I had a very quick birth. My second baby was almost born on the interstate in the middle of the night. I was on the phone with my OB screaming that her head was almost out. As soon as I got into a room and managed to make a phone call to my birth photographer, she was out and screaming. All 9 pounds and 2 ounces of her. I had a little one at home who was getting ready to celebrate her second birthday (the following day). It was my first night away from her. Everything went picture perfect and I was allowed to head home the following afternoon.
I wanted to celebrate my first born turning two so we went to a quick dinner and returned home ready to start our new lives as parents of two.
This is when my life turned into a living hell. I walked in the house and sat down on the couch admiring my two babies, when all the sudden a rush of something came through my feet and up to my head and back again. I immedietly knew something was wrong and told my husband to dial 911. I started to get dizzy and was breathing heavily. The rush of something was still running through me. I was on the verge of passing out. I thought I was dying. The ambulance took me to the hospital with my husband and newborn in tow. They weren’t allowed back into my room as they were forced to wait in the lobby. She hadn’t nursed in hours. I told him to call me as soon as she cried to eat and I would figure something out. The ER was so busy that day and I was getting weaker and weaker. Unable to move or speak. I got the call…she was screaming to nurse. I asked for a pump. After two hours of waiting, a pump was delivered and I pumped. Nothing.
Scared and feeling hopeless, I discharged myself before seeing a doctor so I could feed my newborn. I went home without answers. Just tired and weak.
Days go by and I get weaker and weaker. The rush that ran through me that night continued to come at random times of the day. I would stop breathing. Scared. I didn’t know what was happening to me. Then the insomnia started. Nightmares came if I closed my eyes. Horrible nightmares. I would wake up screaming for help. I continued to get weaker until I was bed ridden. Several weeks went by and eventually I stopped eating. My day and night consisted of me being spoon fed to survive and staring at the ceiling. Cringing at the sounds of my toddler or baby crying. Gasping for help but not knowing where to find it. My husband would hold my baby to my breast and nurse while I laid and cried, scared and awaiting the next wave of panic.
Finally, a neighbor decided to take me into my OB because she knew whatever was happening wasn’t normal. They mentioned possible post partum anxiety and depression but their words were just mumbled up hums in my head. I heard them but I wasn’t listening. I was too far gone. I was scared to leave my house, scared to eat, scared to ride in a car. I had extreme urges to run and hide or extreme urges that I was definitely dying.
Several months go by, my husband takes a medical leave of absense. I finally was talked in to seeing a psychiatrist. I remember laying on the floor of the waiting room with my head against the air conditioning unit just sobbing and taking one breath at a time while the air blew into my face. I was terrified of anything and everything. Any sound or light made me cringe. Traveling. Eating. Hearing my baby cry. Hearing my toddler talk. All noises made me cringe. I was immediately prescribed Zoloft and a continous dose of Ativan. I then became a walking mommy zombie who just rolled through the motions of life. I was so dizzy and sedated from the medicine that all I could do was sleep. I only ate enough to make milk. Everything else inside of me seemed to rot away. I was absolutely helpless.
Eventually it was discovered that my thyroid was completely not functioning and I was suffering from severe anxiety and the depression came along beside it all. I continued seeing my pyschiatrist and was given permission to taper off my medicine as my baby turned 14 months old. Life at that point was still not easy. I still experienced the rushes in my body which were later described to me as panic attacks (something I never knew about). I was also afraid to be alone and never left the house. I had panic attacks almost every where I went.
I am now four years post partum and I can proudly say that the only medicine I take is one little anxiety pill in the evening. I still have panic attacks but they only happen during periods of stress or travel. Our Disney World trip in 2016 was not fun. I experienced way too many attacks than I had hoped for during that trip. I can mostly control them and ward off any extreme thoughts.
Coming from a woman who never experienced anxiety or depression in her entire life to being bed ridden and unable to feed myself was extremely unsettling for my husband, family, and friends.
My story isn’t the typical one. It has a lot of odd circumstances. I never knew what was happening to me until after it was all over and I began to make the connections. It could have been from my thryoid not functioning, I am just not sure. I was not educated on the matter at all. I also didn’t have much support. Postpartum anxiety can manifest in several ways. So can depression. I still loved and adored my baby, but my body and my mind were fighting against me.
I should have known to seek help faster and my family should have known where to find the help. I believe those were my two main issues. No one knew exactly what was happening to me because we just didn’t know. We didn’t even know postpartum issues exist. I was totally fine with my first baby. If I had only known what was happening to me was called a “panic attack” maybe I could have gotten better before it got out of hand. Before the depression set in. Before I went months and months feeling desperate and alone. Maybe if the ER doctor that night could have gotten to me he would have noticed the signs and I would have gotten help.
I am saddened today because I don’t even remember my baby’s first year. I have barely any pictures of her during that time. It can be different for you. You are not alone. Be brave and seek help now. Below is a picture of me and my babies today. I am 90% better. I will never be the same.
Story and photograph submitted by Amber W.