. . . continued from My PPD Story . . .
When I discovered I was pregnant with my first child shortly after completing the intensive outpatient program, I stopped all prescriptions. I knew the darkness inside me was not good for my baby or myself, but I also knew the risks I would be taking by continuing those dangerous drugs that only made me feel worse. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, life as an unmedicated “Bipolar” mother, but I also knew it was the best choice for all of us.
The journey was difficult. As much as I wanted children, I did not enjoy my pregnancy. I spent most of it crying and the rest of it angry. Morning sickness lasted the first 30 weeks and I spent the last 10 weeks adjusting to my abrupt role as a housewife/stay-at-home mom. All 40 were stressful. My husband had just been discharged from the Marine Corps and was transitioning back into civilian life, an indescribable feat of its own. We were married during my second trimester and moved into our apartment a week before the wedding – the same week I lost both my job and my beloved cat, Daisy.
I was a complete mess. I wasn’t sure what I wanted or where I was going or how to enjoy my experience. The first time I felt my baby kick, I was parked at a forest preserve, sitting in my car having an emotional meltdown, depressed about my life and questioning my future. My husband and I had been fighting – constantly. The fact that we made it to the altar at all is a bit of a miracle considering the strife we battled during our whirlwind engagement. We knew in our hearts that we were meant to be, yet when we would argue, we would seem to forget that we loved one another. Somehow we just kept going. Soon, our baby arrived.
My first night home with my son, I remember thinking that I was going to end up alone. That my husband would leave us and I would end up raising this child on my own. Adjusting to a new baby in the house took some time and put a strain on our marriage. Learning how to deal with my own issues, a transitioning veteran, being a new mom, a new wife… It was all too much. Cognizant of my history, my family watched for signs of postpartum. Sure enough, soon I was back in a psychiatrist’s office, this time looking for medication that wouldn’t interfere with breastfeeding my newborn.
I told my new doctors that I had previously been treated for Bipolar Disorder. We initially began treatment for the same, but during an intake interview with the psychiatrist, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was mentioned for the first time. I began to consider this alternative and research the diagnosis. However, we soon moved a couple of hours away from that facility and once again I stopped treatment altogether.
Now, we were in a new home in a new town, hours away from any friends or family (aside from my mother-in-law, with whom we lived). I felt powerless, confined to the house and isolated from my world, something I attributed to both the move and my newfound dependence on a man and his family. My husband and I had a love-hate thing going on; we hated the knock-down, drag-out fights that rumbled their way through our newlywed years, but man – we loved to make up! Not surprisingly, we were soon expecting again.
On Christmas morning of 2012, I awoke my husband with news of a positive pregnancy test. We were overjoyed at our impending new arrival. While I can’t exactly say I enjoyed the pregnancy, I do recall it being easier… even though I was chasing a toddler and the morning sickness lasted 38 weeks the second time around. I had begun holistic therapy with someone who saw and treated me as a person, an entire being. He never made me feel like one of those defective products on an assembly line and so, with his help, I was able to begin the process of healing myself.
We brought our baby girl home and our little family was quite possibly complete: one boy, one girl, and I was beginning to adjust to life in our first little home. I joined the local fitness center and took the kids to the baby gym. I even began dreaming of a career in writing, with plans to chronicle my newfound exploration of holistic wellness on my blog.
But alas, life happened, changing up our life plans again.
. . . to be continued . . .