Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Baby Shower Pictures

I wanted to share the baby shower photos I have because I realize that much of what I write about on here in terms of my pregnancy is just sad. While I have been suffering from severe antepartum depression it wouldn't be fair to say that there have only been horrible, depressing moments. There are some great moments of my pregnancy that I hope to remember. My baby shower was definitely one of them.
My mother in law did such a wonderful job at making me feel so loved and cared for and Bentley too!
I looked ready to give birth any minute but really I still had 8 weeks to go!

 She had such an amazing spread of food and really fun games and these adorable prizes.
 We got so many gifts from everyone and even had a little helper while we were opening presents. :)

I was so happy that friends from all over the state came to join us. It's hard to get all of us together these days but it was a huge blessing to have them all there. 

 I also was so lucky to have amazing co-workers who threw me the sweetest work baby shower. We are decorating Bentley's room in a Super Mario Brother's theme so my friend Julie went through all the trouble to hunt down baby Mario decorations!
So much good food and love from everyone. This kid really is going to be so incredibly spoiled.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

For Bentley


I am sitting here pregnant at almost 37 weeks and I am marveling that in just a little while I will be holding you in my arms for the very first time. It feels like an eternity away and yet I know it will fly by quickly in the grand scheme of things. These past months have been a trial for me. I have struggled with pregnancy more than I have any other thing in my entire life. There has been a lot of pain and discomfort and worry. Many days where it felt like the torture would never end.

Yet, so many times I would press my hand to my belly, trying to remind myself why I was enduring it all, and there you would be. Your little foot meeting the palm of my hand so strong and quick and my heart would melt. You were my joy in the midst of such despair. I struggled with depression during pregnancy, along with all of the other physical ailments too but the depression was the worst.

Still, in the midst of it all, knowing that I would someday get to hold you and see you and know you, it kept me afloat. The sound of your heart beat was pure bliss. The day I found out that you were a little boy... my baby boy, I cried tears of joy. I have dreams of you too. Wondering what you will be like. What you look like. How it will feel to see you and hold you. There are so many people who want to meet you. So much family and so much love waiting for you in this world. I feel lucky though because I have already felt you. I already know you in so many ways. Your hiccups, your kicks, your every move I feel from within. You are my sweet Benny. My reason for fighting and getting up every day, even when it feels impossible. My love for you is beyond what words could ever describe. It is a special love that only a mother could have. A special bond from feeling you grow since the very minute you came into existence.

I promise I will always give you everything I have. It will be flawed and I will make many mistakes along the way... that I am sure of... but you will always get the very best of me. I undoubtedly will fail a million times over but I hope you will always feel loved, safe and secure. I hope you will always know your worth. I hope I can teach you to have compassion for others, faith in God and integrity in all that you do. I hope you live life intentionally, passionately and fully. I pray that you will love deeply and travel often. I hope that you laugh a lot and find joy in the mundane. But most of all, my sweet Benny, I hope that you will always know that you are the best thing this life has given me.

I love you,
Your momma

Thursday, May 8, 2014

To My Fellow Nurses

I have been sitting at my computer for over an hour now trying to think of what I want to say to my fellow nurses on "Nurses Week". It is hard to put into words just what a nurse does on a daily basis. If you were to shadow me on a day at work you would see that my day is very busy. From the minute I am done getting report my mind is already racing with the list of things I must accomplish. Giving medications, patient education, trips to CT scan and MRI, wound care and dressing changes, getting immobile patients out of bed, multidisciplinary rounds, assessments, charting, titrating IV medications to maintain hemodynamic stability, drawing labs, adjusting ventilator settings, monitoring vital signs, cleaning up every bodily fluid imaginable. We are the ones at the bedside 24/7. A bedside nurse is a very special person. We are there for the sickest patients in the most vulnerable state of being. We hold your hand, clean you up, hug your families, skip our breaks and our meals just to make sure you are stable and taken care of. We give up our holidays for our patients. We sacrifice time with our own families working nights, weekends, and overtime because we want to take care of people.

There have been many times that I wanted to quit nursing all together. Too many days I come home exhausted and spent. Physically hurting, emotionally drained and defeated by the system that often prevents me from connecting to the more "human" aspects of my job. I love the days that I get to spend a little extra time with my patients. Reassuring, helping, hand holding, healing, connecting. Those days are rare but the good nurses I know make every effort to fit that in when they can. The good nurses I know are the ones who are smart and work with integrity. They work tirelessly and selflessly for their patients. They teach and train newer nurses to be caring, thorough individuals who advocate for the patients even when it means you have to go head to head with the on call physician.

Nursing is anything but a glamorous job. It can be rewarding, it is rewarding but many times it is just hard. I am proud of what I do and I cannot imagine doing anything else. My job gives me meaning. I know that despite the lack of accolades we make a difference in the lives of those we treat and care for. To my fellow nurses, I hope this week you feel appreciated. I hope you stop and take the time to recognize all that you do on a daily basis. I hope someone hugs you and says "thank you" but if not I am saying it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. What you do is significant. What you do matters. What you do saves lives. For the people you touch, the families you support and the patients you heal, you deserve so much. For now I hope you hear me when I say thank you, you matter and please don't stop what you do. Your co-workers need you, your patients need you, their families need you and this world would be a lesser place without a nurse like you. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Antepartum Depression at 35 weeks

It started early for me. Despite the fact that I kept blaming it all on my anxiety and fear of becoming a first time mom, the depression really started much sooner than I would like to admit. I remember early in my first trimester having overwhelming waves of guilt and sadness. There were many days that I spent every work break locked up in our library, sobbing. Trying to catch my breath, I would cry out to my unborn child, "I am so sorry. I'm so sorry I'm your mama. I'm so sorry baby." I felt completely horrible that this poor child would be born to such a miserable failure of a human being. I felt so guilty all of the time and so devastatingly sad. I had frequent panic attacks and was so physically miserable with every pregnancy symptom in the book. Stuck on a liquid diet for two months because I could not keep down solid food. Praying that somehow all of the GI symptoms would eventually clear. Praying that my asthma would somehow come under control again so I could breathe. When one thing would let up another would creep in and I only felt more defeated as time went on.

Then we had our anatomy scan in February and we were told that we were most likely having a child with an intersex disorder. Meaning at the very least he would need surgery after birth and at the very worst our child actually had no defined gender or would be both genders but could also have other abnormalities like infertility and mild retardation. Suddenly the baby boy I had named and grown so very attached to became genderless and lacked any real identity to connect with in my mind. That same week I had been started on Wellbutrin for the depression and one of the black box warnings for this drug is suicidal ideation. Over the two weeks it took to do further testing and wait for a follow up ultrasound I began to spiral out of control. We eventually found out that the anatomy scan tech just had bad images because the umbilical cord was in the way and we were in fact having a very healthy baby boy, but by then the damage had been done. Every day became a battle to simply survive. Life seemed utterly pointless and I began to think about death with fondness. Wishing that somehow I could simply not exist anymore.

I decided to go off the Wellbutrin and with the help of my husband and my OB-Gyn I began seeing a therapist that specialized in pregnancy related issues. Slowly, I began to get better and within a month I felt actually somewhat normal! I even remember telling my OB-Gyn that I thought the third trimester was my magical trimester. I honestly only remember one brief period, maybe a couple of days where I felt those suicidal thoughts creep back in and I remember it being associated with feeling physically really crappy. I had a wonderful baby shower around week 32 that was so happy I felt pure joy that entire week. Excitement even for what was to come.

Then came week 34 and the beast that is antepartum depression crept back in and decided to dig in deep. This child inside of me is growing big and it literally feels as if a 300 pound man is sitting square on my chest. I cannot catch my breath for the life of me and I panic on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. The other day I spent a good portion of my day googling things like "antepartum depression" "suicide during pregnancy" "antepartum depression worsening during second pregnancy" in an attempt to find someone who understood the darkness that has taken hold of my mind. I also have been completely preoccupied lately with the thought that I just cannot imagine ever doing this again. The realization that having another child could possibly be one of the worst ideas is so heart breaking. I want more children. I don't want Bentley to be an only child but the thought of willingly inviting this beast into my life again is down right terrifying. I told Chris through tears yesterday that I was afraid I would get even more depressed and commit suicide if I ever got pregnant again. How awful is that? I even considered writing a letter to myself in order to remind my future self just how horrible and scary this pregnancy was. I am so afraid that the joy of having Bentley will make me forget the beast and it's hold on my mind. I am so afraid that I will decide to be brave and that the next time I won't be so lucky. Next time the depression will be so debilitating that I just won't survive it and my children will be left without a mother. The thought that I just can't have more children is a burden that hurts so deep and I know it hurts Chris too. I don't know what the future entails but it just feels very bleak.

Right now I am desperately clinging to the hope that this will all get better once Bentley gets here. It's hard though because I am told that having antepartum depression predisposes you for postpartum depression. I seem to also only hear the horror stories of taking care of a newborn. The lack of sleep, the torture that is breastfeeding, the pain of recovery, the never ending cries of a colicky, inconsolable baby. It all just feels like I will be jumping from the pan to the fire. I have 5 weeks to go and I feel like each day is a battle to get through. Some are better than others but for now I have to keep fighting to live despite my complete lack of desire to go on at times. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow will be better.