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the one where I hope for the best, but prepare for the worst

3-week-old Liliana

3-week-old Liliana Flynn

Liliana woke up with a night terror last night. She hasn’t had one (that I can remember) since we lived in Regina. I went in to deal with her and when I couldn’t calm her down, I started to feel my anxiety rise very quickly. I just wanted her to STOP CRYING. I felt myself losing control, so I went back into the living room and told Noah that he had to deal with her because I could not. He didn’t get up right that second, and I could feel the anxiety and anger continue to rise and told him he had to deal with her RIGHT NOW.

A couple minutes later he called for my help because apparently she had an accident (all over him and her bed) in the midst of everything, so he gave her a quick bath (which finally woke her up) while I changed her bedding. She very rarely has an accident during the day and had been dry at night for months before tonight. When the bedding was in the washing machine (mattress covers are AWESOME) and Liliana was clean and redressed and back asleep (in our bed this time), I was expecting Noah to be mad for the way I’d spoken to him, but instead he just asked me if I was alright.

He’s come so far in his understanding of depression and anxiety. I was thankful that he could see that it was that, and not that I was angry at him or something like that.

That incident scared me though. If my anxiety (and with it, anger) can build up that quickly with a three-year-old, how am I going to deal with a newborn? I haven’t felt that way since Liliana was a baby. I’d get to the point where I had to put her safely in her crib and walk far enough away that I couldn’t hear her so that I could calm down. My head would fill with horrid angry thoughts. Through that time, I started to understand why mothers hurt their children. I’m not talking about the ones who purposely hurt their children, but the ones who find themselves losing control and doing something that they immediately, or later, regret.

Thankfully, it never got that far with me. I was always able to put Liliana in a play pen or crib until I was calm enough to deal with her again. But the thoughts that go through my head while that is happening? The thoughts of being willing to do ANYTHING to MAKE THE CRYING STOP? They’re scary thoughts that should not be in a mother’s head. I felt guilty and ashamed of those thoughts and I don’t think I even told Noah about them. The thoughts and the anxiety got worse and worse. I felt like a failure and I began to detach myself from Noah, the girls, and everyone else I knew. I began to feel severe anxiety any time I was not with the girls. I didn’t seek help until 3 days before we moved halfway across the country, away from my amazing mental-health-savvy doctor. Through her questions I learned I’d been suffering from a mild form of depression for years, and it had spiraled out of control after Liliana’s birth.

I didn’t know anything about depression. It was a stigmatized topic in the little small-town world that I lived in. It was something I should be able to snap out of. I should be able to be in control of my emotions. I should stop being so selfish and self-centred. I started reading about depression. The more I read, the more I understood what depression is. It’s not something you choose (I certainly didn’t) or something you snap out of. I also learned that it wasn’t going to go away with a simple prescription.

I saw a new doctor a couple years ago, after our move, for a prescription refill. She asked about my symptoms and handed me a handful of samples of the medication I was on. I was thankful for the free medication (it’s STUPID expensive) but then she told me that I would feel better if I thought of women who were in worse situations than I was. I never went back to that doctor.

One of the reasons I love the blogging community so much is that it’s full of women who are not afraid to admit that they’re struggling. I didn’t know anyone in my “real life” world who was that open and honest and willing to share about something so sensitive and personal. They instilled in me the confidence to not be ashamed that I was sick. Depression is an illness. An illness is not something to be ashamed of.

I started feeling anxiety over experiencing postpartum depression with Three at about 20 weeks. I started to prepare myself, both to deal with it and to try to prevent it as much as possible. A well-informed friend emailed me a bit ago saying that new research has found that it starts as early as the third trimester. Um, hi! I’m there.

I have hope though. I’m taking more time off work this time so that I can focus on my family and my mental health without the pressures of working added on to that. I’m learning how to cut out unnecessary stresses. I’m planning on spending a lot of time outside. I’m going to keep my doctor up to date on how I’m feeling.

I’m not expecting that everything will be fine! and joyous! and perfect! and happy! this time around, but I have hope that it will be better. And if it’s not, this time I know what to do.

Categories: anxiety/depression, parenting is hard

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bethany actually Wednesday, February 16, 2011, 11:05 pm

    I’m so extremely glad that you are having this baby in SPRING. Not that sunshine is a cure-all for PPD, but after having a spring baby and a winter baby I can tell you without a doubt that spring babies are so much easier. You can go outside for walks, you don’t have to worry as much about sickness as you do during cold & flu season, and it’s warmer and just generally easier to get around to all those doctor’s appointments and visits with family that pop up in the early days after a baby’s birth.

    I will keep you in my prayers, of course. And I need to send you the package of pre-baby love that I have been assembling for you! It needs to have time to clear customs before the baby’s born. ;-)

  • Tara V Wednesday, February 16, 2011, 11:56 pm

    A friend pointed me to your blog. She knows I struggle with depression like you. being prepared is one of the best things and being able to identify it and staying in touch with your doctor. All amazing things to be aware of, good for you! But let me encourage you to make sure you ask for help when you need it.
    Best of luck, that’s one lucky baby on the way for such an amazing mom.

  • Lollie Thursday, February 17, 2011, 12:00 am

    Just the fact that you are writing about it tells me you’re going to be ok:)
    Funny that Annalie mentions the difference between Spring Babies and Winter BAbies. I’ve had 2 Spring Babies and 2 Fall Babies and I never, ever thought about it before, but both Spring Babies were my easiest babies. Huh, that’s kinda cool!
    Have you ever read the book Overcoming Depression or Victory over the Darkness? I learned a lot from VOTD, but I haven’t yet read OD, I’d like to though. Both books are by Neil T. Anderson.
    I know that there is no one book answer, but when I’m struggling with something I like to seek out Spiritual Wisdom. From God’s Word of course, but there’s a lot to be said from those who have walked the path before us and we can glean from what they’ve learned.
    I love you Jen and I’m praying Victory for you! :)

  • Heather Thursday, February 17, 2011, 12:33 am

    You’ve got some great links, dear. I appreciate your honesty even though it scares me for when I eventually have children, but I think you’re probably better prepared this time, and better able to use your support network.

  • Jo Thursday, February 17, 2011, 5:31 am

    Jen, you have a husband who clearly adores you and is very supportive, you also have 2 chidren who are old enough to ‘help’ in little ways to take off some pressure. You are not alone. You have come a long way. You are able to identify ‘those moments’, and ask for help. While I realize this is easy to say, I firmly believe you will be okay. Remember deep breaths and breathing, really help those moments. Hugs and love.

  • Angella Thursday, February 17, 2011, 1:10 pm

    I’m so glad to see how far you’ve come, and how much you’ve grown to know yourself better.

    Big hugs, Jen. We’re all rooting for you. :)

  • Amanda Brown Thursday, February 17, 2011, 2:19 pm

    You already have such a good outlook on PPD, and so much more knowledge and support now. I hope you have a happy, sleepy baby who makes things nice and easy on you too.
    PS: Avelyn always peed during her night terrors. So awful!

  • Kami Thursday, February 17, 2011, 2:37 pm

    I had those feeling with Jack too. I always say that I think I had some form of PPD – this confirms it. And I never asked for help. I thought I was just being a bad mom.

    You are my hero. Seriosly. I love you and pray that this time will be a breeze for you.


  • Ruth Thursday, February 17, 2011, 3:43 pm

    you can get subsidy for child care through mental heath or your dr writting a note, to help with summer care for your older children…if you need a break after baby comes. Also a post partum doula helps…and you can find funding for that as well, at least in BC. been there done that, so I know its a struggle for sure! try to line up help before the birth. And your right about spring babys, that will help you alot.

  • Grannie Thursday, February 17, 2011, 6:20 pm

    Praying for you Jen, love you tons!

  • Jacquie Friday, February 18, 2011, 9:38 am

    Not sure how I found your blog initially but I just want to thank you for your post. I am 7 weeks pregnant with my first and have been battling depression for 5 years. For the past few years I have been on a bit of a cocktail of medications that has helped bring some stability to my life, but have been weaned off the medication over the past 4 weeks. I am terrified to find out how my body will handle pregnancy without the help I’ve been used too and even more terrified of how I will feel postpartum. But your post was a huge encouragement to me so thank you!

  • Jenny Friday, February 18, 2011, 11:18 am

    Hey Jen, I suffered with post partum depression with my second son. It was a terrible time for me and my husband. For those first few months of my son’s life I do not remember anything…all his firsts aren’t memories that I could recollect.
    The good news is that for my last son I didn’t have an ounce of post partum depression. We had discussed our situation with our doctor and the doctor was ready to medically intervene (prescription)if I or hubby thought it was necessary. The public health nurse was notified of my situation and extra attention was given to my family. I do not know why I only had the post partum with my second son. One theory is that his traumatic birth had something to do with the pp depression.
    I think support for you, your hubby and baby is the key thing. I felt once I could talk about the issue it was like a huge burden lifted off my back. Remember you are never alone.

  • Melissa Friday, February 18, 2011, 1:16 pm

    I have never been in your position Jen but I will be praying that the Lord will help you fight this fight. You are doing everything you can and that speaks volumes of how far you have come.

  • Kristin Sunday, February 20, 2011, 1:23 am

    Your honesty is awesome. I think that you will be better off this time because you are more aware of what is going on with yourself and so are those close to you. I will be praying for you.

  • moosh in indy. Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 10:40 am

    My brain hasn’t even been able to wrap itself around postpartum depression yet, I feel as though I just barely caught my breath from the whole antenatal depression thing, but as you said…I’ll know better what to do this time, and if I have to sail through on autopilot for a few weeks/months? I have complete trust in the people I’ve surrounded myself with to care for me and my baby.

    It’s a very good feeling.

    I’m also very happy that Noah dealt with things the way he did, good man that Noah.

  • mamalang Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 11:20 am

    Jen, I so wish we lived closer. I don’t suffer from depression, but I still struggled with those feelings of anger and anxiety when my youngest two were small. I literally locked Bella in her room one day so I wouldn’t hurt her, and sat there thanking God for giving me the one small ounce of common sense? sanity? whatever to know to do that and to stop me. I’m glad that you’ve built a community around you, even if we are mostly virtual. Major Hugs :)