Post Partum Beginnings
Post Partum Beginnings
Linda C. Bennett
Apollo Beach, FL
Hello, my name is Linda. My post partum depression story begins March 2, 2005, when my daughter, Amber Christine Bennett, was born into this world at 4:40 pm. The feeling of joy was overwhelming the moment she exited my body. I couldn't wait to get my hands on her and see this beautiful girl. I was able to hold our precious baby for only a couple of minutes, because I was running a slight fever and so was Amber. This, of course, alarmed me. They took Amber upstairs for observation and my husband played the role of marathon man – running from observation, to the waiting room full of family and friends, then back to me.
Even at this point my husband had already noticed changes in me; however, he was not sure what "normal" was, after a woman had just given birth. We slept a little that first night with Amber in a Crib between us.
On March 3rd, my husband became alarmed enough at my lack of confidence to pull the doctor aside and describe what he was seeing – anxiety & panic. The doctor assured him that all women go through this and to give me two weeks and I should be just fine. The doctor never explained post partum, baby blues, or told my husband what warning signs to continue to look for.
On the morning of March 5, the hospital gave us the green light to go home. I looked at Robb again in shock. "What do you mean go home?" I said. "We haven't even been here the full 48 hours that our insurance covers. And Amber keeps getting monitored and checked on, as well as myself, and this has been reassuring that all is ok. Once we get home, there is no one to make this call and I don't have a clue." I was so nervous, that I literally would have paid anything to have us stay longer.
Robb, on the other hand, felt trapped and couldn't wait to get home and get Amber all settled in. I was still wondering if she was getting enough breast milk, what a typical day at home would be like, and just a slew of non-stop thoughts. And, I honestly felt like I was as dumb as a box of rocks. The things that would seem like common sense to me before just did not come naturally now, and I was struggling with this. I kept asking a zillion questions and referring to books. I even asked my mother in the hospital if she knew what the "baby blues" were.
The Descent Quickens
When we got home a lot of people came to see Amber. This definitely had me on pins and needles, because I was not in any mood to entertain. My head was spinning all day and I even stated to Robb's immediate family and my Mom and Dad that I could not even imagine how I was going to take care of Amber, clean the house, make dinner, handle the mail, and just on and on with the things I did so effortlessly before.
All this stress and anxiety made me think, "If this is how I'm going to feel, then I don't want to live my life like this. Robb and Amber, as well as all my family and friends, would be a better off without me. Who wants to listen to someone like this day in and day out? Who wants to live being so miserable and concerned and frantic about everything?" I then imagined myself drowning in the bath tub or getting struck by an on-going vehicle on the street. I knew this was crazy.
At 2:00am the next morning, my husband woke up to find me in a full blown panic attack, and got me back to the hospital quickly. They gave me a sleep aid and the next morning a doctor talked to my husband and I about what was going on. He prescribed depression and anxiety medications, and even though I was very opposed to taking pills, we decided to give it a try.
Very quickly after taking the medicine I felt like a zombie without much emotion. So I stopped taking it. Terrible idea, as I just went straight down again and it seemed like it even got worse. My mother came into my room in the morning and I did not even want to get out of bed. She explained that Amber was crying and needed me, and I couldn't care less. I felt she did not need a mother like. I made the motion to my mother to slit my wrists and just end this pain for me!
My mother stormed out of my room and called Robb at work. Robb got on the phone with me and asked me how I was doing. I told him that I did not care to be in this world. He was in shock and asked if I was going to hurt myself. I did not answer. He started talking about the Baker Act and how he could have me Baker Acted because it is against the law to harm oneself. Again, I really did not care and did not know what I might do.
This put Robb and my parents in a state of 911. The next day, we all went to a therapist. She asked me numerous questions about my childhood (that was great), and our marriage (that was great too). She asked about family history and we told her we didn't have any depression or PPD on either side of the family that we knew of.
She then got ALARMED when she asked if I would hurt myself and I remained quiet. She called Robb into the room and asked the "would you hurt yourself" question. Again, I stayed silent, even knowing deep down that I would never do such a thing, but personally I did not feel like Linda AT ALL!!! This is when they decided that I had to be Baker Acted. The date was March 15, and it's an experience that both I and my husband will never forget.
Robb took my parents and Amber home and had me get packed to go to the hospital. I was scared to death. Everyone kept asking me how could I be feeling this way? What was wrong with me? "Pick yourself up by the boot straps and get it together," they said. Boy, I sure wish that I could have, and believe me I was trying. During the car ride to the hospital I kept begging Robb to take me home. I couldn't leave Amber and I promised that I would not hurt myself. Robb insisted that he could not take that chance and that they was no way he or Amber was going to lose me.
I cried, I begged, I did not understand at all what was going on inside my head, and as much as Robb wanted to do what I asked, he knew that it was not "Linda" he was talking to. At the emergency room, they had me sign papers that said I would not be able to leave on my own free will. When we got to the area to which I was to be admitted, they would not let Robb come with me. "WHAT!!!!" I thought, "Honey, please do not leave me!"
I was petrified. They took me to a room and examined me and the items in my bag. They took my cell phone, all my toiletries, any of my clothes that had ties, my razor, and anything else they felt could be potentially dangerous. I wanted Robb so badly and kept asking the personnel if I could please call him. They assured me that they would let me call him once they finished my check-in. I had been admitted to the psychiatric ward.
The Psychiatric Ward
At this point, I did not know whether to thank or hate my husband for doing this to me. I was finally able to call him and he just kept apologizing. He was in tears himself and felt hopeless. I felt like all eyes were on me as the "new" person on the block. I had a room all to myself that night, but I did not sleep a wink. I lay in bed praying and crying, praying and crying.
The next morning, still scared to death, I made myself available for all the activities that were expected of me. I talked to other patients, and the stories I heard pulled at my heart stings. There were people that had their wrists bandaged after trying to kill themselves, there were people who were bi-polar, there was an elderly woman who would sing at the top of her lungs and then not communicate at all
I participated in group talks, had one-on-one conversation with specialists, had a full body exam where they checked my thyroid, etc. I again was asked all about my childhood, my career, and my life overall. I could not figure out why these people could not see that I had PPD and the last place I needed to be was here and away from my daughter.
Robb came and visited me and I don't think I could have hugged him any tighter. He then had to go after visiting hours were over, and again, I do not think that I could have hugged him any tighter. After two sleepless nights, I went home.
Ups and Downs
Now I was starting over. I continued to see a therapist and took medication. I was doing the best that I could, but I definitely had great days and terrible days. Some days I found myself unable to complete the simplest tasks and was not sure how much longer I could continue living like this. I mourned the old me – the positive, out-going, energetic, and strong woman I had been. I felt like my whole world was crumbling. Then the medication would start to kick in and I'd have great days (at least great compared to other days) and believe I was on the road to recovery.
But I still often found myself over-whelmed and down in the dumps, having difficulty completing simple everyday tasks, over stressed, and trouble sleeping. I was not able to bond with my daughter the way I thought I would. And although I felt that I was a good wife and partner up to this time, I could not function the way I had in the past to give Robb what he needed in a wife and a mother of his child. When Robb returned to work to support our family, I still needed supervision. So, I had to pack up and go stay with my parents.
When I went back home, I could tell the original prescriptions were not working completely, so my husband and I began a journey of seeing nurse practitioners, psychiatrists and therapists who also gave me a myriad of prescriptions for depression, anxiety, sleep and who knows what else. But nothing seemed to get me to stay above the surface. Nothing enabled me to be that happy-go-lucky, energetic, ball of fire I once was. It isn't possible to put the experience into words, but suffice it to say it was a rough roller coaster ride for me, my husband, our families and our friends.
After we had gone through a pretty extensive experiment called, "which drug will work?" we found the combination that made me feel almost like my old self. Robb and I wanted to have more children, but we were advised not to because of the seriousness of my condition. At this point, I was determined to turn around our lives for the better no matter what it took. "Nothing keeps a good woman down," was always my philosophy, and if GOD brought you to it, he'll bring you through it!
Finally, an Answer for Me
That is when I searched the internet and found an amazing woman, Dr. Shoshana Bennett (author of Post Partum for Dummies and co-author of Beyond Baby Blues) who has helped over 15,000 women in similar situations. She recognizes PPD as a REAL condition, and presents a plan that gives hope that you WILL get through it. This woman not only assisted me in developing my future plan, but introduced me to a nutritional system and that has changed our lives.
So, with my husband supporting me and standing by my side, we both began this nutritional program. We noticed changes within days and began losing weight, having brain clarity and increased energy that was just unstoppable. We were feeling better than we had ever remembered feeling in our lives (even during our 20's) and it just keeps getting better and better all around!
We have our family back, because I am back! I am now off of all prescription medications and have not dropped at all mentally. I have a ton of energy. I sleep soundly and can accomplish so much on a daily basis. Simply put, I feel WONDERFUL! As a side benefit, I have lost over 7 inches in body mass and went from a 7/8 dress size to a loose 4 – what a wonderful unexpected bonus. I haven't seen that size since high school.
Throughout our trials and tribulations with post-partum depression (PPD), we have learned so much. My story is shared to let you know that PPD is treatable and curable. Whether it is through seeking the help of an experienced PPD medical doctor, an experienced PHD in PPD or a nutritional program, you can get your life back, which means you can get your family back. I am living proof that you can and will get through this. And it will now remain my mission in life to assist all others and their families through PPD.
Through prayer, medical doctors, therapists, specialists and the proper nutrition, I am proud to say that I am a PPD survivor. I thank God everyday for the many blessings he gives and continues to give and how through me his guidance is leading me to assist others!
Love & Blessings,
FYI - More about me on a personal note:
I married my amazing husband, Robb, on June 28, 2003. We are both proud Christians. We have a daughter, Amber, who was born on March 2, 2005.
I am a Graduate of Florida State University with a BS degree in Hospitality Administration. I successfully worked in the field of Human Resource consulting for over 10 years before becoming a stay-at-home mom in 2005.
I am an avid football fan (Go Seminoles! and Go Jets!) and enjoy most other sports as well. I love to scrapbook and journal and I love the outdoors and boating. I enjoy dancing and listening to "good" music and hope that my husband and I will take dance lessons in the near future.
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