Today I’m happy to welcome Raivon Lee from Climb Out Team Atlanta to the Warrior Mom community and share her story with you. Raivon wanted a natural birth at home, but the stress of a breech baby and C-section were the start of her experience with postpartum depression and anxiety.
Hi, my name is Raivon and I’m a 28-year-old mom of a sweet 15-month-old boy.
Back in April of 2012 when I found out I was pregnant, I was literally shocked! I couldn’t even say the words to my husband so I typed out the words “I am pregnant” on the notepad on my phone during church and showed it to him. I eventually got used to the idea of being a mommy and I was very excited. I knew I wanted a natural water birth at home and submerged myself in everything about natural birth. Books, classes, forums, groups, etc. A few weeks into my pregnancy the morning sickness hit. It was rough but I was sure it would be over by the 2nd trimester. After all that’s what EVERYONE told me.
Unfortunately for me I had morning sickness and took medication for it until the day Ari was born. My idea of an awesome, healthy pregnancy, and long jogs through the park were replaced with the reality of me struggling to make it off the sofa just to brush my teeth.
During the last month of my pregnancy, I went in for an ultrasound to make sure that everything was a go and safe for my home birth. We found out then that Ari was breech. This devastated me. I did NOT want to give birth in the hospital. Being a nurse made me scared of hospitals (crazy, I know), and it just wasn’t in my plan. My midwife and back-up OB thought I could possibly still give birth vaginally depending on the type of breech positioning of the baby at the time I went into labor, but a home birth was out of the question.
My husband and I did everything we could to get the baby to turn. Chiropractic adjustments, moxibustion, inversions on the ironing board, cold packs, flash lights and last but not least … external extroversion. This was the most painful experience I think I’ve ever had. Imagine two grown men trying to turn a baby by pushing and twisting your stomach.
We did all of this and by the time my water broke, Ari was still breech.
I was admitted to the hospital and a few hours later after crazy painful contractions, I had a C-section and my sweet baby boy was born. I was actually ok with the c-section and my birth experience, even though it was the complete opposite of what we wanted.
Fast forward a week. I was home crying in pain. No one told me that breastfeeding and engorgement would be so very painful. The scabs on my nipples made it impossible to nurse, and I was so engorged that even when I tried to nurse Ari could not latch on. The thought of possibly having to give Ari formula sent me over the edge. I felt that everything else I wanted for my pregnancy and birth had been taken away from me and breastfeeding was the only thing I was doing right. It was rough but we got through it and eventually breastfeeding got easier.
I was not sleeping, but I was exhausted. I wasn’t eating and I was crying daily, and I NEVER cry. I would just be sitting and tears would begin flowing from my eyes uncontrollably. I would look at picture of Ari and cry. I thought maybe it was just baby blues and that it was normal. It would go away. I was afraid for my husband to go to work. I didn’t want to be left alone, yet when he was home I didn’t want him to take care of or help with Ari. I HAD to be the one to care for him. My husband and I had many arguments about me letting him help. He wanted to help desperately but the thought of him helping caused me great anxiety. Yes, I was exhausted and I wanted to sleep but I couldn’t let even my husband help.
After four months of this I decided I needed help. My husband talked to my midwife (our home birth midwife) and she gave me a list of natural supplements to try. I did and I felt a little better, like the edge was taken off, but it didn’t last long. I eventually went into my OBs practice and the midwife there prescribed an antidepressant. I started it immediately and honesty I felt worse. I felt like I was outside of myself. I’m sure I was hearing things as well. After two days I stopped taking it. And I suffered three more long months.
During those months, I spent the day at home alone with Ari, not eating, not showering and crying. I was so tired (Ari wasn’t the best sleeper). I thought to myself, “If I die I could finally get some sleep.” The thought of death was so peaceful to me. I was on forums constantly trying to figure out what was wrong with my baby –why wasn’t he sleeping? What was wrong with me? What was I doing wrong? I would try to talk to others about how I was feeling but I feel like they down played the pain I was in.
My husband would come home and thanks to him I would eat. Then I would go into a dark room and try to sleep with Ari (because he couldn’t sleep or stay asleep on his own) I’d be in that room for 12 hours. This this was my life.
One night while crying, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I had the prescription somewhere, and I was going to give them another try. I decided to start with half of the dose.
I am so happy and blessed to be able to say that taking those meds saved me! I was able to find a PPD support group that was an awesome help. Knowing that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t overreacting, and that postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are very real and serious things, made me feel good, but honestly a little sad too. I needed to know that it was real and serious, and not just in my head. I think overall I was trying to downplay my issues.
Today I’m feeling great! I feel like Raivon again, maybe better. I often think of what it will be like to stop taking my meds. Sometimes I feel like a fraud, like the person I am now isn’t really me. But until then I’m going to try to enjoy each and every day I’ve been given.
Thank you for sharing your story, Raivon! I am so glad to know you. You are an inspiration!
And, just in case it might help you, if you *do* need to stay on your meds forever, that is okay! I am someone who will need to be on meds forever and there is no shame in that. You are and will always still be Raivon!
Thank you for that Amber! I always thought the ultimate goal would be to stop medication. I’ve never thought of it like that before. If I need them I need them.
You are a wonderful inspiration to many others and a beautiful momma to boot. I was on meds after I gave birth both times. I was on them for a long time with my second. I think about 18 mo. And still today I kinda wish I were on something for the anxiety. Anyhoo, I hope your story is told and others feel like they can open up and get help due to it. Your a great person and being a mom is wicked hard.
Thank you Nickole!
Thank you so much for sharing your story. <3
"I’m scared to meet the person I really am. Sometimes I feel like a fraud, like the person I am now isn’t really me. "
You aren't a fraud. You are the person you are right now, and you will always be the person you are in that moment. Who we are changes over time. I am not the same as I was a year ago. We are constantly changing and evolving, and I think that's part of the beauty of humanity.
Don't worry about trying to meet expectations, just be the best you that you can be at that very second.
Esther, THANK YOU. I really do struggle with that. I will live in the moment being the best me I can be 🙂
Sometimes I feel the same way about the meds – I’ve been on them for over 3 years – and they work, but going off them hasn’t worked in the past. I’ve not yet come to terms with possibly having to take them the rest of my life, but slowly getting there. Thank you for telling your story!
I’m so glad you reached out for help AND continued to believe in yourself enough to try your medication again. It shows a tremendous amount of strength and love for your baby — and yourself.
Thank you for sharing your story. I am a survior as well, and still on medication. There is no shame and we are stronger women for what we’ve been through and beat.