Friday, January 2, 2015

MOM Kriste - Postpartum Depression, Part 1

Happy 2015 Momsters!  After starting 2014 with my miscarriage last January, my husband's lay-off, to then find a new job which took him out of town for 3 months while I was pregnant, working and caring for our toddler, losing my mom to her battle with cancer in September, delivering our sweet miracle baby boy on Thanksgiving morning, Christmas spent out of town with my husband's family and a nasty chest cold accompanied by a terrible cough that has lasted more than two weeks...I'm ready for a new year! Enough about's a fresh new year, and I have a fresh new Momster of the Month to introduce to you.  So, let's get to it!

I've known Kriste almost as long as I can remember.  She is friends with my older sister Natalie, going back to their high school days.  Kriste and I were both contributors to a collective creative writing blog called The Pot-Luck last year, and that is where I learned of her experience with postpartum depression (click here if you'd like to read her very moving and honest piece "Stolen Babyhood", which we will get to learn more about here on Momster Mash). After I read the stripped-down words of her honest heart, I just knew I had to invite her to share.  I knew that she would be able to encourage so many moms! First, let's get to know Kriste a little:

Kriste is one smart cookie!  She holds a degree in Developmental Psychology and a Master's Degree in Psychology and School Counseling.  She was a high school counselor for 7 years before moving to Hawaii. Until her son was born, she worked as a life coach for the University of Hawaii, and then taught Ethics and Cultural Diversity for the University of Phoenix while offering her services as a private practice life coach. 

Kriste is a single mom to Alexander (5) and daughter Lillian (3). On being a single mom. Kriste states "I never thought I would be a single mom, but I was in a marriage that I didn't realize was an open marriage, apparently!".  She moved back to Washington State after leaving that unfaithful marriage and is now engaged to a man she likes to call "Captain Fabulous" who has two grown children of his own. She is "passionate about helping grow and realize their ideal selves, whether they be children or adults."  She also loves warm weather, water and wake boarding.  She is very close to her family and talks to her mom just about every day, while being sure to chat with her dad weekly.  Kriste feels blessed to be able to be a stay-at-home mom while her children are young, but is weighing her options for the near future:
"I'm struggling with what I'm going to do when the kids go to school.  I don't know if I'll have the emotional capacity to go back to counseling other people's kiddos.  My dream job right now is to pour wine in a tasting room.  I would get to interact with different ADULTS every single day and people would be happy with everything I gave them (unlike the mashed cauliflower that I served for lunch yesterday).  I would also like to wrap presents for a living."
Kriste admits that she didn't always want to have kids and was never that young girl who loved being around babies, but when it came to having children, her biological clock took over:
"My twenties were marked with regretful relationships, freedom, international travel, deep friendships, graduate school, an amazing career, and a ton of fun...When I got married when I was 30, all of those things were still true, but I was getting older.  It was yet another non-perfect relationship, and he really wanted children. It seemed like the thing to do...For a counselor, I can sure be dumb sometimes!  I over think everything in my life, and the most major decision that someone can make, I was overtaken by my biological clock."  
Did Kriste have expectations for pregnancy and new motherhood?  Did she feel prepared for motherhood? She says she didn't think much about it.  Her mother had incredibly easy pregnancies and "45 minute deliveries" so Kriste assumed her experiences would be the same.  Unfortunately, she was wrong:
"I was sick, sick, sick!!! I was put on medication that they give chemotherapy patients for nausea and I was vomiting on my steering wheel while driving to work at seven months pregnant! All I could eat for months was corndogs. I was prepared for motherhood in the fact that I was financially stable, had zero debt and we could afford me to not be working.  I took the month before the birth off work and spent every single day at the beach.  I swam with sea turtles, I went snorkeling, I walked, life was great! The nursery was beautiful and I had read all of the pregnancy books.  I took so many classes...a breastfeeding class, infant CPR, newborn care, natural child birthing techniques.  I had toured the hospital and the birthing center...I had pre-met with the pediatrician.  If anyone was ready, it was me!  Then...the baby came! I was not prepared for the isolation, the exhaustion, the resentment, and the lack of connection." 
On top of being overwhelmed and surprised by these difficult, unexpected emotions after the birth of Alexander, she was also recovering from an unexpected delivery.  Although she was planning for a natural childbirth, her "cervix simply would NOT dilate" and ended up needing a c-section:
"After 17 hours of labor (six hours of that HARD, BRUTAL labor, and three hours of contractions coming less than a minute apart), I was dilated to a 2.  I finally got an epidural at hour 17.  By hour 26, [Alexander] was starting to go into distress and the decision was made to do a cesarean birth."

In Part II, Kriste will share what she experienced after her difficult pregnancy and long, painful labor...postpartum depression. 

Are you an expectant mom? Do you know someone who is? Please share these posts and Momster Mash with them. You never know who you might be able to help and encourage, because not everyone is willing to share their struggles with others.  Therefore, they may never receive the support and encouragement they could have really used. That is why Momster Mash exists.  Share the love!

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