One month ago I wouldn’t believe where I’m at today. Two months ago I wouldn’t have believed how significantly my life would change forever.
On December 15th, 2015 I went in with my husband to see my OB. I was at 40 weeks and five days pregnant and I was more then ready to get my son Maximus out into the world. I had just suffered the loss of my father due to suicide less then two weeks prior, and I really felt that if I could just give birth to my son I could begin the closure process. I had an ultrasound done and Maximus was allegedly 8LBS 5oz and my OB told us it was time to get the baby out. Just like that, on December 16th I went into my hospital at 8am to get induced. December 16th, 2015 would be my sons birthday.
By the time my husband and I checked in and I got settled in my delivery bed and had been hooked up with almost every sort of IV, needle, monitor, you name it – it was 9am. I was already a “tight three” centimeters dilated, and my head nurse started me with Pitocin. Sure I felt some contractions coming along, nothing too crazy. I thought “psh- I got this no problem!” My nurse informed me that my OB would be coming over during her lunch break to check on me and see how everything was coming along. By lunch time, my OB came in and checked me and I had progressed to 4cm dilated. She asked if I wanted my water to be broken (which I honestly thought it had already – first time mom mentality) and I said sure let’s do it! As soon and my water was officially broken, my contractions came on like it was a bad joke. Within 30 minutes, my contractions were a minute apart and I was DYING. When I say dying, I mean where the fuck is the anasthesiologist and can he or she hurry the fuck up.
I’ve seen “16 and pregnant” I know the epidural drill – or so I thought. The anesthesiologist came into my room with the head nurse and told my husband and my mother that they needed to leave for 30 minutes while they get the epidural up and running. Hmm, me in the room by myself? Whatever, just get this shit going already. I wish it was that simple. It turns out, that if you are a petite woman like myself, your spine bones are a lot “closer together” then most normal woman. What does this mean? This means that injecting the needle into my spine is extremely difficult and will take many tries and so many tries that the anesthesiologist might get so frustrated and want to give up. Yeah, they didn’t show that part on “16 and pregnant”. You’re probably wondering how bad this must of hurt? My contractions were less then a minute apart, I was hugging my new best friend the head nurse while simultaneously crying and uncontrollably shaking while it felt like someone was trying to gut me like a fish from the back. 45 minutes later, the epidural was finally in and secure and I could wipe the mascara tears from my cheeks and go into a nice little trance – for 6 hours.
The night of the Ronda Rousey/ Holly Holm fight was the same night of the lamaze class at my hospital. So, me being the person I am told my husband I would rather bartend that fight then take the lamaze class. What this means is during this entire labor process I’m legitimately “winging it” and have no idea what I’m doing. With that being said, the head nurse instructs me that it’s time to start pushing because I’m now fully dilated. In my semi-coherent mind I’m assessing the situation and realize my OB is not even at the hospital and I’m pretty certain the head nurse doesn’t deliver the baby. She informs me that my OB will not be showing up to deliver the baby until I’m fully crowned. Say what? She tells me sometimes it takes woman up to three hours of pushing to crown. SAY WHAT? Well she was on the money because it took 2 1/2 hours of pushing to finally crown. I wish it were like the movies where they barely push and then the baby pops out. But during those 2 1/2 hours there were tears, cotton mouth, chapped lips and exhaustion. I never realized how delicious ice chips were and how relieved I was when my OB finally walked through the door at 11pm.
The finale is kind of a blur. I think when my OB got situated she knew that this was going to be a difficult delivery. Some (most) are surprised I didn’t opt out for a c section. I was crowned and I put in some major work to get there – I was not about to turn back. The room was getting intense. She informs me that she will need to do an episiotomy. What no one tells you is during this time of labor they essentially turn down the epidural so you’re able to push more. So the episiotomy – I felt it. I was also experiencing back labor, so she had to physically reach inside and try to turn the baby to relieve some of the pressure off my back. Felt that too. I look up and realize there are about 6 nurses in my room all gathered around me. My husband is holding my head up, I hear everyone telling me to push and “not to scream!”My son was just not coming out. Reluctantly my OB tells me were going to need to use the vacuum to try to pull him out. I felt pressure and a shockingly scary release which made me scream and sent blood spraying my surroundings (and the ceiling) like something out of a Quentin Tarantino movie. Apparently, my son had so much hair, the suction didn’t hold and it pulled away from his head. They tried and failed at this two more traumatic times. I put in every ounce of energy I had left to give and finally – the demeanor in everyones voice changes and my son made his arrival into this world. What no one really tells you is when your labor is set and done, and your baby is laid upon your chest, it’s almost as if you forget everything that you just had gone through to get to that moment. My legs still in the stirrups, shaking, getting sewn up, delivering the placenta and yet you can’t focus on anything except your baby. There is no experience in the entire world like it. Oh! Maximus wasn’t 8LBS 5oz. He was 9LBS 4.5oz with a 14cm head. A woman can dilate to 10cm, so I suppose my challenging delivery was justified. Something my mother told me – always ask for an extra stitch.
The recovery process is horrific. I can imagine my scenario probably left me in a worse position then most. Excessive bleeding, pain, new stitches in the most hard to reach area and a brand new screaming baby. I remember laying in the recovery bed at 3am and wondering how I was going to go to the bathroom. The nurses guide you into your new bathroom process. A lot of cleaning, drying, wiping, patting, hurting and burning. It’s immediately overwhelming. A nurse or a specialist drop in on you every hour for different reasons, so there immediately is no sleep. My OB dropped in to check on me that afternoon and also to circumcise my son (dude, that lady does everything!). Everything seemed fine and moving along until one nurse noticed my son was transitioning slowly and his hands and feet weren’t the color they were supposed to be. No one can prepare a new mother to take their baby to the NICU. It is heartbreaking. I kept thinking how is a 9LB baby going into the NICU surrounded by preemies? Why is this happening to me? First I lose my father and then I have to leave my son? It all seemed cruel and unfair. But, you have to remain positive and know that it’s the best thing for your baby as hard as it is. After an hour of our son being absent from my husband and I, we got to go into the NICU and see him. The color in his skin was bright and lively and he seemed to be doing just fine. Unfortunately he would have to spend two nights there, and we would be leaving the hospital without him. There is nothing like entering a hospital pregnant, and leaving the hospital no longer pregnant and with no baby in hand.
Being someone who has previously suffered from depression, pretty much my entire family and care physicians warned me about the possibility of postpartum depression. I would like to say I was prepared for it, but I could not be more wrong. What no one tells you is when you bring home your baby it’s exciting and thrilling (especially for myself because I had to leave him in the NICU so essentially I felt like I was rescuing him) but then out of nowhere – like a tornado with no warning, comes this dark cloud. The depression I suffered in the past was gradual, it wasn’t like it happened over night. Postpartum depression literally feels like it happens over night. I was happy the night I brought home my son, and the next morning I had this overwhelming feeling of regret. How could I regret having a baby if I had just spend the last 9 months obsessing with the thought of having one? It was the most debilitating feeling in the entire world, and something that I thought if I told anyone they would think I was crazy. Days would pass and I just became more and more upset. Why wasn’t this feeling letting up? I love my son. I would look at him and be in awe of how I created such a perfect little human being but at the same time I was so sad. He would cry and the angst within me would tighten every muscle throughout my entire body. I would cringe, and find just a sliver of time to go and cry by myself and hope no one would notice. I kept thinking about how I had just lost my father and having my son was supposed to bring me back to life but instead it was just pulling me further down into this dark abyss. My true breaking point was when he was around two weeks old and the crying just wouldn’t stop in the middle of the night. I was at the changing table and all I wanted to do was just scream at him. It took every ounce of me to hold in my words. Everyone or every mother reads stories about how babies get shaken, and we all think “I would never do that! How could anyone do that?!” In that moment at the changing table in the middle of the night, I found myself in that same position. It was absolutely horrifying. Did I shake my son? No. Did I want to? Yes. I just grabbed my head with both hands and left the room with a crying baby on the changing table and told my husband I needed a minute. I sat on the couch to try and take some deep breaths and regain my sense of composure. I told myself I am not a bad mother and this will pass. It has to.
My son is now five weeks old. Every day I fight the urge of feeling down. I have been more patient with my son, and I have slowly learned his habits, facial expressions and routine. Postpartum depression is fucking scary. The scariest part of it is how it comes at you at 100mph. I think any couple having a baby for the first time is going to go through a really hard transition phase. No one told me how hard it would be on my relationship. With me being the biggest debbie downer, and my husband trying to find time for himself, it seemed like we were always at odds. Patience is the key to success with a new baby and being a new parent. My husband really does an excellent job at being patient with me and trying his best to understand what I’m going through. I truly believe if I hadn’t lost my dad so soon before I gave birth, I wouldn’t be struggling as hard. This is something I will never know – and I’m sure I’m not the first or the last mother to experience a tragedy during the time of child birth.
What no one tells you is being a mother is hard. Actually, it’s really fucking hard. I thought pregnancy was hard, and looking back on it the pregnancy and birth were the easy part. I know that this phase of darkness will eventually fade away, and the death of my father won’t be on my mind daily. I now can make it through the night at 5 weeks without having a breakdown, and I’m an expert at changing diapers. My husband and I finally have had a chance to go out just the two of us maybe once a week which helps substantially. It is incredibly difficult to manage without the help of family around, and unfortunately my family doesn’t live in the same state as us. I’ve had to learn that taking a long shower is luxury, and the couch has become my day time bed. My son Maximus is the light in my life. I catch myself feeling down, and I have to remind myself that his innocence is what will pull me out of the dark. I have read articles upon articles of woman who go through exactly what I am experiencing but the truth is, you never think it will happen to you until it does. It’s almost as if everything that happened to me is an anomaly. Two months ago I would have never thought I would lose my father to suicide. One month ago I didn’t think I would be someone who suffers from PPD.
It does get easier. Little by little and day by day. Every day is a physical and mental challenge. I never thought doing a simple task that I used to not even think twice about would take a conscious effort. No one tells you about the dark details of being a new mother, but no one tells you that just a simple glance into the eyes of your child will pierce your soul and only then can you be reminded that everything will be OK.