20 May 2008

A Case of the Crazies, V

In this postpartum depression journey, I’ve written about not sleeping, going crazy, realizing I was going crazy, and admitting myself to the looney bin. Although I have plenty of stories from the looney bin, they’re mostly bitter, bitter recounts of a three-day weekend. All in all, I went to the hospital to get on mood and sleeping drugs and to put my family through the ringer (oh, and to get over billed for sub par care).

So, I will fast forward to the day I left the looney bin. It was a gorgeous October day: The kind of day Austinites wait for all summer—sunny, but only with a hint of humidity. I won’t lie, I was kind of scared of getting out. I was still crawling out of my skin with anxiety and I didn’t know what kind of recovery I was in for. Nate and Benny picked me up in the morning. Being outside was a huge relief (there’s a policy at the looney bin: don’t let the crazies outside—the fresh air might actually help them).

My happy face was partly happy, but it was mostly a disguise. It was good to see my boys again and to know I was going home. Nate seemed so relieved to have me back. And he and Benny had obviously bonded a great deal while I was away for three days.

But, we all knew that I wasn’t “fixed.” In fact, Nate told me that he was so excited to have me back, but then realized that the next few weeks would probably be harder than having me locked away. Zoloft generally doesn’t kick in for two weeks, so I just had to wait. Nate also took the week off of work. I’m not sure if I would have survived that week without him. After all, there was a 10 pound stranger in my house whose crying sent shivers up my arms. To top it all off, the Ambien I was taking for sleep only knocked me out for about four hours. Nate and Benny slept in our room and I slept in the spare bedroom so I could sleep undisturbed. But, between the short-lived Ambien and pumping, my sleep was infrequent and anything but undisturbed.

I had some delusional notion that I would only be on Ambien for about a week, everything would be better, and I could start breastfeeding again. So, I pumped and pumped and pumped. As it turns out, when I was still in the “preparing for mommyhood” stage, I had planned on breastfeeding for the better part of Benny’s first year. With that notion in mind, I bought an “occasional use” breast pump. It was electric, but it had a tiny little pump with a tiny little motor. Pumping once a day may have been OK for the little guy, but pumping BOTH breasts SIX times a day proved to be too much. I burnt out the pump on my breast pump in less than a week! For anyone who has breastfed, you’ll understand my reference to rock-hard boobs. I ran around town for an entire day trying to secure another breast pump, which is another story entirely. I was convinced that I was going to clog a milk duct and die from the infection that ensued.

Long story short, I rented a breast pump, hoping that I would be able to breastfeed again. After two and a half weeks on Ambien with no signs of better sleep, I decided that this battle was far from over and that I should focus on getting well. Even if that meant never breastfeeding my little bear again.

One of the biggest issues I have with my care at the looney bin is the after care. The problem? There was no after care. The doctor gave me a prescription for three drugs, the social worker encouraged me to write in a journal, and they discharged me. I’m no mental health care expert, but I’m fairly certain that they should have encouraged therapy or a support group or something. Luckily in my research of postpartum depression, I learned about a postpartum support group in Austin. Although I’m sure the drugs played a part in my recovery, the support groups in Austin and then in Denver really, truly got me through some very difficult weeks.

I’ll end this section with a resource every mother should have on hand: Postpartum Support International. It's a sort of repository of support groups, therapists, and information about postpartum depression. Check it out at www.postpartum.net.

1 comment:

JIA said...

I am sorry it was so hard, Sara...
But look at Benny's smile, all the difficulties you've been through were so worthy...