June 19, 2012
The day started out like many during those first few weeks after Bryce was born. I got up early, fed him, did a little tummy time on the floor in his room, and watched some Bravo while he napped. I was officially on summer vacation from my teaching job at that time, and was also getting ready to start a PhD program in August, so I was really enjoying the quiet before I went back to work and school.
The day before I had seen my OB-GYN about some twinges of apprehension I had been noticing throughout the day. At certain moments I would get a sense of impending doom in my stomach, kind of like the butterflies someone feels right before the big drop on a roller coaster ride. I also had what I would in the future refer to as “fuzzy moments” when I would be unfocused and feel a little discombobulated. I decided that it would be good to call someone about it, and had made an appointment with my gynecologist. Why wait, I thought, surely they would just tell me it was motherhood and hormones adjusting. Things had been so good since Bryce was born 3 weeks ago, I knew I was OK.
At the doctor’s office, I waited, remembering all of the visits I had when I was pregnant, and before, when I was trying to get pregnant and not having success. The ultrasounds, when we saw him for the first time at 8 weeks, and then weekly when my fibroids got so big they started contractions. Even through that pain, I was always so excited to see Bryce on the big screen, and get reassurance that I was OK. I was hoping for reassurance that day, but of a different kind.
I ended up seeing the same doctor for that appointment who had called personally to congratulate me when I found out I was pregnant. Dr. O’Connor was feisty, a mother of four, and told it straight. I loved her. She listened to my very vague explanation of why I didn’t feel quite right, and gave me a prescription for Zoloft, along with contact information for the local postpartum support group and a recommendation to call a therapist if needed. I was a little surprised because I hadn’t considered any of my sporadic “flashes” of trepidation to be anything more than my body re-aligning internally. Still, I listened. I trusted these doctors, so I took the prescription, filled it, and made an appointment for the next day with Pamela, a local therapist I had seen a few times. I never really intended to use the Zoloft, but I wasn’t against it, either. Today was the big day – my first car trip with Bryce of over a mile or two.
There is a sweet picture from the early afternoon of the 19th, of Bryce in his car seat. I was triumphant because I had managed to get him and myself to North Raleigh to see Pamela all by myself. The picture is the last time I remember before everything changed. It defines the line between who I was, and who I would become a few short hours later, when nothing was the same.
Pamela is a kind, patient person who has had her own share of personal challenges. She knew me well enough, I thought, to provide help and I really enjoyed talking to her that day while I fed Bryce. At the end of our time together, she suggested that I try the Zoloft, at a smaller dosage, to “take the edge off” what may be baby blues, and help regulate how I was feeling. I had never taken anti-depressants before, but knew I could cut the pill in half, so I decided that when I got home, I would start.
No one other than Chris and my mother knew about any of these appointments because I honestly hadn’t thought that anything was wrong. I was happy when I got home. It was a great day, and I felt like I was doing everything I could to prevent future issues with postpartum depression. True to my nature, I was taking care of things. I was being proactive, and isn’t that what everyone is supposed to do with their health?
After dinner, and a great phone conversation with my friend Ellen from college, I cut one of the Zoloft pills in half and took it. I went about my evening as normal, until 8 p.m.