Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sharing can sometimes also be caring...

I'm a pretty public person. I've been grilled by sisters for talking about things they don't care about or can't relate to. Or are grossed out by because they're weird. (haha love you guys!)

Anyway, I don't keep much to myself. I am always wanting advice from those I trust. I feel like blogging is a great way to do this. So, I'll catch you all up on what's going on in my dark little corner of life for the last ten months.

A couple days ago I talked to a counselor. She told me everything pointed to a textbook case of 
Postpartum Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

What? That exists?

Now what?

I've been having random night(day?)mares and flashbacks since about three months after Nathan was born. I don't know why they haven't stopped. In fact, they've gotten worse. They occupy most of my thoughts, and recently I've discovered that I can sit down in a class, picture all the traumatic things that happened the day Nathan was born, and all of a sudden class is over. That's going to be a problem with all the credits I'm taking.

It's hard to explain and I don't feel like going into detail right now, but I knew I needed help when I found myself with only two options:

1) I want a do-over delivery NOW. Not another pregnancy, just another delivery so that I know that normal is possible for me.


2) I shouldn't have any more babies because I'm damaged from the c-section and I'm no good to have any more.

Neither one is practical. The first one isn't even healthy for me at this point.

I had an appointment today with a nurse practitioner at the practice that delivered Nathan. She was so fantastic. She verified every one of my concerns and feelings and gave great advice. It was nice to hear medical facts about what happened on November 2nd (for more details read the story here; remember, I wasn't traumatized yet at this point.) 

I have a prescription for an anti-anxiety, anti-depressant medication. I also have an appointment with a psychiatrist on Friday. I'll ask him about the prescription, just to get a second opinion, and fill it if I feel like it's right.

I really don't know how to write all this, but I'm trying. So if it sounds awkward, that's why. The nurse practitioner today told me it would be therapeutic to write everything down and talk about it.

Linda (the nurse practitioner...tired of typing that!) has spent her time mainly studying postpartum depression in all of its forms. It affects 15% of all women who have a baby, every year. Postpartum PTSD affects only 2% of new mothers every year. That explains why I thought I was making it up. I don't have any serious, self-damaging thoughts or anything, it's just the thought processes and flashbacks that I get stuck in. I end up in a sobbing mess most nights and can't get back to sleep for hours. Finally, my son is sleeping through the night...and I'm still sleeping like I have a newborn!

Linda thinks that with counseling and medication (I have an extremely low dose right now, a tiny bit above the amount they give children), I'll be completely healed in a year. I kept saying "completely normal" and she kept correcting me. So I guess I'm not the wreck that I am in my head, but I'll get to agreeing with that thought later.

Our plans at this point are to continue treatment. My medication will last for six months. Then I'll be reevaluated and weaned off of it for the next six months. Hopefully this will help me move on so I can have other healthy pregnancies, and *fingers crossed* normal deliveries.

I know I'm scaring about a dozen of my pregnant friends right now. I'm really sorry; I don't mean to. This only happens to a tiny minority of new mothers. My advice to expectant moms, especially first-timers, is to research c-sections. Find out all about them. Prepare for one. Hopefully you won't need all the preparation, but it can't hurt. Doctors don't tell you about them unless you ask (or your baby is breech or you need to have a scheduled one or something).

I knew nothing in that operating room, and it scared me to death. It can happen to anyone. The first eight hours of my labor were smooth sailing. Then when his heart rate plummeted for the last four hours, my blood pressure went sky-high and preeclampsia set in. I had nowhere to go mentally and I just lost it. I couldn't push him out, even when I was at a 9 1/2. They said congenital heart failure in my baby, I apparently said ten months of internal struggle, then a year of counseling and meds. 

To new moms, get help if you need it. Find the help you need, no matter how embarrassing you think it is. It was very embarrassing for me to start this process today and get my "official diagnosis." I'm just very grateful that this is most likely a temporary, one-time depressive state. After a year of help, hopefully I'll be ready to contemplate and mentally handle another pregnancy, delivery, and baby. At this point, my "no more babies!" side is winning!

Here's the big question: do you bloggers want to hear about the process? Or do you not care? It's okay if you don't. I'll write about it privately or publicly. If I can help someone, it is worth it to me to have details out on the table. Should I make a separate blog for it, that way people that don't care or don't want to know, don't have to? Let me know what you think.

Thanks so much!
Thanks, all, for reading and for dealing with me :o)


  1. I have to admit. I'm curious, but no need to blog to satisfy my curiosity. I'm so thankful you have had to the courage to go and get help. I don't know if I could if I were in your shoes.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I know it must be hard to post, but posts like this help me get through the hard day to day things like my husband still doesn't have a job after 4 months of searching, so I guess my answer would be yes. Posts like this help me keep a good perspective. Posts like this help me feel better about my problems, but if you feel like keeping it private, I understand. I was prepared for a c-section because I knew Ava might be big and both of my sisters had c-sections, so I spent a lot of time talking to them about it. After delivering Ava with the help of a vacuum and forceps after pushing for 3 1/2 hours I started thinking maybe a c-section wouldn't have been so bad. I think the problem is that so many people spend time planning their "perfect" delivery and most people don't get a perfect one. The doctors didn't really feel the need to discuss c-sections or delivery, which is bad when you're a first time Mom and have no idea what to expect and don't even really know what to ask. I'm glad you're getting the help you need. :)

    P.S. I wasn't able to breastfeed Ava. I just didn't have enough milk and to this day I still feel guilty that she had formula. I know it's not the same as your disorder, but I still feel guilt over it. I really hope the next time my body is able to work properly and have enough milk. I guess we both feel guilt thinking that things didn't go the way we hoped and planned.

  3. I'm just glad you're getting help - and writing it out in public can give you perspective. Things often become concrete and then shrink, somehow, once they are written out. I know first hand that having an unexpected C-Section and then a baby on oxygen as your first baby can be a shock. I didn't have quite as extreme a reaction months later, but it still took awhile to get over. I will tell you that normal deliveries later ARE possible. And someday when you have another baby if you do need a C-Section you will be more prepared mentally. Hopefully the medication will let you get through classes! Good luck with the semester.

  4. Hi Alaina! Thank you for writing a deeply personal and very brave post; I know it probably wasn't very easy to do.

    I know I'm not a mother, so I cannot entirely relate to what you're going through right now, but I think it's great that you are sharing something you're going through. Even though 2% sounds like a small percentage, there are still millions of women who can relate to what you are going through!

    I believe it's a good idea to let people know that these situations exist! That way, others who are suffering from it (depression, post partum depression, post partum PTSD...the list goes on) who might not even know they are suffering from it, can identify that something very real is going on--it's not being made up in their head! By sharing, it will let people know that these things happen to good, normal people, and that it's nothing to be ashamed of! Sometimes the very best things we can do for ourselves is get counseling and maybe even a prescription (high or low doses)from trained professionals so we can heal.

    Thanks again for your post! When it comes time for me to be a mother, I'll definitely look up information about C-sections so I can be aware of everything it entails just in case I need to get one. I'll also look up information about potential things that might happen after my baby is born (postpartum depression, etc.) so I can be prepared. Take care!

  5. Personally Alaina, if you don't mind sharing I appreciate being able to read a real person's real experiences, but if it gets to the point that you would rather keep it private I wouldn't be offended at all. I think you are amazing! We're keeping you in our prayers. Thanks for setting the example of getting help when you knew you needed it. I don't know that I wouldn't be that brave. Good luck with everything, if I can ever do anything to help let me know!

  6. Thanks for your post, Alaina! I think you can help a lot of people by sharing your experiences (kind of going along the same lines as what Emily and everyone else has said). I think women tend to be too hard on themselves and suffer in silence and feel inadequate or ashamed when things go wrong when in reality they are normal and can be helped! I'm glad you are getting help. You are amazing!:) Good luck!

  7. Good for you, Alaina - for seeking help AND for sharing what you are learning!! (Can you tell the Cranes like to read your blog?? (: ) I'd be interested in reading whatever you feel like writing on the subject! Part of the reason these blogs are wonderful is that it allows people to realize that there are lots of people out there with struggles and concerns similar to their own. I don't remember hearing much about post-partum depression when I was having my babies, but I'm pretty sure I had it after one of them. The interesting thing is that it was after my only relatively EASY birth. And with my most mellow baby!! So I think it doesn't always have to come after a difficult experience - which might help some other mothers out there realize that it can happen to ANYBODY, no matter what the circumstances of the birth were. I think sometimes (all the time??) women tend to compare their experiences, and if someone else's sounds worse than their own, they feel that they have no right to the difficult time they are having or feelings they are feeling. It's not true!!! Everyone has a right to feel the way they feel and not feel guilty for it. Piling guilt on top of everything else makes the original issue SO MUCH worse. I hope lots of people will follow this and all you young mothers will be able to be huge cheerleaders for each other as you go through these years of having children!!

  8. Alaina you really are an amazing girl! Thanks so much for your thoughtful post. I ended up in an emergency c-section with Taylor, and I as completly unprepared because I never thought it would happen to me. I totally agree that all pregnant mommas should have information on both forms of delivery so that you can understand what is going on. I've ended up having 3 c-sections, and, for me, each one has gotten easier because I know the process and what to expect. Good luck on your journey of healing, and we will keep you in our prayers!

  9. Alaina, You are an amazing person and an awesome mother. You have been a great example to me on how to put your children first. I am on my third pregnancy now and I can't imagine what it is like to go through a delivery like you did. Both of my children came out pretty easily, no horror stories here. The only thing I worry about is having my water break and not being able to get to the hospital in time especially since i will be having this next baby in January and will have no idea what the weather will be like. I miss seeing you and hope we can catch up next time you are in town. Thank you for your example. I hope you will feel better soon.
    Linda Rathjen

  10. Wow, you have some great comments from some great friends! Thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts, feelings and what you're going through. Like so many others have said, you're not alone. It's not abnormal to struggle with postpartum depression and other things. I would love to keep reading your experiences and how things go. And it's so true and smart to be educated about c-sections! I never did much research because I thought I'd never need one, and I got lucky and didn't, but it can happen to anyone. A very close friend of mine had to have an emergency c-section as well. She was devastated and heartbroken, but thrilled that her baby was delivered healthy and perfect. So really, as long as the baby and the mama are both fine, the way the baby comes out shouldn't matter so much. (obviously it's much easier to recover from a natural birth, but you get my point)

    Anyway, as far as the depression and post traumatic stress goes, don't feel embarrassed about it or about writing about it. I had alot of anxiety and concerns and emotions that I thought were more than baby blues. (and probably were and still are) I went to a doctor once and he told me I just needed more sleep and more "me time" and gave me some ambien. Didn't listen at all. Needless to say, I didn't go back. I'm still working on things and some days are really, really hard. So kudos to you for seeking professional help. I think by sharing that you did so it can help other people feel better about going and not feel embarrassed about themselves or like something is wrong them. It really helped me when I talked to some friends who also were experiencing what I was. I had no idea and it made me feel so much better! Like I wasn't messed up or abnormal. So, I think it could definitely help someone by sharing your experience.

    Anyway, super long. Love ya. Hope things continue to get better and go well!

  11. You post what you feel you need to, my dear! We'll be here to read and support no matter what.

    As for the post-partum poor girl! I'm so sorry, honey. After having 2 un-medicated bouts of post-partum depression and 1 (current) medicated one, I can tell you that getting help when you need it makes all the difference in the world.

    HUGE (((hugs)))!


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