I couldn't breathe. I was sure I was having withdrawals from my pain meds. I was convinced they had neglectfully given me too many drugs over the last five days and now I was hooked!
"I can't breathe," I gasped desperately to Danny. "I'm scared; I think I need my inhaler."
Danny found it for me.
"It's not working! I can't breathe!" I wailed desperately.
"Yes, you can breathe. Calm down," he reassured.
"No I can't. I'm trying! It must be this stupid 'raging infection somewhere in my body' thing. No! I'm having withdrawals from the pain meds. They just kept giving them to me every so many hours and now that I don't have any except Motrin my body doesn't know what to do!" I jabbered on.
"Try your breathing apparatus," he encouraged.
"I can't breathe!"
"Don't you have faith in Heavenly Father?" Danny said exasperated. "Don't you believe that he will heal you?"
Not the best thing to say to your imbalanced wife. I tried to breathe in s-l-o-w-l-y through my nose, out through my mouth. My heart was racing. I could feel it beating in my ears. LOUD. I couldn't just feel it, I could hear it.
My mouth felt weird. What was I going to do with Pookie and Gabbers? Tomorrow would be the fourth day of the school year and I hadn't taught them anything in their homeschool lessons. GASP. How could I possibly teach them? I couldn't hardly walk! What if I wouldn't cover teaching them everything they needed to know at their stage in school? Where would we homeschool? The homeschool room was still filled with boxes waiting to be organized still from the move.
Other parents of multiples say the first year is the hardest. ONE YEAR! I couldn't even comprehend one month. How would I nurse my babies without an adequate milk supply? What if they didn't learn to nurse simultaneously? Even if they did how could I homeschool two older children, diaper three, and nurse two simultaneously? What will I do when my mother-in-law leaves? Is she going to leave right after Baby A gets home? She's going to leave me! How will I homeschool, diaper, nurse, AND cook? WHATWASITHINKING?!
I didn't know it at the time, but I was experiencing my first anxiety/panic attack. And sure, they happen to people. But what continued on through the night and next day was scary.
I was afraid of not breathing. It seemed already that I couldn't breathe despite my desires to continue breathing.
I could not have the lights turned out. I had to sleep in the recliner facing the bathroom door with the bathroom light on. Whenever I got up to use the bathroom (which was an ordeal being less than a week post-partum from a c-section), Danny had to help me up and it always resulted in my heart beating again in my ears. LOUD. I watched the clock in the bathroom from my recliner in the bedroom.
1:00 a.m. THUMP-THUMP THUMP-THUMP THUMP-THUMP my heart was knocking loudly in my ears. I breathed slowly and deliberately.
1:10 a.m. thump-thump thump-thump thump it was quieting and slowing
1:30 a.m. I watched the clock nervously knowing my heart would harrass me again but trying to use "The Secret" to convince it I really wasn't worried. I told myself I could get through that minute. I did. I could get through five minutes. I did.
2:30 a.m. Phew. I slept an hour.
2:40 a.m. Danny fed Squdge while I pumped bre.astmilk trying to encourage a miniscule milk supply.
3:30 a.m. I was parched and I was freezing because of a 102 degree fever still. Danny tucked blankets around me and brought me a drink of water. I couldn't drink it. I was afraid of being suffocated by it. I was afraid of being suffocated by a glass of water.
3:40 a.m. We prayed together. Danny was calm. He brought me a straw and encouraged me to take a sip at least. I needed to take some meds anyway.
4:40 a.m. Bottle-fed my sweet baby with Danny's help and repeated the whole heart-thumping episode complete with loads of thoughts of being overwhelmed followed by another pumping session.
5:40 a.m. staring at the clock again, willing the minutes to move toward daylight.
6 a.m. daylight starts to sneak into the room through the faded yellow curtain.
6:40 a.m. Pump again. I wanted to cry. But I just knew if I cried, it would suck the last bit of air out of me and that would be the end. I had anxiety about the inability to cry. I had anxiety about only producing half an ounce each time I pumped. I had anxiety about the baby that was still in the NICU not gaining weight fast enough.
I was starving, weak, dehydrated, and completely loony.
Everything was trying to suffocate me. I couldn't be in my confining bedroom. I could not handle the children's noise. It made my heart race and my throat tighten. I had a deep strong desire to hold my baby and do nothing else. Not pee. Not shower. Not pump. Not eat. Not drink. Not talk.
I had to call my doctor and find out what the heck was wrong with me and to get my prescriptions that I was supposed to get on the way home from the hospital. I had an appointment set for the next day to have my staples removed. But I needed help that day.
"Dr. H's office, this is Tammy," the familiar voice said.
"I'm having severe post-partum anxiety and I'm really scared and I don't have an appointment until tomorrow and I'd like to know what Dr. H recommends and I also need some medication because I'm in a lot of pain," I blurted in one breath.
Tammy was soothing and knowledgeable. It was the major hormone changes. I talked to Dr. H. He called me "dear" and said it would be okay and that I'd start to feel better in just a couple days. I believed in him. If Dr. H said it would be okay, it would be okay. He called in a prescription for Zoloft to the base pharmacy.
I had taken the first step. Now I needed to eat so I could take an antibiotic, iron pill, Zoloft, and pain meds. And I needed to talk to someone. I needed to make sure that if something happened, they would know the background. I told my mother-in-law. She was just the perfect reassurance I needed. We talked about some coping measures. It helped. We talked about a family fast and a call for prayers. That's when I posted the prayer request.
I still couldn't bring myself to eat. I forced a bite of banana gasping desperately to breathe. I drank water with the aid of a straw. But not nearly enough. I drank just enough to get my pills down.
I was scared. My heart was racing. Danny took the children on errands with him so it wouldn't be so noisy. I was upset that Danny was leaving me like that. At least I wasn't alone. I had my mother-in-law. She took good care of me. I called my mom and shared my night before's experience and my current state. I called my dad. I called my sisters. I called my dear friend Candace in North Dakota. I called my visiting teachers. Then I called the school and enrolled my school age children.
Even though I called a bazillion people that day, every single call was difficult. I could barely breathe all day. Danny came home between errands and set up a folding camp chair in the backyard at my request. I dragged my yellow blanket out there and my phone. I sat in the backyard and soaked in the sunshine. I spoke quietly and slowly to Gabbers who was playing outside around me. I talked to her about public school and how much fun she would have. I choked back tears of regret and sadness.
I sat in the backyard for several hours. I took in the beauty of the blue skies and green trees. I prayed. I prayed all day long. I slept a little. I prayed and pleaded and reasoned with the Lord that I needed my sanity to be a good mother. I breathed. I practiced every relaxation technique my mom taught me growing up. I sang church hymns and primary songs in my head. I couldn't sing them out loud. That would require good steady breathing.
My mother-in-law tried to feed me. She settled on giving me juice with a straw and a piece of bread. I nibbled at the bread. When I came in the house it was way too dark and suffocating. The walls tried to suffocate me. I might get stuck back in my bedroom and no one would be able to hear me and rescue me. I only came in when I absolutely had to use the bathroom and couldn't possibly hold it any longer.
But by 5 p.m. I was feeling like I could quite possibly survive. I had a coping technique thanks to the suggestion of my visiting teacher, who was also Pookie's primary teacher. Nature. The beautiful outdoors that Heavenly Father created. I could connect with Him.
Eventually I had to go inside. It was getting colder and we needed to have dinner and bedtime routines and scriptures.
I sat on the couch and told myself I was fine and that I could sit in the backyard again the next day. I told myself I'd be okay. But I didn't believe it. It started to get darker and my confidence darkened as well.
I had barely a germ of hope left. Then we started to read our scriptures. I listened to my sweet children, husband, and mother-in-law read. I could read along silently listening to them. I let the words pour into my soul and start the healing process. I didn't want them to stop reading. No matter how bizarre everything in my world became, I knew the gospel to be true. I knew I could always pray. I knew that the scriptures would ALWAYS be true and be there for me. And that is what I held tight to.
I needed to shower that evening since I had an OB appointment in the morning and they'd be removing my staples from the incision site. But the shower was far smaller than it usually was. It was darker than usual. Danny encouraged me reasoning that I would feel better after a nice shower. I was in too much pain to comprehend showering but smart enough to know you don't go to the OB's office all stinkin'. I sat on the shower stool with the shower door wide open and the louvered windows cracked to let in cool air. I equated cool air with being able to breathe. My body was freaking out still being high with fever. Danny sat in the bathroom in case I needed rescuing from rapidly collapsing shower walls. I survived. barely.
Warm and dry and medicated and with my yellow blanket, Danny tucked me in to sleep in the recliner. I repeated a night similar to the night before but without an anxiety attack. Throughout that week with the prayers of my dear friends and family around the world, I made a drastic recovery back to reality.
A few weeks ago Danny and I talked about this day when I was one week post-partum. I recalled to him how freaky it was. He said, "Yeah, I was scared. It was the day you lost all touch with reality." I wouldn't have known it. He was my pillar of strength. Him and his mom. :)
I am not foolish to think it's all over. The anxiety that is. My hormones are still changing. It's like I'm on a roller coaster sometimes. Zoloft does a pretty good job to keep me on a fairly even keel. I walk the kids to school several days a week. The sunshine and the exercise helps. But mostly, it's the scriptures and prayers.
To read part 6 of The Twin Birth Story click here.
To start at the beginning click here.