“Motherhood is quite beautiful, but the beautiful quiet in motherhood is where the pain tests you the most.”
I wrote this this morning, as a status on my blog’s Facebook page.
I’ve never had such a beautiful sentence makes such sense for me. I get surprised by my mind sometimes, when throughout all the chaos and racing thoughts, a profound thought just hits me, stops me and I thoroughly feel it throughout my whole body.
I’ve been thinking about my pregnancy, labour and delivery with Ivy a lot lately. She’s nearly 3 months old and I still haven’t done anything about my trauma I experienced. This pregnancy was far from easy. It was a shock and surprise pregnancy. It was a result of both failed birth control (once again) and a failed Plan B over-the-counter medication. I was 31, already a mother to 4 kids, struggling to find my footing, having my most recent baby nearly 4 years before. And yet, I fully accepted the double blue lines on the test when I look at the stick 3 minutes after pissing on it.
I found out early, as I am very attuned to my body; I have to be, as birth control failure was the result of all my other children. My oldest was the failure of the Low-Dose Pill I was put on for hormone regulation thanks to Endometriosis. My second child was the result of a failed Depo-shot therapy. My third child was with the NuVa Ring. My 4th child was with the Mirena IUD, not even 7 months after insertion. This is why I was, and am, still adamant to having (at least) a partial Hysterectomy. Besides the Endo, the PCOS and the Fibroids that make my months and periods a living hell. I’m the lucky one who bleeds through both a Super+ sized tampon AND an overnight sized pad in less than 2 hours, sometimes less than an hour. I’ve learned to NEVER have any light colored pants, let alone white panties.
I was not in a good place, both figuratively and literally, when I found out I was expecting number 5. My excitement of having a new baby quickly wore off when I realized just how shitty our situation was. We live in a 4 bedroom rental, with a shit-head as a “landlord”. It’s me, my husband, our 4 kids and at the time; my little sister, her two daughters, my mother and little brother all living with us–on Derrick’s paycheck. And even though, at the time, Derrick was bringing in around $1000-$1200 per week, we were struggling and now we were adding another little person to the party. I began to rapid cycle, and I’m not normally a rapid-cycler, but my hormones were so out of whack, I couldn’t keep up mentally.
I don’t know what’s worse; actually physically throwing up with morning sickness during the first trimester early on, OR always on the verge of throwing up and gagging at EVERYTHING. I know what was worse–the fact that smoking a cigarette was the only thing that stopped the nausea. Mind you, this nausea and smoking was BEFORE I took the test and I assumed I just ate something bad, so I continued smoking–until I took the test and then, I’ll be honest, that morning, after I took the test and it was positive, Derrick was at work and I didn’t tell anyone and I continued to smoke the rest of that day. Part of me registered there was a baby in there, but another part of me didn’t want to believe it and the smoking kept the vomit at bay, for at least a little while.
By September, I was such a psychotic, hormonal, raving bitch, that I chased EVERYONE away. My sister and her kids went back to her husband and son in Las Vegas, my brother found an apartment, and my mother and her boyfriend moved in with my grandparents. But then it was just me. Pregnant, sad, lonely AF, angry me, with 4 kids and a husband who worked 6, sometimes 7 days a week, just so we could stay afloat.
I was angry. I was lonely. I was sad. I was a wreck. I was suicidal.
I had no support.
At least I thought I had no support. I never reached out to my mom because our relationship had been turbulent the last month or so she was at my house. I was pissed off at my little sister, because she moved out and left us with a $660 electric bill and hasn’t sent back one red cent to pay us back for living here, rent free, eating, using our wifi and electricity, Netflix account, Hulu account and flat screens, hulling up on our couch for months. It even caused a huge rift between me and Derrick, exacerbating my depression, when he’d throw it in my face, that’d we would have already been in a much better place for this baby, had I NOT been the one to “take in all the strays” of the family and offer OUR roof over their heads. And now, now I get his frustration.
During the lowest part of my Antepartum Depression I wrote a suicide note…an email…to Derrick while he was at work.
Probably not the smartest thing to do when your husband is hundreds of miles away, navigating a huge truck on the hellish Los Angeles freeways.
I was at a breaking point. Seriously, no one can TRULY understand just how lonely depression can make you, unless you’ve lived it. I saw no point in living. I wasn’t getting along with my mom, my sister, my brothers didn’t understand so they kept their distance and that distance was FELT and it hurt, my kids were constantly fighting, arguing and not listening to me, my grandparents are from another generation so they didn’t comprehend boundaries and depression so they were no help. I had (have) no friends. And I completely stopped going to therapy, group and visiting my Psychiatrist. I gave up.
I found my (original) OB/GYN August 1 and had my first visit on August 10th. I chose him because my sister-in-law was pregnant too and he was her doctor and I went to her first appointment with her and I liked him (and the female doctor with him, and here I thought I’d be getting them as a team too. Boy was I wrong). My first appointment was just quick formalities and Derrick was there. Blood pressure reading, weight, height, blood work and numerous forms to fill out about me and my previous pregnancies, miscarriages, deliveries, etc. I was automatically deemed “high risk” and was sent to a second doctor because I was an “older” mother with numerous health issues; overweight, hypertension, fibroids, Endo, PCOS, progesterone allergy, asthma…and mental health “issues”. Not to mention Derrick’s heart condition and family history of cancer.
I saw this OB a total of 3 times. The first meeting mentioned above. A second appointment in September to go over everything from August. And one more time in early October, where I poured my heart out to him, expressing my concern and worry about my depression; how I’d become recluse and stopped therapy, group and seeing my psychiatrist BUT I was STILL continuing my Latuda, secretly praying this would help with my depression. But my OB demanded, to Derrick (he didn’t even acknowledge me laying on the examination bed, tears streaming) that I stop my psychiatric medications because I wasn’t “depressed” I was just “sad” and I didn’t need medications for that. He told Derrick that I was “choosing” to be sad and that if I chose to be happy, I’d be happy.
I was in utter disbelief and my depression hit tenfold what it was before.
I cancelled my 26th week appointment with him.
The nurses called numerous times and left voicemails demanding I call and reschedule immediately or he’d give my place to another mother.
I laid in bed, crying, listening to the voicemails, not ready to reschedule yet, deleting the voicemails, turning over and crying myself to sleep. Over and over again, for days.
My 28th week I received a certified letter in the mail, from my OB. He had dropped me as a patient.
I spent my 28th and 29th week in bed.
Around the end of my 29th week, I fell. I ended up in the hospital. I told the head nurse, who, luckily, was MY nurse, that I didn’t have an OB and she took time out of her busy schedule to hand-write a list of high-risk OB’s from here to Corona to Hemet to San Bernardino, who took my insurance and I cried happy tears when I hugged her and thanked her for looking out for me.
I spent the following Monday calling every name on that list. No takers. I called my insurance company and asked them for a list. I called everyone on their list. No takers. I Googled every OB and called EVERY single OB within 25 miles in each direction; in ALL counties within the Inland Empire. And still, not one taker.
No one wanted me as a patient, who was an “older” patient, at 30 weeks already AND high-risk. I was too much of a liability.
My depression kicked my ass even harder and this time, I had guilt added to it because I blamed myself for my original OB dropping me as a patient, because, maybe, maybe he was right. Maybe I was CHOOSING to be depressed. And now, here I was 33 weeks along with a baby and I had no idea what was happening with her. That was the only solace I had to hold on to–I found out around 30 weeks she was a she, because I had to pay out of pocket, to go to one of those 4D Ultrasound techs, because I HAD to make sure she was still alive. Mind you, I couldn’t careless if I died, but I wanted to make sure the baby was okay.
And when I had that ultrasound done, even though it wasn’t a medical one, I was ECSTATIC when I saw her up on that projector screen; all her fingers, all her toes, long limbs, fully developed lungs and a hummingbird heart that was fluttering about. I had something to hold on to. I wasn’t just getting fat and throwing up for the hell of it, there was a little person in there.
Early March I slipped and fell again, landing on the side of my belly and really hurting my wrist and knee. I went back to the hospital and that’s where I met my attending OB. She ordered ALL the tests I missed during my pregnancy and I had ultrasounds and everything and she sat there and listened to my cries and how I lost my original OB and she patted my hand and said those magical words: “You’re my patient now.”
I was (what I assumed to be) 36, nearly 37 weeks when I walked into her office for my first appointment. I didn’t even last 5 minutes. She told me that I needed to head to the hospital; my liver was failing to sustain me and the baby because my blood pressure was way too high and I looked like hell.
I didn’t think I’d be having a baby, I thought I was only going to the hospital to be monitored, medicated and sent home on bed rest until her (what I assumed to be) EDD of April 5th, 2017.
Nope. I was stuck to a bed. I WAS medicated. With 6 different kinds of medication; to lower my blood pressure, to hydrate me, to replenish her amnio fluid, to thin my cervix and kick start labour. I was having a baby, that day, at 37 weeks. I freaked. I was stuck in bed for 3 days. I had a catheter, of which I HATE, and that totally played into my PTSD too because I do not like inanimate objects forced into my neither region, NOR do I like that un-numbed PAIN included–it’s fucking traumatic and I’m hella sensitive down there, after having my area burned with a cigarette when I was 9.
SO I was forced into labor early and I laboured for 3 whole days before I started pushing and it was just before my epidural, that my doctor informed me that I was truly more around 34 weeks and 5 or 6 days along in my pregnancy–so I began to freak the fuck out again.
Once my epidural kicked in, it kicked in a little too well and my stats nearly flat-lined. I remember becoming super lethargic, sleepy and weak. My blood pressure was what Derrick’s was when he was dying of kidney failure with the Rhabdomyolisis. My brain was freaking out, but my body was barely moving. My eyes were open and I was able to see everything happening. It went from me in the bed, Derrick to my right, the Anesthesiologist at the foot of my bed, and the nurse to my left overlooking my vitals…to the room becoming over-crowded with at least 6, 7, or 8 nurses, the Anesthesiologist, his supervisor, the hospital’s head officials and a couple other people who introduced themselves, but I was so out of it. The last thing I remember saying to Derrick before I blacked out was “I don’t wanna die.”
I woke up 3 hours later. My epidural had completely worn off and holy-fucking-hell did I FEEL everything. My body wasn’t ready. My brain wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready. But they were making this baby come. I cervix was being checked, with the catheter still inside me, every 5 minutes and I was in PAIN. I was already freaking out with the trauma at this point, I couldn’t stop crying. And then my rapes (yes rapeS) came flooding back into my mind because THE sole male nurse just walked in and announced he was going to check my cervix for dilation and I FREAKED LOUDLY, but I couldn’t get it out, I couldn’t verbalize WHY I was freaking out, I felt 9 years old all over again. I couldn’t fight back. I just laid there, gripping painfully to the bed’s arm rests, sobbing and screaming “No, no no no no no no” over and over again, looking at Derrick to save me from this and I screamed when the man’s hands went inside me, but I couldn’t respond to Derrick when he asked me what was wrong.
How does one lay there, who’s body is TRYING it’s damnedest to birth a baby, while your brain is SCREAMING at you to make it stop, while visions of my rapists’ play through my mind over and over and over again; being pinned down, in pain, searing pain, while he forces his huge hands deep inside me and I can’t kick, I can’t fight, I have to literally lay there and take it because there’s a baby in the balance.
And it was so hard to bond with her once she came out, because this male nurse was still inside my delivery room and I’m sitting there, numb, but shaking and all I see and hear is Leon’s, Joey’s and Eli’s voices. All I FEEL is their hands on me. And I’m trying so hard to find the joy in the moment because my daughter was there, she was my reward for not giving up, when all I wanted to do was give up and I wasted my Golden Hour in the L&D room.
And my husband is gunna read this.
And he, even to this day, has no idea that this was the narrative that was playing in my head that day. The amount of panic attacks I was having wasn’t because I was birthing a child. It was because the whole time I was relating the pain and trauma to the trauma I experienced as a child and young teenager.
And it’s not like I look at Ivy and think about the trauma and rape every single time–but there are times, that my brain is a complete and utter asshole and says, Hey you know what, birthing Ivy was like being molested and raped, wasn’t it, and it fucks me over for the day and I have trouble holding onto her, feeding her, bonding with her and all I want to do is run away, drink or smoke an entire pack of cigarettes.
But how do I say this to my husband? “Here, take your daughter, she’s exacerbating my PTSD and if I don’t numb myself RIGHT NOW I’m gunna freak out and lord knows that outcome”?
We don’t talk about my triggers much, mostly because I feel they’re MY responsibility and that’s what I have a psychiatrist and therapist for. But there are times I wish I could articulate it in my brain, well enough, to articulate it to my husband, that when I need breaks of overwhelment from the baby, isn’t BECAUSE of the baby all the time, it’s because my brain is a motherfucker and I’m dying inside and I need a fucking minute.
I desperately NEED postpartum support, but I am SO scared of reaching out for it, because how do you open up to a group of strangers and equate your labour and delivery to molestation and rape?
So I sit here, nearly 13 weeks postpartum and I still haven’t found my footing. I don’t have a tribe. And I am medicated again, but probably not as medicated as I should be…but I am determined to breastfeed my daughter.
But at what cost to me?