I got through the custody battle and my first few nights without Love with some help from a new love in my life, one that had to be kept secret because he was my co-worker, and technically my boss. He was the "team lead" of our department, not my direct report, but it was still against company policy.
We had worked together since December 5th, 2005. We quickly became friends, but nothing more than happy hour kind of friends. I was still with Love's father and cheating is not an option in my book. When I was pregnant with Love, and suddenly single, he saw my struggles, listened to all the bitching I did, bought me breakfast a few times, but still remained strictly work friends. When I returned to work after Love was born, my daily stories and thousands of pictures created a family like feel of belonging among all my co-workers. Most of them were moms so it was like I was welcomed into the club, but with this guy, he fell in love with Love the second he laid eyes on her, the same way I had bonded with her in the hospital. He fell in love with the way I stepped up and became a mom despite all the negativity surrounding me. He also fell in love with my butt, thanks to yoga pants that I tried to pass off as work pants when I couldn't fit into my pre-preggo clothes anymore. So somehow we started hanging out more often, and our work friends status became good friends. By the time that Love was 6 months old we were hanging out daily, so friends became lovers, and we kept it secret for 9 months or so. HR discovered us, I was moved to a new department, he was written up, we had our first huge fight, and I found out I was pregnant, all with-in the two weeks before valentines day 2008. The fighting got worse, I thought history was repeating itself. I thought, maybe I should just go through with an abortion this time because I can't handle another crazy single pregnancy and another custody battle. I hid the pregnancy from my family until I knew for sure I wanted to keep it. I prayed, I'm not religious at all, but I prayed. I prayed for strength, I prayed for guidance, I prayed for everything to be alright. I cried, a lot. How could I even think about abortion so easily now. 2 years prior it was absolutely out of the question. I took a few steps back, took a lot of deep breaths, and kept moving forward. We talked, we worked things out, and it was decided that I would move in with him once my lease was up at my apartment and we were going to have the baby and work to work it out. Then I started bleeding, a lot. I almost lost the baby and was ordered to 2 weeks of bed rest one week before I was supposed to move in. So I decided I would definitely not tell anyone (family wise) before we were out of the first trimester, which was two weeks away. Unfortunately, my family found out and were was furious all over again. My mom said I was a disappointment, that she raised me better than this. So I cried again, and pushed myself further away from my family.
The pregnancy drew on and on, I had contractions going strong from 15 weeks, along with constant bleeding. Sex was banned and money was tight so Hun and I grew distant. I grew increasingly depressed, but refused to go back on meds of any kind, convinced that the meds I took during the pregnancy with Love was what caused her complications.
The contractions stayed strong and at 30 weeks I was put on permanent bed rest. After one of my appointments in which the doctor finally decided to measure these "contractions" it was decided that I had enough pain for one pregnancy. The placenta had partially ruptured and so I was scheduled for a c-section the next day. In September 2008, only 4 weeks early, Babe was born, with plenty of complications but amazingly very healthy. Sadly, I didn't feel that overwhelming love I had with Love, I didn't feel connected to him at all. We had problems latching, he cried all the time, I felt overwhelmingly depressed. I had even yelled at a nurse who knocked on my door because I was sick of people and the visitors were nonstop. I wanted to go back to two years prior when I was overwhelmingly happy when I was only responsible for one child. I hated myself because I heard myself say, I didn't want this new baby. I hated that I didn't feel love for him. I was a horrible mom. I couldn't do it. I needed help. Badly. Postpartum depression is the worst depression in my book and I didn't know what to do.
The hospital screens you for PPD by having you fill out a questionnaire of how you are feeling. I filled it out honestly, and the nurse that reviewed it said "are you sure this is how you are feeling? Because if so I will have to fill out some paperwork." I ripped the paper out of her hands filled out all happy answers with smiley faces and gave it back to her saying "there now you don't have to do your job!" She tried to apologize, but I was pissed, and miserable. I told her to get out and leave me alone. I left the hospital, tried to force a bond between Babe and I, but it was hard. I took pictures of him tried to smile, tried to find a happy place, but lack of sleep and the demand of him wanting to feed every hour on the hour, put me in angry mode.
Around this time Love began acting out, we started to notice her quirks more and her need for routine was stressful. She had to have everything happen the same way every day, every night. Bedtime, she needed the same song, the same animal, the same blanket, the same sippy cup, the same drink, the same book and all in a particular order or she would not sleep. One night after skipping the bedtime book, I was trying to get her to sleep for 6 straight hours, and having just gotten Babe back to sleep after a stress filled feed, she was starting to screaming in my face and I lost it. At this point the distance between Hun and I was huge. I was pretty much a single parent once 8pm hit. I finally had enough, I screamed at the top of my lungs, matching Love's screaming, Hun came downstairs and said "what the hell is going on?!?!" I said "I'm done! I can't do it, I'm a horrible mom! You deal with it for once! I'm done!" And I walked out the door. I drove down the street, I parked in a parking lot and cried. How did I get so low? I just screamed at my Love, a newly two year old child who just needed a book and a hug. What kind of monster had I become?!?!
About 2 hours later, I came back. Hun had gotten Love to sleep, after assuring her that mommy wasn't angry at her but we were all scared at what happened. He didn't understand what I had been going through, but I finally talked to him and we agreed I needed professional help. I called around and found a great counselor and things started to look up. I knew it was getting better when one day, a few weeks into counseling, I looked at Babe, he smiled and made a silly face and I just laughed happily realizing how much I do love him. I picked him up, hugged him, apologized to him for being a horrible mom, thanked him for not giving up on me, and refused to let him go. I swear that even at 3 months old, he hugged me back with equalled love and it has never faltered since. I'm beginning to think those long weeks of contractions were just him giving me a hug from the inside.
I wish I could say that here is where my depression story ends, that it's all happily ever after from this point on, but there is still a few more chapters to go. Depression is never ending. I have found that although stopping meds and therapy are ok for some people, for me it will be an ongoing battle. I will continue to write my story, but wanted to leave this chapter on this note. If you, or anyone you may know, is battling depression, get help. It is not a problem you can force to go away, but with help, you can find joy in life again.
Photo courtesy of http://www.selfhelpzone.com/depression/postpartum-depression-symptoms