May marks the month for mental health awareness something just a few short years ago I felt was something that was rarely discussed or talked about openly.
Let me take you on a little journey into my past and the road that has been filled with silent tears.
I once was a little girl who dreamed of having children one day, I wanted at least 2 children and possibly three, I would have the opportunity to stay at home full time with my babies. I dreamed of bringing them into the world, raising and caring for them and the picture-perfect mom dream would be complete. One thing I did not realize from that little dream photo was growing a human being and bringing them into the world.
You see this photo, the young mom to be right here, I thought, I will give birth to this amazing baby and the bliss life I dreamed of would easily begin shortly after with maybe a few blips. What I did not know is the journey that God was going to put in front of me in the coming hours, days and months was anything short of what I had dreamed about as a young girl.
The time I now reflect and regret daily, how I did not enjoy the first few years of my sons life, because what I know now was PPD and how I silently suffered, or self-medicated by hitting the pavement or pushing myself to regain that pre-pregnancy body, to hide the shame from how my body terribly failed me. Five weeks post-partum, I ran 5 miles without stopping, without breaking, and torturing myself to get to that goal of running long distance just a few short weeks after enduring one of the toughest journeys to date. Why, because this was something I could control, and this was something that numbed the true pain from that fateful day of bringing my son into the world.
I had the picture perfect pregnancy with my first son, no morning sickness, little weight gain, running and working out religiously 5-6 days a week, so from all the reading and researching that meant an easier birthing process and delivery, but that is where it went south. Creeping up to my sons due date my blood pressure began to increase higher and higher, a bit baffled as I was eating healthy, working out daily, even running and doing high intensity interval classes, why would I have blood pressure issues? The doctor explained some women will have increased blood pressure during pregnancy even when it has never been an issue, and you are doing all the things you should be doing at this point.
I went in for multiple checks up at the end of the pregnancy and the blood pressure was at an all-time high and unable to come down. The doctor explained you need to come in early, 3 am in the morning to start induction, and hopefully we will have a smooth labor and delivery. As I arrived to the hospital, all hooked up ready to go, I refused epidural until I really felt it was needed. We were about 12 hours into laboring and I was effacing very well, but the gradual increase of dilating had stopped at 4 cm, my doctor would routinely check me and still nothing, anger, depression, fear, uncertainty set in place. WHY, why was my body failing me, I had nurtured, cared for it, eaten healthy, worked out, no smoking or drinking, lived the “ideal” life during pregnancy, why would it disappoint me and not thrive at one of the most important times of my life.
I was about 18 hours in when, the back labor had tears rolling down my face, I was hungry, thirsty, unable to eat or drink and I needed the epidural, I felt if I did not I would cave soon. As we approached the 24-hour marker, an unusual February tornado was on the horizon, something we rarely see in Tennessee at that time of the year. My doctor who was not on call that night, choose to sleep at the hospital for me, she did not have too, but she wanted to be there to deliver my sweet baby boy. I still believe this was God keeping her guided hand on my as he knew what was in store in those early morning hours to come.
After nearing 24 hours of labor and no further along, I was crushed, I was defeated at this point, cursing inside at my pathetic body that had failed me and a sweet boy who was in position and eager to enter the world, the only thing holding me back was ME and the body that was collapsing. After 24 hours of labor my doctor said you are healthy, you are strong, and you can labor for 3 days if you would like as long as you and baby are well. She went to take a rest and said she would be back in a while to check in.
I tried to close my eyes to rest, but something seemed off, a nurse came in the room, and made everyone leave the room, my parents, my husband, my best friend who was a PA and the one I was relying on for all the details. I was tired, exhausted, defeated, broke down and most of all alone. The heartbeat, the nurse could not find my sweet baby’s heartbeat, where was it, tears flowed down my face, I was a bit delirious at this point, dehydrated and frustrated, I screamed out for someone to find his heartbeat. Finally she found it, but in a split second alarms sounded, beeps were coming from every angle and nurses swarmed the room, my doctor quickly entered the room and said his heart rate is dropping rapidly, your beat is changing quickly, I have to make the call, we have to get him out NOW, there is no more time to wait!
I was swept away, alone again, getting all the medication and needs for the emergency c-section, while my husband suited up somewhere else. To this day the details are foggy on what actually happened after that point, hours upon hours laboring, thirsty and tired, and beating my body up for unable to bring a baby into the world in the traditional manner, or what I believed to be the only way. I was drugged up due to the quickness and severity of getting my baby out and bring full life back to us both.
My mental health was scarred and broken, and little did I know the coming days, weeks and months would leave me torn and beaten up inside, but never muttering a word to anyone, I cried alone in the shower, sat in the floor with my new baby boy, numb to even enjoy his face, scars now on my body forever and defeated from the tired body that failed me miserably on that special day. The memory of seeing myself shortly after will forever be branded into my memory.
I still to this day replay the scenario in my head, how could I have changed it, what did I do wrong, how could my body not have failed my child and my own self. I am not sure I will ever come to terms with the labor or delivery from my first child, but each day I try and grow and little stronger on knowing God had a plan, he had a reason and this is the way he laid out the labor and delivery of my son.
It was 9 years ago I gave birth to the most special boy I could ever have imagined, and just 9 years ago the support and help was minimal, never sit alone, never feel you have no one to turn too, ask for help, and most importantly lets give help and support to mothers around the world that need support and care.
It is Maternal Mental Health Awareness and no mother should go through this journey alone.