Continuing with our series on having postpartum depression after multiples, today we welcome Warrior Mom Ashley, who describes her terrible postpartum anxiety and OCD after having twins. Even though I’ve never had multiples, I relate so closely to her story because I had the same kind of intrusive thoughts she did, bombarding my brain nonstop.
When I was six weeks along with my first pregnancy I had horrible cramping. The doctor sent me for my first ultrasound. I ventured all by myself, excited to see my baby for the first time. I laid there watching as the ultrasound tech displayed a picture of my uterus with two tiny little blips. Two, two babies!, when my husband and I thought we could barely afford one. I started hyperventilating, convinced my husband would divorce me. He took the news better than I did. I had a pretty great twin pregnancy, but I was scared. I worried constantly … what if they had to spend time in the NICU? What if I lost one? What if?
I delivered via C-section at 37 weeks and six days. My beautiful girls were perfect and big and roomed in with us right from the beginning. I had trouble feeding them and I remember being in tears, convinced that I was starving my children. That was only the beginning. They released us from the hospital and I took my babies home. I don’t remember much of that day, I was in pain, tired, my body wrecked. I’ve read that day four can be the worst post-baby hormone crash. I ended the day sobbing in the bathroom because my mother-in-law was going to go home and leave us with these tiny people. I decided I was the worst mother ever; I would never be able to tell my fraternal daughters apart. What if I got them confused? What if they went through life with the wrong name? These fears were only the beginning.
We got no sleep. I lived in a world of regret. What had I done to myself? I destroyed my life, destroyed my marriage, and would never sleep again. I would never get to go out and be me. I would only be mommy to these tiny little people. Why would anyone ever want to do this? When my husband went back to work they slept better but I was left with them alone all day. We didn’t leave the house; it was an endless cycle of feed, sleep, feed, sleep. I started having horrible intrusive thoughts. I would picture myself carrying a baby and falling down the stairs. Or going down and putting a baby in the freezer when I went to get dinner out. I pictured them getting hit by a car when I set one car seat down to get the other out of the car. I feared putting them to bed at night, worried that I would find them not breathing. I checked obsessively, it had to be the last thing I did before I went to sleep. I refused to bathe them by myself, worried I would drown one. These postpartum intrusive thoughts sent me further down and I started imagining running my car off the road. My desire to live was smothered by this feeling that being a mom wasn’t meant for me. I was a horrible parent; I couldn’t be trusted with my daughters.
I went back to work with a feeling of elation and fear. I was thrilled to be back and at the same time terrified that something would happen to my babies. What if I hadn’t picked a safe daycare? When my girls started crawling I hit an all-time low. I was worried they would find something on the floor to choke on, that they would find something and harm themselves. I baby proofed and baby proofed. My husband made fun of me because I baby proofed places the babies couldn’t even get to. My breaking point was the panic attacks. I had full fledge, couldn’t breathe panic attacks at work and then one day when we ordered pizza I was convinced the delivery guy would call CPS because my floors were too dirty.
Then I found Postpartum Progress. I had tried talking to my OB and they were no help. My babies were six months before I sought help. I started seeing a therapist and taking medication. It helped so much, not right away but once we got my meds balanced and on the right kind I was me again. I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD. I recovered, and went from having planned my suicide to becoming a mom a third time. This time around I haven’t had any symptoms and have been able to stop taking my meds. My baby is 8 months old and my twins are four now. It took work and three years but my life is so much better.