My Story — And I’m Sticking To It
My pregnancy with my, now 4 year old, son was amazing! After suffering a miscarriage in my first pregnancy, I decided to find out the sex of my children as early as possible. At 14 weeks, I went for a 3D ultrasound. When I heard I was having a boy, I was elated! After all, according to my plan, I would be mother to two boys! I felt great, everything went amazing. The only time I felt less than perfect, was when I had an unplanned C-section after 21 hours of labor and no progression. But, I healed quickly and I did great in the postpartum period! So having a second baby when my son was 2 ½ seemed like cake.
Thirteen weeks in to my second successful pregnancy, I started bleeding. But, the baby survived! At 14 weeks, I had an ultrasound to determine the sex of my baby. When I found out I was pregnant with a girl, instead of the second boy that I thought I was having, I felt something more than typical disappointment. In fact, I can pretty much say I didn’t want her at all. I went through the motions of being pregnant. Faking excitement when people told me that I had a “balanced family” now. One boy. One girl. But, I felt anything but happy.
My terrible feelings were compounded by the deterioration of my physical health. At 18 weeks, I was diagnosed with placenta accreta. This was after several weekly ultrasounds. My doctor told me she would see me until I was 20 weeks pregnant. At that point, I would be followed by a special high-risk pregnancy clinic an hour away from home. I would be delivering early, followed by a hysterectomy. My condition was so severe, bleeding would be inevitable and many doctors would rather complete a hysterectomy than attempt to detach the placenta from my uterus. Oh, and my child would be in the NICU.
I remember one night telling my husband I did not feel happy. His response was “this has been different.” Oh, if only we knew what was awaiting.
Thankfully, I was misdiagnosed. My baby was born on her due date via scheduled C-section. My first feeling in the recovery room was guilt, then joy. Guilt that I had not wanted this baby in my stomach. Guilt that she was perfect, when so much could have gone wrong. Guilt that I brought a child into the world that I did not instantly love.
While pregnant, we had decided to name our baby girl Mia. For two weeks after her birth, I tried to convince my husband that this was not the child I had carried. That the baby I held in my arms should be called Fiona, not Mia. I didn’t want Mia; but I definitely loved Fiona.
But, to shoo away the guilt, I spent every moment with my daughter. And the first person to notice this was my 2 ½ year old son.
My son became my trigger. I did not want to be around him. Whenever I was around him, I had to have someone with me. Whenever he would have a typical tantrum, I would become a mess and we both ended up crying on the floor. It was terrible. I remember telling my husband that I was going to put Mia in the car and run away. I did not know where I was going to go, I just did not want to be his wife or Logan’s mother anymore.
I hit rock bottom when my daughter turned three months and I returned to work. I had a job where I visited other mother’s in their home. I would instruct on typical parenting issues and track her child’s development from neonatal through 3. What a hypocrite. I would teach other parents how to interact with their children, to boost their development, and I couldn’t balance my own family life!
My worst moment came when I was lying in bed. I imagined if I hung myself out of my bedroom window using my sheet; would my husband come in? If he did come in, would it be because he hadn’t heard from me for a while, or would he come in because the window was open at the same time the heat was on. I knew this was an irrational thought, but I couldn’t shake the image of me hanging there, from my backyard neighbor’s perspective.
I developed severe social anxiety. I could not go to Target, the grocery store, or a restaurant without developing tunnel vision. I felt everyone was staring at me. And, if my child chose this moment to have a meltdown, I became so overwhelmed with perceived judgment from others, that I would freeze in place and not move. Then, I just stopped going out.
I discussed feeling down with my OB, who told me to go to my family doctor. I didn’t have a family doctor. I had to wait an additional three months to get one. My OB wrote me a script to take in the meantime. My new family doctor, she filled my script with no other questions asked.
One year later, I returned to my family doctor because my medication was not working. I had recently quit my job to stay home with my children and I was falling into old thinking patterns. She questioned my breastfeeding while on the medication. The same medication I had been taking for a year while nursing my daughter. She also switched me to a new medication. My instructions were to stop taking the antidepressant I was taking, and to start the new antidepressant, at max dosage, the following day.
Needless to say, I crashed. I finally asked for a referral to a psychiatrist. This was the best decision I ever made! I was on the wrong medication for a year and half, before I found the dose that was right for me.
I am thankful that I am now having more good days than bad. My psychiatrist monitors me monthly. And, she has discovered that I also suffer from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). I certainly have good and bad days, but I’m finding myself again. And most importantly, I am making goals for myself. To me, that is the best sign of progress. That shows me I have hope for the days to come, and that I have something in life that is driven by my desire, and not the “role” I am to fulfill as a mother and wife.