Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Antepartum Depression

Ever since I was about sixteen years old I've suffered from various degrees of depression. I'm not sure why or how it all started; but I know that I suffered for a little while before I got the help I needed when I was seventeen through therapy. At that time, I was struggling to cope with the idea that I would be graduating and then going on to college. I had no idea what it would be like; I couldn't picture my future like I used to. As a kid you sort of always know what's coming next. Then, suddenly the future was a big white spot and it terrified me. I had many happy moments in that time, but depression isn't an emotion…it's an illness. You can be happy while you are depressed. You can feel sadness while you are depressed. Sadness is an emotion, and sometimes people are depressed feel sad a lot (as a symptom). But when someone says "what do you have to be depressed about?" it sends me into a sort of snit. As I'd said, Depression is an illness where you aren't sad about something. It's not an emotion that comes and goes with an event the way sadness is. It's a collection of symptoms that pull together and make you feel miserable, weak and unable to function in a normal healthy way. I remember I lost a lot of weight; getting down to 87 pounds at one point. I remember feeling a sense of lingering melancholy and constant anxiety. It got so bad that I couldn't sleep; going days and days without sleeping while my mind raced with thoughts both large and trivial. The breaking point came one morning when I felt so overwhelmed that I couldn't even dress myself. I just couldn't decide and began to cry…my Dad ended up choosing an outfit that matched and handed it to me so that I could at least get it on and make it to school on time. Later that day, I visited the school nurse who called my Mom to come in and discuss the issue. Long story short, I ended up seeing a therapist who helped me cope with mild clinical depression, anxiety disorder, and mild Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (where I compulsively thought and thought to try and make myself feel better to the tune of never sleeping). Seeing that therapist really helped give me the tools I needed to change my mindset and help me at least get the sleep I needed to function. She taught me techniques on how to quiet my mind so I could enjoy daily activities again. I carry those skills with me to this day.
I needed them again later on in my mid-twenties when I had a great job but a horrible boss. He was pretty abusive to me every single day…it was a nightmare. I began having panic attacks in the morning while driving to work. I'd be driving along and suddenly my chest would feel tight. My heart would begin to race and beat hard. I'd then get short of breath and I'd start sweating. So, I'd pull over the car until I felt calm again. Needless to say, I was slipping into that place again. A place I hated being. But, a visit to the doctor later found me with a shiny new prescription for an anti-anxiety medication. I'd never felt better! My jerk boss didn't even affect me anymore as I floated through the day on a cloud of content. I still wish I could remember what I was taking. I didn't need it for long.
Anywhoo, I battled different depression and anxiety issues for years to varying degrees. After Paige was born, I slipped into postpartum depression that somehow seemed inevitable now that I look back. I was embarking on another unknown. I couldn't plan for a future I had no idea about. I had a whole new life; turning into a stay-at-home mom and spending my days fretting and stressed. I had the worst insomnia and couldn't sleep even when I wanted to. I slowly felt like I was losing my mind. I became so anxious, angry, and withdrawn. I cried all the time and panicked at the smallest things. I barely showered, I never left the house. I just couldn't "go." Like a broken engine. Needless to say, I knew what was happening and called my OB. She recommended a therapist and the OB wrote me a Prozac prescription with the caveat that I see the therapist regularly. I only took the prescription for a few months, but I still see that therapist. It's been great to have someone's impartial ear. She gives me the suggestions I need when I can't see the forest through the trees.

With my current pregnancy, depression has come back and hit me very hard. Harder than it ever has before. It started out as feeling tired all the time. I didn't really think anything of it since I was pregnant and caring for a toddler. Of course I was tired! It got to the point that I was ready to go to bed by 6:30 or 7 at night. Soon, I was tired all day even after all that sleep at night. I would lay and stare at the wall during Paige's naps. I would feel so over-stimulated and overwhelmed by the simplest tasks. Wash the dishes? Hardest thing ever!!! Wipe the counter? UUUGGGGGHHH! Paige spilled her drink? Might as well just pack up the car and drive away forever and ever. Soon, I began to feel so melancholy and anxious my heart would race and race. I began to have a hair-trigger temper where I would yell all day long about nothing in particular. I felt so guilty yelling at my beautiful girl when she was just being a typical toddler. I yelled and felt angry constantly. Next, I never wanted to eat. I stopped showering and caring for myself. It all seemed too much to do. On top of this, I felt so much fear about having a second baby. How would I cope if I could barely function NOW? I felt so worthless; a horrible wife and mother who couldn't even wash the dishes or do laundry anymore. I stopped spending time with my amazing husband as I just wanted to sleep or be alone at every chance I got. He began doing the lion's share of the housework, the cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing tasks. AND he worked full-time. This just made me feel even worse. But, when you are sick…truly sick…many things slide to the bottom of your list as you focus on survival. The problem with depression is that you can't really see it. The person seems fine on the outside; so it can be hard to understand why they can't just get up and function. I wouldn't expect someone who is sick going through chemo to jump out of bed and wash the dishes, do the laundry, etc. I would expect them to be rest and heal. But depression is a separate beast entirely and I never realized how bad one could really feel. I was alive, but unable to function much more than getting the necessities done at minimal levels. The rest of the time found me laying in my bed, staring, voices of constant thoughts chattering through my head. After some time, I began to scare myself with thoughts of hurting myself. I began to think that perhaps my family didn't really need me; my husband was so great at doing it all without me there. Every time some little thing would go wrong, I would cry, panic, and just want to drive off a bridge. I needed a way to express my distress and there just didn't seem any way to do that and do it justice. I felt so lonely, isolated, and scared. Many moments found me about ready to dial 911 so I could go to a hospital for help. I told my OB about it; asking about possible medications and was basically told that nobody would prescribe depression meds to a pregnant woman due to the risks to the baby. I even looked into herbal remedies only to find they aren't for pregnant women either. I was suffering from "Major depression" and couldn't get the help I needed. I was told to exercise and eat right and to try meditation. Well, I couldn't exercise due to my horrible sciatica issues and injured hip. All the constant pain I was in didn't help matters. And, to be fully honest here, the idea that exercise can help when you feel like shooting yourself in the head seems so trite and silly. I felt so defeated; I wanted to protect my baby. But I also felt like I was hanging off a cliff by my fingernails. I felt like I was in a fight for my life. And nobody could help me. I felt like nobody WOULD help me. I wanted someone to notice how much I was hurting. To come save the day. Ultimately, I guess I wanted a break so I could sleep, collect myself, and push forward. But that break just wasn't coming. I was just too sick to ask for extra help. Too guilty. Too embarrassed to impose on anyone. My husband was already doing so much. I just wanted to get in a car and go sleep in a hotel by myself and avoid the world for a week or two. I just couldn't bring myself to ask for what I needed.
And then…we went on vacation. I had a week where I was able to rest, get away, and break the normal routine. My husband did the bulk of the child care duties while I sat in a lounge chair and stared at the ocean. He played with Paige in the waves; laughing and giggling. And it all made me feel so much better. It was a little like hitting a "reset" button. Not that I felt perfect when we returned home, but I felt like I could cope with daily tasks again. Load the dishwasher? OK. Do the laundry? Ok, but only one load today. Clean up the spilled milk? sigh. No biggie. My engine was starting to go again, even if weak.
That was now close to 4 months ago.
As I write this, I'm still in the battle. But it is not NEARLY as severe as it was back in August. My doctor mentioned that the pregnancy hormones were causing havoc and that time was what I needed to feel better. I'm able to achieve the basic tasks on my daily to-do lists and if I can't, well, I don't fret. I know that these feelings are fleeting. They aren't set in stone. They WILL go away, they always improve. But you can bet I will be calling a psychotherapist the second I have this baby. I'm eager to get onto a set regimen of medication that someone will monitor. To be watched by an expert who can truly help me manage this thing…to help me keep my anxiety at bay and my feelings on an even keel. Ongoing and everlasting. To help me live a healthy normal life. For people who don't believe in Antepartum depression, I can tell you for a fact that it is real. Truly real and truly terrifying. I've honestly never felt so horrible in my entire life as I did this past summer and I vow to never let it get that bad again. I feel lucky that I knew what this "thing" was and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

As for my husband: he is my treasure. My rock. My everything. I can never find a way to thank him enough for all that he has done for me and our family during this hard time. What can I possibly do to express how grateful and lucky I am for his understanding and tireless efforts? I wish I knew. Words just aren't enough. I just know that when I get better, I will spend every day doing my very best to be all that I know I am. To be the wife and mother I always dreamed I'd be. I would give him the sun, moon and stars in thanks but it would still not be enough to express my gratitude. So, I will spend my life doing my best to be the most happy, content, and healthy wife I can be. Getting the right help from the right people will get me there. I'm still learning. I guess this story, like any other in our lives, is to be continued.
***UPDATE*** Please note that just because the doctors who I spoke with wouldn't prescribe to me doesn't mean that it's the standard of care. I've heard of other doctors who would do it. If you are suffering, please check with your own doctors and see what is available to you or go elsewhere should you need more help. If I'd kept on trying, I'm sure I would have found what I was looking for. But in all honesty, I was quite scared off from the idea when I learned what could happen to the baby. I don't think I could also handle the guilt if something went wrong. But that's a personal choice; not one that fits for everyone. There are plenty of cases where the benefits of the medication far outweigh the risks and you gotta do what you gotta do; bottom line.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy!!!

Christmas 2011


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Me and Wee!!!! Enjoy!!!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Little P's Big Girl Room

Ps Big Girl Room

Hi friends!
We finally finished up with Paige's new big girl room! Phew!
We took all the elements that were in her nursery and transferred them over to this new space and changed up the bed, dresser, and bookcase. Her nursery furniture and old room now will belong to Baby N. We're working on his room now!


Nightstand Side

-As you can see, we added a nightstand (Ikea) and added seagrass wallpaper to the front of the drawers to add a little something extra to the look. (Just like we'd done with Paige's dresser in her nursery).

-The bamboo wooden mobile is from Petit Collage.

-The owl print on canvas is also from Petit Collage. Not sure if they are selling it anymore, but they have lots of great choices for wall art!

-The curtains in the yellow chevron pattern were from Windows By Melissa (she was super friendly and easy to work with!).

Curtains


-The butterflies over the bed are removable and can be taken off and put back on over and over and over again. So easy! I love them. They came from Love Mae on Etsy. There's tons of product and great decals and ideas there. I even got Paige a cool paper doll decal from there...it's currently on the wall in my living room.

-The letters came from Michael's craft store. They came in white, so I spray-painted them yellow gloss. Easy!

Over the Bed


-The rug is from her nursery; it had come from Crate and Barrel back in 2008-2009. It's a simple cream shag in size 4 x 6 feet.

-P needs a little step stool to get into the bed; so we found a white one that has a lid that lifts for storage at Buy Buy Baby.

-Her toddler bedrails also came from there.


Book Nook

Paige's book nook is my favorite part of the room.

-Her yellow chair is a slipcover custom-made by Calico Corners. The chair is really a pea-green velvet number I found at the Salvation Army store for 9 bucks when I was in my early twenties.

-The Hooray banner came from the shop called Nice on Etsy. I love it! It's how we felt in bringing Paige into the world.

-The fabric hoops...fabric came from Purl Soho and the hoops came from JoAnne Fabrics

-The bookcase came from Ikea and I painted the back wall of it yellow. It got all scraped up, so I would probably line it with paper once it's all put together (if I were to do it over again).

-The lampshades all came from Anthropologie back in 2008

-The dachshund lamp was found at Modern Nursery

-The kitchen towel draped on the back of the chair is from Anthropologie circa early 2009.

-The pillow on the chair came from West Elm in 2008. It was meant for our bedroom, but Paige kept bringing into her room again and again so I just leave it there now. Ha!

Dollie Bed

We put Paige's little doll bed next to her own bed for now. She's still not really into playing with dolls yet. The doll bed was a steal from Ikea. The blanket was crocheted by my dear friend's mother for Paige when she was born.

Dresser and Hamper

-The bed and dresser came from our local huge furniture chain called Jordan's Furniture. It was on sale as it was to be discontinued. I loved the scallop detail on both the bed and the dresser.

-The elephant hamper came from Home Decorator's Collection. It's the medium sized one in the color honey.

-The stuffed owl came from Modern Nursery.

-You can see I store P's changing pad in the nook next to the dresser and wall. When I need to change her (potty training just can't happen right now) I throw the pad on the bed and go about our business.

-The print above the dresser came from the esteemed Erin Stead, winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal for her illustrations in the book A Sick Day for Amos McGee. (For anyone that doesn't know; that medal is basically the "Best Picture" Oscar for illustrators. Doesn't get bigger!) That book is a huge favorite around here; and these illustrations are my favorite from any book by far. She has offered a very limited selection of prints from the book for sale and I jumped at it. I had it framed at Michael's craft store. Paige chose the print she wanted and she loves it. I like that it's a real piece of art that holds monetary value as well as memories. Read more about Erin Stead (this was the first book she's ever illustrated!!!!) and her story here.

Dresser Top

Choo-Choooo

I'd be remiss if I didn't include a picture of Paige's beloved wooden train. Handmade, here!

A Real Closet

I would also be remiss if I didn't show P's real closet inside with no picking up. There's a drawer thingie for her socks, medical stuff, hair stuff and whatnot. And there's a bigger drawer thingie (all from Bed Bath Beyond) to hold some toys. It makes cleanup easy for her. (I certainly won't do it for her!!)


I hope you enjoyed your tour and that you like her space! I love playing in there with her. It's cozy and happy, and most important of all...she loves it!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Times They Are A-Changin'!

I went to the doctor yesterday for my routine visit and got to vent a little bit about all the pain I've been in when it comes to my hips, sciatica, etc. How some days I just cannot move. Some days are so painful I just cry a lot of the time. This particular doctor (I see several as part of a practice) didn't know about my struggles and said "Do you want to deliver at 39 weeks?" I about jumped a mile and yelled "Yes! If at all possible!" So, she wrote a note in the file and I guess we shall see what happens. You know what? That's 6 weeks away. 6. Six. SIX. SIIIIIIIIIIX. I'm so eager and scared all at once.

Can I share something? I've been terrified, scared and in denial most of this pregnancy that another baby is actually coming. Let me also quickly insert that I've also been thrilled and excited; but I cannot deny the overarching feeling of fear. Back in May, when we'd originally thought we'd start trying for Baby #2 I began to feel so much anxiety and stress around the whole topic. We flew down to Virginia for the wedding of close friends and I meekly admitted to Chris on the plane that I just didn't feel ready yet. With Paige's therapies and so many unknowns I just felt so overwhelmed. He seemed disappointed, but understood and was supportive. I said, "How about we wait until the fall?" That closed the topic and we had a wonderful weekend. Of course, that's the same weekend my period was late and I breathlessly peered at a positive pregnancy test just a few days later. The decision had been made. I felt a mix of emotions...mostly happiness. But I also felt confusion and fear. And those emotions slowly took over. You know, all the fears of having a second kid might conjure up along with caring for a child with some special needs. I immediately ran out and bought books about having other kids, anything to bring me comfort. I was so fearful I cried a lot; I am a planner and the great unknown of having a second baby is a lot for me to wrap my head around. I thought about the post-partum depression I'd had after giving birth to Paige. Would I go through it all again? The sleep deprivation was also very difficult for me to tolerate; I nearly went insane. Was I ready to face that again but with 2 kids? Would this next child end up having some special needs too? I nearly drove myself bonkers. So, what did I do? I put it out of my mind. I have been in denial for months; just ignoring the fact a baby is, in fact, coming. I guess it's been my way of coping with the stresses and the unknowns. Why worry about them when you have no control? This past month something miraculous has occurred: The Nesting Instinct. My mind simply will not let me forget the baby is coming. I'm running around getting little clothes washed and folded. I'm excitedly putting his room together. I'm marveling over all these little things that are going to belong to my little boy. OUR little boy. And the fear is melting away. I know from experience that there is no way to really prepare for a baby and for what is to come. You just roll with it; you DO it and you get on with it. And you enjoy each moment. Thank you, Nesting Instinct! It's the best Christmas Gift I could get. Peace of Mind and Excitement.
Who out there has had 2 or more kids? How did you cope with all the extra stress? Any advice for this fearful lady?
Thanks for listening. This has been so hard to admit. So hard to talk about. Probably the hardest words I've written in a long time. But, I'm happy to know the intensity of the fear is lifting and I'm allowing myself to feel the excitement and thrill I've been wanting and wishing for.

Friday, December 9, 2011

32 Weeks

32 weeks

Hi friends!
Just wanted to pop in to say hello! I'm 32 weeks today and holding strong! Still barely walking and in tons of pain but I try to hide it for the photo! :)
I think I've started nesting because today I was in a crazy lady mode running through the mall doing errands (I say running, but I was inching along and hobbling at my fastest turtle rate) and rushing around the house cleaning baby's new clothes, sheets, etc. I feel this incredible need to finish his nursery already; I just need a few more decorative accessories. We're waiting for his chair; who knows when the heck that will come. It may not even come until after he's born! yeesh. I wish I hadn't ignored the nursery for so long but oh well. Ya can't do it all, right? But, the basic bones of the room are coming together and I'm hoping it will be ready by the beginning of February. Fingers are crossed! In the meantime, we are preparing for Christmas and all the fun. Paige seems super excited about it all and has learned many a Christmas carol. It's been fun. But, I'm off to eat dinner now (food!!!!) but I'll pop in again soon. Hugs to you all and hope your holiday preps and plans are going well!
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