"I often describe it like I was going through a dark hallway and I had all these evil spirits or people trying to grab me but at the end of that hallway the door was cracked and I could see a light. I kept my eye on that light. I knew I...the old me... was in there somewhere."
My name is Denise Jimenez. I'm 25 years old and the mother of two wonderful babies. My son, Rickey, who is 3 1/2, and my daughter she just turned one. I have been through a lot to have my kids...and never did I expect to go through even more after having them.
In 2004, I found out I was pregnant with my son. I was so happy, never did I think I would soon be fighting for my life!
I was diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia at 26 weeks. I woke up one day really sick, went to the hospital and didn't come home. I was the most critical high-risk mother-to-be. I went blind. My body was shutting down and my blood was poison.
On the fourth day of my hospital day I had my son by emergency C-section at 11:23 pm. He came home 2 months and three days later.
I had the most bizarre thoughts over and over and could not figure out why. I knew something wasn't right. I was out of body... and mind… but there was still enough of me to know that something wasn't right. I remember telling my husband something wasn't right. He said I was okay. But I had weird thoughts and I was ashamed of them. I didn't elaborate on them. I was having "what-if" thoughts. Like "what-if" I drop him. My husband said he had those thoughts too. He thought it was because our son was 4 lbs when he came home from the NICU (neonatal intensive care). But it was my OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) I didn't know I had.
No one had told me anything about postpartum depression/anxiety/OCD before I was pregnant. But I remember hearing celebrities on T.V.talking about how they had it. I remember sitting in front of the T.V., pregnant, thinking, that was just nuts! How can something so bad happen at such a joyous time of your life.
Six days after my son came home, my husband left on deployment for six months. I was alone and a new mother who just had been through hell and back with a preemie. I was stressed and alone. And even though I have my family here it is not the same as having your partner.
The thoughts eventually went away.
Skip to three years later 2007 I had my daughter mar 06. I caught a bad case of the baby blues. It was horrible timing. My mother-in-law (with the whole family in tow) was expected to fly over to visit on the 10th. I didn't prepare anything...the house was a mess! So I had to hurry up get home and clean it up. Did I mention I had a repeat C- section? Yeah very painful!
So I sucked it up and got everything together. I was sooo overwhelmed. I had just had a baby, and I was happy but something was wrong. I started having anxiety attacks. I wasn't me. I could cry for no reason at all. My in laws eventually left and I thought maybe things would calm down but everything just got worse. I started having reoccurring thoughts of hurting my kids, mostly my newborn baby and myself. I knew that something wasn't right.
My whole family told me to get a hold of myself. To get over it. It wasn't a big deal! It's just another baby. Little did they know I just kept getting worse and the thoughts were more intense than ever. But they finally saw that I was in need of help. They supported me. I thank God I have such a supportive family.
I remember going into the doctor's office for my follow-up. I was full blown ocd/ppd/a (obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression) and going nuts! Sorry if I put it out there like I was insane...but at that time I felt like I was. "Who thinks these horrible thoughts about their children." I thought I was gonna end up in a mental ward.
Anyway, I tried to get help wherever I could. I told the girl I just had to see my doctor. That my PPD was getting worse. She laughed at me. I'll never ever forget that. My doctor (who happens to be a military veteran) was very understanding. He was very compassionate. He gave me great advice and a prescription.
I did the meds and things got better. I actually felt like me.
The reason i practically wrote you a book is cause I really wanna help people like me. I wanna educate women on the risk and want for women to recognize when something isn't right. No one told me this could happen. My obgyn had no idea what was going on. If I can help someone, that would be the only good thing that came out of all this. I called the PHA warmline when I was going through all this and, though I forgot her name, (the volunteer who returned my call) helped me through some really tough times.
How did I get through it? I always kept my eye on the prize. All I wanted was for me to sit with my baby without thinking anything crazy. Just to hold her and be in peace. No obsession or compulsion, no mood swings or anxiety. I often describe it like I was going through a dark hallway and I had all these evil spirits or people trying to grab me but at the end of that hallway the door was cracked and I could see a light. I kept my eye on that light. I knew I...the old me... was in there somewhere. I had just lost me. I just needed a little help to find me again.
So my advice to mothers who are going through it is: Set little goals. If you can't spend a day with your baby, an hour even a few minutes is big deal. And always keep your eye on the prize.