One Day at a Time

by Heather

I am really struggling today. My girls are seven weeks old tomorrow and we had a very traumatic start to their lives (long story short, I had pre-existing depression and anxiety and was treated extremely poorly in this regard by hospital staff once the girls were born.) The first couple of weeks were very emotional and draining; around week five I had to stop breastfeeding as it was too much.
My husband has been amazing, he’s been off work since they were born and has been such a rock for us. He takes care of the girls all night as I’ve been struggling with sleep and being able to get up in the middle of the night. But reality is starting to sink in that he is going back to work next week, and it’s a lot to take in as I still am not feeling confident about being a mom.

When I woke up this morning at 5 am, the girls were crying and my husband was downstairs getting their food ready, feeding the cats and taking care of everything. I tried to get up and help with the girls’ feeding so my husband could go back to bed; I prepared their bottles and brought them upstairs. I started to feed one of the girls but as they cried and I felt exhausted, I couldn’t do it. I could feel my anxiety rising and I had to step away and go downstairs to take a deep breath, have a cry and try to refocus so I could be strong and finish helping everyone.

It didn’t work and I had to ask my husband to come in and help. As I heard my one daughter crying while my husband fed the other, I struggled with not being able to be there for them, I struggled with the feeling that I needed to step away. I tried to tune out the cries, to try and turn negative thoughts into positive: (I’m so fortunate to have such an amazing husband, if she cries a little it’s okay there is 2 of them and only 1 of us when we’re feeding them, needing to step away for a minute doesn’t make me weak, it makes me strong for knowing that I need that) but as much as I tried, I couldn’t get into those positive thoughts.

I told my husband I needed to go out for a bit to relax and breathe; this was the first time I felt I needed to leave the house. I felt so guilty but I knew I needed to do it. We are fortunate to live ten minutes from the beach. As I’m sitting here listening to the silence of the 6 am morning with only the sound of waves and birds, I am doing my best to be strong. I look up and see that the sun is rising, maybe a positive bright start to my day?

I came home about an hour later, I felt calmer and more relaxed, but the guilt of leaving my family when they needed me was still there. My husband gave me a big hug and told me it was okay. As I looked at my daughters sleeping and my husband, I knew that I did the right thing, we got through it and we will get through it, it’s just going to take time.

I saw my family doctor this week and we are working on meds management. We have changed the medication I was on, and I am now taking something new for my anxiety. I find that with the new medication I am more focused and my mood is more stable. I am also getting a much better sleep at night. I plan to book a counseling appointment again soon so I can continue talking to someone and working through the trauma and postpartum depression and PTSD that has occurred.

I also met with hospital management staff on Thursday; I sat down and told them my story and what I had faced seven weeks prior. I shared with them the trauma their staff put on me at the hospital and the struggles I have been having since that day. I received a few apologies and was told they were very sorry as they could see that I was mistreated and that their staff could have done a much better job. Facing the hospital that mistreated me not too long ago was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I spoke up for myself, but also for those who struggle with mental health who don’t have a voice or the strength to speak up. I have been asked to be part of their family advocacy team and help lobby for sensitivity and mental health training for their security staff. I look forward to getting involved with these initiatives when the time is right.

For now, I am going to take one day at a time. I am going to have hard days, I’m going to cry and I’m going to need to step away. Just like you might as well, but know that we are doing the best we can as new moms and new parents, and know that when you ask for help it doesn’t mean that you are weak, it actually makes you strong.

Heather

First time mom to identical twin girls born at 35 weeks