motherhood, NFP, PPD, pregnancy, Suffering

Oops, it happened again

March 4, 2014

Well, I didn’t quite make my 7 in 7 goal…but it seems like a lot of us are in that camp.

C’est la life of a mommyblogger, eh?

Speaking of life, and of mommy blogging, how’s this for some shit?

I have post partum depression. Again.

Thinking that I had sailed smoothly past the telltale signs and symptoms of this most dreadful of maternal foes, I somehow failed to connect the dots until this past weekend:

  • anger, uncontrollable at times
  • exhaustion, bone-deep, even after 8 + hours of sleep
  • shortest temper ever (think tears and wailing over spilled milk, smeared poop, burnt toast)
  • stalled weight loss/insatiable appetite (hmmm, those two might be more closely related to each other than to an outside impetus. I’ll get back to you on that one.)
  • weeping spells
  • feelings of “I can’t do this”/”This was a terrible mistake”
  • the unshakeable certainty that I was certainly the most unfit mother in all the land
  • numbness and the propensity to ‘zone out’ periodically throughout the day
etcetera, etcetera.

I thought it was worth putting it out there, embarrassing and humbling or no, simply because I’ve talked about it here before and gotten so much amazing feedback from my mom-rades in arms, and also because duh, this is a blog, and what good is a blogger without transparency?

So there it is. I have it, again. And maybe I’m the stupid one for saying “yes” to a new baby 3 times in 4 years, or maybe this is just the particular cross I’ve been handed to carry at this moment, but whatever the case may be, I don’t see any benefit to avoiding it here on the ‘ol blog. I’m not asking for commentary from the peanut gallery on how ‘stupid’ having kids is when you’re mentally ill/prone to mental illness (aren’t we all, as humans?) and believe me, I’ve had that kind of feedback in the past. But it won’t keep me from speaking out because I know there are other moms out there who are dealing with this, who have dealt with this, and who will deal with this in the future. And it sucks. And you feel totally alone and alienated from reality and out of touch with your past/present/future self…but here’s the thing: it’s not you.

I’ll never forget something Dave said to me while we were dating, and I know I’ve mentioned it here before. After I confessed to him my struggle with depression and the embarrassment and sorrow I felt over my illness he wrote me a beautiful letter – in Adoration, no less – and in it he quoted Bl. John Paul II who adjures Christians to remember that “the person is not their illness, and is never to be confused with the condition from which they suffer” … or something to that effect.

“You are not your illness, Jenny” was the specific line that stands out in my memory of that letter from him. I believed it then, and I still believe it now, and that’s why I feel confident in sharing this here. Because it’s not me. It’s something that is happening to me, yes, but it’s not the sum of who I am as a person, or as a mother. I’ve been a good mother before. And I’ll be a good mother again. And in fact, I’m a good mother even now, in the midst of the hard times, because I’m still doing it, dammit. Because adulthood. And responsibility. And faithfulness.

Anyway, I’m taking steps to get better. I had some progesterone injections today, courtesy of my fantastic Creighton-trained doctor. I’m in the process of scheduling some counseling sessions to talk it out. I’m working with my Creighton instructor (who happens to be a nurse and a nutrition junkie herself, conveniently enough) to plot a course using supplements and nutritional tweaks. I might even get rilly crazy and toy with the dose on my regular ‘ol daily antidepressant (for my regular ‘ol depression, not to be confused with PPD. Aren’t I a lot of fun?)

At any rate, we’ll see how things go. Already after just 2 progesterone shots today I feel as if there is air in the room again, if you know what I mean. Before I could breathe and breathe and still feel oxygen deprived. But now…it’s all seeming a little lighter. A little more manageable.

So that’s where I’m at. I’m not looking for sympathy here, but I am asking for empathy, because I know there are enough of us out there who have gone through this, or who know somebody who is going through this. Pray for them. Offer to watch their kids so they can get to a doctor’s/therapist’s appointment. Don’t say stupid stuff to them like “well, maybe you should stop getting pregnant if it makes you so sick.” Hi, that’s asinine, and it’s equivalent to telling cops to quit showing up for their shifts if they don’t want to keep getting shot. Occupational hazard and all. Rant over.

I hope this helps someone. Or I hope it helps you understand someone you love.

I do know one thing: she was more than worth it.

31 Comments

  • Reply Melissa March 4, 2014 at 3:38 am

    Thanks for this. I’m on PPD round two right now. My wishful thinking led me to make absolutely no preparations this time around and I waited longer than I should have to do something about it. But one of the absolute worst parts for me is having zero friends who have gone through this. Its like a breath of fresh air to know someone else gets how terribly it sucks. I relate to every word of this. You’re not alone ( I know you know that) and I will be praying for you by name as often as I can. Thank you , thank you, thank you

  • Reply Deb March 4, 2014 at 4:06 am

    While I cannot relate, I am so glad to see you’ve got great guidance with your Creighton doctor. I actually just finished up with a phone call to my supervisor (I’m an intern for FCP with the CrMS) asking specifically about NaPro’s management of PPD (and even PMS) symptoms for current/future clients. What a blessing to be able to address it head-on–I pray that it will continue to improve for you, Jenny!

  • Reply Maia March 4, 2014 at 4:08 am

    Honest and well-said. I don’t struggle with this but I’m always inspired by people who share this sort of messiness (humanness) in order to help and heal.

  • Reply Stephanie Weinert March 4, 2014 at 4:09 am

    Jenny thanks for your honesty and rawness. I’m PPD round three right now and I so relate. I’ve actually been working on a blog draft of my story reading yours gives me more courage to share mine. Pinky swear I’ll be praying for you.

  • Reply Katrina Rose March 4, 2014 at 4:31 am

    Oh Jenny, thank you for being honest. I’m amazed at your writing skills even when you are weighed down. I’ll truly pray for you and all other moms with PPD.

    Your description of your husband’s letter to you is perfect, and all girls should see what kind of husband they should set their eyes on.

  • Reply Bonnie March 4, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    You ARE a lot of fun.
    And one of my favorite bloggers because I identify with so much of what you write. Thanks for sharing this struggle with us. I can definitely relate. The anger part, for me that’s just the worst. I felt like I was going from 0 to 10 in seconds and then Travis heard someone say that when you have anger / stress / anxiety issues you’re living at 7 or 8 and then fly to a 10. That was eye opening for me. I realized that a Good Day for me had probably been a 5 but most days I was a 7. So glad I’m not there any more.

  • Reply Colleen March 4, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    You’re amazing and so honest, I love it. I am so interested in reading more about the progesterone shots, because someone I know gets them for her anxiety symptoms too and between my own anxiety and irregular/long cycles, I think they might help me too.

  • Reply Mary Wilkerson March 4, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    I just gotta tell you two things. 1) I find your honesty inspiring 2) I find your ability to seek help and get it taken care of for the good of your family and your husband and your soul…just splendid. Prayers.

  • Reply Beth (A Mom's Life) March 4, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Praying for you Jenny. And yes, that beautiful baby is totally worth it.

  • Reply thesewallsblog.com March 4, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Oh, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. And I thank you for sharing it. And, she’s so beautiful.

    I experienced some post-partum depression after my first was born, and then something similar at the beginning of my second pregnancy. I thought for sure I’d be slammed after that little guy was born, but thankfully, I escaped it. I’ve had the foolish mindset that it won’t happen this time around either, kind of an “I’m done with that now” attitude. Thanks for the reminder that I don’t know what lies ahead, that I should be prepared for whatever comes, and that all I can do is resolve to just deal with whatever that is.

    Best to you as you work to deal with it. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

  • Reply Ana March 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Oh Jenny, thank you for posting this- you are amazing. I will be praying.

  • Reply Jessica March 4, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    I find it MORE impressive that you are able to continue saying “yes” to children despite the additional challenge of this illness. Newborns and toddlers are a lot of work under the best of circumstances–bravo to you for your courage, fortitude, and perseverance. Sunnier days are ahead!

    • Reply Rebecca Rooney March 4, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      I second this. Thank you, Jenny, for sharing, and I’m praying for you. And thank you for your beautiful children!

  • Reply Laura S March 4, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Not fun 🙁 My sister went through it with her first and I’m due in June with my first and paranoid that I may have to endure it, too, since we both share the same tendency towards severe anxiety! Sending prayers your way and hopefully your doctor’s approach helps 🙂

  • Reply Christy from fountains of home March 4, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Oh Jenny, this is so so hard. And it’s hard having it multiple times because you know how crappy it feels. I had it multiple times and it just sucks. But I’m glad you’re getting help for it, it will help. And you’re so great, and your baby is so beautiful, and I’m praying for you. (How to make a comment not a book.)

  • Reply Bek March 4, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Thank you for your honesty and boldness! This is not something I’ve experienced, but I appreciate your sharing it, especially when the tendency is to avoid and not speak of these challenges. Praying for you!

  • Reply Martha Reilly March 4, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    So glad you shared this, Jenny. It’s definitely helpful to read. Prayers!

  • Reply Anna Lafferre March 4, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Hi Jenny. I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time and I really enjoy it. Thanks so much for posting today. I am 29 and not a mother, but I have suffered from anxiety/depression for a few years and am also on medication. I really relate to what you said about embarrassment and sorrow, and I appreciate you sharing about your husband quoting Bl. JP2. I needed to hear that. Even though I don’t have kids and they aren’t in the immediate future, I already worry about post-partum depression, passing along my mental illness, etc. I really appreciate your honesty in speaking out and will pray for you.

  • Reply Anonymous March 4, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    I’d rather not share my name on this comment (because I’m a wimp and not as brave as you are:), but thank you for this. I now take low dose Zoloft -primarily for anxiety, but everything you described sounds like me- and I’m going to read about the progesterone shots because I hate the medication. I’m so glad it’s not just me. It happens every time to me and I feel like I rob my kids and I’m just not cut out for this shit. They deserve the best and I’m incapable of giving it to them so often. My husband doesn’t quite understand it because he has zero tendencies toward anxiety/depression like I do, and it’s so hard to explain and so isolating. Anyway, thank you 🙂

  • Reply Emily March 4, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Your honesty is beautiful! I had it something awful with #1, then did progesterone shots preemptively (as in, after birth but before symptoms) with #2 and that seemed to help immensely. Now #3 is on the way and I had all but forgotten about this possibility, so I’m grateful to be reminded so I can arm myself again. I don’t claim this would be helpful for you, especially since you say you have a general tendency toward depression, but just in case another reader is helped, I will share that with #2 I basically also (in additional to progesterone) tried stuffing my face with really rich, filling (but healthy) foods and I found that kept me feeling much more even-keeled. I think I didn’t realize how much the blood sugar and milk making combination could affect how I felt. Again, I know that sounds simplistic and isn’t for everyone, but it was a complete game-changer for me.

    • Reply Anonymous March 4, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      How do you find a doctor willing to do progesterone in your area??

    • Reply Jenny March 4, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      Try searching at: http://www.fertilitycare.org

      Also if there are Creighton model instructors in your area you can usually get referrals for NFP-trained doctors. If they exist in your area, those are the people who will know about them. Most Creighton trained docs and nurses are familiar and comfortable with the progesterone protocol for PPD and are happy to offer it since it’s natural and has virtually zero side effects. Good luck!

  • Reply Lisa March 4, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    I remember one of my household sisters shared about how great Progesterone shots were to treat her PPD. Thanks so much for sharing this, Jenny; you are amazing. Prayers!

  • Reply Holly March 4, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    You’re babies are totally worth it. I am so proud of you for the mom that you are and the YES that you give to life. I am proud that you’re my friend. I love you and I am so sorry that I have been MIA lately. My mom’s leaving today and you are totally welcome to come drop the kids off at my house tomorrow afternoon so that you can have a break. Or come over to talk. I don’t think anyone knows exactly what you are going through, but know that all of us have those actions/thoughts more or less and that you’re not alone. I have dealt with all of those, too. I am recovering from debilitating insomnia (part of my recovery is to NOT talk about it and to only think positively about sleep- soo fun) so every last thing you listed has been going on here as well. You’re NOT alone!!!!!! Those symptoms are not YOU and don’t own you, either. You’re kids are resilient and won’t remember this struggle. You have a supportive husband who adores the heck out of you and is a fantastic dad. He is such a gift! You have your faith and God loves you so much. Also, you’re dealing with this in the middle of the winter. You absolutely will get better.

  • Reply Nella @McDonald's In Heaven March 4, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    I’m a PPD sufferer too, after #1, #4, and #5…I had to get the meds and everytime one of us admits that this happens, we help another Mama who is bewildered and ashamed. I’m so glad you’re getting some help! I’ll pray for you, PPD is a real shit show. xoxoxo

  • Reply Lily March 4, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Thinking and praying for you. This post really hit home for me, it just occurred to me this last week that even though I am a year postpartum, I still have linger PPD. Mostly because I never addressed it before! Thank you for sharing your story and bless your sweet husband for know you are not your disease!!

  • Reply Kris March 5, 2014 at 12:25 am

    Oh, Jenny – my heart ached for you when I read this. I’m so glad that you are being proactive. My very dearest friend had PPD REALLY badly after her last baby – scary bad. And after finally getting some help, has realized that she probably had it mildly (if you can call it “mild” at all!) after #3. Her youngest is 18 months, and she just tried weaning off the meds only to drop back into depression pretty badly again. Thankfully, we caught it earlier this time and she’s gone back on a lower dose of the medication indefinitely. It’s a scary thing – I’m so, so glad (again!) that you are getting some help. Praying for you, sweet friend! And yes, she’s totally worth it!

  • Reply graceandcookies.net March 5, 2014 at 1:15 am

    Really great post. I’ll be praying for you guys. I’ve only had minor bouts of that directly following birth, but even from that I realized, it’s no joke. If you can afford it maybe try to get someone to come and help once in a while? It really helps me get through the week with three lil ones. I know everyone has a different situation/preferences though. Again, I’ll keep you in my prayers.

  • Reply Sarah March 5, 2014 at 2:29 am

    Been there, Jenny, and I’m so sorry. It really can feel as if you are drowning at times. Praying for you. Don’t hesitate to head this way for a morning or afternoon out of the house. I know we are all busy, but I know changing up the scenery from time to time has done me good at times. Shoot me a text if you are up for it. In the meantime- prayers your way and thank you, Jesus, for rockstar husbands.

  • Reply andiwillbefree March 11, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    I totally agree with you. I think I may be ready to have baby #3 even though my oldest would only be a little over 3 years old. And I’ve had PPD or general depression with both of my kids. I know it’s likely I’ll keep dealing with it each time, but I still think it’s worth it. I wrote a post on this subject as well. http://andiwillbefree.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/on-being-open-to-life/ Also, I’ve been working on a poem about PPD. It’s good you were able to notice it on your own. I have a hard time recognizing it until I’m pretty bad.

  • Reply It wasn’t supposed to feel like this – Mama Needs Coffee May 27, 2015 at 7:07 am

    […] found it helpful to look back over my own personal reflections on PPD (here and here) so I can refresh my memory of what it looks and acts like, at least historically, for […]

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