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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

a mommy's story - Melissa Sargent - PPD and permanent birth control

Melissa Sargent, beautiful mama to 5 precious ones, explains her terrifying experience into the dark world of depression. As part of our Confessions of Mama Guilt series, I appreciate Melissa's courage to share this, something many would hide away from. I know other moms struggle with dark days, and even if you have not experienced Post Partum Depression (PPD) or similar feelings, I am sure you have experienced worry, anxiety and sadness from time to time and can relate to the guilt that stems from those. Thank you again, Melissa, you are so brave and MUST be a great mama.

What a beautiful family... ! 
Can you say perfect family photo? Giving credit to the photographer Erin Moore at Mercy Street Studio.

(All photos from Melissa Sargent)

"Oh, you’ve got this! You’re a pro!”
Those were the last words that I remember my midwife saying to me as I left her office. I kinda felt it too. 

This was baby number five, and it had become second nature to bring another little one into the flock. 

Breastfeeding was going well, or as well as it does without having much sleep for that past however many years I had been having babies, and two of my little ones were at such a helpful age.

(um, isn't that the most adorable baby bump and beautiful glowing mama you've ever seen?!)

My husband and I struggled with the decision about permanent birth control. 
Just a year prior we had decided to be done expanding the family and went for a consult, but then two weeks later found out #5 was on the way. With the advice of friends, we waited to do anything permanent until after the safe arrival of the baby. 

Even still, before having #5 I made him promise to not talk about anything final until the baby was at least 1 year old. I know me, and I knew that hormones are so difficult and unreliable after a baby that I thought it was best to wait until my head was clearer to make a final decision.

Well, he kept bringing it up, and pushing to get it done so no more “accidents” happened, and I finally conceded. I was great! I was so proud of myself for being so clear headed and matter-of-fact about it all. 

I mean, c’mon! We’ve had 5 wonderfully healthy children. It’s okay to be done!
The drive home from the clinic after his procedure was a blur. WHO IS THIS MAN NEXT TO ME?? I thought. HOW COULD HE DO THIS TO ME? HE PROMISED WE WOULD WAIT A YEAR BEFORE DECIDING!!
I hated him. Not just a bit, but a LOT. We pulled into the driveway, he hobbled inside, and I backed out of the driveway and left.
After much sobbing at a dear friend’s house I returned home. I still truly hated him. I felt so betrayed. Days and days went by of ignoring him, muttering through to take care of the children, and weeping uncontrollably. 

One evening I found myself in a CVS parking lot crying to my midwife about what had happened. She prescribed Zoloft and a follow-up phone counseling session a few days after to see how I was. 

The Zoloft was a miracle drug. I could not believe how quickly it helped. Things at home began returning to normal, but then it happened.
I have to take drugs in order to be the wife and Mom I was used to being???

Needless to say, the guilt didn’t help the depression. It started to snowball again and I could feel myself hating not only my husband, but myself! Depression swept in like a tsunami. There was no warning. There was NOTHING I could do to make it go away. I felt helpless, hopeless, and suicidal. It was the scariest thing I have ever been through.

It took my dear friend, once again, to point out to me that I AM a good wife, and a great mom. It doesn’t matter what is needed in order to be those things, but what matters is that I love my husband and children with everything I am and will not let anything take that away from me. 

She was amazing. I can’t even tell you how much I repeated her words over and over to myself throughout the day to get through.

I think the thing that upset me the most is that fertility, for a woman, is so short, and you can never get this time back once it's gone. I've had 4 babies in 5 years, and in some way that really helped define me as a mom and woman. Time has really helped me get past the desire for more, as the baby is now 19 months, has such a strong-will, and is into EVERYTHING!! With the other children, the "baby" was only 8 to 10 months old when I got pregnant, so by the time said "baby" reached the difficult toddler stage I had a newborn to snuggle and help remind me how precious my children are.

Another thing that helped was being completely honest with my husband and knowing he was equally as upset with the hastiness of having a vasectomy. (He has offered numerous times to have a reversal, and even went as far to secure a loan for it, and ANY man who is willing to have someone go "there" with knives TWICE is an amazing man in my book!)

Depression is a tricky little liar. 
It tricks you into thinking and believing things that aren't true or real. It makes you feel hopeless, misunderstood, alone. It leaves you guilty. You are NOT alone. Women are speaking about depression more publicly now than ever before. We are numerous, hiding in our homes, pulling away from friends and family, drowning in a sea of emotions.

You are NOT alone.
There are many medicines to offer help, but I suggest it with caution. All of them are addictive and have many, many unrecorded withdrawal symptoms that for most bring worse highs and lows than anything you were going through before. Be aware of it and make sure you have someone with whom you are completely honest with as you journey to healing.

Also, know your triggers. For me, it was often the way my husband would answer a simple question and, although I knew I was being irrational with my response, I couldn't control it. I would make sure to go to him later and apologize and reassure him that it was the depression taking hold of me, and not me, and I love him and am working hard to get better. When I asked him this morning if that helped things he said "Absolutely. It reminded me that you love me and that you didn't WANT to be like this. It gave me hope that things would be good between us again."

I haven't completely come to the conclusion that we are done growing our family. We are talking more seriously these days about adoption. We are on this earth for such a short time, and we have been blessed with so much by simply living in a free country. Why wouldn't we share that with a child/children who have nothing - who's whole world wouldn't even fill a grocery bag? Children who would never have a family otherwise? 
 I admire honesty more than anything in mom friends. Thank you, Melissa, this takes bravery to write to complete strangers. You are one strong momma. 

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