Hi so this is sort of awkward but I don’t know why. It shouldn’t be. I wouldn’t have really said anything except that I felt like if more people (especially other creatives) had told me their experience I might have acted sooner. Or at least have been willing to act sooner.
I knew I always had anxiety, but the anxiety also dictated how I managed the anxiety. As in, I was too scared to do anything about it. Particularly when it came to medication. In college, I may or may not have once taken my boyfriend’s prescription pill. (For legal reasons I may not have lol). And you know what? It sucked. I don’t recommend taking prescriptions that aren’t yours. (For legal reasons I especially don’t recommend it) It completely inverted my personality. I had no emotions one way or the other. No joy. No crazy anxiety. Nothing. I was this empty robot. I actually felt empty. Like walking around with a spotlight and a skull in my hand lamenting that I lost all my mirth and what is this quintessence of dust? So that really misshaped my perception of psychiatric medicine. I felt like all meds would make you robotic and weird and passionless.
I also had this other fear about my writing. Would meds interfere with my creativity? Because writing is a massive MASSIVE outlet in my life. It’s so deeply a part of my person that I would rather suffer indefinitely than have my creativity taken away from me.
So when I got pregnant with my daughter, I was unbelievably sick. I think I had to have a total of four emergency IVs? Maybe five. Just sick as a dog. And I didn’t recognize the depression that was creeping in on me. until one day I started crying uncontrollably. And I remembered that sort of feeling after I had Jack. After Jack I had gone through PPD/PPA without realizing what it was. Because when it’s your first child you don’t realize crying for 24 hours straight isn’t normal. But this being my third child, I realized that I was experiencing something out of the norm. And I hadn’t even had her yet.
After I recognized something was wrong (which is the first really hard step) I called my OBG and told her my symptoms. They ended up giving me a survey over the phone and when I heard the questions I was like “ohhhhh…. yeah.” Sometimes you don’t realize how bad things really are when you’re silently experiencing them yourself. I was eight months pregnant and suffering from antepartum depression, which I had never before even heard of.
My doctor prescribed me Sertraline on the spot over the phone and I was so nervous. I read the pamphlet front to back and felt panicked that I was about to lose my ability to write. My husband is a Pharmacist and he comforted me. He said if the medication didn’t work for me I could always go off of it. So I decided to give it a try and this was the important thing I learned:
The medication didn’t stop my creative process, the depression did.
Suddenly, I had my energetic ability to write again. And other surprise side effects that I hadn’t realized were related to my depression/anxiety.
Growing up I always had panic attacks about getting sick. Legitimate panic attacks. And the first week I was on the meds, I got a terrible virus and was throwing up (plus pregnant sick, so that required another IV). But for some reason I was like “oh darn I just threw up in the Bobby Que parking lot. Whatevs lol.” THAT HAS NEVER BEEN MY MO.
Another one was suddenly I could watch Forensic Files with my husband. Before, even just hearing that narrator’s voice and cadence gave me heart palpitations. And now suddenly I’m not terrified of true crime. I read about The Toy Box Killer and the West Memphis Three crime within days of each other. And was like “Yucky, that’s disturbing.” And then NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT IT AGAIN. No ruminating details for the next week or feeling like I was gonna puke late at night thinking about it.
After that I realized okay… probably shoulda been on this medication a way long time ago.
Suddenly I had all this motivation to get things done. Unfortunately for Daniel that meant a butt ton of Amazon purchases as I started fixing up and decorating my house. I also started dressing up. Even if it were for myself in my house and my newborn spit up on me. I’ve honestly never felt more aligned with my true self.
I will add, because I think it’s important, I also was doing “the work”. Being honest about some difficult things that had happened to me in the past and giving up things that didn’t serve or work for me anymore. But all in all I think I’m in a much better space and that was in part the medication.
So that’s it. In all my vulnerability. I wanted to talk about it just in case someone else had the same fears or concerns about meds that I did. Or even if someone is having a really difficult pregnancy and didn’t know that antepartum depression is a real thing. Sertraline really did work for me if that helps.
It was two weeks before my due date. I kept waking up all night to go pee like fifty billion times. I just had a TON of pressure. Daniel snoozed his alarm for work and as we were laying there I was like, hmmm… actually, these are contractions. Regular contractions.
I slapped Dan’s arm and was like “Hey, I keep having false labor contractions.” Haha, so let me go into this: when I had Jack he came a week late. So I FULLY expected to deliver much later. Like I was seriously looking into an elective induction if the baby was going to go longer than his due date. My mom had bought an airplane ticket to arrive ON his due date and then stay the next couple of weeks after. Soooo “denial” is going to be a strong theme here.
Because my mom wasn’t coming for another two weeks, I was majorly stressed out about who would watch Jack in the event I had to go to the hospital. My dad had GENEROUSLY offered to hop on a plane moments notice if it came to that but Hey Man… I had better been pretty dang sure I was in labor before telling my dad to drop everything and fly to Pheonix. So as you can imagine I was preggy stress crying about it. Dan talked me down. He texted my dad just letting him know what was going on and then I sent him to work, telling him that it was “probably nothing”.
I took a shower and ate breakfast *just in case*. I still wasn’t super convinced that they weren’t false contractions, so I decided to lay on my side for a minute to see if they would go away. They most certainly did not. They were ten minutes apart and every other one sucked worse than the last. I called my dad because I was about to have a friggin’ panic attack on whether I should tell him to fly to Arizona or not. He said he had already looked into flights. (He was obviously more convinced than me.) My dad told me to call the doctor to see what he thought. I was super unsure about doing that, because OBVIOUSLY the doctor would just say, “Yeah? How about wait until they are five minutes apart lasting one minute for a whole hour and then just go to the hospital. Why are you bothering me with this?”
I decided to call the doctor and waste his time anyways. At first I got the emergency answering service which I thought was really odd because it was past nine and that’s normal business hours. The conversation went like this:
RECEPTIONIST: And what’s the purpose of this call?
ME: I’ve been having contractions all morning. They’re ten minutes apart. I just want to know what the doctor thinks I should do.
RECEPTIONIST: Okay, but is this an emergency?
ME: … … Um, I’m in labor?
So they send the page out and my actual doctor’s office calls me back. I told them I was contracting every ten minutes and they countered with hey, go to the hospital. I was floored. They told me it was likely I was laboring during the night since I had pressure. My doctor was already at the hospital doing a surgery so they told me I might as well go in and get checked.
I called Daniel at work like Hey I know you’ve only been there for an hour but come home and drive me to the hospital. Then I called my dad and told him we would soon know whether it was real or not.
So we get all checked in. I’m totally calm and like whatever, not even in any pain or anything. I was totally sure I was only a one. I packed my bag SO half-a$$ed because I was like oh, they’re just sending me home anyways. Like I didn’t even pack underwear or a hairbrush. So when they told me I was at a three, I was like… wut?
Me: Am I having a kid today?
Nurse: Let’s just keep you for a while and see…
At 12:30 she came back in to check. I was still at a three which was like, oh good, send me home I want lunch I’m friggin starving. But she kinda hesitated and was like you know what let’s just have you walk around for like an hour and see what happens.
(I should also mention that we had Jack with us this whole time. He was such a good kid! I was really impressed with him. I thought that he would be somewhere between being bored or traumatized, but he was super excited to be out of the house and playing with Daddy.)
We were given the green light to walk around the hospital and I immediately waddled my fat butt down to the cafeteria. Look. When you are at the hospital in labor, they don’t let you eat anything for a long time… and that’s rough because I’m a pig. So oink, oink. That’s what I chose to do, okay! I was SUPER big and pregnant in nothing but my flimsy hospital gown and socks walking through the cafeteria trying to decide what I was going to eat. It’s fine, I’m sure everyone knew why I was there and that I didn’t have anything contagious. I mean, only my husband could have given them what I had. ANYWAY I chose to eat a fruit cup, because even though I was starving this labor thing was getting pretty real and I knew that things would get intense later that night.
But I was wrong. Not about the fruit cup, but about things getting intense much later. Things got intense RIGHT THEN, REALLY FAST and REEEEEALLY painful. The walking just like dropped him down or something I don’t know, because it hadn’t even been ten minutes out of triage before I was feeling like I was about to die.
We ate quickly and I could barely even make it back to the room. The labor was insane. When I was in labor with Jack, I was having contractions that lasted five minutes a piece instead of the conventional ONE. Well. Yeah. That was happening again. When the delivery nurse came in to transfer me she took one look at my face and walkie talkied for the anesthesiologist to meet us in the delivery room. Which I was super glad about… well sort of.
WARNING!! If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you may want to skip this section of the birth story and just start reading onwards from 5:30. Horror story ahead.
So here’s another comparison to my first labor and delivery: with Jack my epidural was AMAZING. I didn’t feel it at all. It worked perfectly. It was like the golden standard of epidurals, really. With Casey. Holy balls. This was the worst thing about the whole entire delivery and when I say horror story, look, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
By the time the anesthesiologist came in, I was in full blown labor. I had escalated from a 3cm dilation to a 5… IN HALF AN HOUR. Things were nuts! I was like hysterical. It was crazy. I mean, ME, I was crazy. Daniel had left to take Jack to a babysitter out in the parking lot and I was bawling out of control saying stuff like, “Please don’t do anything until my husband comes back. I want my husband, I’m so frightened. I just want my husband!” He came back in, but the hysteria didn’t go away. I felt delirious. Like, I felt like I wasn’t even myself and I was trapped in this painful body watching myself go bonkers. They were trying to give me specific advice on how to sit and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t tell right from left, the pain was just so overwhelming. I even remember yelling at the nurse, “I’m hurting so much that I can’t even comprehend what you’re telling me right now!”
They attempted to put the epidural in but it DIDN’T GO. I actually felt it stab me in the spine. Like I know what it feels like to have your spine STABBED from the INSIDE. It was a horrific pain… on top of an already horrific pain. Looking back, I don’t think that it was the doctor’s fault. I think it was because I was so out of it with the labor and like having a panic attack and stuff that I just couldn’t sit well enough for them to do it correctly.
It took 35 minutes for them to get my epidural in. They may not seem as bad as it is, so try to imagine this: You are having one of the most generally recognized worse pains in the world cramping your body for full minutes at a time and making you hysterical… while at the same time someone is behind you, literally stabbing you in the spine the same area where most of your nerve endings are. Okay, THAT is what it was for 35 FREAKING MINUTES. Like… an entire episode of The Office is 20 minutes. You could finish watching Diversity Day and I would STILL be getting poked with a needle on a hospital bed for ALMOST ANOTHER EPISODE MORE with tears dripping into my husband’s helpless arms.
But I will say this… Even with how painful that medieval spinal tap was… IT WAS STILL WORTH IT BY FAR. So I hope that tells you something about how hard it is to deliver a baby. And I also hope that you give your mother a phone call today.
After I got the epidural, things were calm, borderline boring. Jack was gone and well taken care of. My dad was on his way from the airport. Dan was working on projects, of course, because residents ARE SLAVES. If I had been delivering at his hospital, they probably would’ve made him do some rounds while he waited. Nothing too eventful happened here. I took a little video and hung out. I was basically paralyzed I was so numbed up, my back was still sore though.
At six or maybe even later, the doctor came in and broke my water. I was at a nine by then. The nurse said that they were going to wait until I could absolutely no longer take the pressure anymore and then they would have me push. She said it would be worth it to hold out as long as possible because then I would have to push less. So I just kinda sat there wondering if I was going to be able to feel it if a baby started coming out of me.
I felt the pressure pretty soon afterwards. They checked me, I was a ten. I remember the nurse said, “Yeah, there’s no more cervix.” Gnarly. I had the shakes so bad. They were like violent. I wasn’t hurting, but I was shivering like crazy.
MORE SEMI HORROR MOSTLY JUST GROSS DETAILS HERE. You can skip this paragraph too if you want. So I had to puke so bad. And this exact same thing happened when I was pushing with Jack. I was told that the before the baby comes out, his head rests on a nerve that makes you super nauseous. You don’t feel the pain of it because of the epidural, but the pressure wants to make you barf. Well I was trying so hard to hold in my DANG FRUIT CUP. And honestly, you know when you are trying not to throw up like you can’t even move or talk or breathe or anything. Finally, my nurse said, “Just go ahead and do it, it will help push the baby out anyways.” Hahaha! So I was like, yup, I’m there, and I let it all out. And she was freaking right, dude! I literally felt the baby get pushed down when I puked. You use the same muscles to throw up / push a baby out. ANYWHO. Not sure why I felt the need to include all that, but there you go. All the honest and disgusting details of birth.
So they get me ready to push. They basically had to hoist my BUM LEGS into the stirrups because I was so dead down there. I did three sets of pushing during contractions. (For your information, in between contractions is hilariously awkward. I was sitting there all spread eagle while my doctor stands at my hooha, hands on his hips talking about “how he knew I would beat the gal in nine because it’s my second time.” It’s all casual and every day for them. For me, it’s all naked and life-changing and this big medical trauma.)
That was a tangent. Hi! Okay, back to Casey.
Three sets of pushing and he was out. POP! It was like ten minutes of pushing. Maybe five. With Jack I remembered sobbing and being SO melodramatic and yelling, “My son! My son!”. With Casey, I was still in so much shock at his early arrival that I just stared at him with a stupid look on my face, feeling super confused at how the whole day went.
He was so pink and had lots of hair and chubby cheeks. He is this easy-going lovey-bug! And I couldn’t be more thrilled to have him as an addition to our family.