Week 4 isn’t over, but I couldn’t wait until Saturday to share the good news.
The seepage has stopped. I see a teeny tiny light at the end of the tunnel. It is still far away and the tunnel is vertically inclined and there are rocks and potential pitfalls on the way, but there is a light.
As I write this, I feel overcome with emotion. As much as I tried to reassure myself, my family and friends…last week? Last week, I was scared like I had never been, not even with postpartum depression. I saw those terribly tragic headlines flashing before my eyes. I understood for the first time how it could all happen. That must sound so dramatic to anyone who doesn’t know me. Heck, it sounds a little too dramatic to myself. All I know is that I saw the gaping abyss in front of me and I didn’t know if I would be able to avoid it.
I’m scared to believe that I’m on my way to better after crashing and burning only a week ago. It feels impossible that I could have felt so hopeless only a week ago. I don’t know how to explain it. All the collective prayers? My fabulous husband? Two years of postpartum therapy that gave me the ability to recognize danger signs faster?
Here’s a breakdown of the sequence of events and the steps I took.
- From the first week we came home, I felt disconnected from Peanut and it was getting worse by day
- End of second week, I realized that I needed help. I started reaching out to friends, APs, social worker, and etc. It helped, initially, to hear that my feelings were normal.
- Third week, I realized it was more me than Peanut, something was wrong with me…. that may what I’m going through is not quite normal.
- By mid third week, I realized that my emotions were totally out of control and it was matter of time before I snapped. I also realized that Peanut’s crying was the trigger for my reactions.
- I had to be totally honest with D and tell him one of the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to tell him, that I was afraid I would be hurt Peanut, that he couldn’t count on my better self coming to the rescue, that there was something “off” about me and my reactions.
- He allowed me to remove myself at any point from direct care, which helped to remove some guilt of not helping him as much.
- I continue to engage with Peanut, but made a point to keep it positive. Even if it meant the interaction lasted 1 minute.
- I took on the night-time sleep duty b/c I wanted one activity that she would associate with me, that I had a method for dealing with the uncontrollable crying. I am doing a modified Ferber method where instead of putting her down in deep sleep, I rock her for 2 minutes, kissed her and put her down. I walk out and give her a minute to settle. If she continues to cry, I go back in after 5 minutes, rock her 100 count and put her down, repeat as needed. The first two nights, it took 3 then 2 tries. Now she’ll settle with the initial put down. 9 days of this method, she’s slept through 2 nights, woke up 1x/night 5 days, woke up 2x/night 2 days.
- I took advantage of the long weekend to really spend time with Peanut.
- She still whines and cries for D, but now I can calm her down enough before handing her off, again trying to keep most interactions positive.
- I felt the slight improvement on Wednesday, while putting Peanut to bed. She was crying more than usual, not settling into my arms at all and I was OK. I didn’t feel the crazy emotions. I didn’t have to hand her off and I was able put her down to sleep before heading off to my therapist.
That small change, the shift in my reaction was like leavening agent to my soul. I was a totally different person than I would have been if my appointment had been last week. I knew that I had taken a step back from the abyss which made me feel more hopeful and less scared of losing myself.
After I caught my doctor up on the recent events of my life, she pointed out that I was probably emotionally drained before we got the baby. That I probably didn’t have enough left to deal with a particularly difficult post adoption transition. I had forgotten that my mom’s sudden illness and death, the pregnancy and miscarriage and becoming a mom again of a grieving baby and transitioning from being a family of 3 – 4 all happened one on top of another.
I feel like it must have been at least 6 months since this all happened, but it has been only 2 months.
So, in conclusion, I’m going to follow my doctor’s advice and give myself a break. Forgive myself, focus on just healing and continuing to move forward, teeny tiny step at a time.
Did I hear a collective sigh? Thank you to my friends and family for sticking by me, lifting me up in prayers and believing in me when I couldn’t.