A little less than 10 hours after my c-section, I got out of my hospital bed and, instead of walking around the Labor and Delivery room area like I was told to do, I decided to walk to the NICU because I just had to see my babies.
I’m a mom. I have babies. What the actual hell happened last night?! It felt surreal. Like a weird hangover that resulted in you having babies way ahead of time.
I had been denying all the pain medication I was being offered, but taking the minimum Ibuprofen as to prevent any inflammation. I was still as big as a 40-week-pregnant lady, but no babies. My babies decided to come hang with mom and dad early. I guess they were expecting to see Rogue One with us on the 19th. Ha.
River had to be intubated for the first few hours of her life. After that, she sported a cute little cannula with oxygen flowing through to help keep her lungs opened. Lydia did not need to be intubated, but needed a C-PAP. River was 2lbs 12oz, 15 in. Lydia was 2lbs 4oz, 14 in. Lydia wore the micro-preemie diapers. River had graduated to the preemie diapers. River had pooped three times already, but nothing from Lydia. No biggie.
The shock of seeing the babies so small, with breathing tubes attached to their noses, feeding tubes through their nose or mouth, all the probes for the monitors, the pic lines that went into their belly buttons, the IVs in their arm and leg felt like a jolt to the heart. They stayed in a clear little box. I’ll admit, the box looked comfortable. They had a tiny body pillow for preemies, and it kept them snug and happy. But all I saw were monitors, needles, tubes. All I took in was the thought that, had my body not been a prima-dona and handled the pregnancy like a champ, they would’ve never had to have so many pain-causing factors on them this early. They’d probably still be kicking and hugging each other, bouncing off my poor bladder, kicking my ribs.
The stage was set.
Enter Postpartum Depression. Shhhhh. Not too loud. People will judge. *insert eye roll* Give me a fucking break. Let me take this moment to say that if you or anyone you know has been shamed, dismissed, or mocked for PPD, that they’re NOT ALONE. This shit sucks, and having the right people with you to support you, dry your tears, give you candy, let you rest, and just be there for you is essential. It won’t “heal” it, but it’ll help you stay at peace.
Rant over. Anyway.
Already suffering from a mental illness is one level of struggles (all my fellow Bipolar I people, raise your hand), yet having a more confusing and devastating one come along and hold hands with the one that you already have, refusing to let go, is a whole different animal. I always try to find entertaining ways to compare things and emotions, but not when it comes to this situation.
On one hand, you’re ecstatic. Holy shit, you just had babies! They’re beautiful and healthy! You’re a momma!
On the other hand, you’re the lowest you’ve ever been. Fuck, I just had babies. They were early… so early. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t done feeling them kick around and seeing my belly move like there were aliens in there. I wasn’t done taking weekly pictures and comparing them to fruits and veggies. I wasn’t done planning their nursery, setting dates for maternity pictures, cleaning the house. Life changed quicker than I was told it would.
On top of all that, I had what I liked to call the Preemie Mom Guilt. I was severely ashamed I couldn’t keep them in full-term (and no, it didn’t help whenever anyone brought up how freaking big I already was and how much bigger I would have been). I was also sad I had to have a c-section, I was very sad I didn’t have my sister and my mom by my side for their births (I had always wanted that), I had a catheter in and it felt weird, I couldn’t poop, I couldn’t wash myself in the shower (thank you, Mom), I couldn’t stop crying. I cried around the clock. My mom had to grab the phone from my streaming face to finish my food order. The nurses came in just to try to talk to me and get me to smile, saying I should really try to cheer up because the girls are beautiful.
The one saving grace I had was that my body just knew I had two babies, so my milk production kicked in right away. This made me feel useful. This made me feel needed. I quickly became obsessed with my breast pump and pumped religiously every 2 hours, sending all the colostrum to the NICU for the girls. This was, quite honestly, the only thing that kept me feeling like I should probably try to take care of myself so I could provide for them. Thank you, boobies.
River came home after 49 days in the NICU. The doctors were really impressed with her development (she came home at 35 weeks, 5 weeks before her due date). Lydia decided to find herself a boyfriend who was really bad for her, and she slowly learned to break up with Brady (aka bradycardia, when your heart rate and oxygen levels drop very low and you might need an oxygen mask if you can’t come back from it, like Lydia did). She came home 11 days later, after a total of 60 days in the NICU.
That only made the bitch that is PPD more excited to stay. Brand new mom, already Bipolar, with preemies, sleep deprived, starting to have problems with her milk supply, facing the reality of not having help (my parents went back home to Texas after helping us for two weeks), of having to take care of yourself, the babies, and the dog while your husband worked, jealous that the husband was getting sleep, and while feeling the loneliest you’ve ever felt in your life. Oh, and throw in the fact you still felt extremely guilty for having them early. Doesn’t PPD just sound like heaven?
Because I was still breastfeeding (at least trying insanely hard to keep doing it), medication was another problem. I needed something that wouldn’t be harmful to the babies but yet treated my crazy. After a few medications were tried, at first separately, then together, then when I threw in the towel with breastfeeding, both meds with a mood stabilizer added in the mix. It was hard on me, both physically (hormones) and emotionally (also hormones), but in the end it all worked out.
Months later, it still creeps up from time to time. I’ve learned to take a deep breath and look at my girls. Has life changed? Absolutely. But it was a good change. They’re here, Rick and I have no dulls moments, and we have learned to roll with the punches. We’ve learned that it takes effort to be an excellent team, and that’s exactly what we’ve become. We can lean on each other for support, unconditional love, and unspoken understanding.
Take that, stupid PPD.