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Monday, June 19, 2017

My Silent Battle

Motherhood is quite the experience.  There is so much excitement and joy that surrounds a newborn baby.  A new life, a new experience, a clean slate.  So why do so many women suffer from this silent battle known as postpartum depression?  In my opinion, mental health care in the United States is subpar.  Even in the year 2017, there is a stigma of shame that surrounds postpartum depression (actually, any mental illness), even though there shouldn't be.

Please keep in mind that my battle with postpartum depression is subjective and anecdotal at best.  My husband and I were thrilled when we found out we were pregnant with our second child.  I didn't want to know the sex of the baby, so my husband found out and decorated the nursery and kept it under lock and key for nine months.  I gave birth to Josh on November 23, 2014.  After twenty-four hours of labor, I finally got to meet my baby.  Nothing out of the ordinary happened with my birth, and my physical recovery was better than my first birth.

Something wasn't right.  I felt it almost instantly.  I gave it a few weeks; after all, I had just given birth.  I had no hormones left, it was expected that I have some baby blues.  I didn't feel good.  I wasn't bonding with my newborn, and I was distant with my almost three-year-old.  Many nights I found myself crying in my closet.  I didn't want to be around family or friends.  At my six weeks check up I lied to my OBGYN and told her my moods were fine.  I think I was in denial.

As the weeks went by I felt worse and worse.  I was short with my husband and my toddler and not bonding at all with my baby, which made me feel even worse.  One of my friends suggested that I keep a journal of my feelings.  I wrote about my sadness and feelings of disconnection from the rest of the world.  I wrote about going through the motions of everyday life pretending to be happy.

I became an expert at hiding my emotions.  I learned to cry on the inside.  I walked around like a zombie for weeks.  I felt inadequate, and I hated myself.  I was exhausted.  I became so trapped in my darkness with no way to escape.  I thought Michael (my husband) and the boys would be better off without me.  This was my breaking point.  One cold night during February 2015  I looked for ways to take my own life and Jake (my three year old) walked in.  My son walking in on me was the beginning of my cries for help.  I broke down and wrote my husband a letter describing what was going on inside of my head.  He hugged me and said "I love you.  We'll get through this together".  A couple of weeks later we started seeing a counselor.  We went once a week for three months.

During that time, our counselor encouraged me to see my OBGYN.  I was hesitant at first because it was so difficult for me to go to counseling without feeling ashamed of my mental state.  In April 2015, I finally called my OBGYN and made an appointment with her.  I called her office and broke down on the phone to one of her nurses about what had been happening.  She arranged for me to come in the following day.  That was the best decision I've ever made.  She showed such compassion and concern.  She was so understanding.  She asked me a series of questions from the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.  A score of ten or higher indicates postpartum depression but not the severity.  My score was a 17.  My OBGYN discussed going to counseling and medication use.  She also informed me that postpartum depression can worsen after subsequent pregnancies and suggested that if I get pregnant again to use an antidepressant once I'm 38 weeks along to give the medicine time to build up in my system.  I was informed that so many women silently suffer from postpartum depression because they're either in denial or too ashamed to admit that they have a problem.  My OB gave me information about support groups for postpartum depression.  All of her information was insightful and so helpful.

My OB prescribed Zoloft for me to take and suggested that I keep seeing a counselor with my husband.  I had a follow-up appointment with her six weeks later.  I felt like a new woman.  I no longer had thoughts of harming myself, I was starting to laugh again, and I was finally bonding with my baby and sleeping.

I'm only here because of my husband.  He saved me.  He held my hand every step of the way through counseling.  He also encouraged me to call my OBGYN.  I will forever be grateful to him.  He helped me to realize that I'm a good mother and wife.  I finally realized I didn't have to suffer this battle alone.  With all of that said, I'm glad it happened.  It opened my eyes to mental health awareness.  I didn't realize just how many women suffer from postpartum depression.  If I ever have another child, I will be prepared to handle the postpartum depression that may come along with a new baby.

 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6606a1.htm?s_cid=mm6606a1_w

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Goodbye

Aunt Linda,

It's hard for me to write this letter.  It's a reminder that you are actually gone.  It's been so long since I've spoken to you when you were of sound and mind.  I never imagined that I would be writing this letter to you.  After all, it's not as if you can read it and respond.

I'm writing this letter because I used to write to you all the time when I was a child.  You always responded and were so loving in your responses.  I would tell you about school, my family, and my friends.  It was always so nice to visit you.  Visiting you was one of my best childhood memories.

It broke my heart to see you in October 2014.  I wasn't prepared to see you deteriorating.  You were losing your short term memory.  You asked me several times when my baby was due and what the sex of the baby was.  I responded gently that I was due November 24, and we wanted the sex of the baby to be a surprise.  Each time you smiled and said, "that's so nice."

When we said goodbye you put your hands on my face and told me I was beautiful and said, "I still remember you".  You had tears in your eyes.  That was such a wonderful gift.  I stood and hugged you for what seemed like a lifetime trying to remember all of the times you hugged me as a child.

I know that you're not suffering any longer.  I guess my sadness stems from selfishness.  Alzheimers Disease robbed you from us, and I hate that.  I'm glad Jake got to meet you.  He will be so lucky if he can remember you.  He was only two, but I hope he remembers.

I'll miss you so much.  I'm sorry I couldn't make it to your Memorial Service.  I'm sure it was beautiful.  I love you so much.

Love,

Katie

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I Didn't Give Up On You

Powerful image,right?  What does one experience between life and death?  Do they know they are dieing?  Are they looking down watching us work furiously to save them?  Can they hear what we are saying?  When life support is literally the only thing that is keeping them alive, do they know?  The question that haunts me most is does my patient think that I gave up on them? 

I've seen my fair share of death in the seven years that I have been an RT.  I've never been able to figure out what happens during that fragile time between life and death.  Unfortunately I won't ever know until it is my time to go.  I've done compressions, bagged, assisted in intubations to save a life.  I do everything that I am trained to do, but it's not enough.  My heart goes out to the patients who are laying helpless on that hospital bed.  There's nothing worse than a physician stopping a code.  It's cold, frustrating and all around shitty.  It feels strikingly similar to failing, and it sucks.  The dead have a crazy way of haunting me.  I think about what that patient experiences when we're coding them. 

What happens after?  Do they stay with us while we're cleaning them up?  Are they asking "why did you give up on me?"  Or are they saying, "it's okay, I'm fine now."?  These are questions that I'll never have answers to.  These are questions that will haunt me for the rest of my life. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

J&J

Well, at least I'm a creature of habit.  I believe Joshie was 7 months old the last time I posted.  He just turned 10 months old!  How did that happen?!  Here are some stats and comparison to big brother:

8 Months: July 23, 2015
Weight: 20 lb 7 oz

Eating habits: Three meals a day with a night time bottle
Sleeping:  12 hours at night with two naps during the day
Immunizations:  -
Disposition:  Josh is the sweetest baby ever!  He continues to be so laid back, and he is very inquisitive!  He adores his grandparents and big brother.

Josh at 8 Months


Jake at 8 Months
 9 Months:  August 23, 2015
Weight:  21 lb 4 oz
Eating Habits:  Three meals a day plus a night time bottle.  I've tried oranges, pineapples and eggs this month.  I love the oranges!
Sleeping: Twelve hours at night plus 1-2 naps a day
Immunizations:  Hepatitis B and Flu
Disposition:  So laid back and sweet!  He's into everything.  He army crawls all over the place, and Josh had his first trip to St. Vincent ER this month because he fell down the stairs.  Luckily no damage was done, I think his fall scared Michael and I more than him.

Josh at 9 Months

Jake at 9 Months
My babies have gotten so big so fast!  They are so sweet together!  Jake loves Josh so much.  Every night he insists on giving Joshie hugs and kisses before he goes to bed.  I'm so lucky to have these sweet boys in my life!
Jake at three years
Jake started preschool in the middle of August, and I cried like a baby after I dropped him off.  It doesn't seem possible that he is that old.  I'm still baffled!  I can't believe how smart he is and how sweet he can be.  Make no mistake, he is crazy and full of energy and always on the go but he has the sweetest spirit.  I love when he cuddles up next to me, puts his hand on my face and says "Mama, I love you."  My heart just melts!  On a humorous note, at his preschool orientation his teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up... And without missing a beat Jake said, "Umm...a penis"  FACE PALM!  Only my child...



Friday, July 17, 2015

J&J

I'm quite the redundant one...Here is my typical speech: I promise I'll post more, I'm a terrible blogger blah, blah, blah.  Last time I posted Josh was three months old...now he is SEVEN months old!  How did that happen?  Wasn't it just yesterday I was seven months pregnant with him?  Why is the time going by so fast?!  Lets talk stats shall we?

4 Months: March 23, 2015
Weight: 15 lb 12 oz
Eating Habits: 7 ounces of formula plus baby food: apples, pears, sweet potatoes and rice cereal.
Sleeping: 12 hours at night baby!
Immunizations: tba
Disposition: Joshie is extremely laid back and SO happy!  He rolls all over the place just like Jake did at that age.  My boys are incredible!

Josh 4 Months

Jake 4 Months

5 Months: April 23, 2015
Weight: 19 lb
Eating Habits: Josh continues to eat every three hours.  He has seven ounces of formula along with 1-2 tbsp of baby food.  His newest food he absolutely loves is butternut squash.
Sleeping: Josh consistently takes two naps a day and sleeps twelve hours at night.
Immunizations: tba
Disposition: Josh is so happy!  He adores Jake!  Josh smiles and coos all the time!  I'm pretty sure I'm his favorite person ever, which melts my heart.
Josh- 5 Months

Jake- 5 Months
6 Months: May 23, 2015
Weight: 19 lb
Eating: Eating baby food and seven ounces of formula every three hours and growing like a weed!
Sleeping: Two naps a day along with twelve hours of sleep at night!
Immunizations: tba
Disposition:  Laid back Joshie!  He is starting to have stranger anxiety.  He's unsure about those he doesn't see often.  He loves both sets of grandparents and of course big brother Jake.  It's very sweet to watch them interact together.  Josh loves Jake!
Josh- 6 Months

Jake- 6 Months
7 Months: June 23, 2015
Weight: 20 lb
Eating Habits: Josh has started to eat three meals a day plus his night time bottle.  He has tried peas, mangos, green beans and squash.  The kid can pack away the food!
Sleeping Habits: He still sleeps twelve hours at night plus two naps during the day.
Immunizations: tba
 Disposition:  What a sweet baby!  His lower central incisors popped through this month, and the army crawling has begun.  The first thing Josh goes after are Jake's toys.  Poor Jake isn't too keen on Joshie touching his toys let alone trying to take them.  Jake has been pretty patient with Joshie and loves him so much!  He is an amazing big brother.  I am so proud to be the mama of two wonderful little boys!
Josh- 7 Months
Jake- 7 Months
What can I say about Jake The Snake?  My strong willed, spirited child who doesn't like to get dirty.  He LOVES his grandparents, he talks non stop about them.  He has also picked up the habit of being a back seat driver as well as telling me that I need to wash the car.  He loves going to the gym and the outdoor water park at The Monon Center.  Jake continues to have the appetite of a grown man.  He still naps during the day or else he transforms into a beast.  He loves the movie Cars and anything that includes trucks, cars and tractors.  He's rough and tough, yet isn't a fan of being dirty.  As insane as he is, he has this sweet, sensitive spirit.  Recently he got into the habit of crawling in bed with me in the morning to snuggle.  It melts my heart when I hear those little feet come into my room and that little voice that says, "Mamma I wanna snuggle."  How can I resist that?  He looks at me with those big hazel eyes and long eye lashes and I just melt.  That little sucker owns me, and he knows it!  Fortunately, Michael is resistant to the natural charm that Jake Man exudes, meaning he doesn't fall for those puppy dog eyes like I do.  Jake Man starts preschool in August...WHAT?!  How did that happen?  Obviously neither one of my boys received the memo that they aren't supposed to grow up... 

Jake The Snake
My boys: Jake and Josh

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Of Drunkenness and Toddlers


Who would have thought similarities existed between toddlers and drunk people?  I am shocked!  No one ever told me this before I had children.  Here are a few similarities I have noticed:


  • They run into EVERYTHING!
  • They pee on the floor, the wall and in public.
  • They constantly have their hands down their pants.
  • They are not ashamed to pull their pants down in public.
  • They can pass out anywhere at anytime.
  • They are not afraid to steal your food.
  • They trip over objects.
  • They drop every little thing.
  • They slur their speech.
  • They try to dance on tabletops. 
  • They leave hand prints on EVERYTHING!


Jake asleep STANDING up!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

They Said What?!


B.C (before children) I never realized how much judgment and unsolicited advice I would receive from friends, family and strangers on pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood.  I made a list of some of the most outrageous comments said to me, and what I wish I would have said.

1.      “You had an epidural, huh?  You took the chicken’s way out.” Yes I did, and I make no apologies for it!  Try turning your dick inside out and pushing something the size of a watermelon out the opening the size of a lemon.  Why don’t you stick with what you do best: riding motorcycles and being a douche!
2.      “Why don’t you do childbirth like a real woman and not have an epidural?” Just because you’re a hag that gave birth in the 80’s without an epidural doesn’t mean that I have to be. I’m doing it like a smart woman and getting something for the pain.
3.      “Women have been giving birth for thousands of years without epidurals” Yes and how many of those women died in childbirth?
4.      “You’re going to put your child in daycare?  Don’t you feel bad about that?” I do now jerk! Two days a week is not going to scar him for life, and it works for our family.
5.      “Here’s a book on parenting.” Um…you don’t even have children.
6.      “The reason today’s kids are the way they are is because the mothers are always working, and these kids are raising themselves” I’m a full time working mother and rest assured that my husband and I ARE raising our children.
7.      “You’re choosing to vaccinate your children?  Aren’t you scared that they’ll be autistic?  And what about all of those chemicals that are in vaccines?” Yeah, that McDonald’s hamburger you’re eating has more chemicals than a vaccine.  By the way, stop taking medical advice from a former playboy model and a scam artist that can no longer practice medicine because he falsified his research.
8.      “You’re no longer breast feeding?  That’s a shame because your child would have been smarter. My mom breastfed me for a lot longer” You’re giving a lot of parenting advice for someone who doesn’t even have children. Maybe your mom should have spent less time breast feeding you and spent more time teaching you some tact!
9.      “Your two month old baby is sleeping ALL the way through the night?!  Isn’t that against the rules?” No.  What is against the rules is that your toddler STILL can’t sleep through the night.
10.  “I bet contractions don’t hurt as much as my tooth did before I had a root canal.” No response necessary, just a punch to the face.
11."Oh look, you still have a pooch(while patting my belly 4 days after giving birth). I'm still speechless...