Wednesday, 28 January 2015
BabyF slept badly last night, waking every 3 hours for food, as she did before we came in here. She's also getting harder to settle at night - I wish we could go back a few weeks to her sleeping on my chest again, comforted by the sound of my heart and my warmth.
Today I really would give a lot to turn back time, to come into this unit at the very beginning and get the help I needed then. I know they say it's never too late, but I'll never get the past 4 months back. I'll never be able to relive having a newborn without the awful haze of depression and the constant anxiety surrounding everything. I barely remember anything and I want to remember everything. BabyF can pretty much sit up on her own now but I have no idea when she first smiled or giggled or recognised and reached for my face.
I figure I have a lot to grieve (and I'm shit at grieving, not sure I've finished with my dead dad yet). I didn't grieve my miscarriage. I didn't grieve the pregnancy and birth I wanted and planned. I did't grieve the fact that I couldn't fully breastfeed. I haven't grieved the loss of my baby's first months due to my own stupid depression. I want my tiny baby back, I want a do over. I want precious moments with my husband and child rather than months filled with stress and tears and hatred and wishing and wanting something different.
I know we're stuck with what has already happened, and I know plenty of people would tell me to just move on, but I need a bit of room to be sad about these things without anyone judging or hurrying me. I'm not talking days and weeks of mourning, but I'd like the occasional space to face this stuff and maybe have a cry before I pick myself up again and wash some more baby bottles. And I don't want to explain myself to anyone (although sometimes it would be nice if someone would ask how I was and really listen to the answer. Because sometimes it's really shit and I need someone to recognise how shit it is and just wallow in the shitness with me for a second. And then buy me a drink.).
Monday, 26 January 2015
Yesterday, another breakdown. This despite the Australia Day decorations the night shift put up... I think that one was triggered by having a husband who is so incredible with BabyF; I just can't measure up.
So that's where I started and in no time I had zero self confidence and was going a bit mad. I couldn't stop crying, didn't want anyone to look at me or see me in all my hideousness. Same old. Ugly, useless, can't cope, worthless, F & K would be better off without me. Guilt for what I'm putting them through, pity for them and for me, wishing I could be a better mother and wife, wishing I could feel like a mother and wife, wishing I wasn't a burden.
I hate myself. Inside and out. I can't look in the mirror. I wonder what of this I'll pass onto my perfect baby. I want to teach her to love herself - do I need to learn this before I can teach it? Fuck.
I feel desperate and on edge and so very sad. I have no idea how I'll cope in the real world, I also have no idea when I'll rejoin the real world. Cath is leaving the unit today even though she's still having panic attacks. What if I'm not ready to leave when they think I am?
They're reviewing my medication today and maybe they'll let me know when BabyF can start rooming in with me. Not sure how I'll cope with the night feeds being so doped up, but I guess we'll find out. Milk everywhere except inside the baby I imagine.
Mel and I just went for a walk to the supermarket - no incidents despite the potential for comedy (two mental patients walk into a shop...). It's hot out, 40 degrees, hotter still with BabyF wrapped to my chest. That's the first time I've been out unsupervised and it was anticlimactic. I thought I might have a bit of a wobble because of the wobble I had in group therapy earlier, but no.
Lots of wobbles. You're probably sick of hearing about them - I know I'm sick of experiencing them.
Right now I'm trying to get my party-all-day-party-all-night baby to go down for a nap. The constant battle is exhausting and I'm drained. She's getting easier, slowly, slowly. Some naps she goes straight to sleep, some nights it takes less than 20 minutes to get her to sleep. Other naps are a 45 minute battle (at which point you have to ask yourself why the fuck you're bothering), and other nights it can take upwards of 2 hours to settle her.
And BREATHE. At some stage she will sleep and I will sleep and we will be in sync and we will have wonderful days during which I will not cry or wobble and she will not resist sleep or comfort.
At least she finds comfort in my arms. I should hold on to that.
Sunday, 25 January 2015
Today I feel "unwell". This is the blanket term used on this ward for what we are. Unwell. Not well.
To me, unwell is synonymous with sick, and I don't feel sick (apart from the moments/hours I am wracked with anxiety - then I really do feel sick). Nor do I feel as if I am suffering from mental illness, but I know I must be or I wouldn't be here. I asked the GP before I came in if my bed couldn't be put to better use by someone else, someone worse off. She laughed a little and explained that wanting to end my life and have my beautiful baby adopted pretty much put me at the bottom of the heap and the first in line for this kind of help.
So here I am. Mentally unwell. Taking a cocktail of anti depressants, anti psychotics and benzos. I prefer Long Island Ice Teas (with diet coke in case you ever buy me one).
And days like these I don't feel like any of it is helping. I feel disgusting, I'm ashamed of the way I feel, I hate myself for many reasons, and I'm not fit to be a mother or a wife or a person. I cry and it feels like a pity party. Pity for me and for my suffering husband, but mostly for my poor tiny BabyF who has no other choice but to have me as her mother. And I am not enough. How can I ever be? All the cocktails in the world won't fix that. All the cocktails in the world won't give me back emotions unblunted by depression. I'm assured that love will grow, that BabyF already loves me, but I don't feel it. I don't even think she likes me and that hurts. I don't know if I love her, and that hurts even more.
I MUST love her, how else can I possibly feel about her? She really is the most perfect thing. But where was the thunderbolt, the moment we looked into each other's eyes and formed this unbreakable bond??
I want to fill her with love and passion and hunger for knowledge. I want her to explore and be wild and free. I want to always be there for her or here for her or wherever she needs me to be for her, and I want her to know that I am her foundation, that HN1 and I are her roots. I want to chase rainbows and ride unicorns, play pirates and build Lego worlds with her.
But how can I fill her with anything when I am so empty?
I thought I'd write a little bit about the unit, mainly so I don't forget. I'm sure some of it will be repetition but whatever. I'm a psych patient, you can forgive me these things.
There is room for 8 mothers and their babies up to the age of 1. We have a big-ish kitchen with a food fridge and a milk fridge and a separate area at one end for washing and preparing bottles. It's all open plan but no babies are allowed in the kitchen. There's a dining area (with REALLY heavy chairs), a lounge area with TV and coffee table where we do jigsaws, and a gated play area for the babies with soft mats on the floor and sofas around. Each baby has their own playmat and toys, and all the toys are cleaned each night. Our bedrooms are all ensuite with an extra sink and a baby bath in each room. There's also a change table and a cot and a chair. My room looks out onto the street and I keep the window open to let the warm air in (fucking air con).
There's also a separate lounge where we generally meet with the docs and the group room where we have group therapy. We can also craft there. Nobody does.
The psych nurses have a maximum of 2 patients each day and whoever we're assigned looks after us and our babies. There are 3 shifts per 24 hours. During work hours the psychiatrist, psychologist and medical doctor are around. So far I've met with the psychiatrist and MD every other day.
There's also Dona the cleaning lady who makes awesome bread and keeps asking when my mum is coming back from London.
I'm checked on every 30 mins day and night. At night this means someone comes in and shines a torch on me... At these times I really do feel like an inmate, but generally it's not too bad.
We're supposed to let our nurse know how we're feeling and, in my case, if I feel like hurting myself too. This week I've graduated from only being allowed out with a nurse or a husband to being allowed out for an hour alone if I feel good. Not sure how I feel alone at the moment though.
Thursday, 22 January 2015
Last night I sat in the dark nursery and breastfed BabyF and it was so peaceful and intimate I could have cried. I think that's the closest I've been to feeling like she's all mine.
This was after she went down, slept for an hour and woke up screaming bloody murder for no apparent reason. She had bad wind (worse than usual which is saying something) and sore gums. I calmed her down eventually but it took an hour and a quarter to get her back to sleep - a lot of patting and shushing and back rubbing. Her latest trick is rolling onto her tummy and getting stuck - humans are odd creatures.
This morning a nurse brought BabyF to my room at 5:30 which is a little (!) early for my liking. I was still really groggy from the seroquel and started to panic that today would be an awful day. I could have cried. Instead, I fed the baby, rejoiced when she fell asleep, and somehow found the energy to move her from the bed to the cot so we wouldn't get busted for cosleeping. When I'm with baby we're on 15 minute checks so time was somewhat of the essence.
Most of the other girls have gone out to lunch today but I'm still not allowed to leave without HN1 or a member of staff. Sandwiches and soup again for me! Oh and 45 minutes of settling BabyF. And half a lorazepam.
Mid-settling of BabyF today we had another beautiful moment; she was breastfeeding and half asleep, my forehead was resting on hers and she was curled into my body. She felt like she was mine again.
Wednesday, 21 January 2015
Today was shit.
On the bright side, it has been discovered that one of my triggers (which sends me spiraling down to dark places) is settling BabyF. Or rather not settling BabyF. Nap times and bed times are dicey, to say the least.
Well that was yesterday and today is brand new. It's 8:26am and I've just had breakfast and my meds; vitamins (multi, fish oil, zinc), antidepressants, something to boost breast milk supply, and half a lorazepam to take the edge off my anxiety. That's a lot of pills to swallow.
I've just put BabyF down for her first nap - I did it by myself (with man nurse Chris in there with me for support) - and she went down fairly easily. By easily I obviously mean I had to pat and shush and hold her until she was asleep. Obviously.
Last night it took over an hour to settle her, everyone tried; me, HN1 and the two babywhisperers (mothercraft nurses) who work here. Not ideal. After which I had a meltdown... I'm the worst mother, I can't even settle my baby, I hate myself, I'm so lonely, she deserves better than me, I want to hurt myself and die. Standard spiral. Extreme emotions and hard to hold back.
That was the second or third time I lost it a bit yesterday, each time triggered by not being able to settle BabyF. So now I always have to have someone with me, even if they just stand back.
When I lose it a my nurse stays with me and talks things through. I'm not sure why I find it easier to express (I guess) my feelings here. Perhaps because that's what I'm here for, perhaps because I find everything more confronting here. Perhaps because I don't have to pretend everything is fine and normal here, because it's not. We're all here because things aren't fine and they aren't "normal", so why pretend?
I'm tired, they brought the baby in to me at 6:30 for a feed and I was still totally knocked out by the quetiapine I took last night. An extra hour or two would have been perfect, so I might have to start taking my night time meds a bit earlier.
I'm still not allowed out alone because of my stupid fucking intrusive thoughts and the fact that whenever I think about things I conclude that I must die. But I can go out with HN1 or with a nurse. One of the nurses took me for a walk around the block yesterday before group and showed me the local op-shop, and HN1 and I took the baby out for a walk last night (pre spiral).
In other mundane news, the baby bath in my room is broken and flooded the floor yesterday (and soaked my bags which were under the sink) so we're now bathing BabyF in the laundry sink. Old school.
Gotta run, time for meditation!
Monday, 19 January 2015
BabyF has settled in record time for both her naps and resettling during those naps so far today. Sure, someone else has done the actual settling, but I've been next to that person. Vicarious victory.
I had another meltdown - this time in my meeting with the psych and the dr. I'm 98% sure the meltdown was due to the extreme shame my suicidal feelings cause. Struggle town. It's an odd feeling, wanting to die. And I don't just want to die, I think hurting myself would be a relief too. I don't always want to kill myself, it's more that I have intrusive thoughts which range from fleeting to sticking for hours. Today is the first time I've really been vocal about these thoughts and it doesn't feel cathartic, or a relief, or any other happy feeling words. It feels shameful and embarrassing and self indulgent and like I don't deserve to be able to feel this way.
Killing myself would probably fuck BabyF and HN1 up more than having me for a mother and wife - THIS is what I have to hold onto.
I'm now taking escitalopram (my antidepressant of choice for the past few years), lorazepam (for the anxiety), and quetiapine (for the anxiety, to help me sleep, and to augment the anti-d's). Quetiapine makes people fat though and I already have so many body image issues that I'm not sure what to do. I can't stop eating (which would have been my go-to) because I'm still breastfeeding. Although that might not last much longer since BabyF is totally losing interest. Fuck me.