Monday, February 16, 2015

pregnancy after loss and coping with anxiety.

I've finally reached my third trimester.
I can't even begin to tell you how comforting it is to know that if something were to go wrong, baby girl would have a high chance of survival outside of the womb. 

This pregnancy has been a roller coaster of emotions. 
From the beginning, I've had the horrible pit in my stomach that something will go wrong.

It started after Olive's choking fiasco last year.
In those few minutes while she was unconscious, not breathing and David was about to start CPR, I thought for sure we had lost her.
It was a horrific feeling and I was truly traumatized by the incident. 

A few days later, we learned that we had lost the baby. 
I don't know if the two were connected. 
I try not to think too much into it but the thought has crossed my mind that the stress of everything was just too much for my body at the time. 
The emotional impact of those events affected me in ways I couldn't explain. 

When we conceived again so quickly, I could not relax. 
Every trip to the bathroom felt like a threat. 
My symptoms would waver and I'd wonder if once again, it would all end.  
Even after hearing the glorious sound of a heartbeat and seeing our precious miracle baby on an ultrasound, I still felt like I couldn't connect. 

Not only was I terrified of another failed pregnancy, but I was worried about losing Olive too. 
I literally spent my days watching her consume every bite of food. 
I'd yell at David for not breaking up her meals small enough. 
Hearing her gag or cough from another room would send me into full on panic mode. 
I'd dream about dead disfigured babies and  wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air, heart racing, not being able to catch my breath. 
Flashbacks of Olives lifeless body would consume my thoughts. 

I didn't understand what was going on with me. 

I didn't realize that I was literally crippling myself with fear. 

The day before our big 20 week ultrasound, I totally lost control. 
I sobbed for hours, my body wouldn't stop shaking. 
I didn't know why I felt like something HAD to be wrong with our little baby. 
I couldn't push away the negative thoughts.
Was this normal?!

After a perfectly normal ultrasound and finding out baby was a girl, I felt myself start to relax a little. 
We named her and I finally felt like I could bond. 
I started to feel better about things. 

But then, another Olive scare and things went downhill. 
She went unconscious and had a full body seizure. 
I was once again on the phone with 911, totally hysterical, screaming for them to send help. 
I remember telling David that I couldn't handle the stress anymore, It was too much for me. 

A few days after the incident on Christmas eve last year, I was taken to the hospital via ambulance. 
I was fine one second then all the sudden my heart started racing.
I couldn't catch my  breath and my face and limbs were going numb. 
I thought something terrible was wrong. 
was the baby ok? 
I couldn't settle down. 

We couldn't catch a break, how could this be happening!? 

After negative tests for a heart attack and blood clot the ER. Dr asked me if i've ever had a anxiety attack. 
An anxiety attack?
I thought I was dying. 
Surely it had to be more than that. 

In my mind, anxiety attacks weren't a real thing.
Only something made up by crazy people. 
They gave me a sedative, a sleeping pill, told me to contact my Dr. for a follow up and sent me on my way. 

I made an appointment with my Dr and unloaded everything I had been thinking, feeling and experiencing the last few months. 
He told me everything I was experiencing was very real. 
That after traumatic events including miscarriage and near death expierecnes of a child on top of all the chemical and hormonal changes that come with being pregnant again, was enough to cause post traumatic stress disorder. 
He told that he has grown me rolling on the floor thinking they were having a heart attack but it was actually an anxiety attack. 
I was relieved that my feelings we being validated and that I wasn't crazy for having the physical reactions that I did. 

We talked about the variety of options there was available to help me. 
After research and personal prayer we chose a route that we felt was best for me and the baby. 

Things got harder before they got better. 
The entire Christmas break I felt completely disconnected from my body.
I was terrified to be left alone with the babies. 
What if something happened to them, or to me and I couldn't get help?
Literally anything and everything at that time could send me into another full blown anxiety attack. 

It has been a trying couple months. 
David and my parents were so supportive of me as I began to work through everything. 
I remember when David went back to work and I'd start to feel panicky, I'd pick up the phone and call my Dad.
He would spend hours just talking to me and it really helped distract my mind so I could start to calm down. 
I'm so grateful for their love and understanding. 

I'm so glad I got help. 
Anxiety is a real thing. 
The feelings and physical reactions are very real.
I'd hope that anyone going through something similar would feel comfortable enough to reach out to someone else for help. 

At this point in time, I feel a lot better. 
A whole lot better! 
I still have "panicky" moments here and there but now I feel like I've been given the tools to help control it. 
Being able to feel baby girl move consistently has been a huge comfort. 
I can't wait to hold her in my arms.  
I still watch Olive like a hawk when she eats but I feel more comfortable letting her try bigger bites and more confident in letting other people watch her while she's eating. 

Another thing that have helped me cope with anxiety is staying active.
Going to Crossfit and taking the kids on walks multiple times a week has been so wonderful.
Crafting has also been extremely invaluable to the healing process. 
I learned quickly that keeping my hands busy while creating beautiful things really benefits me by keeping my mind off the negatives. 
Being able to make things for my baby girl has brought me closer to her as well. 

I can't say that I am appreciative of this trial, but it has really brought things into perspective.
I've learned that I am stronger than I ever thought and that life isn't meant to get through on your own.
I'm so grateful for my Father in Heaven and for the people He has placed in my life. 
I couldn't do it without them. 


Valerie Braun said...

Dude, anxiety attacks are no joke! I thought I was paralyzed once when my legs went numb! ( actually, you probably overheard a few on the other side of the bathroom wall... Haha) I'm so sorry you've been going through that. There's probably so much pressure as a mom to be cool as a cucumber all the time but you are still human! Hang in there momma bear! You were chosen to be these babies momma for a reason.

Angie Center said...

Jessica, that was beautifully written. Thank you for sharing a piece of your heart with me. I love you!

E&K said...

Love this. I can only imagine how scary all of that stuff with Olive would have been! On top of everything else. So glad you are doing better.

Also...not gonna lie, I noticed in your cross fit photo how perky your behind is... and I'm a little jealous. I need to be doing that! Mine has gotten.... soft this pregnancy haha. And I'm dying to know, is that a blanket with her name embroidered on it? Whatever it is, it looks beautiful.

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