Heather was one of the first mom friends I ever made. We connected through baby center message boards and became part of a very small support group for young mothers. That group got me through some very difficult times and they are still my go to girls when things get hard. It's so important to have people to talk to because motherhood can be a very isolating job. Here is Heather's story of feeling alone in one of the hardest transitions a woman goes through, and why its so important to reach out.
It was July 2008 and I had just met this boy that I thought was pretty cute. He was "dating" another server but it was an open kind of thing so I pursued him. One month later we were official. And just two weeks after that, on a whim at 2am - we left Maryland all I had ever known and ran away to Orlando, Fl where he was from.
Within a few weeks of arriving in Orlando, I found myself 4 weeks pregnant. I considered all of my options but decided that at 21 and almost finished with college - I could do this.
It started right from the beginning. I was only 2 months pregnant and already severely sick. I was trying to work because we needed the money but I was so sick, it wasn't happening. I was given some medication and told that I should try to NOT work because of how sleepy it would make me.
Eventually months 3-6 came and went and I thought I was finally going to enjoy my pregnancy. I was 900 miles away from all that I knew - friends, family, where I grew up. My boyfriend at the time was an only child with a mother who worked full time, so I was pretty alone. At 26 weeks pregnant, I started to bleed heavily and spent a week in the hospital. Alone. My boyfriend tried to be there but with no paid time off, he had to work.
After 1 week of the hospital, getting extremely sick and starting pre-term labor, they sent me home on strict bedrest which lasted for TWELVE weeks until I delivered at 38 weeks.
Those 12 weeks were HARD. It was HOT in Orlando. I was alone and I hated everything! My boyfriend was working 12+hour days at the Hard Rock Cafe as a cook (Universal Studios so imagine hours and hours of wait time, he was there FOREVER). He was also 24, turning 25. We had only known each other for a month before we got pregnant. Things were ROUGH. We were barely pulling $600 a paycheck and my parents insurance dropped me since I wasn't a student anymore. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I was group B positive (allergic to penicillin so that was fun) and a slew of other issues.
I was done. DONE. I hated my life. I hated what had become of me. This person sitting on the couch for weeks on end depending on this man I barely knew. He wanted to hang with friends and live just a bit more before the baby came.
At my 38 week appt, my blood pressure would not go down and I was immediately sent to the hospital to be induced. We were alone. My parents couldn't find the time to come down and my sister was too afraid to fly so again, we were alone. I remember sitting in the hospital waiting room just....screaming internally. HOW did this happen?! How did I get pregnant by accident and end up here?! All I wanted was my mom.
At 2pm my Pitocin was started. I finally delivered at 807am the next morning on April 22, 2009. We immediately knew something was wrong. He was not making a sound. I instinctively screamed, "spank him! do something! make him make a noise!! please!!!" as he was whisked off to the NICU.
Aspen had to stay in the NICU for 15 days with needles in places I couldn't handle. I had to go home without him and cried myself to sleep for nights on end. My boyfriend, his dad, didn't know WHAT to do and rarely came to the hospital. For days I went every hour I could, pleading for my breasts to dry up the milk that had only come on 1 side so I wouldn't have this reminder that my baby wasn't with me. I had been off my anxiety meds since I found out I was pregnant and found myself suffering from panic attacks within days of his arrival.
When he finally got home, his dad had to go right back to work and on Aspens first night home, I was again alone. He had to take medicine every 3-4 hours, switching up what he took depending on the time. Luckily his dad and I had "opposite" schedules - I was up all day, he would stay up through the night and let me sleep.
It came to a head when Aspen was 2 weeks old. I was tired of it all. Not knowing I was suffering from PPA and PPD. Not knowing WHAT to do because I couldn't really ask my mother for help. His mother would come, take aspen long enough to be in between feedings and changes and bring him home to me hungry and wet. I packed our stuff one night after another fight. Booked a flight home to Maryland and took my 4 weeks old on a plane.
He had no idea we left. I was not ok. My body was reeling and my parents fed into my instability. Convincing me his father was bad news and I needed to get away. Sure, maybe his dad wasn't the best but I was not ok. I was making this irrational decisions - my boy had just gotten out of the NICU and I was flying all over the east coast.
I eventually came back home after his dad broke down and I realized what I had done. I immediately found a clinic that would take me for free, walked me and Aspen into there and got the help I needed. My medicine dosage was upped and therapy started.
It took me a full year to not only lose the baby weight but to feel normal. Some scoffed at the time it took - but I'm glad it took that long. I was able to grow comfortable with my body and with how I looked and felt now.
Its been a long almost 8 years. I've gained more weight, we decided to not have more children because of all of Aspen's disabilities and it makes me question my sanity daily - did I do something wrong? Was I the cause of his impairments? Am I the reason why he's so severe? I thought I did everything right but in the end....that doesn't always work out in our favor.
I just wanted to put my story out there. Shit was rough. People fed into my instability and it only made me more irrational. Had I known what PPA and PPD was, I don't think I would have hopped on a plane with a 4 week old in the middle of the night. We need to talk about this more! It took me weeks to realize I was OK. That there wasn't anything wrong with me. That my body had changed. Women are not alone. We are and should be here for each other.
If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression please reach out and get help
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