Fast forward to the summer when two major life changes happened. We were told the apartment was up for sale (we didn’t mind, the neighbourhood had changed and drug deals happened there often) and I quickly became pregnant with our second. Knowing my history I went with a midwife for this second baby. We bought a home in a new town and I thought things couldn’t be better. It was around week 12 of my pregnancy (which had been tough from the start) that I felt the familiar creep of anxiety. For anyone that’s ever dealt with it, I think the best way to describe it for me, is like this little tiny dark cloud that grows, and grows. It feels almost as if this black sheet creeps towards you until your mind matches the colour of it and you can’t see anything positive. It wasn’t always that dramatic, but more often than not, it was. Thankfully after hiding it for another month or two, my midwife noticed what I had been trying to hide. I was isolated again, unable to do anything I used to do. I was sad all of the time and struggled to get out of bed or interact with my eldest. I worried about this baby. We had found out she was a girl and were ecstatic (I had prayed hard for a sister for my Grace as I never had one) but I couldn’t stop the fear from overtaking the joy. What if she was colicky like her sister, what if I can’t nurse her, what if, what if, what if. I began to drown in these thoughts. Often crying whenever I thought about what I had “done” to our family. How I had ruined our trio by wanting a second child. These thoughts overtook me and my midwife quickly referred me to our local mental health unit for prenatal counselling. In this I met the sweetest, most sincere counsellor. She knew exactly what to say, how to empower me and lift me up. She understood my medication fears and tried to work around that angle, using breathing and mantras to try and ease my burden. Did it work? Not often. I think I was too far gone and probably needed an IV of whatever medication they wanted me to take but it did take some of the guilt off. She told me I was a good mom, therefore it couldn’t be all a lie could it?
I saw her weekly until two weeks before I delivered Poppy. I remember her calling two weeks after Poppy was born and we scheduled a follow up appointment. She was leaving the Health Unit and wanted to say goodbye/ensure that I was ok. It was shortly after that phone call that Poppy came down with a fever at 19 days old and we were admitted to Abby Hospital.
Babies have a funny way of changing you. They make you wiser, more mature, but they also expose your heart. They allow the rawness that you hide deep down inside to surface and if necessary, bubble over. My sweet newborn had developed sepsis from a missed bladder infection. It was ruled her kidney was to blame and we would be admitted for several days while the antibiotics did their thing. It was awful and nearly broke my husband and I but we did it and thought we came out stronger. For a person who has a severe fear of germs and hospitals, I did pretty well. Good even. I wandered our unit, made friends with the nurses, and probably even stopped washing my hands 10x more than I needed to (but I never completely stopped, let’s be real). It was exactly a month later when it occurred again. Poppy was readmitted, this time for a bowel problem and admitted for 5 days. This time I didn’t handle it as well. We had returned home previously and although I thought I was doing ok, that black cloud seemed to follow me. I would stare at Poppy at night wishing I didn’t have her. I held her out of obligation. I would kiss her robotically. I mostly wished I could run away and leave them all. I can’t quite explain the feeling but it’s best described as numbness. I was this person who looked like I always did (with a few more sags and stretch marks) but whoever had been inside of me was long gone. I contemplated suicide. I dreamily planned out where and how I could do it, never getting to the point of actually picturing myself going through with it, but romanced the idea of what life would be like without me. You see if I was gone my husband could remarry, perhaps someone who didn’t have PPD/PPA, or who couldn’t have children. She would love my babies, nurture them, take them to the mall, the park or even that disgusting fruit named kiddy play place that I couldn’t bring myself to take them too (and still haven’t honestly. I want too, just can’t). I dreamed that my girls would grow up with a mom who didn’t have to wash her hands constantly, who would let them at least touch the random toys at the store or allow them to be the wild babies they are at times. I never even entertained the thought that this woman who would take over would be cruel or unkind. She was always this sweet and loving, fearless image of who I wanted to be.