Humor is also a way of saying something serious. - T. S. Eliot

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I'd Like to Return These Babies Please Part I

I left the twins' bands on for a few days after bringing them home from the hospital. 

I've often left the tags on my new clothes in case I needed to return them out of guilt of spending money on myself or a change of mind.  I've even worn clothes with the tags on.  You know, just in case...

In a sleep-deprived, depressed, and anxious state, I left the twins' hospital bands on in case... well, in case I needed to return them. 

The Switch

A switch had flipped in my head the week before the twins were born.  "What if they come and I don't want them?"  I was testing Dave. 

"Of course you will want them," he had told me. 

He didn't know that already I didn't think I wanted them.  I wanted everything to go away. 

26 1/2 Weeks of Isolation 

I had spent weeks 8-20 on bed rest confined to my home.  Morning sickness had wasted me away to 98 pounds.

Finally able to keep food down, I went back to work part-time for 4 weeks.

Weeks 24 through 38 1/2  were spent on the couch.  I saw Dave for a couple hours in the evening, then we slept separately.

I was lonely. 

The majority of my time was spent with unchecked worry of losing 2 more babies in this high risk pregnancy.  Often, I literally couldn't breathe partly due to anxiety, partly due to two babies squishing my lungs.

What About Me?

If we don’t take care of mothers, they can’t take care of their babies.” –Jeanne Driscoll

By week 37, nurse practitioners and staff at the perinatology office recommended to my MALE doctor that the twins be delivered due to my severe discomfort and distress.


Finally, the day of the planned c-section arrived and we set off to the hospital.  The moment the babies cried for the first time was surreal.  I literally breathed a sigh of relief.  They were safe.  They were alive.  I will never forget their first cry, nor the literal and figurative feeling of weight being taken off my chest and the ability to breathe once more.

Relief overcame me.

In recovery, I was losing vast amounts of blood and within moments of needing a transfusion.  The babies nurse kept coming in telling my nurse "The babies are hungry, can we bring them in to be fed?"

My nurse kept telling her that I was unstable -- physically.  And I kept thinking, "God! They just came out!  They are hungry already? Can't I get a break?!"  I was annoyed to put it lightly.  I didn't care to see them. I was glad they were here -- safe -- now someone else take them. I've done my job, put in my time, and I need a moment to breathe. 

Wait!  Don't Just Leave Them!

Finally stable -- physically -- they wheeled my bed to a large corner room at the end of the hall.  We would reside there for four days.  When I looked over, once my bed was set, there were two bassinets of babies settled beside me.  The nurse left. 

I was angry.  Resentful.  I'm still heavily drugged, I am in severe pain, and you are leaving two newborns in here.  What the fuck am I supposed to do now?  Rely on Dave?  He doesn't know what to do with one baby, much less two. 

The panic set in.  Whirling, dizzying panic.  The kind that makes your heart skip beats and takes away your breath. 

The Facts

With two newborns, severe pain, and no sleep, and a husband who I needed to be on his toes, but was instead also sleep deprived and who lacked baby-care savvy, my mood kept swirling down.  

Research shows that women most at risk for post-partum depression include: 
  1. those with previous pregnancy losses  -check-
  2. those who have undergone IVF          -check-
  3. those with multiples                            -check-
  4. those in a high risk pregnancy             -check-
  5. those with a history of depression       -check-
  6. those who have been on bedrest         -check-

Well.  That's check times six. 

And post-partum depression can start PREceding the birth, as it did for me.

And lack of sleep worsens post-partum depression.  Studies show that if a mom can get 5 hours straight of sleep, it will better her mood and speed her recovery from depression.

With twins, I was getting....maybe...45 minutes of sleep at a time totalling about 4 hours a night.  Night after night. 

I Can't Ask for Help

If we don’t take care of mothers, they can’t take care of their babies.” –Jeanne Driscoll

One nurse, noticing my sleep deprivation took the babies from the room telling me that I HAD to get some sleep.  I never ask for help, and was ashamed I had to take their help.
Two hours later, another night nurse came on.  She brought the babies back to my room and said,

"You shouldn't be using the baby nursery.  You need to get used to taking care of your babies on your own so you'll know what to do when you get home."


 We arrived home. To no one. Except the dogs.  The dogs kept jumping at the babies, excitedly snapping and licking at them.  I started to panic.  And then cry.  I couldn't stop crying.  And worrying. 

Dave put in an emergency call to my family "come get the dogs. Now."  And so Dad dropped everything and came to our rescue. 

I tried to nap, but woke up, still under the effects of narcotics and began panicking.  The baby that I fell asleep with in my bed was gone.  I tore the comforter off.  Then the sheets.  They were piled at my feet when Dave came in and I sobbed that I had "lost one of the babies."  

"I took her downstairs. Your dad is holding them."  


I looked at Dave. Tearful.  And I told him I was horribly afraid.  I didn't know of what.  Of going crazy?  Of something.  Whatever it was, my training as a mental health therapist told me something was very wrong.  And I needed to get help, get meds.  

I called the nurse and asked to be started on an anti-depressant immediately.  She was supportive, but I'd need to come see my MALE OB.  

I Can't Ask for Help

If we don’t take care of mothers, they can’t take care of their babies.” –Jeanne Driscoll

 I described my anxious and depressive symptoms to my OB as if I was describing a patient of mine.  It was clear, in my professional mind that I was in trouble.  He stared at me, smiled, and said, "You are just tired from having two babies and major surgery.  I don't think this is depression."  

 He gave me zoloft anyway...and I took it.  I braced myself, waiting for it to take it's full effect. The downward momentum, even with the zoloft, was hard to stop. 

To Be Continued....


  1. That baby nurse must not have known the HELL you just went through and just needed some sleep! She had probably never given birth to a baby let alone TWO!! I think you should have cussed at her.