Friday, July 29, 2005

Postpartum Musings

These are my thoughts but they're not random. They are who I am as of this moment, today. I own this self, as I am, today. Happy with it or not, it is me. I write them with a quiet desperation, trying to figure out who I am. It's a disconcerting feeling to see my life boiled down to a few words in a blog, but again... I own it because it is me.

Quiet desperation.

I could feel it but I wasn't sure what was behind it. It's like a softly breathing animal resting in a bush, waiting to pounce for all to see. Somone with keen instincts might feel the animal, or by chance hear its' quiet breath and instinct would tell them to keep on moving. Maybe if you don't let the animal know that YOU know it's there, it'll go away. Maybe it'll decide to leave you alone. But the thing is that you're feeding it and don't even realize it. The more you feed it, the more it needs to eat. The more it eats the hungier it gets. And then one day you realize. You have to acknowledge the quiet desperation to make the animal go away. And then you realize further that just going away isn't enough... you have to accept it and make it yours.

I've led a pretty normal life. I grew up in a regular (if not strict, thanks Dad) household. On a lot of levels, I'm probably boring but I've always known what I wanted. I've gone after it. So why would MY life have a quiet desperation? How could I ever be classified as a desperate housewife? When I have EXACTLY what I've always wanted, I have exactly what I still want. That hasn't changed. I'd like some, ahhhh, cosmetic changes, sure... but I'm happy. Mostly. Yeah.

And then it hit me while doing online research. It hit me while reading my books and parent magazines. It bowled me over when I watched the 2nd episode of Oprah's interview with Brooke Shields. I have post partum depression. I couldn't deny it any more.

And my quiet desperation had a name.

I had PPD after Juliana was born. I didn't realize it until I went back to work after she turned 5 months old. I was a miserable mess, and was very angry. I wanted to be home with my baby girl and how dare life keep me from her in the way that I needed. Forget the fact that my MIL gladly and generously took care of her for the next year and a half. I wanted to be the one who saw her firsts and taught her to count, her colors and to sing the ABC song. So on the advice of a close friend (actually it was probably 4) I talked to my PCP, who simply said "Yup, PPD. Here have some Sarafem." Um ok. I stopped taking it when I thought I had worked out some issues (that's a whole other post), and then got pregnant with Grace a month or two later but several months before we were ready. Well, I was ready but Manny wasn't... darned BCP's don't work when you're on antibiotics for several weeks in a row) I worked until a couple weeks before her birth (Thanksgiving 2002), and then have been home ever since. We got pregnant with Anneliese in May 2004, right on schedule.

That was bittersweet for me, because I had gone off the BCP's in January. And I know in my heart, even if he couldn't be detected by science, that I was pregnant. My heart knew I had a little boy, who got his pair of Angel Wings in March 2004. I fondly think of him as Jellie Bean, same as I've thought of all my little ones. They've all looked like Jelly Belly beans, so they've all been Jellie Beanies to me. We weren't trying for him, but he still had a piece of my soul and I felt his loss when he left. I did not miscarry him... he went Home early. Then in May, we became pregnant, and confirmed it in June. We were joyous, of course, and we both wanted this... and I felt ungrateful if I pursued thought of my little boy. I know he was my little angel boy.

So, hormones and time passed. And now, almost 6 months post partum... I know that I have PPD. I'll talk later about how it feels. Except that it's made me take stock in my life so that I can own who I am. I made an appointment and talked with my PCP this past Monday, who said "Yes you have PPD, but tell me about it." She listened and I listened, and she put me on Paxil for every day, and Xanax for the really tough spots, or let's just call them "jags." I started them on Tuesday and I think I'm feeling a difference. I'm not quiet as out of control as I was. And that's a start.

I'll be seeing my psychiatrist on Tuesday. I'm more nervous than I can say. Except that the quiet desperation is different... now it's like an animal that's coming over to be petted.

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