Our Birth Story: Part 3 Depression to Progression
First Doctor Appointment
Looking back, this part is kind of funny. It is one of those stories that you tell years later to other new parents and laugh at your stupid mistakes. We came home Thursday, and Friday was our first doctor appointment. As is the life with a new baby, we were almost late for the appointment. I think it was also at like 8 am which is not our usual get out the door and be ready time. Anyway, we get halfway to the doctor’s office and I realize. We forgot the diaper bag. We had never needed it yet. There wasn’t enough time to go back and I figured it wouldn’t be a long appointment so we had to leave it behind.
As soon as we entered the building Christian decided that he was upset. He was screaming and crying the entire time. It was in this moment that I quickly realized I just couldn’t care what other people thought about me. At one point I looked around and I could see every single person in that place looking at me. I just shrugged and continued to try to comfort Christian. We had no bottle (that we were still trying to avoid using), no pacifier (that we were still sort of trying to avoid using), and no change of clothes. After like 10 minutes of nonstop crying I did the only thing I could think of and stuck my finger in his mouth. It worked!
Melissa was basically a zombie during the appointment. I couldn’t help her with the check in because I was trying to calm down the baby. By the time we were in the observation room, she was just done. She couldn’t even keep her head up. Christian was still upset and she answered the doctor’s questions while looking at the floor. She blamed it on sleep and exhaustion, but the doctor could tell there was more and ended up asking for permission to forward her status to Melissa’s doctor that she’d see on Monday.
Furthermore, Christian’s results were okay. He was healthy, but he had lost more weight which meant more pressure for Melissa to feed well and frequently. The doctors weren’t really concerned, but they definitely wanted to see him gain back his weight by the end of next week. Melissa was checked out long before we checked out of the hospital and went back home. Maybe she was just tired. Maybe.
Things didn’t get better after sleep. She said that she would have times that were good and times that were bad. Most of the first days back are a blur. But I remember most of the time trying to make sure that Melissa was okay. At one point her mom got upset because we weren’t paying enough attention to the baby. Melissa thinks this might have been the first point that something new clicked in her mind. But that realization came later. She now claims that night was the first time she really held the baby and looked at him with new eyes.
Things had gotten bad enough that it was just time to give up on breastfeeding exclusively. This was really the last piece of our birth plan that we had left intact and it just wasn’t going to work either. That same night I went to bed early (I take the morning shifts) and she sent me a message saying that she pumped. Fed him a bottle, and felt a lot better. This helped me as well because I was now able to feed the baby. We also decided to use a pacifier when needed. Honestly, these two things were great ideas for us.
Melissa’s First Appointment
Monday was Melissa’s first follow-up appointment with her doctor. When she talked about her emotions she got upset again. It was at this point that the seriousness of postpartum depression was sinking in. We had never thought that we’d need to consider antidepressants. Something that we were both pretty against. However, I was willing to support Melissa in whatever. The doctor we met with believed that what Melissa was dealing with was more than just baby blues. In an effort to not get any worse, she was prescribed Zoloft.
Physically, Melissa was healing and feeling a little better. She also believed that she was feeling a little better emotionally as well. We did pick up the prescription. However, she never ended up needing to take it. She decided that because she had actually had a pretty good day Sunday that she’d hold off until she had one more bad day. If she had one more bad day she would start taking the antidepressants but she didn’t end up needing to.
This sounded like a good plan, but I knew that the worst day might still be to come and could be the breaking point. Melissa’s mom needed to leave. She needed to return home and couldn’t stay with us forever. I thought this would destroy Melissa. Her help had been invaluable and it was hard to imagine things without her. Monday went really well, and her mom had a train ticket to leave Tuesday.
Furthermore, there was a chance that I had planned on returning to work. Originally I thought that I would only take two weeks off. However, after spending almost a full week in the hospital this didn’t seem realistic. It brought Melissa comfort knowing that I would take a total of four weeks off instead of two. This seemed to raise her spirits almost immediately. Then, when her mom left, things went fine. This brought me a lot of hope. That made two good days in a row.
Things only got better from there. We started to adjust to “normal” lives again. Visits from people were more joyful. We began figuring out how we would fit a baby into our lives and take him outside. A sense of normalcy came in. Melissa has not had a bad moment since that doctor’s appointment and she has now returned the Zoloft untouched.
I am sure there are more difficult days in the future. Things will be hard. Christian will probably make us angry, stressed, and all kinds of other things like that. But, he will also bring joy. While the difficulties of raising a child may be only beginning, and perhaps even the hardest days are still to come, I believe the dark days are behind us. People who said that it takes two weeks might have been right.
At this point, Melissa pumps regularly so I always have a bottle that I can feed him when necessary. We give him a pacifier when we think he needs it. And you know what? No problems. Melissa is still able to breastfeed “casually” as she calls it. We just had a doctor appointment and things are going great! He is almost 10 pounds! This means we are feeding him well and things are going great.
This is the end of our birth story. I just want to end by saying thanks. Thank you to all of our friends who helped us out in various ways. Whether it was through your prayers, or bringing us essentials, or just being available to send messages to, we thank you. Thank you to all our family and especially Melissa’s mom for spending two weeks with us preparing for Christian and then taking care of him. Thank you to the nurses and doctors for doing a good job. Finally, thank you to people that we don’t even know that well for your support and prayers as well.
While this is really only the beginning of our journey, we are thankful to everyone and to God for helping us get through this first really big step. God bless!