“We all have these dark times and I suppose it’s how we try and respond to them.”
– Bear Grylls, Running Wild with Bear Grylls
This quote struck a chord with me. I had to keep rewinding it so I made sure I got the entire quote written down, I think I annoyed my husband until I finally told him what I was doing. See, I’m really good at just doing something and then when I complete it, I say “Oh, I was trying to write down a quote.”
Ok – so back to the actual quote at hand. It made me think of the dark times I went through and the long, dark road I was on. I’d like to think I’m not on a dark road anymore, but I’m fully aware it can come again.
My road started back in February 2010. Scratch that, my road started back in November of 2009 the day before Thanksgiving. I was pregnant for the first time and had severe cramping and eventual bleeding. The memory still feels fresh in my mind the minute I felt the cramping as I came into the house with groceries for Thanksgiving dinner. I called M and then called my OB. She told me to expect a m/c over the holiday weekend. Here’s the yay part, I didn’t miscarry. I went in that following Monday and they saw a heartbeat, as well as a giant clot. I was put on a modified bed rest until I had 2 weeks with no bleeding.
By Christmas, the bleeding had stopped and by New Years, it had been 2 weeks without any spotting at all. And it was almost as soon as I started to celebrate no bleeding when it started to happen again. Another ultrasound at 12 weeks showed a healthy baby, and a smaller but not gone clot. Ok, we can deal with this. The baby is healthy, I just need to take it easy and continue on modified bed rest. Around mid-January, I remember coming back from the grocery and by the time I got in the house I was gushing blood/fluid. Every time I went to the bathroom, it was the same thing. At a guitar lesson that night, another gush. I didn’t think much of it because I had been experiencing this for close to 2 months, so it didn’t seem much different. I was also praying this was sort of like that final push.
I went in for a quad screen about a week after and received my results within a day or two. There was an abnormality for spina bfida on one of the tests, so my OB sent me for a high risk ultrasound with another doctor.
The week of my high risk ultrasound appointment, I had decided for Valentine’s Day the baby and I would make him something, since I was currently unemployed. I went to Joann’s and made one of those no-sew blankets with Notre Dame material. Neatly wrapped it in a box and wrote a letter in crayon from our little “micro.”
February 5th we went in for the ultrasound. I’m 100% certain giving the news is just as hard as receiving the news. My amniotic fluid was gone, all the gushing I had in mid-January was because my water broke. I was 17 weeks along at this point. We were devastated. We called family as soon as we found out the news and then we had to make the hardest decision either of us has had to make — what to do next. Leaning on faith and each other, we chose to deliver the baby. I went in on February 13th and in the morning of February 14th (yea, Valentine’s Day) Joseph Daniel was stillborn. This was the beginning of my dark time.
I had always longed to have happy pregnancies, and I was happiest in pregnancy when I was pregnant with Joseph. Even with all the bad going on, it didn’t phase me. I loved it. I sometimes look back at all my pregnancies and think “Well, at least I had that one…”
I miscarried twice during the summer of 2010, and for the fourth time in a year, found out I was pregnant at Halloween 2010. I had my daughter in 2011, and then a son in 2013. Neither of these pregnancies felt care free. Every ache or pain was cause for worry and stress. If toilet paper had brown specks in it, I had to sit there and investigate to make sure it wasn’t blood.
The stress and anxiety I had in each pregnancy didn’t help me post-pregnancy. With both kids I had postpartum depression. After my son, the postpartum was worse. It wasn’t until one night, when I was sitting on the couch with him and he was crying while being fed and I couldn’t handle it anymore that I set him down on the couch and walked away. The thoughts running through my own mind scared the crap out of me. The next day I talked to my sister-in-law about it and she called my husband. That following Monday, my son was put on medicine for his acid reflux and I was put on depression medication and put myself back in therapy.
Medication doesn’t help – I don’t like the flat line of emotions effect. I was on it for two weeks and immediately took myself off when C-Dub went into the hospital for bronchialitus (sp). While in the hospital the first night I noticed my distance and odd lack of emotion to the situation. I was present, I loved him and I was concerned about him, but at the same time it felt like there was a distance. My husband brought my medicine, but I told him I was done with it. I cannot be there for C-Dub and be on this medication at the same time. He was 2.5 months old and my bond with him was minimal.
And then something happened. The only way I can describe it is almost like how the Grinch’s heart grew in the cartoon version of the book. I remember sitting in the hospital room with him and it was just us. Then I looked at him, all attached to the oxygen and monitors and suddenly it was like the first time I had ever seen him. And like the Grinch’s heart, suddenly my heart just exploded with love for this little man in my arms. This is when the darkness began to lift a bit…
I was on the mend when I fell through
The sky around was anything but blue
I found as I regained my feet
A wound across my memory
That no amount of stitches would repair
But I awoke and you were standing there
– Avett Brothers “February Seven”
When did the dark lift completely? I don’t know… my PPD lasted a long time. The earliest I can say is 14 months after C-Dub’s birth I started to feel a bit like me again. I had lost a little bit of weight and I was finally out of maternity pants after being in them for about 4 years straight.
It’s been 5 1/2 years since we lost Joseph, and not a day goes by that I don’t wonder about who he might have been. Not a day goes by I don’t think of him as a guardian angel over my two C’s. Without him and the situation, I wouldn’t have the two goofballs I do have. I thank him for them.