Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How Being a Breastfeeding Nazi Saved My Life

A neighbour with two babies died in a car accident two days ago, and her babies (3 and 10 months) escaped the crash with only minor injuries because of their car seats. I have been making myself feel better *knowing* that she is thinking from heaven - "thank you God for sparing my babies" - and then sobbing because those babies lost their mommy, and then I automatically wonder if she was nursing them and cry even more.

Over at Frog and Toad Are Still Friends http://frogandtoadarestillfriends.blogspot.com/ Beck wrote about her near death experience (no come into the light stuff, stuff on understaffed rural Ontario hospitals and the colour her pee was, and her utter detachment from the whole thing at the time).

It got me thinking about my own near death experience...

I had postpartum psychosis after Wild Thing was born. I was bona fide suicidal.

I'd had postpartum depression in the past, so I was already "medicated" as a precaution and I think being on an SSRI actually made it worse because I wasn't an emotional basket case. I was coldly calculating. I actually used the internet to research the best possible way to kill myself so that not only would I definitely die (albeit slowly), but my kids would not be traumatized by the actual act with finding me dead or anything. I was counting on kidney and liver failure.

Thankfully, I had this *inkling* that maybe my meds weren't up to snuff. For some reason there's some societal taboo about suicide.

So I asked my mom to take me to the doctor. We dropped the older kids off with a friend and took the baby with us. Once there I told her I thought I needed more medication and calmly told her my plans. She looked, more than a little worried and insisted I go immediately - under my mother's care - to the emergency room. So we did.

At the ER they do their little triage questionnaire and I explained why I was there and they sent me out to the waiting room with an enormous linebacker of an orderly to watch over me and my mom. He outweighed the two us combined by at least 20 kilos and he wasn't smiling. I got the feeling that I was not going to be allowed to leave. "Whatever" I thought, and nicknamed him "Lurch".

Then they put me and my mom in a private examination room and we waited forever for the on duty psychiatrist to see me. I was in good enough spirits to joke with my mom about the wisdom of leaving a suicidal person in a room with a bucket of used sharps.

Hours later the psychiatrist shows up, a forensic psychiatrist. You know the ones that figure out the mental stability of axe murderers. There was no hand holding or sympathy coming from this guy. I explained again, my predicament and my plan and he said "Okay we're admitting you" and asked my mom if she was taking the baby home with her.


I piped up "When the postpartum depression clinic was at the Queensway Carleton the baby stayed with you"

"Not here, we just put you in the general psych ward, and that is no place for a baby"

And off he went.

This was the first time I'd really felt any emotion in all of this (depression isn't an emotion - its a state of being where nothing matters at all, more like realizing you have no soul) I wasn't worried about my mom looking after the baby. BUT WHO WOULD FEED HIM?????????? He was NOT getting fed formula!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I started planning my escape, baby tucked under arm like a football. Will mom be on my side, or will she sound the alarm? How agile will I need to be to outmaneuver Lurch?

I started crying, quietly at first, and then more and more hysterically. Until that point, I think I "passed" as a sane person who could have been in the ER because of a broken finger. Now I was a shreiking wailing banshee.

A nurse came to ask me if I was okay and assurred me no one was going to take my baby from me, but I knew she was lying.

Eventually I simply wore myself out and sat there in a little puddle.

The psychiatrist came back.

I weakly tried to say I was not going to leave my baby. He needed to nurse.

He countered sternly with "Well if you're dead he's not going to be nursing is he?"

Don't try and confuse me with logic man!

I started crying again. My mother at some point offered that I could stay with her and she and the psychiatrist went over every possible thing I could kill myself with at her house and she promised not to let me near them.

Then he sent me off with her with a follow up visit the next day and...I think they were horse tranquillizers that passed the Hale's lookup.

For two weeks I didn't comb my hair. I don't remembering showering, and my mom cut up my food and hid the knives. It was a big drug fog. All I remember was staring at Wild Thing for hours, he was the most fascinating thing on the planet.

And then I felt better.

But ever since there's been this dark ..."afterthought"... that's remained. I used to have a few "BUT I MIGHT DIE!!!" phobias, like driving in the fog, heights, answering the telephone if I didn't know who was on the other end. It erased my phobias (except for the one about fish).

There's a creepy calm acceptance that yeah, someday I will die, and then beneath that, worry about my kids and Papa Pan, and what will happen to them if I'm gone.


monkey said...

thank you for sharing this. thank you.

MamaAngel said...

I really appreciate your honesty, thank you for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

What I remember from the conversation with the COLD psychiatrist are his questions and my answers:

Do you have guns in your house?
Hell, no.

Everyone has knives.

And then ... She will be absolutely safe at my place.

And of course you were.

And Wild Thing was a lovely wild thing who shared our bed while Nature Girl slept on dog pillows next to us ... and I didn't even have a dog yet!

KEM said...

Thank you for sharing, Mudmama.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for telling us this. I suffered from severe depression and when I took SSRIs I turned into a raving suicidal lunitic. When I went off the SSRIs I was a different person, no longer suicidal and full of regret that I'm not. I don't think I can ever recover.