In a recent post, I mentioned the possibility of starting another blog, one entitled Blue Green Mama. While I don’t intend to start another blog, the title is worth a post, because it alludes to postpartum adjustment issues.
Ironically, I started reading blogs, and later writing my own, because of a blogger who wrote very openly about her own struggles with postpartum depression. Yet, when my blues set in 2-3 weeks postpartum, my initial reaction was denial. I’ve taken psychology classes, my mom’s a social worker, I’m somewhat familiar with the depression screening inventories – nope, not me. Sure, there are some pretty low lows, but sometimes I feel okay, and I’m still getting out of bed in the morning, and semi-functioning, and I’m an exhausted new mom . . . this is normal, right?
Normal only in the sense that many women experience some form of “baby blues,” but not in the sense that it’s okay, or just something I had to struggle through on my own. However, in my denial, struggling through it on my own is more or less what I did for several weeks.
Gabriel’s smiles finally snapped me out of my denial. He started smiling around nine weeks, this adorable little grin, yet I found myself so emotionally drained that I often couldn’t return those smiles, and that made me feel even worse. Until that point, I didn’t think my problem affected anyone other than me, but now it limited my ability to interact with my baby.
I contacted Mother-to-Mother, a local postpartum adjustment resource, and started to realize that maybe I didn’t have to feel this way – I only wish that I’d made the call earlier. After calls to various counselors, wading through insurance coverage issues, and some deliberation, I settled on seeing an “out-of-network” counselor who came highly recommended.
I’m pretty sure (and this is not just the denial speaking) that I don’t have full-blown postpartum depression, but some degree of postpartum adjustment disorder. Either way, there is help available — I don’t have to feel this way. I started counseling last week, and while it won’t happen overnight, things ARE going to get better.
I plan to eventually post the entire birth story here (or at least an abridged version, as it was quite the saga), but for now, you’ll have to accept bits and pieces, in no particular order. The end is a decent place to start.
After making two big, tough decisions — transferring to the hospital and then eventually opting for a C-section — we thought the hard part was over after they moved me from recovery to a regular room. Instead, it signaled the beginning of 3 1/2 hellish days, starting with irregular results of Gabriel’s initial blood work.
Long story short, we are fairly certain now that whoever drew the blood did not follow proper site sterilization procedures, leading to contamination of the sample. This led to a cascade of unnecessary interventions that included antibiotics, several lumbar punctures (to test for meningitis — and guess what? improper site sterilization for lumbar punctures can CAUSE meningitis — lovely), and Gabriel (who wants it on the record that he was perfectly healthy the entire time) spending two completely unnecessary days in the NICU so they could “observe” him and begin treatment immediately when he began his [nonexistent] decline.
After lots of pressure about starting treatment, heavy-handed “I’m the doctor so of course I know best” rhetoric, and scare tactics based on one-sided information, the pediatricians on-staff never apologized or admitted that the whole ordeal was most likely due to a mistake on their part.
Instead, on their final visit before we were discharged on Friday, the two pediatricians came into the room for one final visit. We greeted them icily, and gave them the answers that they wanted to hear (of course the baby will always sleep in his own bed) to get them on their way ASAP.
They could have offered something to try to end things on a pleasant note, but instead, as they were about to leave, the more senior pediatrician, said, “We’re so happy we could give you a healthy baby.”
Matthew and I were floored. You GAVE us a healthy baby? Excuse me? I had a healthy baby, and your messed-up procedures caused completely unnecessary concerns and procedures, like the lumbar punctures and unnecessary antibiotics, that could have damaged his health.
Though they were already on their way out of the room and we did not get to call them on it, pictures are worth a thousand words, and I believe Gabriel put this quite eloquently.*
*Note, this picture was not staged, although it did not occur at the time of the doctor’s statement.