Monday, February 13, 2017

Hattie's Story ~ Part Two

My goal is to record all the details of Hattie's Story before her first birthday this June. 

Click to read Hattie's Story ~ Part One.

Thank you, Emily Townson, for sharing this image

Here's where I'm going to start being pretty candid. It's taken me a long time to work up to writing this post. I am terrified to share my story, but I think it needs to be shared. I am recording this for myself, for Hattie, and sharing it because it just might mean something to someone else.

I read a lot of blogs and follow a lot of inspiring women on Instagram. Even though I don't actually know most of these women, many of their posts have inspired or impacted me in one way or another. It's incredible to read someone else's words and realize that you aren't alone in how you are feeling during a particular season in your life. I hope that my story can do the same for someone else...

I'm just gonna tell it like it is… Pregnancy is hard, y'all. I feel like I was pretty prepared in what to expect, but I was not prepared for the way my mind and body reacted to all of the changes and emotions. Sometimes all the preparation in the world just isn't enough. Hattie was very much planned and very much wanted. We were over the moon excited when we realized she was on her way. I felt great at first and was hopeful that I'd be one of those people who had an easy pregnancy. Boy, was I wrong!

I found out I was pregnant at just about four weeks. Within a couple of weeks, I started getting really sick. I've always had gastrointestinal issues and didn't realize that pregnancy would exacerbate all of the issues I'd always had. I wish I could say that the morning sickness was the worst part of pregnancy for me, but it wasn't.

Soon after we found out

One morning when I was about six weeks pregnant, I woke up feeling off. I've described it to friends by saying I felt like I had hit a wall. These feelings literally came over night. Out. Of. Nowhere. I woke up feeling physically sick, exhausted, fearful, and most of all, very anxious. Anxiety is something I've dealt with my entire life, but this was very different. It was completely consuming.

I had my first doctor's appointment soon after and I've never been so worried in my entire life. It got worse and worse as my appointment got closer. I dreaded going to the doctor because I just knew something was going to be wrong with my baby. I was physically sick before and after my appointment. Even seeing that tiny little blob on the ultrasound didn't help. My anxiety grew worse every single day. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't even think straight.

Our tiny little sugar baby

I wish I could tell you that it got better, but it never really did. I will say that with every appointment, I felt a tiny bit of relief. I had only seen my OBGYN, Dr. Cauthen, a couple of times before my first prenatal appointment, so I didn't know her all that well. She recommended doing the elective genetic testing and we decided we would since she recommended it and since our insurance completely covered it. I'm glad we did because I can't imagine how stressed I would have been if we hadn't. Every appointment for the first half of my pregnancy included testing or receiving more test results. With every negative result, I felt a rush of relief and emotions, but the anxiety never truly went away.  

It's a tiny person!
The first time I noticed a "bump"

Chris knew that I was not feeling like myself. My family knew that I was not feeling like myself. My friends knew I was not feeling like myself. I knew that I was not feeling myself... But I didn't know what to do about it. Last week at my bible study we talked about how fear can overtake our lives. Beverly, who teaches our class, talked about how when we are in the midst of crisis, we always need someone in "our corner." I have a wonderful family and friends, but I wouldn't have survived without my incredible OBGYN and my sweet, sweet friend, Keshia. 

Zillions of text messages, crying over the phone, and pouring my heart out over chick-fil-a biscuits in Keshia's classroom kept me sane. She was in my corner and I will be forever indebted to her for that. No matter what you are going through, find your person. That person with whom you can bare your ugliest parts to without fear of judgement. We all need a Keshia in our life, y'all. 

My other person was Dr. Cauthen. Like I said, I didn't know her for long before I was pregnant. At my 12 week appointment I talked about how I was feeling for the first time. I felt such relief confiding in her and having her place her hand on my leg and reassure me. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be in love with your OBGYN. My practice operates differently from most other practices. You see your doctor the whole time, and they deliver your baby unless something unforeseen happens. No rotating doctors, thank goodness! I would not have made it without Dr. Cauthen. She made me feel normal when I felt like my world was falling apart. She was the calm in my storm.

My precious little goose

Of course I have to tell you about my precious husband. I could tell how worried he was about me. I could tell he had his own fears about becoming a father, but he never put his burdens on me. He went with me to appointments, he held me when I couldn't get out of bed, he kept the pantry stocked with graham crackers and sunny d, he listened to my fears over and over again without so much as batting an eye. He truly is my better half.

Pregnancy is supposed to be the happiest time of your life. I can't explain how it makes you feel when you are so paralyzed with fear for your unborn child that you cannot even bear to decorate their nursery. Please don't get me wrong - I DID want to be pregnant. I DID want my baby. I wanted her so badly that I couldn't function because I was so terrified something would happen to her. Knowing that she was growing in my womb and knowing that something could happen that I couldn't prevent consumed me. While I was pregnant I knew of someone who miscarried, knew of someone who had severe pregnancy complications, and knew of someone who learned their baby had passed at their last prenantal appointment... It was everywhere. I have never been so afraid in my entire life. 

"Comparison is the thief of joy." The hardest part of my perinatal anxiety was constantly comparing myself to other pregnant women. I would cry out to Jesus and wonder why I couldn't just be blissfully happy during this season of life like everyone else. I prayed more than I have ever prayed before. The more pregnant I became, the more I prayed. The more I talked about my feelings, the better I felt. Although, I never truly felt normal. No matter what I had doubts in the back of my mind. I was fearful that my doctor had missed something. That the ultrasound technician missed something. That something would show up at birth. 

The moment Hattie was born everything changed. The first time I held her in my arms I was overcome with peace. I knew we were going to be okay. It's taken me several months to come to terms with my feelings and to stop grieving for the pregnancy I wished I'd had. I've thought about it, prayed about it, talked about it, and now written about it. God uses everything for his glory, and I am thankful for every single thing that brought my sweet Hattie Jo to me. I'm happier than I've ever been and I'm closer to the Lord than I've ever been because of this experience.

You hear a lot about postpartum depression, but I had never heard of antepartum or perinatal mood disorders. I didn't realize until after Hattie was born that it was perinatal anxiety that caused me to feel the way I felt while I was pregnant. It can be caused by the hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy. I absolutely think mine was hormonal because it came about so suddenly, and didn't get better until Hattie was born. Thankfully, ppd is being talked about more and more. But what about those of us that suffered before our babies were born? We are fewer in number, but we need support just the same. 

Just like the quote at the top says,"I've been there and I'm here. You can always talk to me without judgement." 

It's okay to admit when you need help.

You are not alone. 

No matter what you are going through, you are not alone.

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