Thursday, June 10, 2010

Therapy Thursday: PPD, Exhaustion, or a New Normal?

I had my annual check-up yesterday, and when my doctor asked how I was doing, I broke down crying. Something I've been doing a lot. I told her my husband wanted me to talk about postpartum depression, and so we did. She also gave me a questionnaire/test--I was one point shy of "severe depression." So, she suggested I go to counseling, and she also gave me a prescription for Zoloft. However, I'm still nursing, and I plan on doing so for a year, so I'm not entirely comfortable taking meds just yet. So my question to myself is, am I really suffering from PPD, or is it just plain old exhaustion? Let me back up and explain my symptoms and history.

The first six weeks of C's life were great. I didn't feel like PPD would make an appearance, but I did have bouts of exhaustion and crankiness (what new mom doesn't?). The main source of my stress? Breastfeeding. I can't even tell you how many tears I shed over breastfeeding during those first six weeks. I will go into details about this in a later blog, but let's just say it was rough. I made it past the most difficult weeks, and now BF'ing is a breeze--mostly.

I was so proud of being a great new mom that enjoyed every minute with her baby girl, and then a traumatic event occurred (for me anyway). C developed a subgaleal hematoma six weeks after being vacuumed at birth. I seriously thought she was dying. It was the worst feeling in the world, and one of the scariest times in my life (the other being the day I thought I was miscarrying.) I became an uber paranoid mom after that day. I started obsessing over every little thing that could be wrong with her: Was that bump on her head there yesterday? Is her head shape normal? Does she have brain cancer? She hasn't pooped in four days, does she has neuroblastoma? My fears went on and on and on, and they still do. I can't stop worrying about her. Is this PPD, PPA, or Post Traumatic Stress? Or is it a normal reaction to what happened that day?

I thought it was normal until a few weeks ago. While eating out, Mr. McG's parents offered to fly us out to California to see our soon to be new nephew, and I straight up went into a panic attack. And then I started crying right there at the table. I should have been ecstatic to go on a free vacation to a state I've never been to before--all so we can meet the newest member of our family. Instead, I envisioned the plane crashing, or getting in a car wreck in California, or something bad happening to C in our hotel. My mind went crazy. That's when Mr. McG got really concerned about me.

However, I'm still inclined to think it's just exhaustion. Here's why: Baby girl has been getting up 2-3 times a night for the past three weeks. It's been absolutely horrible. She's 7.5 months now, so we thought that was long behind us. We thought wrong. I need my sleep. Seriously, I'm a crazy person without it. So, why would I want to start taking medicine that could get in my breast milk and get passed on to my baby girl if all I really need is sleep??

School is out now, baby girl is starting to sleep through the night again (we upped her food intake two days ago), and it's summer. I'm hoping I just need sleep. Lots and lots of sleep. So Mr. McG and I are going to have a weekend devoted to just that.

I don't feel comfortable popping pills just because my doctor can prescribe them for me. It's a shame that depression medication is dispensed like candy now a days as a way to cope with feeling blue. (I totally understand that people do need medication, but I seriously doubt half the people taking anti-depressants really need them.) Hopefully sleep will make me feel better, and if it doesn't, then I'll fill my prescription and see a counselor. Actually, I might just see a counselor anyway. Mental floss is a good thing!

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