Thursday, March 1, 2012

Not a Moment too Soon

I am 24 years old.  Up until today I have been taking my medications and nursing my newborn daughter.  She is four months old now.  Yesterday my husband and I were at the hospital with her after he picked her up and she was limp- her skin a pallid blue color.  She has always been a sparrow- thin and lanky with a tiny chirp of a cry.  I can't imagine how I would have known that the drugs that I take for panic attacks and psychosis would do this to her.  The doctors at the hospital where she was born gave me the medications and permitted me to carry on. 

In the hospital, she receives care for her overdosed condition.  I get a referral to a psychiatrist since neonatal professionals admit that they are unclear about prescribing such drugs to nursing mothers.  I am so deadened by the massive amounts of tranquilizers in my system that I can only see a strange pyscho-televised version of myself mourning this tragedy in some recess of my anesthetized mind.  My child could have perished and I was too drugged to know it. 

One thing is for sure, I will have to stop nursing.  It will take  many months to ween off of the medications that were so easy to depend on for my stupefied sanity.  I am dead set on pumping my milk so that I can one day soon put my sweet baby to my breast again.  Hours spent like this, holding my daughter close, are the moments when everything feels groggy, yet crystalline- touched, yet harmonious.  This duality is as close as I have come to authentic bliss in a very long time.

My husband, my daughter and I learn how to use a bottle.  As always, she is not fussy.  She eats heartily and I wonder if perhaps I had been leaving her hungry all this time.  My guilt is an appendage since the hospital visit.  Many times, while my husband feeds her, I use the electric pump to extract the poison from my body.  When I am empty, I hold the bottle to feel its warmth and hope that with time I will bond with my daughter again and she too will remember.  

That day never comes- at least not by means of those exquisite moments of eye contact and wandering little hands while my baby takes life from my breast.  My doctor has told me that I am too sick to stop taking the medications.

My daughter is cooing at her father as I pump.   I stand over the sink in my usual daze for the last time.  I cry a tear for every drop that runs like a tiny tributary toward the drain.  I will never bring my daughter to my breast again.  Another new beginning that had felt like a steady and beautiful thing has come and gone, all in the name of this demon that now demands of me to be its host.  So far, not a thing I have touched has not also been touched my my stepfather.  And so far, hating him has not changed any of that.


In 1994, Post-partum mental disorders were just beginning to gain recognition. Clearly there was not enough education around how to treat it and how to help new parents with this malicious disease.  In my case, it seems obvious now that one just plain and simple does not nurse while on some medications.  It was only after some very tragic cases concerning new mothers killing their beloved children that medical professionals started to put a name to Post-partum mental disorders.  Then, Brooke Shields wrote a book about her experience and so many women recognized her plight that the demand for answers simply had to be recognized in a measurable way.

A couple of years after I had my daughter I wrote to the prescribing doctor at the hospital where my daughter was born. I asked him to answer to the negligence of sending me home with class C and D medications as a nursing mother. His response was simply that psychiatry was not a part of his job. 

Thankfully, awareness of symptoms of PPD and PPP ( Psychosis) as well as treatment are a part of obstetric care these days. 

If you are struggling with dis-ease as you make your way through the puzzling maze that parenting anew can be, please have a look at "Safely Returned" and "Demons".   There are links after those stories. Here are more:

Post-partum mood disorder overview and links

Post-partum Anxiety Disorders

A lot of info about Post-partum Depression

Well informed and written info about the illusive Post-partum Psychosis

Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, PTSD, Anxiety, Self-harm, Cutting, Depression, Survivor, Survivor of childhood abuse, Postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, OCD, Recovered memories, Repressed memories, Spousification, Stockholm Syndrome, Suicide, Teen Suicide, bullying, drug abuse, incest, memoir


  1. "...hating him has not changed any of that." As heart-wrenching as this story is, I find *that* to be the most powerful line of them all. Tell me more.

  2. More about this time or more stories? :)

    1. More about transcending the "hate" impulse. Well, maybe not transcending exactly... reframing. Transforming. You tell ME what verb is correct there!

  3. The words might be more akin to doing whatever was necessary to survive each insane stage of my life because of him. Like grief has stages, I suspect each survivor goes through or gets stuck. For me it was sadness ( Stockholm Syndrome and all), a burst of homicidal anger ( there is a story here), compassion and desire to understand, a degree of forgiveness followed by the realization that i do not forgive him, I pity him. I am a curious person and asking questions and confronting was huge in terms of quelling my rage. I don;t have it in me to sustain hatred, it is so consuming. I did my best to make sure that he was never allowed around other children( I called perspective dates and neutrally let them know what he did to me and asked them to be aware of the children in their lives). Other than that I simply uninvited him from my psyche. It took me 20 years of utter ruin to get to that place, but here I am. I kicked him out - I think that is verbiage!

  4. First I have to comment on your last comment, "I kicked him out," that is such a great way to put it. I love that. I still have some kicking out to do in my own mind.

    I am so sorry that you weren't able to wean off the medication so you could breastfeed. Even these years later I feel your sadness.

    I suffered from PPD after my daughter was born. Even then (eight years ago) with so much more known about it, people who hadn't experienced it didn't really understand. It is a hard thing.

    1. Hi Tracie,
      Yup- we are all welcome to make decisions that our culture says we aren't supposed to. We can't always make people go away, but we can disregard who and how they are in our minds. Something that has been so instrumental in my life is realizing that WE HAVE CHOICES. In fact we are solely responsible for leading our lives regardless of what hand is dealt to us.

      I am STILL on Klonopin! I don't need it! This summer I will work with a Naturopath to ween off safely.

      I am sorry that you had an experience with PPD. It is just not talked about enough at all. Postpartum care should extend at lease a month after birth. I hope you are doing well now- though i would understand if you were still struggling. Sometimes it can take a long time for things to turn around. My love and light go out to you.

  5. Hi, I hope you don't mind me adding this story. I heard it just this morning, and it seemed so appropriate.

    "There was this blind old wise man that lived in a tiny village. It seemed that he could answer any question that was posed at him. One day this boy with a bird in his hand figured he could out smart the wise old man. He said, "Old man in my hand is a bird. Is it alive or dead?". The old man was quiet. The boy asked again, "Old man in my hand is a bird. Is it alive or dead?" Still the old man said nothing. The boy for the third time asked again, "Old man in my hand is a bird. Is it alive or dead?" Then the old man gave his answer. If I say it is alive you will crush it and it will be dead. If I say it is dead, then you will open your hands and let it fly away. The fate of the bird is in your hands. Much like our life, it is in our hands."

    1. I Love this story. It should be told more often. Thank you. <3

  6. "His response was simply that psychiatry was not a part of his job." This is outrageous - and also part of the problem of medicalising distress. When did normal human reaching out to people become only the province of specialists. If he'd taken time to observe the situations of his patients, he might have realised that he needed to understand some other way of looking at the problem. The training of medics needs to include the idea that patients are also people, not just symptoms. J

  7. It was absolutely outrageous. There was no need for any of it to happen- the birth being so traumatic in the name of "natural birth", to the way i was "handled" after. Many a letter was sent. I think that after that, the hospital which i attended did start to take notice. Thank God.
    You are brilliant and I love your insights. Thank you for sharing. <3