Well, friends, I'm back. And I have a lot to update y'all on!
First of all, Happy August and Happy Monday! I can't believe it's already August and school will be starting for many kids here in Texas in 2-3 weeks. However, it feels far from fall-like in North Texas with our 101*+ temperatures daily, so we're doing a lot of indoor activities to try to beat the heat.
Anyway, moving on! Since I last blogged, I now have a 2.5-year-old and a 2 month old. It's absolutely crazy to me just how fast this summer has flown by, yet dragged on at the same time.
I'll get to a little recap of our extremely low-key summer later this week, but I promised in my last blog that I'd get real with y'all and share with you just how it was going from one kiddo to two, so here I am and here it goes. I'm going to be very real...very honest...and very open in the hopes that what I write here will help someone going through the same things. It's not pretty, but it's life, and it's real stuff. And I've found that it's something that not a lot of people want to talk about, but I've finally gotten up the nerve to share my experience with postpartum anxiety.
After Knox was born, I was on cloud nine. Our family was complete, he was sleeping in 4+ hour stretches at night when we first brought him home, and my parents had taken Walker for a week to give Brandon and me some one-on-one time with the baby. It was exciting: Brandon had taken off two weeks to be home and help us acclimate, he didn't have to travel for nearly a month after Knox was born, and we were just enjoying our time having a new baby...sleeping when he did, having visitors over, eating yummy meals from said visitors, having a glass of wine at 2 p.m. "just because I finally could." It was lovely!
And then, Walker came home. Not that I don't love Walker with all my heart, but when he came home, real life set in...and fast. Walker came home on a Thursday, and Brandon had gone to work that day (and half a day the next day and then was off for another week). Not 30 minutes after my parents left from dropping him off, Walker had hit Knox (on purpose), scratched him, hit me, and thrown massive tantrums. Of course, I expected this! We had just rocked his world and he went from the main attraction to having to share the stage. But it weighed on me like a ton of bricks. I had immense mom guilt and will readily admit that I asked Brandon why we decided to have another child; questioned if it would have been better if we had waited a little longer; and felt guilty that I couldn't give Knox the same daily one-on-one attention I'd given Walker when he was a tiny baby because I was playing referee with a toddler all day. The mom guilt was real, and it kept me up at night like you wouldn't imagine.
Then, nursing just wasn't going well. I tried to deny it, because it went so well with Walker (and the only reason I stopped with him is because my supply dropped drastically when I returned to work), but it was just awful with Knox. He had an extremely shallow latch and wasn't draining me at all, and therefore wasn't eating. I would sob through nursing sessions because it hurt so badly, and I would dread each time Knox had to eat. I ended up with mastitis (twice) and he was screaming because he was so hungry, and rooting around on everyone and everything. And of course, I felt awful for that, and cue the added mom guilt. I was running upwards of 104* fevers and am very serious when I say that I was in and out of it for a few days to the point where I don't remember everything that happened. (My doctor had me on an antibiotic, but of course, it took a few days to kick in.) More on this later...
Brandon went back to work two-ish weeks later, and I was a mess. I tried to pretend that everything was going swimmingly having two little boys at home, but inside, I was dying. I didn't want to leave the confines of my own home. I would get anxious and to the point where I couldn't breathe just thinking about leaving my house. I just wasn't happy, and I felt awful that I wasn't happy. I would tell myself that there are women I know personally who would kill to have two happy, healthy boys and here I was feeling down, depressed and not enjoying them. It was just a total out-of-body experience: I knew I felt like this, I knew I didn't want to feel like this, and yet I couldn't help feeling like this. I would just cry at anything (way moreso than your typical pregnancy hormones) and knew I had a problem when I was bawling on the floor of my closet next to a pile of dirty laundry. That's when I picked up the phone and called my doctor's office. I knew something wasn't right and needed to be "fixed."
They immediately transferred me to my doctor's nurse, who asked me a series of questions as I answered them through tears. One of those questions was, "Do you feel like you want to or could hurt yourself or your babies?" My answer to that was a big, resounding NO. Never through this did I ever feel like I could, or wanted to, hurt my babies or myself. I couldn't imagine ever doing that. But did I feel like (and say aloud) that I wanted to run away for a few hours? Yes. I felt many times like I just wanted to run away...like I wanted to run away by myself, and sometimes fantasized about going back to our life when it was just the three of us and things were easier. And when I had those thoughts, again, I knew I was having them, I knew I didn't want to have them, yet I couldn't help having them. And then that's when that vicious mom guilt cycle came through yet again.
I went to see my doctor, who prescribed me 25 milligrams of Lexapro a day. That's a very small amount, but that small amount helped me get through the next 2 months and to the point where I am with you today. (I'm no longer taking the medication.) I don't particularly like that I had to be on medicine to help me get here, but I had to. And I'll be the first to tell you that I always said that I'd "never have to deal with postpartum anything"...just like I said naively that I'd never be "that mom with a kid throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of Target" or I'd "never let my kid eat sweets." So I'm here to say, never say never...and it's okay to feel this way. My doctor told me that 7 out of 10 women are diagnosed with some form of postpartum depression. SEVEN OUT OF TEN, y'all. That's a lot. And out of those, 9 out of 10 of them are because of nursing-related issues. Who would have thought?!
So, backing up to the nursing portion of this story:
I visited a
lactation consultant about a week after I started my medicine, and she helped tremendously. Knox did great for a
few feedings, and then reverted back to his old ways and within hours, I
could feel my ducts starting to get clogged again and when I took my
temperature, I was already at 100*. After a lot of tears, internal
angst, prayer and conversations with my husband, friends and trusted
family members, I decided it was best for me, Knox, my family, my sanity
and my health to give up nursing. And y'all, let me tell you what:
people are SO judgmental when it comes to this topic for some reason. Like it's their decision what I need to or should be doing with my body. It's insanity! I would see snarky quotes on Pinterest about how "awful" formula-feeding is...and I would bawl my eyes out. It wasn't an easy decision for me to give it up, and the comments people would make and the things I would see would make it 10 times harder. But guess what? My child drinks formula, wears disposable diapers and is turning out just fine. ;)
But can I pause for a second here? Can we all just vow right now to STOP judging other moms for their decisions on whether or not to breastfeed (or have a vaginal vs. C-section birth, or an unmedicated one vs. medicated)?! This issue really opened my eyes to how inwardly (and regrettably, sometimes outwardly) judgmental I would be about these issues. This mom business is hard work, and we all need to support each other. Period.
So, to that woman out there struggling with any sort of postpartum depression: you are not alone. Oh, how I longed for someone to tell me this when I was struggling inwardly. (And how beautiful it was when some precious girlfriends came forward and admitted that they, too, struggled with the same issues and I wasn't alone like I thought I was.) You aren't alone, you're normal, and it's okay to feel this way. But I strongly suggest that you talk to someone: your doctor, a counselor, a pastor...someone. Being on medication is okay! We can talk in this country about how someone is battling cancer, or some other disease, but we shy away when it comes to anything like postpartum depression, or infertility, or mental illness. It took me a while to be fully okay with the fact that I had to be on medicine for two months, and it took me a while to accept that people were going to have an opinion (and comments) about it, too. That's just something I had to cope with, and I now roll my eyes and shrug off people who are negative about this situation, because clearly they've never struggled in their life with something. (Sarcasm)
There will be people out there who won't understand. They'll make comments, completely ignore your situation and instead just talk about themselves, or even, regrettably, will ignore you completely. So to that woman struggling out there: you're normal. You're human. And you're going to be okay.
All of this to say, it was a rough, yet beautiful summer. Rougher than I thought it would be, but also sweeter than I thought it would be, too. Having Knox caused all of us to just slow down; to realize that it's okay if we have a lazy day at home and don't get out of our PJ's. That it's okay to say "no" when people ask us to do things. That it's okay to just snuggle on the couch as a family instead of going to a dinner with friends.
Knox is such a precious little soul, and I'm so thankful that God chose us to parent him (and his brother). I've discovered in a little over two months just how different my two boys are, yet how alike they are, too. And I can't imagine what our lives would be like without Knox, and sometimes I wonder what on Earth we did without him.
So, thank you, friends, for being here when I got back. Thanks for letting me take the summer off, and thanks to you sweet people reading here (you know who you are) who came to me, in person or via the phone, to offer your support -- to just tell me you were thinking about me, praying for me, and let me talk about me and how I was feeling for a few minutes.
I'll hopefully be back to a regular blogging schedule this summer, and I'm excited to be back, to share things with you, and to comment on your blogs (even though I've been reading)!