Saturday, November 9, 2013

***Trigger*** An Honest Post about Mental Health

Today I feel depressed......

Throughout my life I have been told, "You are so strong." Somehow I got it in my head that I had to always be "so strong," but what does that really mean? To truly be strong a person needs to be honest and real, so hear goes.

Anxiety and depression have plagued my life for years, and today is no exception. Although I know that everything in my life right now is pretty fantastic, I can't shake these awful feelings of hopelessness and fear. Some days are better than others, and I am pretty good at putting up a front. Part of my intention with this blog is make pregnancy and infant loss less of a taboo subject, but there is one other subject that is often just as neglected, and that is mental health.

Each day I question my desire to put up such a front. One is a valid reason. If I try to seek the good out of everyday, I do feel a little better. If I allow myself to drown in these thoughts and feelings, I fear I will never climb out. But there is a difference in trying to pull myself up and trying to ignore the truth. The other reason I push these feelings aside is that I feel I don't have the right to feel this way. Although I have gone through some extremely challenging events, right now things are good. It feels wrong to be depressed when I have a healthy baby growing inside of me and a healthy son by my side.

Whether I should be allowed these feelings or not doesn't really matter. The fact is this is how I feel, and now I need to figure out what to do about it. In the past I have become so depressed and/or anxious, that I needed medication, and I am thankful that was an option. Since I am pregnant, I am going to try to avoid that option for now. I know exercise has helped me in the past, so I have signed up for a prenatal belly dance class. Today I am trying some Doterra essential oils as well. I am trying to think of things that sound fun or at least interesting, but I am having trouble thinking of anything. My therapist has reminded me that sometimes going through the motion of a "happy" person can help remind me of what I find good/fun. It's important to make yourself do things that were once fun and eventually these things will be fun again.

I wanted to be sure to post about this issue because so often people are afraid to talk about it. My therapist also pointed out that I am walking a difficult road right now. She said that most people following a traumatic event try to avoid anything that might trigger those memories. In my case, I am living those reminders everyday. This is actually a more healthy way to deal with trauma, but it is not easy. On top of all this, I am a hormonal mess and I am exhausted. I don't mean to sound ungrateful because there are many things about this pregnancy that are healing, but it does help me to understand where these thoughts and feelings are coming from.

So, there is an honest blog for you all. I hope it helps someone else out there. I know writing it has helped me.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

****Trigger**** Parenting after a loss

Parenting is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I have ever experienced. In my case, before getting the opportunity to raise a child, I lost 3 precious babies due to miscarriages. I struggle trying to explain how that has altered my parenting. I read a blog the other day that was titled, "I love my children more than you." The parent was trying to explain how after a loss, one is more likely to not take things for granted when it come to the joys of parenting. I don't completely agree with this statement though. I often say something similar. I am a better parent than I would have been if I had never lost a child.

Our situation is so much more complicated though. Hunter is technically a middle child and an only child all at once. I lost 3 babies before him and 2 babies after him, and I am now carrying  another brother or sister. One thing Hunter has gained from these experiences is the ebb and flow of real life. He has seen genuine emotion in our home. He has a strong bond with other people in his life especially grandparents and his Daddy.

The first few months of Hunter's life, I was plagued with extreme postpartum anxiety. I know hormones had a lot to do with it, but having previous loses played a major roll as well. I feel like I missed out on those few months, but I feel comforted knowing that he was always taken care of and loved by family as well as myself even on my most challenging days. 

After getting a handle on my anxiety through medication, therapy and tremendous support,  I began truly enjoying being a Mommy. I weaned myself off the medication and continued to love this new role. I took pictures constantly, (Still do.) I set up activities and joined mommy groups. We went on lots of amazing play dates and just soaked up life together. 

Anytime I felt exhausted or frustrated I would sing that "You're Gonna Miss This" song to myself. Just as any parent, I have times of total melt down and freak outs, but I think these times happen less often because I know how precious every moment is.

A whole new wave began when we decided to try again for a child. I had just had blood-work and even an exploratory surgery. The doctors told us that this was a great time to try again because everything looked perfect. The stress of trying again changed the dynamic in our house. Once I was actually pregnant again, the symptoms interrupted Hunter and my normal routine. Very early in this pregnancy there were problems and I was put on bed rest. I was told I was carrying twins, but one was tubal, so I had to have surgery. 

I was stuck in bed or on the couch for quite a while. Hunter didn't understand this and didn't transition well. He began acting out. I did my best to spend quality time with him, but it wasn't the same. This is when my amazing family and friends stepped in. Although my time with him had drastically changed, he was once again filled with love and attention by other amazing people in our lives. He bonded even more with Daddy too. 

I feel Hunter and I grew further apart during the ups and downs of this pregnancy. After losing Wyatt, I went through a period of depression. We decided it would be best for everyone to have Hunter in a preschool a few days a week. He loved it and it gave me time to take care of myself. As time passed and I went through many stages of grief, Hunter was a great encouragement. I wanted to feel better for him, and then eventually for myself as well.

It's been just over a year now since we lost Wyatt. I am pregnant again and things are going well. I recently realized though that we are still not anywhere close to the place we were before. I still do activities with him and go on play dates, but something is just different. The piece that is missing is that I don't actually fully enjoy these times together the same way I did before. It's been especially challenging lately. I couldn't quite figure out "what was wrong with me" until my appointment with my therapist today.

She reminded me that we just spread Wyatt's ashes a few weeks ago and that dealing with that anniversary is probably more challenging for me that I realize. I am just on another dip of this roller coaster of grief. Knowing this is actually encouraging. Because I know I have been here before and I made my way back. Another encouraging thought is how resilient kiddos are. Throughout all of this, Hunter seems happy, confident and loved. My plan is to take care of myself, so I can get back to the Mommy I want be. 

So long story short, every life experience truly effects anyone's parenting. Loosing a child can make parenting more challenging as well as more enjoyable. Life teaches us to not take anything or anyone for granted.