Wednesday, February 29, 2012

TTC when you have mental health issues - What shity decision do you even make?

This is a touchy feely kind of post. If this isn't your thing, just skip it. It's also very long. I've been holding this all in for years.

For anyone who has taken even a five second glance at my pinterest lately will see a huge number of baby related pins. It has taken The Husband and I both three years to come to agreement on the whole, will we try for another baby, issue. We are both for the first time in agreement on our family size and agree that we would like to try for one more baby. But trying for another baby has caused me many anxieties. Why? To answer that, I feel that have to start at the beginning. My beginning.

Hi, my name is Stephanie and I have clinical depression compounded with and by an anxiety disorder. The depression began around 8 and the anxiety in full force around age 16, though I wasn't formally diagnosed with depression till age ten and anxiety until I was an adult.

Throughout my middle and high school years I spent countless hours in talk therapy and on dozens of drugs. If you can name it, I was probably on it, though I tend to only remember ones with interesting side effects. To name a few, in no particular order, because I simply can't remember at this point, I took:
  • Wellbutrin - made me shake like a crack addict and felt like my body was humming
  • Zoloft - extreme paranoia, e.g. I was sure of a zombie attack that would be caused by the chemicals the government was putting in the food supply
  • Prozac - my rebound drug, didn't work for longer than a few weeks but helped me wean off others
  • Paxil - not highly effective at anything but making me sleepy
  • Celexa - same as Paxil plus extra snarkyness
  • Lithium - fantastic drug to be artsy on, everything seems so much more "real"
Then from the ages of 19 to 24 I didn't take any medication or do any therapy. I wanted to prove to myself that I could go without. I did feel happy at times. I started dating The Husband at 20 and got married at 21. I thought that I did a good job most of the time. I didn't. I was very moody. I was over sensitive. I cried a lot. I should have been on medication. For my benefit. For The Husband's benefit. For my families benefit. For everyone I ever interacted with.

At just a little over a year into our marriage at 23, I got pregnant. My marriage wasn't as strong as I thought it was now that I look back. The first six months of our marriage was rough. Very rough. The Husband was on 48 hour stand by notice to deploy. We fought. We hadn't ever lived together and the transition wasn't the happy butterflies and ponies the brochure had promised. But I wanted a baby. The Husband agreed to try and over the next six months I obsessed until I became pregnant.

I still feel like during the pregnancy I did well. I remember being happy. I remember feeling like I had it all together. Which if you have ever met a pregnant woman tells you that I didn't and I was insane.

My pregnancy was not what I expected. I'm not sure exactly what I did expect, but to feel like I had to throw up every waking moment of all nine months, was not part of it. Towards the end I developed pre-eclampsia and had a rough labor. It ended in a c-section. An unwanted c-section. I still feel sad all these years later. It sounds like a dumb thing to admit to. After all, I ended up with a healthy baby at the end. How ungrateful do I sound to say I'm sad about how my son was born? Pretty ungrateful. But it's true, I still am.

The c-section was difficult but not as difficult as the fact that I was told by three different OBs, my regular OB, the one who delivered and then the OB who was on call that weekend, that medically, vaginal deliveries can no longer be recommended for me. Apparently my hips don't move correctly during labor and my spine is off in some way that complicates the matter and made my epidural "extremely challenging" as the head of anesthesiology put it. The fact that I have never had any issues with walking or anything, I found this hard to accept. The crushing blow this had to my self esteem as a woman, as a mother, still can bring tears to my eyes.

Then there was nursing. Like birth, I failed at nursing. I thought I was doing a good job at first but I wasn't. A. had difficulties. He was a suck-suck-off, suck-suck-off kind of nurser. I had to use a nipple shield in the first few weeks, spent countless hours pumping between nursing sessions, drinking gallons of water, eating oatmeal every day and taking so many fenagreek pills I smelled like maple syrup. At three and a half months he went on one of many nursing strikes. I worked with two lactation consultants; one when he was born and one at six months. He had poor weight gain issues made worse by his reflux that he took medication for. I would nurse, feed him a bottle of formula that was double scooped and then pump. He still wouldn't gain weight and was on weekly weight checks.

For seven months I obsessed and cried every day about nursing. I was angry at other mom's who could nurse. I wanted them and their full of milk breasts to go away and stop flopping them out at the play place in the mall. I hated them for being able to nurse anywhere at any time. I hated myself. I hated my breasts.

At seven months the last LC told me that she had no other suggestions and to be proud that I had at least given him some breast milk. I still find no pride in my failure. I find no comfort that at the age of two we were told the underside of A.'s tongue is incorrectly developed and that his speech therapist was surprised I managed to nurse him at all. I will always be convinced that his poor weight gain and colic was due to my lack of milk and my failure to figure out how to nurse.

Even with the daily crying and being sad about the birth of A., I thought I was doing good. I knew logically that I was at a greater risk for developing post partum depression but I incorrectly figured that if I had managed the last few years without medication, I could handle anything that might show up. I was wrong.

Denial is a very large and very dangerous part of depression. I had all the classic symptoms. Severe distrust in individuals with A., my Mom and The Husband were included to an extent, severe obsessions with A. for example how often he ate, when he ate and so forth, every day crying, insomnia despite severe lack of sleep and extreme anger if someone questioned my ideas of how I was raising A., and by questioning, I mean actual helpful suggestions. My Mom tried to suggest there was a problem. The Husband asked if I was alright. I said I was. I lied.

This went on until I finally gave up on nursing A. at 7 1/2 months and began taking Prozac at 9 months. It seemed to help but I slowly over the next year became suicidal. Not in the, I have an idea on how to kill myself, and had no plans to do so, no, suicidal in the idea that if I could just not wake up, that wouldn't be so bad. I'm not sure if it was the Prozac itself. I'm not sure if it's because after almost 9 1/2 months of nonstop screaming from A., his constant need for skin to skin contact and my crumbling marriage, but I was mentally unstable. I did not like myself. I did not enjoy A. I did not enjoy even hearing The Husband breathe. I just wanted to sleep, all the time. I use to sit and rock with A., crying while I begged him to just please sleep or at the least to stop screaming non-stop. I eventually stopped taking Prozac and just never made a follow-up appointment. I wish I could tell you why I stopped but I can’t. It’s part of the sickness.

During all of this, The Husband and I almost separated once right after we moved into the house. We were both struggling. Both as individuals and as a couple. He was tired of me. I was tired of him. We went to counseling. It helped, maybe. We had a lot of very uncomfortable conversations. We had to learn to like each other again. Something that seems odd to admit, that you can love someone but not like them. But it's possible. We're doing better now. Like any couple we still have bad moments but overall I no longer want to smoother him in his sleep with my pillow.

Two and a half years after A. was born I had to finally accept that I still needed help. I began seeing a therapist and it helped but even going every two weeks wasn't enough. She suggested I start taking anti-depressants again and so this past summer I began taking 20mg of Lexapro as well. With the anti-depressants I began feeling like myself. Well actually not myself. Myself without medication is scary. Now, many months later, I feel better. I have stopped going to therapy as I just can't fit it into my new schedule but the medication helps so, so much. I still have moments where I cry in the shower but I suspect that will always be true for me.

So, what is the point of all of my ramblings? Where do my anxieties come from for deciding to TTC? Simply, they come from the fact that I finally after years of struggling, feel mentally stable. After years The Husband and I both want a baby at the same time. This of course leaves me with the problem of what to do while TTC with a mental illness. Anti-depressants are a class C category drug for pregnancy; essentially there are no human studies to suggest there are exact known dangers but there are no human studies to suggest there aren't dangers. Great. The fact that both my OB and my psychiatrist agree that a 10mg dose of Lexapro is fine during pregnancy, actually doesn't help like I thought it would. Ultimately, I'm left with two shitty decisions. Do I take Lexapro during pregnancy, not feeling 100% comfortable with the unknown side effects it could have on a baby but know I would still feel mentally balanced? Or do I forgo medication for the baby but then run the very real and very terrifying risk of falling back into a massive depression spiral?  I've already dropped down to the 10mg dose of Lexapro while we TTC and I try to short through my emotions.

In the end, I still don't know what to do and no matter what decision I end up making in the end, I will never feel it was the right one. My yet to even be conceived baby deserves a healthy start. The baby and my already born child also deserve a mentally stable mother. I'm not sure how to accomplish both.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


My six grade science teacher, Mrs. Mulder, was awesome. Serouisly awesome. She is one of my favorite teachers of all time and when I see her around town, I smile way too big at her and always say hi. I'm sure she doesn't know who I am but I'm okay with that.

While she is one of my favorite teachers I don't actually remember that much from her sciene class. Sorry Mrs. Mulder I was a bit distracted by growing boobs and my boyfriend. But what I do remember is ROY B BIV. The rainbow! Red, orange, yellow, blue, indiago and violet. I'm not sure if she would be proud I remember that or saddened that that's all I can remember. But either way, I love rainbows and have since I was four, so maybe that's why I remembered it.

So when I saw these rainbow polka dot cups at World Market I had to get them. Sipping out of them made my day. Is it silly to feel happier drinking out of a purple polka dot cup? Yup. But I do.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mommy Confessions: Mommy Time Outs Are The Best

Before we were allowed to leave the hospital with A. we had to read information ranging from how to feed your baby to post partum depression. One of those legal things so that the hospital can say, hey we told them not to feed the baby french fries.

One of those pieces of advise was that if you get upset at your baby, you should put your baby some place safe and go to another room to take a break. The thing is, they don't tell you that the rule is not just when they are babies, oh no, that rule applies to children, forever. Kids in general during a trying moment can make the calmest, nicest person rethink drinking during the day.

Which is why at times I institute the, mommy time out. Other mommies might call it quiet time for the benefit of their children but let's be honest, it's a time out, for mom.

I'm currently in one now. A. would not stop kicking me while I was changing a dirty diaper and I had to pin him to the ground with one foot. I ended up at the end, angry and covered in poo. I told him to go bed as it was nap time and stormed down stairs. Is this a logical, calm, mommy response? Nope. Is it an honest mommy response? Yup.

He's peacefully sleeping now and I'm watching reruns of The Office while I snack on a blood orange milk chocolate candy bar. In whole, mommy time outs are one of my favorite things.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Breaking a Three Year Hardcore Habit: Pacis

A.'s addiction to pacis has been a long and frankly, necessary at times, one.

A.'s arrival into the world started a bit rough. After two weeks of back labor followed by PROM that caused an infection that spiked a fever of 105, pre-eclampsi, labor induced with pitocin that resulted in a three hour non-stop contraction followed closely by an epidural that worked only partially in spots, getting all the way there and pushing for 30 minutes to have it ended in a c-section due to my blood pressure. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being you have an orgasim during birth (serouisly, look that shit up) and 1 you don't get to take a baby home, it was a solid 5. The only part of that entire day that made any of that worth it was when I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.

Most people say healthy baby. But we didn't know if he was. While in utero, A. had kidneys that did not function because his kidneys were enlarged. It was first noted on the 20 week ultrasound and was followed closely every four weeks after that with level II ultrasounds. His kidneys gained and retained fluid at a very large rate, one that allowed me to have two OBs, a regular one who monitored me and a high risk one for A. and his kidneys. The kidneys, they assured us, if not functioning could be operated on and fixed but they could also just start working at birth for reasons they fully don't understand.

With NICU standing by at his birth, his whole birth was and is a blur. They didn't even allow us to see him until he had been cleaned up and checked out by a specialist and then only briefly. His APGAR scores were very well and he ended up being brought to the regular nursery. I was still drugged out of my mind due to the pre-eclampsia and had given strict, written in a word document, strict, guidance that absolutely no bottles or pacis were to be given to A.

Only, I hadn't considered that I wouldn't see my baby for nearly 2 1/2 hours and that because of his kidneys he would have to receive additional tests, one of which was an ultrasound of his kidneys. This is when he had his first paci, green paci. The Husband told me that he just wasn't sure what to do, A. wouldn't stop screaming as they pushed on his kidneys and when the nurse asked about a paci, he said sure. I wasn't and still am not mad about The Husband's decision; I would have made the same one.

His kidneys, by the way, to make a dramatic story end on a happy note, ended up being fine. They began functioning shortly after birth for reasons they still aren't sure why on. And here is my one corny moment... in that moment when they told us he was indeed healthy, I bawled. Bawled like I had never done before in my life. I felt like I truly, truly understood what a miracle it is to get a baby, a healthy baby, at the end. And moving on ;) 

After that, his addiction was due to need, mine and his. He was a colicy baby. I needed him to have a paci as much as he did. I didn't leave the house without at least three in the diaper bag, one in the stroller, one clipped to him and one in the car.

But with all addictions, at some point they must, or should, come to an end. And for us, for A., it was this past weekend. Due to the holiday, I had a three day weekend and decided it was the best time. I had read in numerous books and magazines that a paci habit can be broken in only three days. I read that you should tell the child that the pacis are going somewhere else, do a trade and be matter of fact about it. And in three days, the crack like addiction would be gone.


We began the task by limiting his paci to only nap time and bedtime, down from car use and boo boos. Then we told him the pacis had to go to the new babies who needed him. He was less than agreeable to this until I promised him a light saber, the blue light saber, that he has been asking for, for at least six months now. Now he was interested. So with coupon in hand (seriously I rocked this deal, it was on TPC at Target for $29.99 down from $34.99 and with a $8 dollar off on-line Target coupon plus 5% off for using my Red Card plus a 5% Target pharmacy rewards I ended up scoring that sucker for $20!) we went to buy it Friday night. I also rocked a Darth Vader mask for $0.98 and he scored that too (they have a $5 off coupon off electronic Star Wars masks and they had marked down the old packaging from $19.99 to $5.98!).

And so we set off to put him to bed that first night. We expected it to go bad and actually, it only went mildly bad. He bawled for the the first five or 10 minutes. I tried to comfort him but he was having nothing to do with it. I felt horrible. I should have cut him off years ago. Mommy guilt began and in full force. Then the bawling turned into sobbing for the next thirty minutes and eventually he let me rock him and he calmed down.

The next day for nap he refused to take one without paci. He bawled and howled again. I told him he didn't have to nap but he still needed quiet time in his room. Much to my shock, he did just that.

The second night the same howling began. I offered to lay on his floor near his bed and he seemed fine with this. He eventually fell asleep but ended up in our bed later that night due to night terrors (unrelated to the pacis, he just seems to get them in runs, so did The Husband when he was little).

Naps and bedtime have since repeated like this ever since. We are heading into night four of bedtime without pacis and day three without a nap.

Quite honestly, it's a good thing I threw the pacis in the outside trash or else I would have caved already. But we're together trudging through and I think at the end we will all make it out okay. Right?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What Kind of Blog is This?

So I visit lots of different kinds of blogs. Most have a central theme or some clear thought out idea about what every post is going to be about. Some are funny. Some are about food. Some are about families I find interesting. Some are about home decor or DIYs. It varies on my mood really.

Which leads me to the question, what kind of blog is mine? Mine is random and all over the place. It has no rhyme and certainly no reason.

I feel like I should buckle down and figure it out. The sad part is, the only idea I can come up with that I feel is even slightly creative is cooking my way through The Little House Cookbook, inspired of course by Laura Ingalls Wilder's novels. I adored these books and had my mom read them, every book, every year, until middle school. Trust me, I think an adventure of cooking my way through recipes from pulled candy to black bird pie would be more comical then anything else. And as far as a quick google search yields, I can't find a blog devoted to it already that shows one trying to find some of these ingredients.

The sad part? Some of those recipes... I don't want to try. For example, there is a recipe for codfish balls. Um. Fish. In ball form. Um, I feel about as eager to try that as I do for trying out gefilte fish in a few months for Passover.

In the end, my blog is like me, random, OCD, ADHD and lazy when it comes to updating. I'd like to say I will crack down and make this blog focused; but I won't. It will continue to be random... random posts ranging from recipes to activities to DIYs to updates about my life. In the end, this blog serves more as a lasting journal of my life and family then a money making blog about how to knit your dog's hair into a sweater (seriously, have you seen this?).

And perhaps that is what my blog will end up being, an odd retelling of my life my kids won't want to read and my grand kids will think is oddly charming. And I'm okay with that.