My name is Hip-Baby Mama, and I suffer from post-partum depression.
I know I've mentioned it in previous posts, but I finally feel OK enough to talk about the first few months with L.E. and the battle raging inside my own head. As a little bit of background, I've been depressed in the past but have been seeing a very nice therapist for the last 5 years. Being pregnant made me absolutely elated so I stopped therapy. A hint of sadness crept up during the final few weeks of being pregnant but I chalked that up to new-mommy jitters. (I just made that term up)
I had a scheduled c-section with L.E. because she never descended into the birth canal. What I know now is that she was transverse and since her hips were dislocated, she may have never dropped. Even if I had a normal labor, it most likely would have ended with an emergency surgery. I know a lot of women who had c-sections feel like they were cheated out of the whole natural birthing experience but I really didn't care at that point. I wanted a healthy baby and if I had to cut her out myself to get her, I would have.
Overall, the surgery itself wasn't a bad experience. T was by my side the whole time and the anesthesiologist talked me through the whole process. I felt L.E. being lifted out of me and she was immediately taken over to the clean/weigh station. (Seems very much like a truck stop, doesn't it?) T didn't let her out of his sight. But I didn't get to hold her for what seemed like forever. Did I miss out on the first bonding experience? Is that what caused the inner anguish I had yet to face?
The next few hours were a blur. I was in the recovery room. I was moved to a regular room. I was a MOM! She was the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen. (She still is.) Our pediatrician was there about 2 hours after she was born and that's when he broke the DDH news to us. While L.E. was sleeping that afternoon, I grabbed the laptop and began Googling. I was horrified by the photos of little babies in huge casts. I cried. And cried. And pretty much have cried every day since then.
I've come to terms with L.E.'s DDH. This blog has certainly helped. I haven't heard from any other hip-parents that randomly stumble across me but the support I've gotten from friends who've taken the time to read this has been overwhelming. But I still couldn't shake the nagging feeling that I did something wrong, I screwed up, L.E. deserves a better mom than me...since day 1 I've felt this way.
We came home too early. I thought nursing was going well but by L.E.'s 5th day, she'd lost 1-1/2 lbs. Turns out she wasn't sucking properly. One night in the ER later, I was hooked up to a rented breast pump for the next 6 weeks while T fed her from bottles. Instead of bonding with her, I was in the back room pumping milk for her, feeling like a cow, every 3 hours around the clock. She wouldn't smile for me. I cried. And cried. She cried. And cried. I would try to bargain with her...Tell her that we were a team and we could get through this together. She cried harder. I cried harder. T went back to work. I never felt more alone.
I feel compelled to insert here that no matter how upset and depressed I was, I still loved L.E. unconditionally. I would breathe in that new baby smell like a junkie getting a fix. I felt guilty when I went to the doctor and didn't take her with me. I needed to be around her all the time and when she cried, I felt like somebody was stabbing me in the heart. I didn't want her to be in any pain that I couldn't cure. I'm her mommy, I'm supposed to make everything better. But at 4 weeks, L.E. just didn't care who was around. I took it personally; I felt like I was disappointing her.
My parents showed up week 5. I was sleep-deprived, bitter, upset, feeling inept and and just wanted my mom. But Mom was focused on her new grand-baby. Sure, L.E. would stop crying the moment her grandma was in the room. I felt like I was being stabbed. I turned into a teenager again, stopping short of jumping up and down and screaming, "Pay attention to ME for a change!" My dad asked me if I was depressed because I wasn't as skinny as I was before. I almost punched him in the face.
They left the same day L.E. went from her Pavlik harness to the abduction brace. She cried. And cried. Was it the new brace? Or was it that Grandma wasn't there? For my own sanity, I blamed the brace.
I make it sound like the crying was non-stop. It was nowhere near what the parents of colicky babies go through and I almost feel badly for even thinking that I had it rough. But at the same time, I was convinced my baby was going to have nerve-cutting surgery when she was less than a year old. It tore at me every day. I felt that if she didn't have the brace on every single moment, she was going to have surgery and casts. If I didn't get the brace back on her RIGHT AFTER her bath, it was surgery and casts. We flew across the country and she didn't wear her brace on the plane. I was terrified that was going to be the day that her hips would decide to go into their sockets and the brace wasn't there to help so they would fail. I felt like a bad parent every single moment. I cried. And cried.
The weather got warm and L.E. started smiling. She smiles ALL THE TIME. It made my heart burst. I finally felt like I could do this, I could be a great mom.