Wednesday, October 6, 2010

First Step

     The first few days after receiving Lily's diagnosis of PKU was difficult to say the least.  I think the fact that Lily couldn't nurse made things a little tougher.  Lily refused to take a bottle.  So there was a lot of crying on her part.  Every time I tried to hold her, she would crane her neck to nurse and I couldn't do it.  I would then start crying and Ryan would try to console both of us.  This first week was an emotional roller coaster.  Nights seemed to be the worst.  I would wake up in the middle of the night to a crying baby and stumble downstairs to make a bottle.  I would then hand her over to Ryan because she still wouldn't take a bottle from me.  Apparently, I wasn't meeting her demands so she favored Ryan.  This broke my heart.  While he was feeding our baby, I was crying on the floor and pumping.
     I can't put into words the feelings that were going through me.  At times, the emotions were mild but at the worst the waves of depression were roaring.  Shortly after Lily's diagnosis, Ryan had to go back to work and Andrew & Chloe were back in school.  So the days were just me and my baby.  After a few days of taking the bottle, Lily would let me feed her.  It was still tough because she would try to first nurse and I would try to trick her by sliding the bottle into her mouth!  She's so smart because she never truly thought it was me.  She would push the bottle nipple out of her mouth, keep trying to nurse, and then finally give up and take the bottle.  At this time I wondered if I really could make it.  What helped was knowing that things could be worse and we were blessed with our daughter and her manageable diagnosis.
     I want to be honest in what I write but just to reminisce about these weeks is emotional.  It takes me back to a time that I don't want to experience again.  I was depressed.  I had never felt this emotion before.  I am a people pleaser, an optimist, a generally happy person.  However those adjectives were gone after Lily's diagnosis.  I can't blame it all on PKU though.  I had recently lost my job and  shortly afterwards we found ourselves pregnant with Lily.  Then to top it off, we had a daughter with special dietary needs.
     I don't want people to think that I am the type of person that revels in guilt and want people to feel sorry for me.  I'm not.  So that's what made my depression difficult to deal with.  I didn't want to admit that I was sad, worried, and having any problems coming to terms with our situation.  I didn't confide in my family that I was having thoughts that parents shouldn't have.  I was embarrassed that these scary feelings were flooding my body.  But that is what happened and no one should feel ashamed of any emotion or thought that they have.  What we need to do is admit it and find a way to move through.
     I knew that I would always want my Lily but I found myself wondering what ifs?  What if Lily didn't have PKU?  What if Lily wasn't born?  What if ....  I NEVER had thoughts of harming my daughter, but I did have thoughts about myself.  What if I hadn't lost my job, would Lily have been born?  What if I wasn't around, what would happen to my children?  These were just thoughts and nothing would come of them, but to have those thoughts scared the hell out of me.  I wondered if I could have these types of thoughts, what other thoughts did I have the potential of having.
     I would catch Ryan looking at me and I could see the look of concern on his face.  When I noticed this, I realized that things were starting to get worse.  I was home all day, yet couldn't find the energy to clean the house, put some laundry away, or even get out of my pajamas.  I would cry during the day at the simplest things.  I began to feel jealousy over so many petty things.  Suddenly, I was jealous of things that my sisters had, of my neighbor's outdoor fall decorations, of pretty much everything.  Yet, I had the sense to not tell anyone of my thoughts.  How does that work?  I knew that this was too much but I couldn't stop myself.  I would actually start to get mad at myself and feel guilty that I was jealous and at times hateful.
     Finally I hit rock bottom.  Ryan confronted me and said that he was worried about me.  He knew that our children were safe but I wasn't.  He hated seeing me so sad and hollow.  There were no emotions in my eyes, just emptiness.  He said "You put on a pretty show and can fool everyone else.  But you can't fool me anymore.  You need help and I'm not able to give it to you anymore."  What?  No way was I going to see a counselor.  My feelings were not to that point.  That's what I kept telling him.  But when I was alone and really thought about what I was feeling and that I was doing nothing with my life...I knew he was right.
     I found a support group for new mothers that met at a local hospital.  A few days later, I drove myself to the meeting.  I had finally found enough courage to admit that I was depressed and that I potentially needed some professional help.  When I arrived, no one was there!  Just when I discovered that I had the strength to ask for help no one was there to answer!  Typical.
     However just admitting all of this was the first step in the right direction.  I found another local support group for parents with special needs children.  I attended a meeting and left feeling better about myself and our family situation.  This meeting reaffirmed that things could definitely be worse and that I was not alone.
Thank you.

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