Saturday, January 5, 2008

Birth and Beyond

Parts of this are from a previous post.

At 8:30 am on August 31, 2006 Big B and I arrived at my OB's for my biweekly ultrasound. My fluid was low and getting lower. We knew that if it had fallen again, I would be induced that day. Sure enough, it had dropped and I was admitted for induction.

I had really hoped to have a drug-free birth. I was induced with Sweet Pea and had problems with the epidural, resulting in virtually no pain meds and almost causing a C-section. I did not want a repeat of that and I had been reading up and practicing the Bradley method in the hopes of doing everything naturally. I was disappointed that I was going to be induced, but I was also more than tired of being pregnant and was ready to give birth. I resigned myself to the situation. I was hooked up to the pitocin and we were on our way. Here's me, fat and happy waiting for the show to begin.

Contractions on pitocin are worse then regular contractions and I eventually gave up and asked for the epidural. Of course, again, it didn't work. At first I was only numb on one side and then it was the other. After a while it stopped working altogether. I gave birth with essentially no pain meds, but it was not a bad experience at all. I kind of liked feeling it all. The worst pain was the crowning and for a minute, I felt like I was literally ripping in two. It was over quickly though and out she came. I was also very, very nauseous and threw up for the last hour of labor and for about three hours afterward. Other than that, everything was great. It may not sound great, I know, but it was, especially compared to the problems I experienced with Sweet Pea's birth.

Ladybug was a beautiful little thing, with rosy pink skin and fuzzy brown hair that stuck up all over her head. She had spent little time in the birth canal, so her head was perfectly round. Her scrunched up monkey face reminded me of a baby orangutan. She was cute as a bug.

The nurse place her on my chest and I drank in her warmth. I looked at her and thought, very clearly, "We're done now. My family is complete. You are all I want." I cuddled her, latched her on to my breast and succumbed to the hormones pouring through me, bonding her to me, knitting the steel ties of mother-child love.

Ladybug nursed like a champ, thank goodness. Sweet Pea was unable to nurse, or I was unable to nurse him and it had caused serious problems and he wound up being hospitalized for dehydration and jaundice. I was relieved that Ladybug seemed to nurse just fine. She seemed perfect to me.

We were taken to the postpartum room and settled in for the night. We spent two days at the hospital. Ladybug seemed like any other newborn, except that she really cried a lot. The nurses even commented on her crying. We could hear her all the way down the hall when she was taken to the nursery for various things. She also wanted to be held constantly. She would not sleep unless I held her. I finally just put her in the bed with me, dangerous I knew, but I had to get some sleep. Besides all this, I loved our time there together, just the three of us, getting to know each other. Those two days were two of the best in my life.

While at the hospital, I saw my OB a couple of times and another OB once. Nurses were in and out. We talked to a lactation consultant, a hearing specialists, the hospital photographer. At no time, did anyone mention postpartum syndrome. No one asked me how I felt mentally. I never received any literature or warnings to keep an eye out for it. Looking back, my OB should have said something to me way back in my pregnancy. He knew my history and should have known I was at risk. If he had recognized this, I might have never had to go through what I did. At the very least, it should be required for hospitals to screen new mothers or give them some kind of information about PPS. But, they didn't and I didn't think to ask about it.

My mother-in-law was staying with Sweet Pea will we were in the hospital. She brought him to visit the day after Ladybug was born. He entered the room cautiously and went immediately to Big B. He would not look or talk to me. I tried to get him to sit on my lap, but he wanted down immediately. He looked at Ladybug and smiled and said hi to her. I had taken him to Target the previous week to buy her a birth day present. He had selected a little pink and purple bee that lights up and sings. He gave it her and opened a little present we had gotten him. He seemed OK, just confused and a little mad at me. I knew it would be an adjustment for him.

We were released the following day, on Sweet Pea's second birthday. We went home to two grandmothers and a house full of family. The first couple of weeks were the normal sleep-deprived adjustment period. I was exhausted trying to care for a new baby and for a two year old. The after pains were worse this time and it seemed to take my body longer to bounce back. Luckily, my husband was able to stay home for three weeks and help all of us make the transition. I stopped breastfeeding after two weeks because I couldn't take the sleep deprivation and wanted my husband to be able to help out with night feedings. I pumped for a couple of days and then we moved to formula.

At first everything seemed OK. I didn't feel depressed, necessarily, but I didn't feel normal either. I had mixed feelings about Sweet Pea and his adjustment. At times I felt guilty and hurt that he was so distant to me. At other times, I resented his presence and wanted time by myself with Ladybug. Also, I am very much a creature of habit and schedule. I have a definite problem with the lack of schedules and craziness of newborn days. Unpredictability makes me very anxious. I also don't like not being able to do the things I regularly do. I didn't like not being about to exercise or read a book during nap time. I need regular sleep, as do we all, but I have insomnia. This meant that when I had to get up to feed Ladybug, I often couldn't get back to sleep. I would worry that she wouldn't go back to sleep or that she'd wake up in another 30 minutes. I couldn't relax enough to drift off. So already, I was suffering big time sleep deprivation and was struggling to adapt to the new lack of routine in my life.

At about the second week, things really started to go downhill. Ladybug got past that early newborn stage where they sleep all the time. She went from always sleeping to never sleeping. She required darkness, silence and endless rocking to get her to sleep. I tried in the beginning to follow all those experts' advice about putting her down awake but she wouldn't have it. I read every sleep book written. I tried everything. We put blankets on her windows to block the light. We tried co-sleeping. We bought an air filter for white noise. I swaddled her. I gave her a pacifier. She wouldn't sleep in her bouncy seat or her swing or the car. The only way to get her to sleep was rocking her.

Also about this time, Ladybug started crying.
And crying.
And crying.
All. The. Time.
Screaming at the top of her lungs for hours. Arching her back and balling up her fists. She'd hold her body as rigid as a bow and her face would look like she was about to explode. We took to wearing earplugs. I was amazed none of the neighbors complained. She literally cried 80% of the time she was awake. Turns out there was a reason for this, but we didn't know that at the time.I changed formulas and tried to talk to the pediatrician about her, but he thought she was just a fussy newborn. He assured me it would get better and to hang in there.

I was stuck at home, in a life that bore no resemblance to my life just weeks ago. I was spending hours listening to a screaming baby and I was spending hours in a darkened room trying to rock a screaming baby to sleep. Combine all this with a personal history of depression and it was a recipe for disaster.


Mrs. G. said...

I just can't imagine. I really can't. My head hurts just thinking about it.

P.S. You were a cute pregnant chick!

Flic. said...

Hi Liz. I have been reading your blog for a while & am LOVING your posts about PPS. I have a 10mth old daughter, Lilly & was diagnosed with PPS when she was 2mths old. My doctors also never gave me any information about what to look out for even though I was open about my family history of depression. Anyway, keep up the writing, I'm hanging out for the next one!!

Liz said...

Thanks Mrs. G! I was huge as a house.

And thanks for the compliment Felicity. I hope you are doing better!