the winding road to postpartum depression

You never really pay attention to the signs, even when they’re staring you in the face. Carlos kept asking me what was wrong. I could feel my mom tiptoeing around me, always around the corner making sure I was never left alone with the girls for too long. My dad made sure to make himself scarce to avoid my wrath. And my poor baby girls got a shadow of my normal self.

Postpartum depression hit me hard. I didn’t notice it right after Catalina was born, it could be because my sister came from Holland and I was distracted, or maybe it was something that developed later on. All I know is that in the beginning of May I started secluding myself. I hid in the bedroom under the guise that I was breastfeeding the baby but really I just wanted to be alone. I couldn’t handle leaving the house unless it was absolutely necessary, and even then every outing was full of anxiety and self doubt.

I couldn’t bring myself to take a shower because the water on my skin felt like knives. I wanted to eat any and every thing I could get my hands on. No amount of sleep was enough and so I just wanted to be in bed all day hiding, trying to sleep while Catalina slept. I couldn’t be bothered to cook or clean, let alone keep up with my own personal hygiene.

I kept apologizing to Carlos. I kept telling him I would get better eventually. I kept telling him how much I loved him and our girls but I just wasn’t myself…and I didn’t know how to get back there. And my husband lovingly replied that there was no need to apologize and reminded me that adjusting to a new person in our family was going to take it’s time.

Finally, my mom sat me down and told me I needed help. Not just help around the house but professional medical help. I broke down crying because I knew it was true. I knew that this wasn’t going to go away on it’s own. A few days later I was seeing a psychiatrist who sat down with me and after listening to me cry, rant, and rave for what felt like forever prescribed me an SSRI and told me to come back to her in ten days.

Here I am, about six weeks later and I finally feel back to normal. Taking  a shower isn’t torture, I’m working out and eating right, and most importantly, I’m able to be present when interacting with my family. I feel free.

To all my fellow mothers out there, please do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be ashamed or bound by the stigma society has placed on depression/mental health. Finding help makes you strong and honestly will give your children just another reason to look up to you.

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motherhood: defeated.

Today, I feel defeated. Today, I hid in a bathroom and cried. Today, I gave up.

PJ had her monthly check-in with her psychiatrist. We turned in her teachers report to her. Although we didn’t read the report, we know what it said based on the meeting we had with her and school psychologist late last month.

PJ has an exceptionally short attention span. PJ does not sit still. PJ likes to scream. PJ does not answer to her name. PJ doesn’t get tired. PJ is overly affectionate. 

These things we know. These are things we’ve known her whole life. When we started trying to get help for her last year these things were still issues. These were issues we had with her at daycare. And we were working with a speech therapist at the time. But we haven’t seen her since December 2016.

We’ve been having trouble finding therapists who are willing to work with PJ because of the language barrier. Last year she barely said more than 10 words in Spanish, however since she started at her new school her Spanish has flourished. But we still want a therapist that UNDERSTANDS English in case they need it to reach her when she’s stubborn or hyper. (Not charging us USD$300.00 a month and asking us to pay their vacation days whether or not those are days they would normally see PJ would be great too).

After the psychiatrist read the report, she put it down and very frankly said, “Well, after reading this my professional opinion is you should medicate her. Start her off on a very small dose and see where we go from there. Have you thought about that?” And while my response may have taken .04 seconds to come out of my mouth, in my head a whole week passed. Yes, my husband and I had talked about what would we do should anyone suggest medicating her. We always said no but at that very moment PJ was throwing the mother of all tantrums because she wanted to play with some party favor lost at the bottom of the diaper bag, and I hesitated because in that moment I would’ve done ANYTHING to get her to calm down for thirty seconds.

“No, we don’t feel comfortable giving her medication. She’s only three.”

And her very short response was, “You’re here for a reason and this is my professional opinion. It’s up to you whether you take it or leave it.” At that point PJ was sprawled out on the floor kicking and screaming. I could feel my blood start to overheat and I wanted out of there as soon as possible.

While leaving the doctors office I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Are we really at that point? Is she really THAT hyper and uncontrollable? Am I really that weak that I thought, for a moment, that we definitely should medicate her? Could NOT giving her the medication hurt her? WHAT DO I DO?

I couldn’t help but look down at my tiny person and want to cry. I love her so much and want to make the best decision for her but don’t know where to begin. I plan on getting a second opinion soon. I reached out to the occupational therapist who evaluated her back in February to see if she could give me some direction in finding new therapists. I’m meeting with her pediatrician next week to see what she says as well.

We have another check up in six weeks to let her know what we’ve decided on…we’ll see what happens from here to then. I just hope I can make an educated decision for my daughter.

If any of you have had any experience in dealing with Risperidone please feel free to share it with me. 

Putting ME before MOM.

The past few months have been rough on me. Paloma has been getting curiouser, the construction on the house has been keeping me busy, and taking care of my parents has been draining. As the construction has started to wind down (today is hopefully the LAST day!), PJ enjoys playing alone more, and we are finally seeing an end to unpacking I’ve realized that I haven’t prioritized myself since January.

It’s been so easy to get lost on the teacup ride that has become my life. My contractor doesn’t buy the supplies for the house, rather he gives me a list of what to buy and I have to go to the hardware store and pray they have them. If not it’s a whole day trip to Las Piedras (the nearest city) or even further, Montevideo. Once I return home he’ll inform me I have purchased the wrong items, forcing to me grab my already grumpy one and a half year old and make the hour trek back to the hardware store. This doesn’t include the three to four trips to the grocery store–because God forbid my parents know what they want BEFORE I leave the house the first time–,the agropecuaria (a veterinarian pet supply store), the bank, the money exchange, and the vegetable stand. After this I come home, pray I brought the right things so I don’t have to leave again and start cooking dinner. All the while I have my parents telling me the internet/DirecTV/phone doesn’t work and I have to fix it along with my daughter screeching to be let out of her playpen.

Look, I know what you’re thinking. “So? We all have a million things to do as parents and caretakers? It’s our job.” And you’re right. My job is to take care of my parents, my child, and run their/my home. But have you noticed that apart from my incessant grumbling, I haven’t talked mentioned taking a second for myself?

Prior to construction starting in January I took about an hour or two a day to work out/meal plan/write/vegetate online–anything to just clear my mind from my daily pressures. As the stresses started piling up I put my personal time on the back burner, dreaming of the day when I’ll be able to have a minute to myself again. Since then I’ve been getting ridiculous headaches, body aches, nausea, and dear Lord have I been binge eating.

I went to the doctor last week complaining of my gong-like headaches in fear of having a brain tumor and even though she referred me to a neurologist, she told me she believes it to be psychosomatic. As someone with a history of debilitating anxiety and depression (what’s up Zoloft?) I wasn’t surprised to hear it. I’ve taken the past week to take a look at my life, how I’ve allowed myself to unravel at the seams and simply put, stopped caring about myself. But not anymore. I need to create order and happiness in my life. I don’t have anything to be upset or unhappy with. I have my whole family, I have a happy and healthy daughter, I have a marriage that exudes love, tenderness, and respect.

For the past week I have made it a point to get my hour or two a day back. I wake up every morning and make it a point to put on actual clothes. I apply make up even if all plan on doing is staying home–take a look to your left to my Instagram feed for proof. I started eating healthily again and am slowly easing my way back into exercise. I have spent my whole life lying to myself saying that eating like a beast makes me happy. It doesn’t. I always feel sluggish, glum, and bloated afterwards. Whenever I eat healthily I feel light and untroubled.

I need to constantly remind myself that in order for me to take care of those I love, I need to put myself first. Like on an airplane during the safety demonstration. Should your oxygen bag be deployed please put it on yourself first then place it on those traveling with you. Since I’ve made these adjustments to my daily life I’ve been so much happier and better equipped at caring for those around me.