I didn't know I had postpartum anxiety until almost 10 months after the birth of our 2nd child, my son, Ethan.
I got through that stressful time pretty well despite the all that was happening. In fact, the entire year following his birth was pretty stressful. Preeclampsia that came back full force just a couple days after Ethan's birth in 6 November 2012, that was accompanied with a hospital stay. (I'll come back to that later) Followed by extended family Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays at my house, My Mother-in-law living with us for a little over a year, Volunteering in a community service project, planning an extended family vacation, my husband starting a business that didn't pan out, then decided last minute to apply and enter grad school and having to move our family to Provo, also to host family for my sister in laws wedding all at the same time we were beginning to move. Fun. stuff.
What caught the attention was when I had an anxiety attack at the beginning of last September, just a few days before my sister in laws wedding. The anxiety and stress had built up and I guess my adrenals and my body and mind had had an overload. For some reason I think the pressure of making new friends again and being involved in even more things (MBASA activities) was just the needle in the haystack...
I was at a MBASA (MBA Spouse Association) dinner and I started feeling nauseated and light headed. I had a weird feeling (that could be described as feeling dizzy, but not exactly the same as dizzy) in my head and a headache and I was also having heart palpitations. Of course the anxiety in me told me that... I was having a heart attack! I tried drinking water and eating the dessert to see if it would bring my blood sugar up (biggest mistake ever). But it didn't help. So, I left the dinner and started walking to my car.
I started feeling better in the 5 minute walk to my car, but the palpitations and sweating/shaking/lightheadedness started again once I got in the car. I breathed in and out for a minute, then started to drive home to Eagle Mountain. I got from BYU's campus to about halfway down University Pkwy. I felt light headed again and pulled over into J-Dawgs parking lot.
I called Connel, crying and breathing rapidly and telling him that I could not drive and I felt like I was having a heart attack, yet I knew that I wasn't, I knew it was something else. He told me to breathe in and out deeply and to go into J-Dawgs and get a drink of water. I think immediately he knew I was having an anxiety attack. I know now, and after that one, that I have had them before. I just didn't know that's what they were.
I was extremely embarrassed to have to call him, for 2 reasons. #1: It was his birthday. (Still, not sure why I left to go to an MBASA Social on his birthday??? I guess I was a little out of my mind.) #2: His uncle was visiting us at the time and I was overly concerned about being a good hostess. (yet, I had left to go to something else...you see? I was out of it.)
Anyway, to make a long story short, Connel and his uncle came to pick me up and drive me home. The next day, I went to the BYU Student Health Center to figure out what was my matter, and I came home with my first bottle of anxiety meds.
That is just the beginning of a little journey through anxiety and depression and postpartum OCD. Some of this may seem like overshare or TMI or just plain boring! But, it's journal therapy I tell you! :) So deal with it.
For those that don't know what that talk is about, you can read it here.
In the talk he talks about Stephanie Nielson and the plane crash she was in. The lady that gave the lesson showed the video "My New Life" about her plane crash, her family and her life now. It's one that came out when I was a blogger.
There was something in the video that touched me this time that didn't exactly stand out as much before. She says in the video, "It's been sort of therapy for to write my feelings and what I am going through." And I started to remember what therapy this blog really had been for me through my miscarriages and infertility struggles. And I decided that I was, once again, at a place in my life where I needed some comfort and healing through writing.
So here I am again. In a way I feel embarrassed that this blog is a place I spill all the bad and hard things that happen to me, but my hope is that I can help myself to deal with the emotional and personal issues that I have been facing and trying to very hard overcome.
I remember that having the network of friends and (even people who I've never met) helped, they gave encouragement and led me to others who were struggling and helped me not feel so alone.
What I have been trying to deal with is postpartum anxiety. My 2nd baby was born in November 2012 and I didn't realize that over a period of about a year, I was dealing with postpartum anxiety and the less widely known postpartum OCD. Crazy town I tell you! Ha ha! Right? But really it's not funny. I've come a long way for sure, but I still have a ways to go and I hope this will help me through it in some way. Hope is what it's about for me.
When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a pop star...I just knew I was going to be the next Mariah Carey! As I grew up i realized that I was not musically inclined enough to be an American Idol...thankfully, I have never lost my love for belting it out in an empty car or embarrassing my brother by singing with gusto in sacrament meetings. However, when I am singing bedtime songs and lullabies, and giving my kids a concert atop my living room coffee table...i have their full attention, they are my number one fans. That's where I realize...in their eyes, I am a rock star!
They were blessed with a sweet baby girl (who came quite early). Then, two years later, another little girl, again, through IVF. Though we have faced separate and different trials, we still both still suffer the journey of infertility. We have been able to lean on, talk to and cry to each other. I am so happy to let you know that she will be joining me here on Beyond the Rain as a contributor! She is one of the greatest examples of faith that I have ever known and I am sure you will love her like I do!
I feel like there is so much in my heart lately. Lots of feelings that leave me torn, lost of feelings that leave my uplifted. Mostly, I feel so loved. By friends, family, by my Savior, and by my Father in Heaven.
I had a friend who recently went through a hard physical trial. She has gone through many physical hardships in the past and went through lots of doubts and fears concerning them. But something she said has really stayed with me. She said that this time they "were not going to ask 'why?'." They were just going to have faith that whatever happens was the plan Heavenly Father had for their family. I was overcome by that statement. It came several months ago, but has been in my thoughts through this recent miscarriage.
When I had my miscarriage in 2009, I felt the lowest that I had felt in a long time. I was asking why, feeling depressed and going through a very spiritual wrestle with God and my testimony. I found myself asking Him Why did I have to wait so long? Why did I have to go through the pain of losing pregnancy after pregnancy?
Now, I know that God put certain people in my path and gave me situations that would help me grow. Mostly, He was there in so many small ways. Obviously, we know that Hannah came at the time she was a supposed to. Not to early, not to late. At the right time and place for her and for Heavenly Father's plan for her life.
Today, I feel strengthened through knowing that, and although I have thought to ask "Why?"...I have also tried to ask, "What am I to learn from this?" "Who am I to come closer to through this?" "How do I get through it?" Or to set the thought aside and pray for Him to help me know what to do next.
I have already felt my testimony of the power of prayer grow. I have felt and received the blessings of peace through the prayers of others. I have felt the warmth and security of my husband, as he has wrapped his arms around me each day and asked how I am doing, how can he help. I have received a stronger testimony of the power of the priesthood in my home and life. I have felt more grateful for a sweet little (almost 2 year old!) little girl who bring the sunshine into our life. I have felt the love of my Heavenly Father more deeply than I have ever felt it.
I feel like we go through stages in life where certain parts of our testimony grow. When I think of previous miscarriages, I think of how I received much strength from the Savior and knowing that His Atonement covers all things...including the heartaches we feel. I feel like this miscarriage has already been strengthening my testimony of a loving Heavenly Father who knows us personally and listens to our prayers. That he has a great plan for each one of us. I feel like he has been guiding me so freely to answers and guidance that helps me through. I feel like my previous miscarriages and the testimony that came from them has given me strength to get through this one. I was telling a friend today that I feel like I have been able to overcome this miscarriage more quickly than the previous ones. My friend put it this way..."You have found a coping mechanism". And I have.
The Savior and His infinite Atonement, a loving and living Heavenly Father, the crucial and important role that a caring family plays in my life, friends and family who offer prayers and a shoulder to cry on, the power or prayer, the word of God through the scriptures, the healing power of serving others...
Yes, indeed, I have found my coping mechanism. The true gospel of Jesus Christ.
On Tuesday, August 23rd we found out that we were expecting once again. We had been trying for 6 months and I had even gone to the doctor the week before to get blood work done to see if I needed to start infertility treatments. I had not received any results back yet, but a week after that I decided to take a pregnancy test because of some symptoms that I had been having. It ended up being positive to our surprise. We were thrilled and talked about the excitement of having another child, being scared of another miscarriage, waiting to tell people, etc.
Right away the next day I called my doctor and got hooked up with all sorts of medications and hormones. Lovenox injections every day (blood thinner for my PAI-1 gene mutation a.k.a. blood clotting disorder). Folic Acid supplements for the MTHFR issue, prenatal vitamins of course, baby aspirin and progesterone to help prevent miscarriage, etc. The Lovenox is also to help prevent from other pregnancy complications... Blah, blah, blah.
I was so excited to have the baby and Hannah about 2 1/2 years apart. I wanted her to have a little sibling to run around with!
We went into the doctor (high risk doc) for our first ultrasound on September 19th. According to the ultrasound I was only about 7 weeks and 1 day, I thought I was about 9 weeks and 3 days, according to my LMP. That was okay though because things looked well. We got to hear the baby's heartbeat...beating so fast. All I know is that I fell in love right away.
...the perinatal doctor (the high risk doctor...not my regular OB) also updated me on the MTHFR and PAI-1 stuff. He said that they don't even do testing for that anymore because the treatment that they would give has been through more research and they pretty much said that the research shows there is no reliable evidence to show that the treatment was preventative (for blood clotting and pregnancy complications). Basically, it pretty much doesn't do anything. Great. So I had been bruising myself up with Lovenox injections for about a month and a half. He also said that I didn't need to be taking any of the medications. I did not fully agree with that, I felt like some of the medications were for good (like the Folic Acid, the progesterone). But at this point I also felt like it was all for nothing. Connel said at the time that "he believed there was a reason for all of it, we may not know what it is, but there was a reason."
I was just disappointed and a little angry because I guess I felt, somehow, that I had some control (even if it was all just in my head) over the miscarriages with all the medications that I was taking... but now there was nothing to prevent it. I don't like to hear that I have any greater chance for miscarriage... and it's also just the feeling that we have no control. Anyway, that's where I decided to give the trust to God and say..."You can handle this, I can't. You have the control and I don't have the nerves to take it all on myself!" I wrote about it all in a journal entry and said... "I don't think I could take it if we lost this little one..."
Well, I talked to my regular OB and we all agreed that I needed to stay on all of the medications. This was getting really confusing, but I personally trusted him and his nurse more than the other doctor who had only ever seen me...once. So I kept taking the Lovenox, Folic Acid, baby aspirin, progesterone and of course the prenatals. All the medications were exhausting. The Lovenox was just plain painful. But I knew it was for the baby, so I kept on taking it for the team.
Here is a post I wrote when I was 9 weeks 2 days pregnant.
Today I went into the doctor for my first official OB appointment. Last night I was really (really, really) anxious about the whole thing. I was specifically worried that we wouldn't hear the heartbeat and I was having a hard time getting to sleep. After a little deliberation, I decided to text some family and close friends to see if they might just include me/us in their prayers. Even just a few minutes after I was feeling a little more relieved and mostly loved by so many people, even though I had sent the text to only a handful of people!
I started to get to sleep and Hannah started crying. I went to check on her and put her back to sleep with a song. After I was sure she was asleep, I went back to bed. A little while later, she cried out again. I went back up and felt that she was quite warm to the touch. She had been sick with a mild case of croup this past weekend and had a fever then. She was better Monday and Tuesday during the day, but I took her temperature anyway, and it was up again. I brought her to bed with Connel and I and tried to get her to go to sleep, but she was fully awake and really wiggly. I turned to Connel and asked if he might give her a blessing to help her get well and be able to get to sleep.
He gave her a nice blessing then we put her back to sleep. I then asked Connel if he would now give ME a blessing! It was good to keep with the late night tradition...(kidding...Connel just always teases me that I always ask for one in the middle of the night!) But really, the blessing was just what I needed. Most pertinent to the pregnancy was that...I will have many hard trails in life, but that this pregnancy will not be one of them. When that was said, I let out an audible breath of relief. I had felt the spirit so strong, there was not denying that the things that were said were true.
Today (October 5th), I went to my OB appointment and we discussed many things like my MTHFR/PAI-1 4G/4G, medications for that, my preterm labor, whether or not to do genetic screening, etc. We practically went over my complete medical history and that of my parents, Connel's parents, the entire family tree and the family dog's medical history...
However... what was interesting to me was that the nurse (the best one ever!) decided to do try to listen to the heartbeat. She said "Now sometimes at this point in a pregnancy, we hear it, but sometimes, we don't. So, please don't freak out if we don't hear it. It doesn't mean that something is wrong." She placed the heartbeat monitor on my abdomen and searched for a few minutes, but could not find it. But...the entire time, I was filled with NO anxiety whatsoever...I remembered the words of the blessing and I felt at peace.
I think she even believed me when I told her that I was not worried. And I truly was not. Now, those that know me well, will know that I WORRY! So not being worried about not hearing my babies heartbeat... that's a big thing! I felt fine about it, and I still do. I know that it is because of many prayers and the blessing from my Father in Heaven that I felt at peace. Otherwise I think I might be really freaking out!-----
We will have an ultrasound in a few weeks, but until then...I just want to thank my friends and family for their prayers, concern and love. It helps to know that we have so many people who care! And I am so grateful to my husband for worthily holding the priesthood and being able to call upon God for help and comfort when we need it!
My dear sweet little Baby,
I am so excited to have you come into our lives! I know that you will be a special part of our family and that there is much to look forward to. I am mostly excited to feel you move inside of me. I love that feeling and am looking very forward to it! I knew I loved you when I first found out that you were coming, then even more when I saw you on the ultrasound and I love you even more now. Each day it becomes more real that you are on the way. That fact that we will have another little person in our home overwhelms me a little bit, but mostly I know that you are meant to come and be here with our family. I love you!
Your Mama, Laura Kathrine
On Saturday, October 8th, I started bleeding, I was near ten weeks pregnant. That day, I was in a little pain, but mostly, I was just bleeding with little cramps and taking it easy. I was sitting there and coughed a little bit (I have had a cold). I think I must have said "Ow." or something. But, Hannah looked at me, "Mama..." then came up to me and placed her little palm on my cheek. "...ah okay?"
We went to the hospital that afternoon (about 5 PM), only to get a Rhogam shot. On the way there, we stopped at Drug Mart so I could pick up some pads. I paid with a $20, my change was $13.13...I'm not superstitious, but I looked at the lady like, Seriously?! Why don't you just keep a penny?
I was at the ER for 7 hours. Registration, Bloodwork, IV, Internal Exam, the finally the Rhogam shot at almost Midnight! I was sitting on an exam table the entire time, it was so uncomfortable. Most of the time, I was by myself, I think they forgot about me some of the time. Seriously, I think they did. It pretty much sucked. Connel was there for a little bit, but Hannah needed to go home and go to bed, so he took her home. I didn't call anyone else I knew from here, because I wanted the baby to be okay. I was hoping the baby would be okay. The blessing said that this pregnancy wouldn't be a trial. Plus, I wanted to wear that cute "skeleton fetus on the belly" costume to the ward party to make the big "announcement". Dumb? But true.
Sunday we skipped church and to doctor's orders, I laid around the entire day. Cramping and bleeding (not too heavily, but I was still in a little bit of pain).
Monday the 10th, I woke up, showered, and put on my waterproof mascara, just in case. We drove to the doctor's office and waited, nervously, in an ultrasound waiting room, with several other noticeably pregnant women. We were supposed to be ten weeks pregnant, but... when they checked, we were told our baby was about the size of an eight week embryo.
Then, we were told that our baby had no heartbeat.
Connel took us out to breakfast. I was glad we did that. I didn't want to go home yet. We went to a store. Then we came home. I tried to avoid looking at the welcome sign for the new baby girl next door as we pulled into our driveway.
That night, I miscarried my baby.
It was concentrating on the physically painful, mostly. It hurt so bad. I can't tell you. I didn't remember how bad it could hurt. Miscarriage is hard. It is really, really hard.
At that point, I'd kind of checked out emotionally. I only cried when I talked to people about it. So mostly, I tried not to talk. I had told a few family and friends that we were expecting. But not a lot. We had to tell them that we were weren't expecting anymore. That's why I didn't want to tell many people.
Tuesday I had my first D&C ever. I just wanted it all to be over with. I didn't want the pain or the bleeding (a reminder of what was happening) to be prolonged. We scheduled it for Tuesday, and even though, the night before, I passed the baby...we still decided that we would have a D&C to finish it. Truthfully, I was glad the baby came before the D&C. I don't know why, I was just glad it happened that way.
Overall, the birthing center stay was way better then the ER. However, they did have a baby warmer in my room when I got there. That was kind of mean. I could also hear a few newborns crying down the hall. That was sweet. (Sarcasm). Why they do these kinds of things in the birthing center? Don't ask me. Luckily, I didn't see a single baby during my stay. I think I might have had a breakdown.
I changed into that beautiful hospital gown. Connel took Hannah to our angel friend (thank you for her...the best ever). I waited. Registration. IV. Blood workup. Doctor. Anesthesiologist. RN. Etc. Husband came back. I don't remember going into the OR. I remember them putting the tube in my nose. Then I was waking up and I guess I said "I had a good dream." Someone said, "Oh, you had a good dream?" Then I said "Oh, I did?"
Back in the recovery room, my husband touched my head and the tears started flowing. Sobs. Then I said, "I just want to see my baby, I just want to hold my Hannah." "I don't want to see any baby things", I said. Luckily for them, they had taken the baby warmer out while I was in surgery.
All the nurses left. It all came out in sobs, but it wasn't long and I felt a little better. I started joking a bit, I couldn't stop talking thanks to the wonder drugs. We talked about our dream house. Connel was trying to take my mind off of it, I think. ;) We talked about Hannah. How she was so sweet and funny and active. I initiated a conversation about the budget...Connel steered us away from that subject quickly. They brought me some food. I had been told not to eat anything since midnight the night before and had to tell myself to eat slow. I was starving. I drank some water. I went to the bathroom. Then got to go home.
We went to pick up Hannah, our angel friend had made us some dinner to take home. Probably one of the biggest blessings in this house. Connel loves food. I noticed, as we pulled into our driveway, that the sign for the new baby next door had been taken down. I silently thanked God for that tender mercy.
The Percocet was settling in and I felt like I was in a fishbowl. I slept, sort of. I was dreaming like I was getting rushed down hallways with lots of doors, like this one episode of Muppet Babies I'd seen 20 years ago. I kept feeling like I was falling. Lots of weird dreams where I was asleep, but not really all the way.
When I woke up, I went upstairs. I had to see my Hannah. I tried to squeeze onto her bed, but that didn't work to well, she nudged me off, so I sang to her instead.
I couldn't sleep. Finally, about 2 AM, the tears, the pain came again. I asked Connel to cuddle me. I silently prayed and asked God to let me know he was there. Seconds later, without knowing my thoughts, Connel started humming, "I Feel My Savior's Love."
And I did, I felt His love.