As we prepare for the 6th Annual Northwest Indiana Climb Out of the Darkness, we will be sharing some very special stories from mothers who have been through a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder. Today, we have the honor of sharing Katie's Story. Katie shares about her experience and struggles as a new mom and the support she found along the way. If you are struggling and in need of support, please reach out today by texting 219-742-4149 and we will connect you with the resources you need.
We are so grateful for Katie for sharing her story with our community. If you or someone you know is in need of support, please reach out today. At the NWI Center for Maternal Wellness, we offer individual and group peer support and educational resources to mothers and families in need and we would love to walk alongside you on your journey to wellness.
"I climb because I went through a very devastating time during my second pregnancy. When my husband and I decided to try for a second child, I had been on anti-depressant medication for depression and anxiety. I did not speak to a doctor thoroughly about weaning off my medication and possibly supplementing with a safer medication during pregnancy. I thought that I would be fine going off pretty much cold turkey, as I had already been through one medication free pregnancy with virtually no problems. This ended up being a huge mistake.
When I found out that I was pregnant, we were excited, although looking back, I was already feeling somewhat depressed and anxious, likely due to being off of my medication. As my pregnancy continued, I became more and more depressed. It was a horribly stressful time. I had a four-year-old daughter, was working full-time, pregnant and sinking into a desperate, debilitating depression. I was also suffering from severe insomnia. I literally did not sleep for days. I thought that was impossible, until it happened to me. I did not know what to do, I was torn about restarting an anti-depressant. I was getting so many varying opinions about the safety of taking medications during pregnancy. My brain was completely foggy and I was unable to make even the smallest decisions for myself.
When I was around 3 to 4 months pregnant I took a leave of absence from work as I simply could not think straight. Shortly after, I basically shut down. I ended up being admitted to the hospital in the psychiatric unit. I was not taking care of myself or my baby and my family had nowhere else to turn to get me the help that I needed. I ended up being in the hospital for about five days. One of the saddest moments was having an ultrasound done in the hospital that showed us our baby’s gender. The gender reveal is usually such a joyous time and this experience was anything but ideal. However, amazingly, the ultrasound showed a perfectly healthy baby BOY!
During my hospital stay and after, I was started on a medication regime that was supposedly safe for me to take for the remainder of my pregnancy. Once back at home, I eventually returned to work and tried so hard to be OK. In reality, I was not OK, I was struggling so much. I was still extremely depressed, and felt so ashamed about having been in a psychiatric hospital. I was also still worried, about the effect that all of this would have on my baby. With the help of my husband and family, and because I knew that I had to be there for my daughter and now my son. I was able to make it to nine months.
When it was time to deliver, I went the hospital to be induced as planned by my doctor. I was so relieved, I had finally almost made it to the pregnancy finish line. However, as soon as my water bag was broken, in order to progress labor, the umbilical cord became tangled around my baby. I ended up having an emergency cesarean section. Although the situation was absolutely terrifying for my husband and I, it resulted in our perfect son, William Ethan being delivered into this world. Completely healthy!
My time on maternity leave with my son was a complete blur. I somehow went through the motions of motherhood. However, it was not an enjoyable or joyful experience like it had been with my daughter. I felt sad, ashamed, broken and disengaged. I also became extremely scared that some thing was going to happen to Will. I feared most that I would drop him. I was so confused and upset by this feeling. I googled incessantly about it and came to find out that I was having symptoms of postpartum OCD. I talked to my husband about my feelings and felt some relief, but still felt very alone and could not help worrying that something bad would happen to the sweet little baby who had already had such a rough start to life. My husband and I remembered receiving some paperwork about a postpartum mental health support group that we were given at the hospital by a nurse.
The next day on my lunch break from work, I called the number of the leader of the group in our area. I reached Celeste, who happened to be on vacation with her family. I will be forever grateful to this woman who I had never met who spoke to me for about an hour during her vacation. I completely opened up to her and she understood exactly what I was talking about. I remember crying in my car. I was so overwhelmed with relief to have found someone who had been through a similar, terrifying experience and had come out of it, and was now enjoying a fun time with her family. This gave me immense, much needed hope for my own future.
Celeste told me about a support group that she held that met once a month right near my house. I attended these meetings and found so much support and comfort from the moms that I met.
I slowly came out of this very dark time of my life through faith, prayer, the unending support from absolutely amazing family and friends, medication and these monthly meetings. Fast forward to today, our son, Will, is six years old. He is pure sunshine. Our daughter, Lanie, is ten years old and the best big sister ever. I am immensely grateful that I am healthy now, and able to be the mom that I hoped that I would be. I climb because I want to show moms that are currently in the depths of a nightmare, that you will feel better and there is hope."
We would like to invite you to join us this Saturday at the 6th Annual Northwest Indiana Climb Out of the Darkness. The Climb is a free, family friendly event that supports the mental health of mothers and families. There will be refreshments, swag bags, kids activities and more. All funds raised at the Climb will be used to support Maternal Mental Health programs through the NWI Center for Maternal Wellness and Postpartum Support International. Find out more, sign up or donate here:https://climbout2022.causevox.com/team/team-northwest-indiana
Thank you for your support!