October 31 2020 was when my little Ava girl came to this world. I found out I was pregnant Sunday March 8th 2020. When I found out I knew I had to get on top of my mental game. You see, I grew up with generalized anxiety. If there was anything to worry about I was going to be anxious about it.
Although, I was lucky to have support from family and friends and have gone through counselling many times. I now have a bucket of tools to help manage my anxiety so I can be functional. I will also add, I have also been diagnosed with situational depression once. The whole point to this little blurb is that anything medical or sick related is a huge trigger for my anxiety. When I was in labour I arrived at the hospital just in time (finally convincing my midwife on the phone that I am in labour and please check me out.) I was just more than 6 cm dilated and the Dr. were amazed since it was my first pregnancy. The midwife who knew my history suggested I get an epidural since my anxiety was high. Since needles are so scary, especially ones that can paralyze you; the midwife was so amazing she helped me meditate and breathe through getting the epidural . Once Ava was here everything was great. Yes I had given birth to a baby during a pandemic and she was perfectly healthy and happy. I felt so proud of myself for the first 8 weeks. Other than feeling like a couch prisoner because breastfeeding is a full time job I felt I was doing mentally amazing. I was aware that I was at high risk for postpartum depression. Although I felt I was doing amazing. Leading up to Ava’s 1st doctor's appointment to receive her 2 month needs I was very anxious about her vaccines. I am very pro-vaccine but I also am very scared of what vaccines can do to bodies. My little daughter was only 8 weeks old and I didn’t want to hurt her in any way. We had just celebrated christmas and it was awful.
Covid stinks and it makes everything so hard, isolating and emotional.
I woke up the morning of Ava’s vaccines and I had a headache. I drank coffee, had some Tylenol and brushed it off. I don’t have time for headaches. I have to get my baby to the dr. On the way home I couldn’t ignore my headache anymore. When I got home I took more advil and laid on the couch with my baby girl all afternoon just focusing on resting and feeding her. By 8 pm I was in tears. This headache is not letting up. Usually it does by now. I asked him to call his mom because my gut was telling me something is not right. At 3 am I couldn’t take the pain anymore. It was in my neck and my head I could barely walk. I will spare all the gross details. When at the hospital in emergency they treated me for a migraine. Once given meds and laying down I felt a lot better. So they decided to discharge me. When sitting up and packing to go home, my headache came instantly back and it was not just mild it was unbearable. I tried to suck it out but didn’t even make it out of emergency and asked to go back. They gave me stronger meds and sent me home.
I then went back into emergency the next day because the pain was unbearable again even with the medication they told me to take at home. I was starting to feel hopeless and I was so weak I couldn’t even sit up to feed my daughter or pump milk. I was starting to feel like a failure of a mom but also was scared because of the extreme pain I was in. My friend told them to ask them if it could have been a slow spinal leak from the epidural. Although, after hours there and talking to a couple Doctors they said it was impossible and they signed me up for 2 CAT scans the next day. Also being sent home with more medication to try and ease the pain.
I went into emergency the next day again in extreme pain. Let me remind you that walking and sitting up were not in my capabilities. I would be in so much pain I would vomit and just cry.
They did my 2 Cat scans and found nothing. The Dr. started telling me that she thinks it is postpartum or my hormones from giving birth and that I should be fine. It's in my head essentially. She even questioned my husband and how he was treating me. My husband has always been supportive and helpful, which for some reason she didn’t believe. She sent me home and took me off of all the medication that was helping with pain and said to keep taking Advil and tylenol and try muscle relaxers.
I was put on a psychiatrist caseload and had an in person meeting on Monday in Oakville hospital. How I was going to get there and last through the appointment was beyond me. I could barely handle the 10 minuet ride to Georgetown hospital.
The next day I had a meeting from a friend who cheered me up and gave me a pep talk. I kept telling myself this is postpartum, it is in your head. You need to take a shower and get control of your life. Well I took the shower and within 20 minuets after, an ambulance was called by my husband. I was in so much pain I was vomiting and I couldn't walk or barely breathe. I was finally admitted to the hospital. They stuck me in the maternity ward. I was grateful because it was quiet and I got my own room. Although sitting in there I was constantly reminded that I was not at home with my daughter and I wasn't breast feeding her. My husband had just run out of freezer milk and now was starting formula with my girl. I was in the hospital for 3-4 days until they sent me home after my MRI at Oakville hospital. I had met with the psychiatrist and was diagnosed with postpartum depression. They started me on medication and felt that there was nothing else they could do for me. Take the antidepressant and continue with Tylenol and Advil for your headache pain. Within 24 hours I was called back into the hospital because they had found spots on my brain and they were scared I could have meningitis. So back in the car I went and went into emergency. Although they were expecting me I had to wait in the waiting room. I ended up crying, lying on the floor and running to the washroom to vomit because of the amount of pain I was in. I was placed in an isolation room and all I could do was panic and cry which made the pain worse.
Remember I have been doing this all on my own because of Covid I was not allowed anyone with me. I had to wait for a DR to come see me to give me any medication to help calm me down and help with the pain. The nurse even yelled at me to stop pressing the button for help because there was nothing she could do for me. After a couple hours I was given medication and I had a spinal tap needle. I was admitted in the hospital again for many days(but in isolation). After many days of lots of medication and bed rest it was proven that I did not have meningitis. Although, my spinal fluid was very low. The Dr. was going to send me to a bigger hospital because they were unsure as to what was going on with me. The Dr. from toronto hospital told my Dr. to try a blood patch epidural procedure to see if it helps before sending me there. Well within 2 hours I was in a surgery room having the blood patch done and within 24 hours my headache was gone. Although I was still very anxious, weak and nauseous.
Here came my time for recovery. I was so happy to be home. So excited to be around my husband and baby again.. Although.. I wasn't sure why but all I could do was lay in bed and I felt weak and useless. I ended crying and crying asking my husband if I could leave and go stay with my parents for a couple days while I healed. Being the amazing guy he was he helped me pack and let me go heal.
The next day at my parents I ended up calling a crisis hotline because I was not suicidal but I was very unstable. The anti depression meds to help with my postpartum were not helping one bit. I had been on them for a week and a half at this point and I was sure they would be doing something. Although, all I felt was super nauseous and dizzy. I was pushing myself and saying it was going to get better but in reality I felt horrible. I spoke with my family Dr. and he took me off the depression medication. He agreed it may be making me sick. For the next 5 days I felt so much better. I was weak from bed rest but I was getting out for walks and I was able to eat again. I was finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
When checking in with the Dr again he told me to start taking the same anti depression medication again. He said now that I have gotten some strength back and food in me it should be better. Within 24 hours I was wobbling around the house dizzy and vomiting again. I called the Dr. and I refused to take the medication. I felt betrayed. I felt like no one was listening to me. All of these Doctors and people can't help me. I was still away from Ava, my daughter and my husband and had huge guilt. I would cry all the time. Although, at this point I had been crying Non stop for like 3 weeks.
I went for my outpatient clinic at the Milton hospital and for the first time I felt listened to. I was given new medication to try. I was forced to go home. It had been a month now I was away from my daughter. Although, I was scared and not ready. I didn’t want to be around her. I didn’t want to hold her. I spent many days in the basement just crying all day. I started blaming her for getting sick. “ This would have never happened to me if I didn’t have her.’ I kept saying I don’t want to be the Mom. I can’t do it.
When I moved home I had to have my mother in law live with me. I would try my best to feed and be with Ava but I couldn't. I'd end up hours in the basement crying. I even asked my husband to stay home. He would sit in the basement and watch my cry. Slowly I would start spending more and more time together with my baby. I would spend the morning working through my strategies. Journaling, taking a shower going for a walk, talking with my counselors , and public health nurses.
After the new medication started helping, and having the support of my parents and in laws about a month and a half later I was finally able to be a mom to Ava on my own. I still have horrible days BUT I have lots of amazing days. Being a new mom is not easy. I worked with my family Dr. , Psychiatrist, a counselling and public health nurse to get where I am now. I am grateful that I was able to find medication to help me. Although I do not believe my postpartum depression started from giving birth. I believe it was triggered from the Trauma of being sick.
Its not easy but I take it day by day. There are always new challenges and being in isolation is making it so much harder on new moms.
It is supposed to take a village to help raise a child but us new moms are doing it all on our own.