Friday, December 30, 2011

Still anxious

Almost as bad as the anxiety is the hopelessness.
Yesterday wasn't as bad as Wednesday, but still wasn't great. I called the doctor and asked for the thyroid test and about adjusting my meds. She approved both. I couldn't get to the lab yesterday but I had the blood drawn for the thyroid test today. I also doubled my Lexapro today.

The day today wasn't terrible. Not fantastic again, but not horrible. But tonight after dark, it really set in again. My husband came home a little early from work and I was so relieved. But then he went to get groceries and I felt like he'd left me. The anxiety just took over.

My face burned, my chest hurt, my stomach churned, my arms tingled. What was I worried about? I don't know. But there it was anyway. Awful. I tried to fake it. I tried to play with Robbie even though all I really wanted to do was crawl into bed and hide. I fed Charlotte even though I wanted to just get in the car and drive away from my fear. (As though it wouldn't come with me.)

After David got home, he was in the back with Robbie, Charlotte was nursing and I just started sobbing. I feel like I'm never going to be well. What if it's like this forever? What if the meds don't work? I feel like I'm missing my children's childhood because I'm barely functioning, walking around like a zombie. Sure, they're cared for. They're clean and fed and I think they feel loved. They are loved. But I'm just putting on a brave face much of the time. I'm doing what I am SUPPOSED to, not what I should want to. My kids deserve better.

Some friends checked on me and helped a little. David asked if I needed him to just come lay with me for a while. I'm blessed to have such a great support system. But I want to get BETTER. Truly better. I want to feel like me again. I want to feel like a good mom and a good wife and a good friend again. Right now I feel like an empty pit of need, sucking all the support from everyone around me.

What if I hit the bottom of that well? I don't know what I would do. I spend more time than I care to admit checking my phone or email or facebook for messages of support. They are literally one of the few things I look forward to during the day. That's shameful, but true. I keep waiting for someone to say the magic thing that will make it all better. I know that magic thing doesn't exist, but at least one more message of "I've been there and got through and am happy now" keeps me going for another hour or another day. Maybe some day I can get through, too. Right now it just doesn't feel like it. It feels unending.

What if the kids grow up to hate me because I'm just a shell of a person? I love them and want what's best for them, but right now I don't know how to be that. I'm trying. I'm truly trying. I've read everything written on increasing seratonin, lowering anxiety, good mental health. But I still have nights like tonight where I feel like my life is just a series of waiting for the next breakdown.

We all deserve more than this.

--Trish 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Worse

First the good stuff:
Thanks for everyone's kind words. I'm down about 60 pounds from last September. The first 30 were before I got pregnant, on purpose and hard-earned. The other 30 are a combination of pregnancy metabolism, the fact that I ate SUPER-HEALTHY when pregnant (nothing processed, very little eating out, sodium under 2000 mg a day etc.) and then the anxiety renders my appetite almost non existent.
I hope I'm able to maintain it while stuck at home with two small children. We'll see.

And then the bad:
Today has been my worst anxiety day yet. I actually woke up to feed Charlotte about 5 and my left breast hurt SO bad. My brain immediately went to mastitis because I've been asked about it 100 times since I'm having the nipple problem. I decided I didn't have a fever and didn't feel cruddy, so it was probably just a clogged duct. So I fed her on that side and rubbed the hell out of the sore area.

When she ate again at 7, it still hurt and I had a bruise. But I still felt overall the same. I double checked with some friends that I would KNOW if I had mastitis, and again concluded it was a plugged duct. So I nursed on that side again and sure enough, she was able to clear it.

However, the anxiety had begun. I was facing a 12+ hour day alone with the kids and just thinking about it made me literally quiver in fear. I tried to self talk. I prayed. I tried distraction. Nothing was working. I eventually contacted a former teacher from Robbie's daycare who I've remained friends with and arranged for her to come help out for a few hours in the afternoon. I felt relief and waited for the anxiety to ease. I'd fixed all the problems, right?

But it JUST. WOULDN'T. STOP.
All day. All damned day.

Even when Liz got here, I had help and a great distraction and I could get it to ease for 10 minutes at a time, but then it would come raging back. Liz commented that she could tell when it got better and worse. She was great, but could only stay a few hours. I dreaded her leaving.

After she left, I ended up calling my dad and talking for 2 hours. I just need to keep my brain distracted. It doesn't turn the anxiety off, but it keeps me from spiralling further and further downward. My dad is sick (just a cold, nothing serious), so he can't come over like he normally would, but he talked to me and to Robbie and just basically kept me company. I love my dad so much.

I can't say today was a banner day in parenting. Robbie watched three episodes of Sesame Street and some random cartoons when, at one point, he took himself to my bedroom and turned them on himself. I was nursing Charlotte and honestly just relieved he was distracted and out of trouble. But I suppose they're both alive and fed and sometimes that's just got to be enough.

After Robbie went to bed, another friend called and distracted me for several more hours. I'm very blessed to have people willing to distract me when I need it. There isn't much that can be done, but I'm grateful that they are willing to do what they can.

When I finally hung up with her, I took my blood pressure. 154/96. It's been VERY good lately (I'm talking 120/70) so that wasn't welcome. Probably the anxiety. Or maybe it's spiking and that's what is driving some of the anxiety. I don't know.

I know that I'm going to call the doctor for the billionth time tomorrow and ask for some lab tests for my thyroid and maybe some other vitamin tests to see if there's something more global going on and discussing my lexapro dosage if those are normal. This is awful and I can't live like this. I can't be a mess all day. I can't be scared of my own children. This needs to stop.


--Trish

Two steps back

Well, this week is not shaping up to be as great as last week anxiety wise.

Christmas was nice. The kids were adorable. Charlotte obviously mostly slept through it, but Robbie had a great time. He was a little frustrated that he had to keep putting toys down to open more presents, but you know.. first world problems!

My mother-in-law and brother-in-law, as well as my dad all joined us in the morning for gift opening and then a big lunch. Everyone had a good time watching Robbie with his stuff and we even managed to genuinely surprise my brother in law (who is a great guy) with his gift (a pack of baseball tickets) which was fun. These days we rarely get to really surprise anyone.

They had also all had Christmas Eve dinner with us (we always do something low-key and casual. This year was taco salad.) and we just hung out and chatted and played with the kids. It was nice.

Unfortunately my brain apparently didn't get the message that I was HAPPY. Each night, a little anxiety rolled in. Friday was pretty minor and only lasted about an hour. Saturday it lasted several hours, but was low level. Sunday was an hour but pretty severe. Last night wasn't too bad.

Today was a doozy. The day started with some confusion with my mother's helper. She didn't come today as I had expected. (We had a miscommunication. She's a fantastic girl and very reliable.) That should be no big deal, but between the change in plans and being worried about her, I spent a good hour this morning just feeling jittery and anxious. I ended up calling my dad and just talking through it.

This afternoon I had my 6 week postpartum check with my OB and then dinner with friends. The doctor's appointment went really well. She wrote for Diflucan for my maybe-thrush, did my PAP, answered a few questions, but mostly we cooed over the kids. Charlotte's middle name actually came from the phlebotomist in the office and she finally got to meet her namesake. It was super fun. (Yes, I know. I'm a freak who has fun at OB appointments.)

Dinner was also fun. It was a couple of preemie mom friends, one of whom lives in Seattle and we had a nice conversation, decent food and excellent ice cream.

Unfortunately towards the end of dinner, I could feel the anxiety trying to creep in. All the way home, I tried to self-talk myself through it. It's just anxiety, it's not real. It's a chemical reaction in the body, nothing is wrong. Everything is fine, it's just a misfiring of something in the brain. Take deep breaths. Relax. Relax. Relax. It didn't work.

I came home, tucked Robbie into bed and then headed for the bathtub. Charlotte was fed and sleeping soundly (way to go, David!) so I was free for a bit. I laid in the tub and tried to read. Usually that's a good way to shut off my brain, but tonight it wasn't working. I couldn't focus on my book and the bath started off too hot and ended up too cold and my brain kept wondering if Charlotte was okay. (even though I could both see and hear her from where I was.) Anxiety is not reasonable. I prayed. I repeated some comforting phrases. It did not work.

I got out and tried to physically shake it off. No go. I went and asked David to come lay with me because I was feeling anxious. My amazing husband just said "uh oh" and hopped up to come help me. He rubbed my back a while but I ended up feeling more tense, not less. I got up and jogged in place, trying to burn the energy off. Sometimes that helps. No luck.

By this time, Charlotte needed to be fed. I tried to focus myself and sat down to nurse her. I asked David to just talk to me. Tell me anything, just distract my brain. David's not really one to blather on but he did just that. And finally I could feel it ease a little. If he'd stop talking, it would creep back up, but eventually is started to ease. Total duration nearly 3 hours.

Three hours is a long time to sweat and shake and feel your heart pound. And that's after the hour or so this morning. It freaking sucks. And I don't know WHY. Yes, today was not a usual day, but most of the time, being about to get out of the house helps, not hurts. So I don't know.

I discussed the anxiety with my doctor today, of course. I told her it had been much better last week, but then bad again this weekend. But still trending upward. She wants me to go back in a month to reevaluate, but call if things get worse. I'm not ready to say I need to call yet, but this isn't a trend I'm enjoying right now.

I was thinking tonight that maybe I should have my thyroid checked. Anxiety can be a symptom of thyroid issues and pregnancy can cause them. It's probably a long shot, but I'm feeling desperate. It's probably "just" hormonal, but I just want something to FIX me. I'm sick of this.

David assures me that I'm being a good mom even when I'm in the midst of the worst of it, but I don't FEEL like one when it's going on. I'm 6.5 weeks postpartum and I really just want to leave behind the worry and stress of pregnancy. I just want to get on with enjoying my children.

So, if you're still up for some praying, I could use a few more. We need more days like last week and NO more like today. And while you're at it, think some good thoughts for my nipple. Hoping this round of Diflucan does the trick.

And so as not to end on a down note, how about a few Christmas pictures?

--Trish
Charlotte Clause

Note the blue lips of Gentian Violet.

Robbie on his new cell phone. 

Grandpa helping open a present.

 The classic "picture of you, taking picture of me taking a picture of you."

Hugs for sissy.

Hang on, just let me check my email real quick... 

I love you, Charlotte.

Brotherly Love

Robbie Mouse

Friday, December 23, 2011

The week

I am going to officially call this a good week. It wasn't perfect, but it was so much better than last week and it doesn't even belong on the same calendar as the week before last, so it was good.
I've had 6 days of feeling like myself. There have been moments of panic that have seeped in, but it's been brief enough and mild enough that I can work through it and do okay. I've spent full days alone with the kids without watching the minutes tick by on the clock until David gets home. I've smiled and laughed genuinely. I've had an appetite (and then some) and interest in things besides laying in bed. It's good.

Tonight I walked out to the living room right at dusk and felt the old panic feeling set in. Dusk was a huge trigger. But it hadn't happened in several days and I hadn't thought to steel myself for it. Fortunately I recognized what was happening right away and was able to close up the blinds (dark is better than dusk) and it eased again. Anxiety is weird. And sneaky. But Lexapro is stronger.

Truthfully, I think it's a combination of things. The Lexapro for sure, getting further from delivery (6 weeks now) and I really think that coming off of the Labetelol helped a lot, too. My blood pressures have been great. There have been a 2 or 3 spikes in the last week, but mostly 130/80 or below. The last few days have really been in the 120s/70s. That's better than it was before I got pregnant, so that's awesome. I'm sure that's attributable to being 60 pounds lighter than I was a year ago.

In other news, I started a round of gentian violet tonight for my thrush. I spoke to the nurse about the issue but she and/or my OB don't seem to think it's thrush. The reasoning she gave me was that Charlotte is asymptomatic and because my breasts don't have streaks. But streaks could be a sign of mastitis, not thrush, so that makes no sense whatsoever to me. She told me to call a lactation consultant.

On the other hand, I was on antibiotics during delivery, another round afterward, I had a yeast infection after the 2nd round. I've had no pain with nursing for nearly 6 weeks and all of a sudden it's major. It gets worse at night. It lasts through the nursing session and after. This is all consistent with thrush. I did confirm that with a doula friend. Everyone seems to agree it's most likely thrush.

However, because they didn't take me seriously, I did some more reading and it seems like gentian violet is the better option anyway. It's cheaper, has few side effects and works both more quickly and more reliably. It's just messier.

I had to have the GV ordered through the pharmacy. In the mean time, I started vinegar washes and probiotics to try to contain it. Things have improved a little but still aren't great. My left breast still kills, particularly in the evenings. I did my first GV treatment tonight, though. Both Charlotte's lips and my nipples are a lovely shade of purple. Of course, she promptly spit up afterwards (she's a spitter) which also left a lovely blue stain on the blanket I had under her and the pillowcase because it soaked through to the pillow. Oh well. I'd gladly buy all new linens to keep my boob from feeling like it is being ground in a grinder every time I nurse.

I really do enjoy nursing, even with the thrush trouble. She's doing really well. She's been gaining around an ounce per day. She's up to 6 pounds 12 ounces as of tonight. She came home from the hospital at 4lb 12oz, so she's a full 2 pounds heavier now. She's still tiny, but she feels like a chunk to me these days. And it feels really good to know I've been able to do that for her all on my own. My body is keeping her alive and thriving.

I realize that technically it was before she was born, too. But to be frank, it felt like she was surviving in my womb IN SPITE of my body, not because of it. Now it feels like something is actually going right. What a concept.

In any case, it does feel like the spiral of depression has shifted. As my anxiety has improved, everything else has, and has everything else has, my anxiety has. Obviously things aren't perfect. My cat still has cancer (and isn't doing well, I'm afraid. I don't think we have a lot longer with her. Every time Robbie hugs her, my heart breaks a little more.) I still have an anxiety disorder and thrush. Charlotte is still a preemie and we're still in quarantine. But we're so far ahead of where we were a week or two ago, I know we're going to get through it.

Hope lives.


--Trish

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Good day

Today was a really good day. Really good. There were maybe 20 total minutes where I felt a little out of sorts, but otherwise, I felt like me all day. The best part is how great my kids are. It feels so good to FEEL that. I also didn't shake today. At all, I think.

Saturday was sort of so-so. Sunday was pretty decent. Today was really great. I did take my pill earlier today than usual, so maybe that was part of it. I took it at lunch instead of late afternoon. Since the worst time of the day is usually right around dusk, I thought I should get it in and at full strength a few hours before that. I had been taking it just before dusk thinking it would be strongest right away, but I think maybe it takes a little longer than that to kick in.

The only bad thing I can say about today is that I think I'm getting thrush. Holy crap does my left nipple hurt. My right one has been a little sore, but NOTHING like leftie. It takes my breath away when she starts nursing and hurts the whole time. I've tried relatching her a dozen times, nursing in a different position and what not and nothing seems to matter. I'll call the doctor tomorrow.

Apparently I have a few risk factors including having been on antibiotics during and after delivery and a recent regular yeast infection. So.. you know.. lucky me. That was actually one of the causes of my few minutes of anxiety today. I had a brief flash of worrying it was mastitis (no basis for that. That was just Crazy Thought Anxiety at play) and freaked out a little, but I talked myself down. But I really do think that at worst it's thrush (which sucks, but is just annoying, not a huge deal) and at best it's a blister or something. (Though I can't see a blister or anything.)

Anyway, today is my 2 weeks Lexapro anniversary, so this is the point where people said they started feeling better, both emotionally and from the side effects, and I'm here to say that I must be experiencing the same thing. I hope it continues and I think it will. I know there will be drops again and I just dread it. I hate the down part of ups and downs, but right now it feels so good to actually have ups again that I'm just trying to take it one day at a time. Today was a good one.


--Trish


Saturday, December 17, 2011

2 1/2

I'm going to call it a good 2 1/2 days.

This morning I felt a little more anxious than I had, but it wasn't too bad. And most of the day was okay. Not as great as the last 2, but not terrible. Manageable.

Tonight, it came back. I got a headache and instantly my brain was convinced I was having a stroke. My blood pressure was a little up (not horrible, just not great) probably as a result of the anxiety, so you know, my brain turned on me. Nevermind the complete lack of other symptoms or the fact that the headache wasn't even very bad. Reason is not a factor here. They call it "intrusive thoughts." I call it "crazy."

I tried to my breathing exercises, then some actual exercise. It was just before Robbie's bedtime, so I got him to bed, fed Charlotte and then told David I was going to take a bath and read a bit. I hoped the combination of the bath and the distraction of reading would help. It did a little, but I still got out feeling what I can only describe as a slight sense of dread. Dread of what? Who the hell knows?

This is the way I used to feel before I'd have panic attacks. Like something bad was going to happen. No clue what, but something. And then the panic attacks would start. I really hope the lexapro keeps them at bay because they suck. Of course, even talking about that is making me more anxious. Nothing like being anxious about being anxious. I'm the picture of mental health, really.

Right now, I just hope tomorrow is better than tonight. I'll try to get some sleep, and David's going to try to get me out of the house as well. I'm hoping for a trip to Target and maybe even the grocery store. I'm a party animal, I know.

I don't feel as hopeless as I have. Even though tonight has been kinda crappy, I'm still way better than a week ago. And the fact that I had 2 good days in a row has been encouraging. Hopefully this is just a blip in the radar and things will generally continue to improve.

I'm now 5 weeks post-partum. Hoping that my hormones continue to regulate, too. Six weeks often seems to be a good point for that. Maybe this week will bring improvements from multiple areas.

Thanks for continues to root for me. This anxiety nonsense is horrid.

Trish

Thursday, December 15, 2011

two in a row

Today was a lot like yesterday. The shaking was minimal- more like I'd had too much caffeine than like I needed to score some heroine. The anxiety was manageable. Not absent, but manageable. It started to creep in not long before my next dose of lexapro was due, which I think is actually a positive sign.

I found myself interacting with the kids more genuinely. When Charlotte was awake, I truly felt inspired by her adorableness. When Robbie asked for "Mommy to sing?" at bedtime, I happily pulled Charlotte off my boob (something that usually would annoy me) to go fulfill his sweet request. I snuggled him because I wanted to, not because I "should."


I'm sure it helped that Charlotte did give me a 4 hour stretch last night. (well, she went 4 hours between feedings, that gave me about 3.25 hours of sleep at once) Then another 2 hours. That's a lot of sleep for me lately. The nanny was also here this morning, which is always nice. We ended up piled into my room to have breakfast and watch cartoons this morning. It may not sound like the most exciting thing, but it's a nice relaxing morning.

I could tell I was doing better because I ate two real meals today. One of the symptoms of the anxiety has been an overwhelming lack of appetite. That's really out of character for me. I didn't get to be as large as I am because I don't eat. But I'm currently 32 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight. I'm down more than 60 pounds since this time last year. I can't keep my pants up. Sounds like a good problem to have. And if I were losing in any kind of healthy way, it would be, but honestly even the thought of food has made my stomach hurt lately. So today when I found myself suddenly starving, I thought "hey! That's normal! YAY NORMAL!" Of course, I proceeded to consume a week's worth of calories today, but whatever. Maybe tomorrow's batch of boob juice will be extra fatty for my little peanut.

Speaking of which, today was her due date. She's officially zero "adjusted." She's supposed to be here now. Amazing that she's almost 5 weeks old, but is just now officially a newborn. I'm so glad she's doing well. I read something earlier about another baby born at 36 weeks who spent nearly a week in the NICU and counted my blessings again. She is amazing.

Anyway, I really hope that this trend (what, 2 days can be a trend!) of feeling mostly normal (at least functional!) continues. My blood pressures have also been decent and I think that's partly due to the controlled anxiety, as well. I'm learning a few tricks along the way to help myself, and counting on the drugs to do their job as well. And still re-reading your success stories to give me hope as well. Thank you all a thousand times for sharing your stories and offering your thoughts and prayers. Yet again, I'm humbled by everyone's honesty and support.


Trish

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tomorrows

Today was better. And worse.

There is always a brief moment when I first wake up in the morning where I feel groggy but okay. But within a few minutes, I know if it's going to start. This morning, I thought "Hmm, I feel okay. We'll see." A few minutes later, I started to tremble and thought that was it. Except it never really ramped up all the way.

It was a hectic morning. Charlotte had her 1 month check-up and I was taking both kids with me by myself for the first time. Our nanny came to help me get them ready, so I wasn't totally on my own, but she could only stay long enough for that, not to come with us. As one of my biggest fears is being alone with the kids, that was pretty scary. But we managed.

Getting out of the house felt good. I mean really good. Just driving in the car felt like some freedom. Robbie was super perky, too. I think he was glad to be out of our walls as well. Quarantine is hard.

The appointment went great. Charlotte is up to 6lb 3oz, more than a pound gain since her last check up. Her tone and reflexes were were better than average. Our pediatrician was overjoyed. We don't have to go back for a month. Robbie was very cooperative minus a little whining about wanting to be carried, but he got over it quickly. Of course, the poor guy got a flu shot for his reward. Oops. But it's for everyone's good.

His fever from yesterday is magically gone. The doc chalked it up to a diurnal temperature shift and wasn't worried. Phew. We headed home. I was still feeling good. Just the faintest hint of shakiness, but my mind was clear.

At one point, Robbie started talking to the receptionist in a cute fashion and I chuckled. Then I realized "wow, I just laughed. For real." I froze and just took it in. It felt good. Real laughter is rare right now.

At home, Robbie ate lunch slowly and instead of being impatient, I was able to sit with him and convince him to eat a little more. I pulled him onto my lap and snuggled him a while. He beamed and it felt really good. This is what motherhood is supposed to feel like. This is what it felt like a few months ago. I want it to feel that way again.

After he went down for a nap, Charlotte and I took one, too. My fluffy cat, Contessa, joined us. It felt good. Everything felt better today.

When we woke up, the jittering was back. It was also time for my medicine, so I took it and hope it wouldn't amp everything up.

The evening wasn't so great, but in a less expected way. Contessa has been rapidly losing weight and had a vet appointment to check her out tonight. My dad took her. He called and told me it was bad news. She has cancer.

She has been with me 13 years. She was a 9 week old fluffball at the human society when I adopted her in 1998. I was barely making minimum wage, dating losers. She's seen me through a lot of changes. And now her time is limited. We don't know how long. She has an orange sized mass on her organs on the left side. The doctor can't tell if it's her spleen or kidneys, but it's large and irregularly sized. She's 13 years old and clearly failing. We opted not to pursue testing as the chances of treatment and surgery doing much to prolong her life with any quality is slim. We are very sad.

There were lots of tears in our house, but it didn't send me over the edge like I was afraid it would. I worried about how to explain things to Robbie. I worried about David (who cried in spite of really not being one to do so) but I worried about them in a normal, sad, grieving way. I've spent lots of time petting her tonight.

Eventually I realized the shaking had stopped again. And my mind has stayed clear. My blood pressure has also been normal. It's hard to call it a good day with the news about Contessa, but I can say it could have been a worse day. The news could have come yesterday and I'm not sure I could have taken it. So I'll thank God for small blessings.

Thank you for everyone's support. I do not know what tomorrow will bring. Perhaps another stable day. Perhaps not. If there's one thing that the news about my kitty reminds us, it's that we have to take each day one at a time. There are no guarantees about tomorrow.


--Trish

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

bad day

It's been a bad anxiety day. David has a cold and Robbie has had a very low fever all day long. So on top of my completely irrational anxiety, I've had actual things to worry about. It's not been a good day.

I'm hoping that it may also relate to some BP meds as well. I'll explain.

Last night, my blood pressure was high (150/90) again and I was feeling pretty crummy. Eventually I decided to take an extra dose of labetelol. About 20 minutes after I did that, everything went really blurry. I mean, REALLY blurry. In an effort to convince myself I wasn't having a stroke, I did some googling and found that blurred vision is a side effect of the medication. So I felt better. But while I was reading, I came across a note that another side effect is "Mood changes (depression)" and was just floored.

Now, I somehow doubt that it's responsible for everything I've been experiencing. I have a history of anxiety anyway, and a lot of other things going on. But the notion that it could be aggravating it just left me flabbergasted. And hopeful. Maybe if I could get off the labetalol, I'd feel a little better?

Then I went back and looked and that one day I had where I felt really good was last Wednesday. On Monday, we had cut my dose of BP meds by 2/3. Maybe the reduction in meds had given me a little mood boost? I hoped.

Of course, I had taken a bigger dose than usual yesterday and then I felt worse than usual today. So I'm hoping my theory will work out.

I called the doctor and asked about stopped the med. She gave her blessing to give it a try. Of course, I have to watch my pressures closely and call if the spike up again. But if that happens, we'll try a different med. I'd obviously prefer not to need any blood pressure medication at all, but if I do, hopefully a different drug will have fewer side effects. Even just the double vision is obnoxious and if it truly is contributing to my anxiety, I really don't need that.

In the mean time, I'm just trying to get through the day. I have tried to breathe through the worst of it, but the waves of panic have been incredibly overwhelming today. It's definitely been a day where all I want to do is crawl in bed and hide. Robbie did sleep in this morning and then the nanny was here for 2 hours so it should have been an easier than usual day, but Robbie then didn't nap and all the worries about germs and Charlotte.. well, it just wasn't.

On the other hand, my amazing friend Amy sent me a book this week. It's been Beth Moore, "Praying God's Word." She sent it in response to my confession that I was having trouble finding the words to pray. There is a section on battling depression, which is where I started. Depression and anxiety go hand in hand. I'm only a few pages in (time is a commodity, after all) but it's already resonating with me. I read some of the passages aloud and did feel some peace.


The one that brought me close to tears:
Lord God, I am hard pressed on every side, but I don't have to be crushed; I am perplexed, but I do not have to be in despair. (2 Cor. 4:8)


I do feel pressed on every side. I feel like I can't win no matter which way I turn. If I'm tending to Charlotte, I'm not tending to Robbie. If I'm tending to Robbie, I'm not tending to Charlotte. David's almost completely left out of the equation. In trying to care for the kids, I feel like I can't devote 100% to trying to heal myself (even is as much as I can't take any med available because I'm nursing.) And if I'm doing something to try to soothe my nerves (a bath, reading, whatever) I'm not tending to any of them. All I really want is for someone to come save me. Who? I don't know. If I had a real mother, I'd say her. But I don't. I want my mother-in-law to come, but she has a job and it's not her responsibility. It's no one's responsibility but mine. And I feel like I'm letting everyone down.

Don't get me wrong, I'm getting through the day. The kids are fed and clean seem content. But it's all fake. I have to force myself to use a soft tone when I speak. I have to force myself to smile at something sweet. I have to force myself to get up and do.. well.. anything. All I really want to do is hide in my bed with the door closed. And then I feel so guilty about that because I know that's not normal. It's not normal for a mom and it's not normal for ME. I love my kids.

There is this picture from the day Charlotte was born where they've just brought her to me to hold for the first time. I look happy. I was happy. I couldn't wait to get my hands on my baby girl. My perfect, beautiful, healthy baby girl. I wanted to hold her forever.

Looking back, the anxiety started within the next few days. It was partly the pre-e. I was sick and felt like crap and couldn't hold her. I didn't want to because I felt so weak and sickly. What I wanted was to sleep and just feel better. What I realize is that it never really changed at that point. I hold her because she needs to be held, because it's what I'm supposed to do. Because it keeps her from crying. But it's not that burning desire to get my hands on my baby girl the way I felt in that photo. I don't feel anything that strongly except panic and fear.

I don't even know what I'm afraid of half the time. I'm afraid when I'm alone with the kids. Of what? I don't know. I mean, I've done it day in and day out. And so far, we've managed. You would think that would build confidence. I'm okay. I'm doing this. The kids are amazing. But I'm still scared of something.

I wish I could enjoy them. I keep thinking any day now. I keep reading your comments and emails about how one day, you just did. And I keep hoping that tomorrow is that day. But so far it's not. And when I have a day like today that is worse than even usual, it's hard to feel like the day is really coming. I want to have hope. I NEED hope. But it is incredibly elusive, more elusive than I've ever found it to be.

Truthfully if it weren't for Charlotte and Robbie, I'd probably stop the meds. I'd just give in to the urge to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. Maybe drug myself up with some Xanax, but maybe just google all my paranoid symptoms into oblivion. But even though I can't feel what I should, I love the kids and I know they deserve a mom. Even if the best I can give them is a fake mom, they need at least that. My mom checked out physically. I know how that feels. I know first hand the damage it does. I can't do that to them. So I keep pasting the fake smiles on and moving forward.

All I can do at this point is hope that tomorrow is that magical day where I can see through the darkness again. I'll keep praying. And keep asking you to pray. It's all I've got.

--Trish

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Light?

I wish I could say if things are better or not. I truly can't tell. The side effects are still pretty awful. I shake like a leaf most of the day. The groggy feeling in my brain comes and goes.

The last two days, I think I've spent fewer hours in a panic, but the panics themselves have been even more severe.

Last night I started to have chest pain fairly bad and that sent me into a wave of panic. In all likelihood it was heartburn, but of course, my warped mind was convinced I was having a heart attack. My great-grandfather has a heart attack and died at 42. I'm 35. My blood pressure has been high for so long, maybe it's done some damage. Then I took my blood pressure- 180/106. Ouch.

It had bottomed out earlier in the day and I'd gotten light-headed. I was convinced we were going to stop my meds soon, but that was ugly. Of course, I have no way of knowing if the panic made my blood pressure high or if my blood pressure high made me panicky or if the two things were unrelated. I took my medicine a little early. It took a while, but it finally came down.

Today it ran a little high most of the day, though. I don't get it. It's been good again for a week, but here we are. Tonight it started to spike a little bit, but I tried not to take the meds. Maybe it's a rebounding effect? I don't know. I just know I'm sick of this.

I just want to feel normal again. When everything clears, everything around me seems so bright and beautiful. Sitting here tonight after my nightly panic cleared, I sat and sang to Charlotte for a while. She was wide awake and just looking at me curiously, enjoying the music. It was such a happy feeling. But by morning, I'll be shaking and groggy again. And then the panic will come and then I can't feel anything except fear. It's a horrible feeling.

I'm trying to give the meds enough time to work, to kick in and for the side effects to wane, but as the days go on, I feel like I'm stuck like this forever. I wonder if I'll ever just be able to go about my day and not think that the pain my temple is a stroke or the chest pain is a heart attack or if Robbie is eating enough or if Charlotte is getting enough interaction or if I'd really just ruined them forever. I remember the dark days of Robbie's first year and I know I came out of it. But they weren't this severe, either.

I'm really hanging on to the stories of those of you who have been through this. If you tell me there is lightness at the end, I'm going to believe that there is. I just hope I get to see it soon.

Trish

Friday, December 9, 2011

Still digging

Pretty sure most of what I felt during the day today was med side effects. Just a low level anxious feeling, mostly jittery.

Tonight, though, the "real" anxiety rolled in again. It's still coming and going.

I have prayed and breathed and concentrated on relaxing. It helps briefly and then the waves come back again. I wish I understood it.I got a few hours more sleep than average last night (three 2 hour increments) and then a nap last this afternoon. The nap wasn't very restful. It was shortly after I took my meds and it was punctuated by twitching and jerking. (That WILL end, right?) But it was still a nap.

Things are honestly good here. Charlotte is growing well. I weighed her today and she's up to 5 pound 12.5 ounces. She's thriving. Robbie seems happy and well adjusted. Between David, my dad, and our mother's helper, he's getting a lot of individual attention even though I can't usually be the one to give it to him. David's been amazing taking care of all of us. My friends have been supportive and compassionate. I have absolutely nothing to be worried about. Nothing. Life doesn't get a lot better than this.

But out of nowhere, the panic just rolls in. My stomach drops, my arms tingle, my muscles tense. That sets my brain spinning. My reading tells me it's because the brain is seeking a "reason" for the panic. It'll invent one if it can't find one. Robbie's bored, Charlotte's unhappy, David's going to get sick of it, that pain in my stomach/chest/head/whatever is something Very Serious. Tonight I found myself thinking "what if it's like this forever?" It just kept rolling in my mind. What if it's like this forever?

I know I've only been on the meds for 5 days. It takes weeks, even months for them to fully work. And there are other meds to try if it comes to that. I know that I've had some clear moments in the last few days where I felt genuinely good. I know all of that in my head, but the fear is there. I need to feel all the way better at some point. Because this sucks.

I really appreciate everyone's continued support. If you were on meds (especially Lexapro) for anxiety could you share how long it took you to stop having the waves of panic? I could use some hope that things will continue to improve. When I feel good, the hope is so strong. But when I'm in the midst of the panic (now) it feels so hopeless. For as much as I've fought hope for all the years of this blog, it's always been in there... just deeply hidden. Right now I'm having trouble digging it out.

Trish

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 4

Today wasn't like yesterday, I'm afraid. It was a rough night with about 2 hours of sleep, which I'm sure contributed. I spent most of the day feeling foggy, shaky, sad, and nervous. They are again working on the road in front of my house, using some sort of heavy equipment which literally makes my house shake. It's not a good combination.

I managed the kids okay by myself this morning, but honestly was just praying for nap time. When Robbie asked to go down for a nap 15 minutes earlier than usual, I could have cried with relief. Sign me up for mother of the year.

A friend visited briefly, and then the nanny came. God I was glad to see her. After she got here, I left her to wait for Robbie to wake up from his nap, I took my pill, and then Charlotte and I had a nap.

I woke up feeling a little groggy, and still shaky, but not awful. Most of the evening, I felt a low level of anxiety, but not the debilitating, skin-crawling version I usually get after sundown.

And then a surprising thing happened. Just after 8:30, it cleared. I stopped trembling and my head cleared. I was able to tuck Robbie into bed with a genuine smile instead of a forced one. It felt good.

I took advantage of the lucidity and accomplished a few household tasks. It felt good to feel useful. It's now just after midnight and I'm still doing okay. I don't know if I'll wake up feeling the same, but I'm enjoying these glimpses at normalcy. Hope is here. To stay?


Trish

Maybe tomorrow

I woke up this morning and immediately thought "wow, I feel good."
I mean, I felt GOOD. Like me. Good. Even Charlotte was exceptionally perky this morning. I got Robbie up and he was grumpy, but it was mostly just funny, not nerve wracking.

The morning was hectic. Charlotte nursed almost non-stop this morning and of course, Robbie needed me approximately every 32 seconds, so I was a little frazzled. But it was a good, normal, expected frazzled. At one point I actually said aloud "oh good, they're both crying at the same time. Perfect." all I could do was shrug and put out one fire at a time. And then I marveled at how glad I was that I was feeling human.

The good feelings lasted all day. It was so nice to just enjoy life. I thought man, I've got this licked.

At 4:45, I took my pill. At 5:30, the world started to cave in a little. And then it let up a bit again. I did some breathing exercises, which helped a little. But by 7:30, I'd fallen back into the hole and couldn't climb out. All I wanted to do was climb into bed and pull the covers over my head. So I did just that.

Of course, when you have a 3 year old, any climbing into bed just means mommy trampoline time. How do you explain to your toddler than right now the air is making you crazy, so please standing on my head is really not the best choice right now. David ended up giving him a bath and putting him to bed alone. Charlotte and I dozed. I twitched a lot. The fact that I could sleep at all was probably progress. Two days ago I could barely sit down during an attack, so sleeping is probably indicative of a reduction in symptoms. I just wish it felt less scary.

After I woke up, I felt a little better. I fed Charlotte and thought it had passed, but waves have come and gone since then. It's now a little after 1 and all the remains is some chest pain and trembly hands.

It's impossible to know what is the "usual" panic and what is a side effect of the medicine. All I know is that when I feel like this, it feels forever. Today's glimpse at feeling normal is what I'm holding onto right now. If I could feel it today, I can feel it again. Maybe even tomorrow?

Trish

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lexapro day 2

I'm going to call today an improvement. The beginning of the day most definitely was NOT. I started the day with anxiety. It's not usually really bad during the day, so I was surprised and not in a good way.

I ended up calling my dad mid-morning and asking if he'd come by after he got off work. God bless my dad. He had actually planned to leave a little early anyway, so he came and played with Robbie for 3 hours until David got home. I sat in the recliner like a zombie, moving only to feed Charlotte.

The anxiety actually began to lift around noon, but I was left exhausted and numb. Maybe it was the drugs, maybe it was recovery from being so tense, maybe it was just plain old mom-of-a-3-week-old tiredness. I don't know.

I had already called my doctor's office about the side effects. I was pretty sure there wasn't much they could do, but I figured I'd give it a shot. I'm to the point where I'm embarrassed when they answer the phone now. It's me again. They've been nothing but kind, of course. I'm not really a fan of being so needy and I feel like I'm sucking the love and attention out of everyone around me. But it's all I can do right now.

I was right, there's not much they can do. Because I'm nursing, there are limited options. She assured me the side effects should fade in the first week. All I could do was thank her, hang up, and hope she was right. And wonder how I'd survive like this for a week.






I took my 2nd dose of lexapro this evening and waiting for it to hit me. No flash of heat overtook me, no instant tingling or panic set in right away. My body seems to be adjusting quickly, so maybe she's right about the week.

This evening, the anxiety creeped back in around 7:30. My hands started shaking again, my stomach churning, even dry heaving at one point. (One bonus of having no appetite- nothing to puke!) It wasn't *quite* as intense as it gets sometimes. I worked through some breathing exercises that haven't been working at all, but I was able to lower the intensity a little more. At this point, I'll call that a win.

Around 9:30, I felt it start to lift a little. I was surprised because it usually lasts at least 4 hours, sometimes as many as 6. Two felt like winning the lottery. It did start to bounce back a little, but I worked on my breathing again and was able to maintain some control of it. Around 10:00, Charlotte and I took a 45 minute nap. That was pretty major because normally when this happens, I can barely sit, I most certainly can't lay and I definitely can't sleep.

It wasn't the most restful sleep ever. I kept waking up jerking a little. But it was sleep and when I woke after 45 minutes, the anxiety was gone. I felt hope again. I thought of the kids and I smiled. David checked on me and I smiled at him. I feel like a person. The world is not caving in on me, after all.

I do hope that it continues. Maybe I'll wake up in a panic again tomorrow, but I am going to cling to this moment where I feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel. My blood pressures have been great on the lower dose of blood pressure meds, so hopefully I'll see and end to them very soon. And maybe one day I'll get through a whole day w/o wondering if today is the day I need to be checked in somewhere. (which was the focus of the crazy thoughts tonight, for the record.)

I do appreciate all the messages of support. When I'm in the darkest points of the panic, when I can barely move, all I do is sit and read the emails and comments and texts. They are what is feeding my hope right now. Thank you all so much.



--Trish

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Survival

One of the things that I've always tried to do here on the blog is be transparent. Good or bad, admirable or shameful, I've always wanted to share the truth of what I was feeling. What I was feeling may not always be the truth (perspective is a funny thing) but emotions are subject to logic or morality. They just are. Sometimes they're fun or happy, but often they're ugly and raw. Whether is was the bitterness over my infertility or the pain of my miscarriages, and into the frustration and exhaustion of a child with special needs, I have always tried to share what I was really feeling. I don't intend for that to change now.
So now I'm going to try to share what crazy feels like. And yes, I know crazy isn't very politically correct when it comes to mental illness. But I feel crazy. I don't think my outside matches how I feel on the inside, but if it did, people would shield their children from me in the streets. It's funny because I've lost so much weight and my skin still has the pregnancy glow so I look pretty good. Everyone keeps commenting on it. "Wow, how do you feel? You look fantastic!" It's nice to hear, but weird because the honest answer to that question is "awful. I just feel awful."

And I think adding to the feeling of craziness is that it is interspersed with these overwhelming feelings of love and joy. Little flashes. Robbie wanted me to play with him and his "rocketshit" tonight and I laughed a real, genuine laugh. There's something about a toddler accidentally saying shit that is beyond funny. And Charlotte smiled in her sleep earlier and I felt like it was a flash of God telling me "she's okay."

But 99% of the rest of the evening? Crazy. I took my first dose of lexapro and honestly, I think it made me feel worse, not better. I guess that's pretty common. I got really flushed and dizzy and blurry eyed. And of course, that's combined with my usual symptoms- trembling hands and legs, nausea, chest pain, irritability, panic, racing thoughts etc. It's a great combination.

I sat down tonight and I prayed loudly to God. I had spoken with a friend about how I felt like I had no words for God even though my faith is fine. She offered me some scripture to let me know that I was not alone. One particularly passage she shared spoke to me.
Romans 8:26, "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."
She encouraged me to just speak what was in my heart, so that's what I did. It wasn't a long prayer, but it was a heartfelt one. I cried and thanked Him for the blessings that I can literally look around and count. The kids, of course, but also my husband and my dad and my mother-in-law, all of whom have been nothing but amazingly supportive. My friends, my blog readers, everyone who has sent an email or comment or text or call to say they're thinking of me. I am blessed beyond what any one person deserves. But still the panic comes.

David and I talked about it tonight. I've had trouble with an anxiety disorder in the past, but it's really been at least livable for more than a decade. David thinks this is different. He's seen me anxious, but he's never seen me like this. He (and I agree) believes this is postpartum chemical whackiness. And it's awful.

The thing is how to get through it? Hopefully tomorrow the lexapro won't send me into the spin it did tonight. Tonight was like nuclear anxiety. I wanted to scream, cry, throw things, run out into the freezing cold and just keep going. Just sitting down to nurse Charlotte, I felt like I was going to climb out of my skin.

I wondered to David earlier if this is how my mother felt before she left. (Trish history flashback: My mother left when I was 2. She called once when I was 27, but I haven't seen her at all since I was younger than Robbie is now.) Maybe she was mentally ill and didn't have the support that I do. There was no Lexapro then. And I know enough about her family back then to know she probably wouldn't have gotten the support that I have. David was less forgiving (and generally, so am I) but who really knows. What I do know is that this condition.. this disease.. this whatever.. it's not reasonable.

Don't mistake me- I'm in no way planning to leave my family. I DO have the support to get through this. But even with all of the support and resources that I have, I'm just barely keeping it together. If I didn't? I don't think that I would. If I didn't have the support I have and didn't love my kids to the depths of my soul, I'd probably have myself in an inpatient program somewhere.

I don't know what to do until things improve. I don't know how long that will take. I'm going to try to get through tomorrow, with David on stand-by at work if he needs to come home. And he will try to arrange things to maybe be off on Wednesday. I might see if my mother-in-law can come on Thursday and Friday. I feel like a failure to even ask. She has a job and has already taken off so much to be with us. If I knew someone to hire to be here particularly in the evening and late night, I'd do that, but I don't and can't find one through an agency as quickly as tomorrow. But we'll figure it out. Somehow.

Right now, I'm coming out of the crazy time. It's 2am and my mind is clearing. My hands are still shaking, my vision is still blurry, and I'm still sweating for no good reason at all. But I can think straight for the first time in hours. I just hope that tomorrow brings more lucidity. And the day after that even more.


In the mean time, prayers for survival and health are all I can do and ask for. They are more appreciated than you know. Fortunately my crazy doesn't preclude gratitude.

--Trish

Monday, December 5, 2011

brief update

She's calling me in some Lexapro.
I'm really nervous about this affecting Charlotte, but she says it's safe.

Prayers for it to work for me and NOT to affect Charlotte, please.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

PPD Con't

Firstly, thank you so much to everyone who emailed, called, texted and commented. I was crying when I wrote the post because I was so beaten down and hopeless, and then I cried for hours more from the hope that you all offered. Thank you so much.

Last night, it wasn't *so* bad. It wasn't good, but it wasn't this sickening hopeless hole of despair. Tonight, I'm afraid it has been, again.

It came on slower tonight. Usually about 6:00, it hits me like a truck. My stomach drops and starts to churn, my hands start to shake, my mind starts to race. Tonight 6:00 came and it was more of a general sense of unwellness. But then about 8:30, the truck got here. My chest started to hurt, my body started to shake, my brain wouldn't stop. I flitted from heart attack to stomach cancer to being unable to make my kids happy to any more of a thousand other scary, awful things. I told himself it wasn't logical. I took deep breaths, I thought happy thoughts. I painted a fake smile on my face and tucked Robbie into bed.

Why? Why is this happening? I know you can offer science. Hormones, brain chemistry, genetics, exhaustion, PTSD, yada yada yada. But why now? Why was last night not-so-bad and tonight so terrible? Is it something I ate? Too much activity? Too little?

We were busy tonight. My dad came over and helped us decorate for Christmas. Robbie thought he'd won the lottery when he saw the tree. He put candy canes on just as proudly as anything you could see. It made me smile. A real smile, too, not a that's-sweet-but-I-can't-really-feel-it smile. When the truck didn't hit me at 6, I thought maybe the distraction had saved me a little bit. But no. Just delayed it.

Maybe it's related to my blood pressure. I dropped my pressure too much today. At one point I was moving the love seat across the room (to put the tree up in its place) and I felt really lightheaded. I took my blood pressure and it was 99/55. That's way too low for me. Oops.

So when my meds were due at 6, just a few hours later, and my BP was only then up to 120/70, I was afraid to take my full dose. So I halved it. At 8:30, when I started to feel Anxious, it was 135/85. Not great, but not awful. At 10, though, it was up to 150/90. So I took the other half. I feel like I can't win.

That brings me to another thing I worry about. (this is a little bit worry and a little bit Worry.) The labetilol has my heart rate LOW (as low as 50 bpm.) won't zoloft (or paxil) do the same thing? That is- drop my heart rate. Can the two be mixed together?

Obviously I need the blood pressure meds. But I don't know how long I can live with this anxiety either. I'm a mess. I need to be able to combine the two.

I went back and looked and after Robbie was born, I had to be on BP meds for 10 days. TEN DAYS. I was pretty  much at kidney failure, sick sick sick.. and came out of it in 10 days. Charlotte is now over 3 weeks old and I'm still fighting it. I didn't get nearly as sick with her as with him, but it's clinging to me for dear life. Fucking preeclampsia.

And I know lots of people never get away from the BP meds. Maybe that will happen to me this time. I feel like I've been improving. Heck, I was at 110/70 for a solid week until the last few days. And I can't help but wonder if the Anxiety is what is driving it back up. Both tend to peak at night. So maybe some mood medication would "fix" my blood pressure, too. But if I can't safely take the two together for a little bit to find out, I'm in trouble.

So that's what I'm stressing about tonight. Along with wondering if the chest pain is a heart attack or the heart burn is stomach cancer or if the fact that Charlotte cried for 13 seconds earlier means I'm a terrible mother and won't be able to make her happy. (Yes. That's my brain on Anxiety. Logic not required.)

All I know for sure is that this SUCKS. I really hope my doctor has some hope for me tomorrow. And if any of you successfully combined blood pressure meds with mood stabilizers and nursed at the same time, I'd love to hear that.

Honestly, I'm loving hearing ALL of your success stories. They are the only thing really giving me home right not because I truly feel like I am stuck like this forever. Logically I know that's not the case, but it FEELS like a hole I'll never climb out of. Knowing that some of you have been in the hole and found your way back out (and it seems like with some ease?) is what is keeping me going right now.

If you could all pray for the preeclampsia and the anxiety to leave me be, it would be a lot to me. I'm struggling with my conversation with God right now. My faith is untouched- I know and love a gracious, loving God, but I can't seem to find the right words to pray lately. It's probably part of the depression. So maybe add that to your prayers, too. I guess I just need a lot of help lately, huh?


Trish

Friday, December 2, 2011

PPD

I'm going to just lay this out here: I'm pretty sure I'm suffering from post-partum depression.

I knew I was having some issues with anxiety and put it off to the baby blues for a while. Then at one point one of the OBs told me that anxiety can be a symptom of high blood pressure, so I thought it was "just" that.

And for a little while, my blood pressures improved and so did the anxiety. And then my blood pressures have gone wonky again the last few days and so has the anxiety.

So the two things at least seem to be correlated.

But the thing is, I still feel anxious even when my blood pressures are fine.

About 6 or 7 at night, it really sets in. It starts with that sinking feeling of doom. Then the nervous stomach starts. Maybe some chest pain. My hands and legs start to tremble. My mind races. I worry about Charlotte's weight, about my milk supply, about germs, about how many episodes of Mickey Mouse Robbie watched today, if the pain my legs is a blood clot, if the cough is really pneumonia, if my husband resents how much of my slack he's pulling, and on and on and on.

I tell myself it's a chemical reaction, not a real one. I try to talk to myself rationally. But it won't stop. Usually until around 10 or 11 at night when it will ease.

The last 2 days have been particularly rough. Yesterday morning I had a round of Anxiety that is usually reserved for the night. I was home alone with the kids and just feeling completely overwhelmed. I walk through the things I'm "supposed" to do to take care of them, but I feel like a zombie. I do them because I have to, not because of any internal drive to do so.

The long and short of it is that I don't feel joy. Yesterday I heard myself laugh at something on TV and actually found myself surprised. I realized it's been days since I laughed. How can that be?

And then the guilt comes. I have two amazing, healthy, beautiful children at home. I have a husband who is supportive and loving. I have family who loves and cares for us without judgement or complaint. I have an awful lot of things to feel joy about. But here I am anyway.

What I realized today (duh) is that it's clearly a "problem." Today I ended up at a cardiologist's office being scanned for blood clots because I couldn't stop worrying about the leg pain I was having. Logically, that probably wasn't too out there- I've got a lot of risk factors- but it was how I felt inside that made it clear it was more than a "better safe than sorry" situation. I was obsessing about it. Because worrying it what I DO.

I sat down tonight and told my husband what I was really feeling. I hadn't told him, or anyone really, how bad it was because I was ashamed. To be frank, I'm still ashamed. I shouldn't feel this way. I feel like a bad mom, a bad wife, a bad daughter, a bad friend, an annoying patient. I feel like I'm letting everyone in my life down.

David was amazing. I feared he'd tell me to get over myself, but he didn't. He reassured me that I'm a great mom and a great wife and that even though I may not feel like I'm doing enough, I really am. We talked about brain chemistry and all of that and he didn't make me feel crazy at all. We talked about natural ways to fight this (exercise, more sunshine etc) and about my decision to call the doctor on Monday for medication.

I wish I could say that made me feel somewhat better, but again- I seem to be incapable of feeling better. It mostly just didn't make me feel worse.

I am worried (there I go again) about the meds and nursing. I'm worried the safest ones won't work. I'm worried I'll never feel better again. Because that's how my brain works right now. I feel stuck in a hole. But I'm also trying to tell myself that's the condition, not reality. The reality is that lots of women are able to successfully treat their PPD and they do come out of it. And their kids are okay. I have to hang onto that in my brain, because my heart isn't quite buying it.

So I will call the doctor on Monday. In the mean time, I hope that you will all pray for me. And I hope that you'll be kind in your comments. I know this is yet another whiny post, but I wanted to be honest and real. This is how I'm feeling. Mental illness isn't fair or logical. It is, however, part of my life.

--Trish


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nursing Worries

I'm finding nursing a bit of a love-hate relationship.

I really enjoy nursing her. I'm not really a super crunchy type, but in this case, nursing has been kinda magical for us. I had the same experience with Robbie. The first time he nursed it was perfect. He latched on and looked happy. I sobbed happy tears. It wasn't to last. He didn't have the stamina to take full feedings by breast and then of course, he ended up not eating at all, but for that brief moment in time, it was magic.

Charlotte also had a perfect latch right from the start. She knew what to do immediately and did it well. She was very sleepy and did a lot more sleeping than nursing for a few days. In the hospital, they had me topping her off with a bottle after she nursed, but she never took more than another 1/2 oz (and usually much less than that) and seemed satisfied.

Her pediatrician wanted to make sure she didn't lose too much weight to start because she just didn't have much to give, so that's what we did. She lost the first 2 days, then slowly started to gain again. When we left the hospital, we stopped topping her off. Her first office appointment, she hadn't gained any weight and I was pretty stressed out.

I was still having to wake her to eat, so I moved her feedings up to every 2 hours instead of every 3, and as she slowly started to wake up a little more (waking on her own, I mean) sometimes she'd feed even more often than that. Our next weight check, she had made weight. The doctor wanted 3-5 oz in that time, and she'd gained 3.5.

I have a baby scale at home, so I can also keep track at home. I try not to weigh her obsessively both because I know there are variables that make that unreliable and because I know it will make me crazy. But tonight was a weigh in night.

She's gained 1.5 oz in 4 days putting her back at her birth weight of 5lb 2oz. I wish it were just a bit higher. Right now she's gained 4oz in 6 days. Average is a little more than that. I know she's so small yet. She's still a little over 2 weeks from her due date. I'm almost certain I have plenty of supply. She has a great latch and seems to nurse well. Her diaper outputs are great. All signs point to a happy, healthy baby. But I wish it was a little more.

I know that some of this is Robbie's history bleeding into Charlotte. Some of it is because even though she's my 2nd child, I've never done this before. Some of it is probably Anxiety screwing with my mind. But I'm worried.

I love her so much and I want what is best for her. I want her to have the immunities that breast milk provides. She's so tiny and fragile, I want to do everything I can for her. I keep telling myself that if she needs formula, she does. Or I can pump and supplement her a little. But I honestly don't think I can exclusively pump again like I did with Robbie.

I'm already pulled in 2 directions all day. Robbie is handling the change very well, but at least once a day, he gives me the saddest look like he just misses having me all to himself. I try to immediately devote a little one-on-one time to him and that seems to perk him right up, but I still feel like I'm having to choose between them a lot. Adding having to pump 6 or 8 times a day just isn't going to help that. And it was hard enough the first time... I swore I wouldn't do it again. Of course, never say never, I suppose. But I really don't want to do it again.

I just keep praying that as she gets closer to her due date, she gets bigger and stronger and then it cycles into better weight gain and so on. Hopefully as she gets bigger and can control her temperature better, she'll burn fewer calories as well. We do everything we can to keep her warm, but it's not the same as having that natural internal mechanism. Hopefully more body fat will help with that.

I really just need her to get bigger and stronger all around. I worry so much about her and love her so much. I need her to be okay. I hope that allows me to continue nursing her, but at this point, I just wish I knew what the right answer was.

I would really appreciate prayers for good weight gain and for peace for me. Worrying changes nothing and I know that. But I seem to be incapable of not doing it.

Trish

Saturday, November 26, 2011

By the numbers

  • 14: days that Charlotte is old. Where does the time go?  
  • 1: the point drop in Charlotte's bilirubin this week. Not huge, but it's the right direction, so we'll take it. 
  • 3.5: ounces Charlotte gained this week, putting her back up over the 5 pound mark (5lb 0.5oz) and making her pediatrician happy.
  • 23: the number of pounds I'm down from my prepregnancy weight. I'm probably going to need some new pants or risk an embarrassing moment in public. 
  • 10: hours I had to delay taking my last dose of blood pressure medicine (normally taken every 8 hours) because my blood pressures were TOO LOW. Even then, I took a smaller dose in an attempt to keep from bottoming out.
    It's quite a difference to go from "I shouldn't stand up, I could have a stroke" to "I shouldn't stand up, I might get too lightheaded." The latter DEFINITELY being better. Certainly will be talking to the doctor about lowering my dose on Monday. 
  •  26: pounds that Robbie now weighs. I hadn't even realized it, but he has officially regained and surpassed all of the weight he lost during tube-weaning. And frankly- he feels and looks pretty heavy right now. 
  • 2: remaining days until David goes back to work and I'm officially on my own with both kids. NERVOUS. 
  •  95: the percentage by which I feel better than I did even on Monday. As my blood pressures have plummeted, so have my anxiety levels, the baby blues, and even my exhaustion (though I suspect the exhaustion will last a few more months. Totally worth it, but the newborn nights are rough!)
  • 1472: the number of times a day I stop and think about how amazing my kids are. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gratitude

Today is Thanksgiving.
When I found out I was pregnant with Charlotte and figured out my due date, I knew that my goal would really be 37 weeks because of my delivery history with Robbie. That day was today, 11/24/11.
I spent all those months praying for a Thanksgiving baby. While I didn't make it quite as close as I hoped, it's hard to be too upset as I sit here staring at my amazing baby girl. I have so much to be thankful for.

Charlotte is doing great. She had her first pediatrician appointment on Monday. She hadn't gained any weight since leaving the hospital and I panicked a bit. (Okay, a lot.) But she's eating well, and I'm hopeful that at her recheck on Saturday, things will improve. They rechecked her bilirubin that day and it was back up to 11, but we did it again yesterday and it was down to 10, so it's headed in the right direction on its own, which is encouraging.

She's still in the super sleepy phase, though she has a couple of wakeful periods each day. Usually in the morning and then very late at night. The nights can get kinda rough, but such is the way with babies. She is so snuggly and sweet, and even when she's awake for a while, she's pretty happy, so sometimes the nights feel like I'm getting a little something that no one else gets (for now.)

Robbie is also doing very well. He seems to have fallen in love with his sister. When she does fuss, he goes over and talks to her to console her. One day when I'd gone to the bathroom and she started crying, he brought her a paci. He brings her a blanket or a toy if he sees one he thinks she needs. In the mornings when I'm laying in bed nursing her, I'll hear him coming across the house to "say hi to Mommy and baby Charlotte!"

He's really quite gentle with her. We've had a few incidents where he's gotten too wound up and had to be reminded to be careful around her, but they've all been accidents and he's seemed genuinely upset that he had almost hurt her. (Just bouncing on the bed and accidentally knocking into her or something.)

You can see him figuring things out sometimes. Yesterday I was using one of Robbie's fleece blankets on her and he looked a little concerned and told me that was his blanket. I told him that he was right but asked if it was okay if Charlotte used it. He seemed to take that under advisement just repeating "that's Robbie's blanket" but not really seeming upset about it. Then he just wandered off. A little while later, he came up, gave the blanket the same pensive look and said "that's Charlotte's blanket." I guess he bequeathed it to her.

I'll tell ya, nothing makes your three year old look bigger than having a baby in the house, though. I swear it's like he grew a foot and aged a year the day she was born. It's bittersweet. He's not the baby anymore, but man, seeing him as a big brother makes me even more proud of him.

David's been amazing, too. We definitely struggled after Robbie was born. David had no idea what to do with a baby, let alone a preemie with the kind of issues that Robbie had. It was not easy. I worried about us going through that again, so we talked about it a lot before and during my pregnancy with Charlotte. He definitely took it all to heart.

During the weeks in the hospital, he took care of everything at home. He run Robbie back and forth to the hospital, took care of school stuff, home chores. He took vacation time when Charlotte was born, but the nature of his job makes vacation a little bit of a loose term. He was sitting in the NICU the night Charlotte was moved there writing memos for work. Vacation just meant he didn't have to go into the office, but still handled things as they came up. All while taking care of me, Charlotte and Robbie.

We've sniped at each other a time or two, of course. The kind of stress and sleep deprivation that comes with a preterm birth and a newborn can get to anyone. But by and large, we've been a team through all of this. He's taken Charlotte without question whenever I've needed a break, and almost exclusively parented Robbie while I was on bedrest and too sick to get up for a while.

Then there are our parents. My mother-in-law took a leave from work and came to stay at our house the day after I was admitted to the hospital. She took Robbie to and from school, comforted him, fed him, all while keeping my house immaculate (seriously, she is SO much a better housekeeper than me) and doing our laundry.

My dad still works full time but he made sure that my mother-in-law could get around, helped entertain Robbie, shopped for anything we needed, and provided back up care when we needed it.



I honestly don't know what we'd have done without both of them. One day David turned to me and said "if ever my mom gets to the point where we need to take care of her and I ever complain? Smack me." We are both overwhelmed with their generosity. And when we tried to express our gratitude, both of them just waved us off, "eh, we're family." That may be true, but not every family is as supportive as ours.

And friends? I can't even talk about my friends without choking up with tears. As soon as I was put on bedrest, a few friends got together to make freezer meals for me. And bring books and movies and magazines to help keep my mind busy.

They texted and emailed and called and visited me at home and then later in the hospital to stave off off loneliness. They prayed.

Last week, the girls from my preemie board arranged for a mobile shower the likes of which I can't even explain. They conspired with David and my mother-in-law to fill my house with gifts that are beyond generous. They filled my deep freeze all over again. There were gift certificates for photos, and house-cleaning. There was a kindle (!) with a gift card for books. There were clothes and blankets and diapers and a dozen cards with touching messages that made me cry a lot. They made me feel loved.

And of course, there is God. Without his amazing love and caring, I don't know where we'd be. My entire pregnancy was an answer to prayers. That we got as far as we did is another. Charlotte's good health is nothing short of a miracle. That we two infertiles, me being a profoundly crappy gestator on top of it, are sitting at home on this Thanksgiving day with our two beautiful children proves a thousand times that God is a loving and powerful God and I'm grateful every day for His presence in my life.

Everything isn't always sunshine and rainbows and I'm never going to be the person who pretends that it is. But neither do I ever overlook my many, many blessings. I count them daily and try to make sure that those people by whom I'm blessed know how I feel about them.

Today isn't about remembering that I'm lucky. I know that all 365 days a year. But I do think it's a great day to shout it from the rooftops without feeling like a braggart. My life is full. I am blessed. I am filled with thanksgiving.

--Trish

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Actual complaining

Preeclampsia is evil. It isn't enough that it has caused both my babies to come early, but it is the gift that just won't stop giving.

With Robbie, I started feeling better almost immediately after he was delivered. It was nearly 2 weeks until I could focus on eyes again (I really blamed the mag for that, but in retrospect, it was probably the pre-e.) and 3 weeks of BP meds until it started to regulate, but overall, I *FELT* okay.

This time, even though I didn't get nearly as sick, it seems to be lasting longer. First there was the reaction I had to the mag the day after Charlotte was born. God bless the nurse who finally said "that's it! You're done!" and shut it off a little early. I couldn't take much more. I swelled up like a stuffed sausage that day, too. The covering OB kept commenting on how bad my face looked. Good thing I'm not sensitive to that sort of thing. I was more concerned with my feet as they felt like they might actually explode.

And now that I'm at home, my blood pressures are just not cooperating. They were finally a little better the last day and a half and I thought maybe we'd finally started to regulate (at double the dose I was on after Robbie) but tonight around 7:30 I started to feel a little funny. Took my BP- 170/100.

Laid down an hour, 170/105.
Took my BP meds a few hours early, laid down another hour, 165/99.


Had to page the on-call doc. She had me take another 1/2 dose of meds, discussed a few options and waited an hour. Fortunately that got it down to 145/90, which isn't great, but is livable for the time being.

Of course this is all between also tending to a hungry baby and trying to get a toddler to bed. David was great and took care of everything he possibly could, but at one point Robbie starts yelling "need to snuggle mommy!" and Charlotte was gearing up for her nightly cluster feed, so there are some limits.

I was extremely relieved to avoid the E.R. But it's also frustrating and scary. I don't want to have a stroke. I don't want to feel like crap. I am so, so, so, so, blessed to have two mostly healthy, absolutely amazing children at home. I just want to be able to care for them.

Preeclampsia is a condition of pregnancy. It took the end of my pregnancies from me, so why can't it just leave me alone?

I'm praying this was an isolated event. Since my pressures have been decent the last couple of days, maybe it was pre-e's last gasp. A girl can always hope.


In any case, I would appreciate prayers for healing for me and for all of us. Charlotte has been sneezing a bit tonight. It might be normal newborn sneezing, but Robbie's had this never-ending cold (probably more like two colds or even three in a row. Thank you, daycare.) for the last probably 6 weeks, and I'm scared to death that Charlotte is going to get it. She does have the benefit of immunities from my breastmilk (I've never been so happy to have gotten one of Robbie's colds before) but we have no way of knowing how she would handle a cold. Her lungs seemed great when she came out, but she was still born 5 weeks too soon and she's still very small. If we could put off her getting sick for a while, that would be much, much better.

Trish


Thursday, November 17, 2011

We're home

We made it!

She passed all her tests, kept her temp up and we were released this afternoon about 3:30.

It's very surreal to be home after nearly 2 weeks gone.

Charlotte seems a little overwhelmed. She's yet to sleep. She ate kinda crappily, then wanted more an hour later and ate well. I was a little worried because I don't even have a pump, so if she doesn't eat, I'm going to HURT. Thankfully she did a great job a little earlier. She almost nodded off, but as soon as I put her down, she woke up again. She seems to be looking around like "whoa. Where AM I?"

Obviously she can't see much, but I'm sure the shapes are different, the smell is different, the sounds are different. She hears Robbie and she seems really curious. I hope she settles in soon. I hope *I* settle in soon. It's just surreal.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need a nap.


--Trish

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Long Version

I swear, I feel like I've been beaten.

This morning, my OB released me. Charlotte had been doing perfectly (eating, maintaining her temp, no breathing trouble, even gained an ounce of weight back last night) so I was confident we were going home. We started packing and had our stuff by the door.

I was pretty sure Charlotte was going to be jaundiced. It's super common anyway, particularly in preemies, even more in breastfed preemies and her bili had gone up the 2 previous days, though not to a concerning level. But it usually peaks between 3-5 days after birth, so I kinda expected it. And then about 2, she started looking pretty yellow to me and didn't eat well at all.. just really sleepy. (Common symptoms of jaundice.)
At 5, she ate well, but was downright orange. The nurse thought the same thing and had did a heel prick to send her serum level off. But I wasn't freaked out or anything. I'd already discussed it with her pediatrician at rounds the day before and knew we could go home with a bili blanket if it came to that.

Well, her pediatrician rounded at 7:30 and said her level had gone up a lot- it was 14. She wanted her on the lights right away and wrote an order for us to get a bili bed at home and a nurse visit for tomorrow to draw her levels again right away.

They took Charlotte to the nursery and brought her back naked on this bili bed. Charlotte was furious. They had a couple of blankets over her, but Charlotte was NOT to be consoled. She was just flailing all over the place. I had only slept 2 hours all night because she'd had a little cluster feed at one point and then all the stuff with the tests and all that, (plus you know, it's the hospital. I swear someone comes in every 10 minutes to wake you up and tell you to go to sleep.) I was hoping to lay down a bit, but it wasn't to be.

David and I both tried to calm her down, but w/o being able to actually hold her, that was difficult.
An hour later, her nurse comes to take her temp. It's 93. Nurse is convinced the thermometer isn't working. Goes and gets another one. Still low.
Takes it rectally. it's actually 93.
Holy shit, that's REALLY bad.

I start to freak out, I want to hold her kangaroo style right away to help get her temp up while the nurse is paging docs. the nurse won't let me. I'm beside myself.
She finally takes her off the nursery under the warmers. (This probably only took 10 minutes, but seriously, I could have increased her temp at least a LITTLE in 10 minutes. I'm still pissed about it. I swear if I never hear the word "policy" again, it's too soon. More on that later.)

She comes back, tells us that the NICU team is coming to evaluate her and she's paged our pediatrician. I pretty much knew then that we were going to have to stay. Our pediatrician is really conservative, and she'd already been nervous about us going home with her bili high.

The NICU NP comes in to talk to us and has the hospital social worker with us. Yeah, that definitely means bad news. She was as nice as could possibly be, she really was (is) but you know, the news still sucked.

She said that with the jaundice and then the temp drop, they wanted to get her into an isolette and under the lights. there was also the CBC they'd done when her temp was so low and her white blood cells were just slightly low, so they wanted to repeat that in the morning to make sure it wasn't the sign of an infection (newborns will often do the opposite of adults and drop their levels instead of raise them.) She doesn't really think it's an infection, but will be cautious.

While I was talking to her, my pediatrician calls my hospital room and she's convinced it IS the sign of infection and definitely thinks she needs to be in the NICU.

They take Charlotte and go. I sob.

And sob.

And sob.

Her nurse takes pity on us and arranges for us to keep our hospital room until 7 tonight and says maybe we can get a courtesy room down by the NICU. That doesn't happen, but I can stay on the couch in Robbie's NICU room. Just means that I'm by myself and still healing from a c-section, which isn't ideal, but it is what it is.

In the midst of all of this, Charlotte has a couple more feedings, which she completely sleeps through. I have to bottle feed her instead of nurse and even that is difficult. It's either the jaundice or the cold (even though she's now warm) or infection.. who knows. I was a wreck.

I managed to pump enough for a few feedings, thankfully, so at least I had that (not that she couldn't have formula but at this point, I'm hanging on to what I can.)

My mother-in-law brought Robbie up for a quick visit, which is a welcome distraction. This gives  Charlotte a little time to get admitted into the NICU, then come down to see her. It's one of my favorite nurses with her, which was a huge relief. As soon as she sees us she just shakes her head. "She didn't want Robbie to have all the stories."

The sight of Charlotte in the isolette is almost more than I can take. Maybe it was PTSD, I don't know, but as soon as I saw her, I started sobbing again. Another one of my babies naked in an isolette in the NICU. My heart was just shredded.

The NP, Dawn, is in and out and says Charlotte's initial labs were good (they'd checked her electrolytes to make sure she wasn't dehydrated since she'd not been eating well for a few hours, but they were fine.).

It's about time for her to eat, so I decide to attempt to nurse her, figuring I'd just bottle feed her anyway. She ends up taking maybe 1/3 of a feeding by breast (improvement) and the rest by bottle. Nikki is off tending another baby who is having a lot of breathing issues, so I just hold Charlotte a while. Nikki comes back and I ask if I have to give her back right away to get her back on the lights.
THEN she tells me "well, you can hold her a little while. her bili really isn't that high." I say something about it having been 14 and she says it wasn't really 14, it was 10.

Excuse?

Yeah, turns out that 14 that everyone quoted was the skin test thing which is notoriously inaccurate. They hadn't even waited for the serum level to come back with the real level, which was 10. I ask what it really should be (pretty sure 10 being below the treatable level because that's what it was on the skin test the day before) and she says that different doctors have different policies, but in the NICU, they don't treat for a level of 10. I make myself proud by NOT starting to cuss. The issue that set off this whole thing wasn't even an issue?!

Of course, I tell myself that maybe it's for the best, Charlotte WAS acting lethargic and there's still the undetermined WBC issue and maybe God has us here for a reason. But I was twitching anyway.

The NP Dawn comes in to chat with us a bit and they discuss if Charlotte even needs to be on the lights. In the end, we all agree to just leave her on the lights as is. She has to be in the isolette for her temperature, may as well make the most of it and get her bili down. It will help her feel better, eat better and will make our pediatrician happy in the morning.

She had discussed the WBC level with the neonatologist on duty and he didn't think it was an issue either, but it will be repeated in the morning either way.

We check Charlotte's temperature and she's WARM. Dawn encourages Nikki to aggressively wean her isolette temp with the goal being to have her back in an open crib by morning.

A few familiar faces come by and catch up on Robbie. Everyone coos over Charlotte. I try not to think too much about how disturbing familiar everything is. I try not to notice the smell of the soap. I hear a ventilator alarm across the hall and my stomach churns, but I stare at length at the silence of Charlotte's monitors to reassure myself.


David and I go to the cafeteria for dinner. He insists I stay in a wheelchair since my blood pressures are still not great and I'm still recovering. He takes me for a "walk" outside. It's the first fresh air I've had in 10 days. All I want to do is get back to the NICU and check on Charlotte.


The night nurse asks if we'd like to bathe her. It's all coming back to me now. I stepped right in to do her weight (up .7oz from the night before, despite all the drama today) and sponge bathe. Then sat down to feed her. She nursed fantastically. I tried to top her off with a bottle and she barely took 5ml. She was full. Definitely improvement. She looks significantly less yellow and her temp is good.

Right now, what we need is for her to have a normal CBC in the morning. If that goes well, there's a good chance we can get out of here tomorrow. Dawn doesn't think it's going to be a problem. But as I told all of them earlier, Hope and I aren't friends right now. I'll believe it when we're walking out the door.

Right now I'm sitting in the NICU waiting for feeding time. I've definitely been here before. At least this time the rooms are private and I can spend the night, so I don't have to leave her behind. If she has to stay past tomorrow, that might change, but right now, I'm just going a few hours at a time. First we get through the night. We'll see what the morning brings.

--Trish

NICU

She's going to the NICU.

Right now the concerns are 1) Jaundice 2) Temp control 3) her white blood cell count was very slightly decreased, which could be a sign of infection.

the plan is to put her in an isolette under phototherapy. They're going to do some blood work and make sure her electrolytes are okay. Since she hasn't been eating well for the last few feedings, she could be a little dry. If so, they'll do an IV for fluids, if not, no IV.
They are planning to nipple her (I'm allowed to come try to nurse her whenever I want, but she hasn't been interested in that at all the last few feedings, so more likely I'll continue to pump and bottle feed her.)
I have pumped over night and have a few ounces in the fridge, so I'm at least a feeding, probably 2 ahead of her, so at least there's that.

The postpartum floor charge nurse has taken pity on us and is letting us stay in our current room until 7 tonight, but then I'm not sure what's going to happen. She has a private room in the NICU, so there is a fold out couch I can stay on overnight, but of course, that means me and my fresh c-section down there alone. There is talk of maybe finding us a hospitality room so both David and I could stay the night at least tonight, but we'll see.
Otherwise, David might just get a hotel room nearby.

The NP from the NICU wasn't overly concerned, but our pediatrician is, so who knows. The hope is that it's only for a night or two. The jaundice isn't severe, but the temp drop was pretty big. And if she has an infection, obviously that's a bigger deal.
Really, we're just in wait and see mode right now.

I'm basically a freakin' wreck.

So.. here we are.