Thank you Hannah for your vulnerability, wisdom and joy in sharing your postpartum story. Settling for "OKAY" isn't a solution. Getting a second opinion and pushing or answers doesn't make you weak. Follow your gut feeling ladies.
“I am going to get better!” My eyes flooded with tears as I spoke these words of hope, just a few hours after surgery, on this day last year.
The day Vivian was born, almost four months earlier, had been so joyful! Ian and I were filled with gratitude and thrilled to be starting the sweet journey of parenting, but the months that followed were not at all what we had anticipated.
Three days after my sweet baby was born, I broke out in hives all over my body... neck to ankles. My doctor let me know it could last up to three weeks -- it actually lasted for 13 weeks, and increased in severity until a couple weeks before it went away.
Along with this complication, I developed postpartum anxiety that made even routine activities feel overwhelming, impossible. I kept thinking, “I just need the hives to go away, then I'll be myself."
It was at day 5 of Vivian's life that my family realized that I was sinking into postpartum depression, and they began helping us daily in whatever ways were needed, calmly assuring me and just loving me and my little family.
I had other postpartum symptoms that are normal for the early weeks, but, instead of easing as they should have, they lasted for months. During this time, I continued going to the doctor... first for my 6 week check (where I was assured that everything was fine) and then again at 10 weeks and beyond.
For nearly four months I continued sinking deeper, with several more doctor appointments in between, getting no answers and losing hope that I would ever feel myself again.
I began researching more, and had known of one other person who had experienced similar symptoms, and hers had been retained placenta. So I went, once again, to the doctor and shared this with him and asked if I could please have an ultrasound. When the screen revealed what I had suspected, he said, "Yes, that is what it is." Many pieces of placenta which had started to calcify. Wow! I was so relieved and thankful to finally have an answer.
At 16 weeks and 1 day, I had an early morning surgery. I was so thankful to have my amazing, supportive husband by my side! Into the hospital attire, and an iv put in, they wheeled me down the hall and through the doors. Asleep and awake again in just an hour and a half. I felt groggy but comfortable, and returned home to such a great support group. I took a nap and relaxed.
Within a few hours I felt something was changing. My mind. The fog was lifting. I felt bits of joy, which I hadn't experienced in months. I had hope. “I am going to get better!” This was the start to me becoming myself again, but it wasn't overnight. It would be months before I could with confidence say that I was truly myself again, but instead of the daily decline, I sensed daily improvement. I cannot express what an amazing feeling this was!
Today I am reflecting on this with so much gratitude to God, to my sweet Ian for his unconditional love and support throughout, and to my family who poured themselves out for us during those difficult months, on a daily basis... thank you for loving us, lifting us, and helping us through the day-to-day. For cleaning our house, making meals, loving on our baby while I rested, for having faith that I would come through this and for building me up in my new mommy role -- giving me much-needed confidence. I am so grateful for all of your hours of care, your prayers and for your love!
One of the hardest parts of this struggle was feeling incapable of sharing this struggle with those outside my family. Also, the expectation I sensed that I should be "back into the swing of things", to be able to participate in outings and events, or even maintain any real level of friendship that others might hope for. Unfortunately, I know that I wasn't able to meet the expectations of some. It was work to just wake up each day and try to put one foot in front of the other.
I am so thankful for my dear friends who gave me love, grace and compassion; I will always be thankful for you! Even when I didn't have the words to express what I was feeling, you gave me care without judgment and your words of kindness and your patience were a vital part of my recovery, even when you didn't know what I was going through!
I felt like the anniversary of my surgery was a good day to reflect and share. To express gratitude to all who helped me walk this road. To give voice to the reality of postpartum depression, from my own experience.
“Be kinder than necessary, everyone you meet is facing some kind of battle.”
Autumn Alyssa, CHD is a Birth and Postpartum Doula serving women and families from Bountiful to Provo in Davis, Salt Lake & Utah Counties