Post Partum Depression

I’ve started at least 4 other drafts of this, trying to get it together about how I feel.  It’s just hard to put it all together.  I’m so adrift right now.  I’m working a Stay at Home Mom lifestyle right now and it’s pretty ok.  We can’t put the Bug into daycare until she’s at least a year old.  Even if I did go back to work, daycare is so expensive that I would need to make significantly more than I was making before the baby for it to be worth it.  I’ve had my own job and my own money since I was 13.  I bought things when I wanted them, I save money when I wanted.  This new life where I have to like…clear my purchases is really chafing me.  Not that CM doesn’t get me whatever I need and things that I want, but it’s different.  I don’t want to ask for money for frivolous things like a pedicure when he’s the sole provider.  I’m not comfortable when I think about how much money we owe.  Bug was covered for just a little over $1 million dollars in medical bills with CM’s insurance, for just 73 days.  We still owe another $78,000 for what wasn’t covered.  This is on top of what I owe for giving birth.  I left one job for another because I thought, “hey, I have 15 more weeks till this baby,” and it was going to be day 1 insurance coverage at the new job.  Unfortunately I went into labor in the 2 week period that I wouldn’t have coverage.  It weighs on me all the time.  Do I stay home and work on just being a mom?  Do I go back to work as soon as I can and start trying to make a dent in this medical debt?  Do I declare bankruptcy?  I haven’t written in forever because I just can’t stop worrying all the time.  I can’t take this weight off of my chest.  I gotta get some things out and written down though.

Over the last few days I have been trying to look at myself and take stock of where I am, emotionally.  It’s not awesome.  I don’t feel awesome.  I have bipolar disorder 2.  I was diagnosed when I was 20 years old and I’ve only done a fair to moderate job of staying on my meds throughout my life.  After I split up with my ex husband (a store I’ll get to, eventually) I got back on my medication.  I was seeing a counselor regular.  Hell, I even lost 60 pounds.  However, I stopped taking my medication when I found out that I was pregnant.  I know that there are medications that are deemed safe, I wasn’t comfortable with any.  Maybe it was the right decision, maybe it wasn’t, I don’t really know.  It’s the decision I made at the time.  Maybe it wasn’t the right choice but I was afraid of any effects on the baby, now I wonder if it would have mattered.  She came so early and I wonder if my stress and mental state contributed to it. I look back and I second guess so many decisions that I made while I was pregnant but honestly, other than my meds I did pretty well.  I didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, I got plenty of water, I took the multivitamins, I made it to all my prenatal visits, and I did all the things I was supposed to do.  There just really isn’t any discernible reason for it.

That’s the hard part, I don’t like not knowing or understanding WHY something happened.  Now Bug is doing pretty ok and I’m left to trying to put everything together.  I’m trying to put my mind together, my heart, and my illness.  I have all these doubts.  I love my boyfriend and I know that he loves me, but every disagreement that we have I take so personally.  I feel like he doesn’t value me.  I know that it isn’t true.  I know that this is my illness talking.  I keep looking at my baby and I’m trying to understand myself as a new person that is a parent.  I am sure I could be accused of taking something that women have been doing for ages and turning it into a personal crisis.  I don’t care, though.  I know I’m not the only person who feels overwhelmed.  I know I’m not the only person trying to reconcile the person that they were a year ago with the person they have to be now.  I know that I’m not the only one who is unsure of themselves.  It makes me tired.  I feel so fatigued all the time.  All the worry and self doubt keeps me awake at night.  I don’t sleep well and I feel anxious about everything.

I did finally go to the gynecologist though.  It only took me 8 months after having a baby.  In fairness to me though, I tried to schedule 2 months ago and they only had appointments 1 month out and I missed that because I had a stomach flu and had to take an appointment another month after that.  Still though, waiting 6 months to go see a doctor is obviously wildly irresponsible.  I can excuse myself for the time when Bug was in the NICU because I could barely process anything that wasn’t her.  The 3 months following was pure procrastination and unwillingness to dehermit myself.  YAY MENTAL ILLNESS!  They put in an IUD and I got a prescription for my antidepressant.  I need to find a new head shrinker though.  The doctor I was going to closed her practice and retired.   I don’t know if you know what it’s like looking for an office with both a psychiatrist and a psychologist but it’s not fun and it’s not easy.  Then if you do find one they have to be accepting new patients and take your insurance.  If you aren’t crazy when you start looking for a doctor, you will be by the end.

I know this was all over the place but I really just had to get it all out there.  I can talk more about all of it in detail as I go but for right now, it just needed to be written down to rest my  brain.

My Million Dollar Baby part 4

I think the hardest part about going over and writing about everything that happened is sorting it all out in my head.  It’s all so much a jumble of worry, fear, and guilt.  I know guilt is a weird one, but it’s one that a lot of preemie moms, especially micropreemie moms. It’s this awful feeling that my own body betrayed me.  I feel like I should have done something differently.  I feel bad that I wasn’t able to nurse.  I know that I don’t need to feel this way and that we did the best we could, but it’s the little thoughts that creep into my head.  It’s nice though, to be able to sit and organize it all in my brain.

Early on in her stay she got an infection and they had to transfuse her blood.  They gave her 2 ccs of blood. I wish I knew how much blood was in her body overall at that point. It would be interesting to know.  After that though, she really rallied.  She began putting on weight and growing steadily.  They did her weigh-ins around 11pm and I or my boyfriend would call to get her weight.  I was to the point where I couldn’t sleep until I had it.  Most of the nurses were pretty understanding about it.

The hardest part was leaving her alone.  I was always worried if she was lonesome and if she was getting enough attention.  It didn’t matter that I saw nurses going in and out of rooms giving all sorts of care and affection, I wasn’t there.  No matter that she was asleep and growing 80% of the time.  I felt like I was missing things.  The first time she wore clothes, I wasn’t there to dress her.  Her first little bath was someone else.  I took up doing her care as soon as I was allowed.  The first bath I gave her was nerve wracking.  They put a little bowl of warm water in the isolette and I would wipe her down with a soapy gauze wipe and then dry her down with another and massage in baby oil.  The very first time I honestly panicked afterwards.  I kept my cool during, but after I was a mess.  She only weighed 2.5lbs.

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The baby and her daddy have the same hairline.

I know we were fortunate though, so many micro preemies are in the NICU longer than she was.  We were there 73 days and it was awful.  She gained weight fairly quickly though, and even started bottle feeding sooner they expected.  Sh had a tube from her nose to her tummy for the majority of her stay.  I honestly, cannot express how much easier it was made by how amazing our nurses were. I don’t know how they do it.  Four days a week in 12 hour shifts taking care of vulnerable babies, some that don’t make it is a job for people who are basically heroes.  If I cried, they listened, if I was afraid, they reassured me, and they were constant sources of encouragement.  There were a lot of times that I just sat with her and cried.  I did kind of a lot of crying there, I’m not going to lie about it.

It was the beginning of October when the doctors started talking about GOING HOME.  There were a few things she needed to be able to accomplish before she could go home. She needed to weigh more than 4.5lbs, she needed to go 5 consecutive days with out a drop in her breathing or heart rate, she needed to be able to sit up in her car seat without having an event, and she needed to be taking all of her food by bottle.  It was so frustrating because she really took to the bottle right away.  She was really happy to be in control of her own eating, I think but it was hard work.  She was trying and sucking but it was too hard and she started having heart and breathing events.  They cut back on it and gave her another week before trying again and HOLY CRAP was she eating.  Finally we had a go home date. November 2nd.  She passed the car seat test with no issues. Our baby was coming home at 4lbs 6oz in preemie clothes that were too big for her!

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In a car seat that starts at 4lbs and an outfit that starts at 6lb.

So this is it, this is the last of the hospital posts I’m gong to do, I want to get on to the parts where we are living.  I don’t think you can have that without this though.  This the baby that was a little over a million dollars in covered hospital bills and another $78k out of pocket.  She’s worth every penny.