Wednesday, October 9, 2013

For Miriam Project: My PPMD Story

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.
Psalm 31:9



For Miriam, and for all women who battle the beast of PPMD’s in their many forms, I am telling my story.  It’s time to end the stigma. 

The baby was asleep—if only for a short while, and I was in desperate need of relaxation.  The “screaming time” (between 4:00-6:00p.m. every night, without rhyme or reason) had ended, I’d found that blasted nipple shield (I was still wearing it—can you say, “sleep deprivation?”), fed the baby, pumped, shoved a frozen waffle into my face and mumbled something to my spouse about a bath.  As I laid there in the water, a horrifying thought came into my mind: this would be a peaceful way to die.

            Guilt instantly flooded my being.  How could I even ponder such an idea? I had a sweet, wonderful baby boy, whom I loved more than life itself.  Sure, colic was a beast and we were still drudging through nursing hell, but he really was a good baby.  In fact, I didn’t deserve him.  A better mom would never be depressed.  Surely, because of my ungrateful heart, God would take my baby from me.  And thus began the nightly ritual of paranoia.

            The more he slept, the less I slept.  I needed to check his breathing, to make sure my baby didn’t die.  I cranked his baby monitor up as high as it would go, even though his room was across the hall.  We’d put him in his own room because he was a light sleeper, and we were waking him up.  If I left both doors open, I could slip in and out of bed sixteen times per night to check his breathing.  My husband and baby slept soundly, but I usually could not.  When I did, the guilt washed over me once more.  I just knew I wasn’t a good enough mother.

            As the months trudged on, colic faded, nursing grew easier and I slept a little more … until my baby rolled off the bed.

            I was just a foot away, folding laundry, when it happened.  Thud.  I scooped up my son, my own tears drowning his out.  I called my husband and told him he should call CPS on me, because I was an unfit mother. 

            My husband wanted to give me breaks on the weekends, but when he got up with the baby, I found myself listening in on the monitor the entire time. I wanted to rest, but I couldn’t.  This deeply frustrated my husband, because “one of us should really be sleeping.”  I couldn't let him help with his own child.  What on earth was wrong with me? 

            Every bump on the noggin, every rash on the tush, every typical struggle of infancy made me feel horrible.  It was so hard to leave the house without help.  I felt so isolated, but leaving was so hard, making me feel more alone.  The cycle was vicious and ongoing. 

            My sister, a PPD veteran, had been watching me like a hawk.  She visited often, brought meals and called every day, even when I was too tired to carry on an intelligent conversation.  I had a circle of experienced moms who checked in on me regularly—and it was mentioned more than once that perhaps I should consider talking to my doctor.  I would not. 

            Unfit mothers went on meds, and people who didn’t know Jesus went to therapy-- or so I thought.  Surely, CPS would take my baby away if they knew.  I would just “pull myself together.”

 It took a second child (the depression and anxiety were delayed, but they did return) a hysterectomy and the discovery that my youngest was autistic before I finally reached out for help. 

            I look at the pictures of my children as infants, and I wish I could remember more.  I wish I had spent more time being able to enjoy them and less time sobbing, worrying or feeling completely numb.  I know now that it wasn’t my fault.  No mother should have to suffer in the dark.  We are blessed to live in a time when help is available—even in online therapy/support groups for moms who can’t easily leave home.  My passion for birth work comes largely from the lactation consultants, doulas and loving friends who kept me going when I didn’t think I could.  I know not every mom has a sister, a MOPS leader or a best friend keeping an eye out for PPMD's.  It is my hope that the For Miriam project will bring hope to those without support, and a broader, more welcoming community for us all. 


Mama, if you’re reading this and you relate to anything that I’ve written, please know that help is waiting for you.  The scary step of reaching out can save your memories, your mental health … perhaps even your life.  You are precious.  You are a good mom.  You are worth helping.   

1 comment:

  1. Bawl. Thank you for sharing this and God bless you. You have had no easy road and yet you're such a bright spot on my Facebook feed.

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About Me

I'm not your average housewife; but then, neither is any other housewife I've met! My life is a constant blur of kids, animals, hunting down and testing allergy-friendly recipes, shopping, LOTS of coffee, yarn crafting, nannying, singing and writing. I married my highschool sweetheart (the introvert who is a type-A, shy, organized, loves hunting, hiking and mountain climbing. He lives for pizza, burgers and cookies and doesn't like coffee). We are polar opposites, but Love, grace and a whole lotta Jesus can overcome anything! :) We have two boys who fill this house with lots of excitement, love, laughter and lunacy! Alan (9) is a happy-go-lucky, inventive, dramatic, eager-to-please kid who loves being dad's shadow and mom's shopping companion. He's the snuggliest kid I've ever met! Wyatt is extremely bright, inquisitive, entertaining and endearing. He lives for routine, Wii games, pixar films and writing stories. Alan is typically-developing, Wyatt has high-functioning autism. We live on an acre in the Pacific Northwest with our two aussies and 5 chickens. It's not the Waltons, but it works! :)