didn't think it was depression...I was so happy. But she explained PPD in a way I had never heard before.
The "what if" syndrome.
She reassured me that it was normal, and that I wasn't a complete basket case for thinking all of these terrible things. She told me that the anxiety was giving me OCD...rituals to help calm the nonstop thoughts I had going on.
I needed medication to slow it down. Short term medication...to help me fight the crazy that seemed to have taken over my brain.
I'll be honest...I didn't like the idea at first. I didn't like that it shattered this perfect mommy superhero cape I've been trying to wear the last few months. I didn't like that the thing I had fought hard against needing in the past was making its way back to me. I hated that something so happy...was making my body react in a similar way to how it did when life was going horribly.
The reality was that I have been killing myself...and for no reason. It's not a big deal if I forget something in the diaper bag. The wedding will happen...and I don't need to have every detail in my brain all the time. No one is going to die if a load of clean dishes sits in the washer for a day.
But most importantly...no one is going to crash my car into a river. No one is going to break in my house and hurt my baby. Those are irrational thoughts.
I am finally allowing myself to admit it...
I have post-partum depression and anxiety.
I'm taking medication.
And I'm still a damn good mom.
It should NOT be so hard for moms to be able to admit those things.
It should NOT be something anyone feels ashamed for.
It should NOT be as unheard of as it is.
You're human. I'm human.
It's okay to need help sometimes.