My Story – by Jennifer Orlowski

My Story – by Jennifer Orlowski

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It all started Jan 3rd 2007…… I was 13wks pregnant with my first child. At my 1st appt with my obstetrician, he couldn’t find a heartbeat. He scheduled an ultrasound for the following morning at the hospital. Results of the ultrasound were devastating….. there were two babies but no heartbeats for either baby. I had to have a D&C that day. I remember waking up in the recovery room and before I even opened my eyes I started crying. “Are they gone?” is the question I asked the nurse. When I was able to leave the recovery room, I was wheeled down to Unit 4 which is gynecology but also maternity! So just after having lost two babies, I am wheeled through the hallway of the maternity unit (crying babies and pregnant mothers everywhere…. Cruelest thing to do to a mother who has just lost her child/children) to the back of the unit where I was put in a ward until I felt I was ready to go home. This traumatic life event lead to mild depression. To this day if I hear or read the word “twins”, my heart sinks to the pit of my stomach.

In July 2007 (the month I was due to have the twins) I became pregnant for the 2nd time! I was very cautious and didn’t want to get too excited about the pregnancy. I had a very healthy pregnancy and on Feb. 6th, 2008 my beautiful son Owen was born!! He was, and still is, perfect. After he was born I had a huge mix of emotions!! I had my healthy, amazing baby but I still thought about the twins. I tried to breast-fed Owen but he was tongue-tied and could not latch on properly. He was losing weight daily. Everyday a public health nurse came out to weigh him. Finally the lactation nurse came out and discovered he was tongue tied and that was why he wasn’t gaining weight. I immediately burst into tears. I felt so guilty for not being able to do this but it was a huge relief as I was not struck on breast-feeding but felt pressured to do it. The lactation nurse was amazing…. She took all the pressure off of me and made sure that I knew it was nothing I was doing wrong. There is so much pressure put on new parents these days to do everything “right” and every person has a different version of what is “right.” Postpartum hormones, thoughts, lack of sleep, feelings of failure and depression set in. It was a mild depression again that was treated with anti-depressants from my family dr.

In Jan., 2011, I had a 2nd miscarriage. We had been receiving reproductive medical help from Dr. Brodie. I was 8 wks pregnant and she did a transvaginal ultrasound…… again no heartbeat. This time we had the option of taking medication to induce the miscarriage or just let nature take its course. I physically could not make myself take the medication so I waited for the miscarriage to happen naturally. The waiting for this to happen was the longest week of my life. Thank goodness I had Owen to brighten my days throughout this time!!

In Feb. 2011, I became pregnant for the 4th time! Again very cautious during this entire pregnancy! The pregnancy was very healthy and on Nov. 26, 2011 my princess Marlie was born!! My husband said almost immediately he could tell something was not right. He said there was a blank look on my face most of the time. I remember the public health nurse coming out to our house and asking how things were going. Before going off on maternity leave I was working with the Public Health division so I knew most of the nurses. I did not feel comfortable telling her the truth. I think that too many people know each other here so I believe a postpartum questionnaire should be given to the new moms to complete and submit later so they don’t have to talk about it if they are uncomfortable about it. After a week or so with no sleep and not eating properly, I started to develop a very painful (what I thought was) ulcer in my stomach. My husband took me to outpatients at the hospital. I am not sure how long we waited to be seen but I remember getting checked out by the dr to see if everything physically was ok. Then it came up that it was probably anxiety (which I have never had before) and depression that I was experiencing. The psychiatrist on call came in and spoke with us for quite some time. I remember laying there looking at the ceiling wondering if anyone ever gets through this!! The psychiatrist was great. We discussed a plan of what we were going to do at home. Jeremy was going to take over night feedings so I could get some sleep (which I so desperately needed). I was prescribed an anti-psychotic drug that made me go into a deep sleep! I needed this because I could not physically go to sleep, I was on edge all the time waiting for Marlie to wake up. I also started on a new anti-depression medication and Ativan for anxiety. My anxiety got so bad that I was vomiting numerous times a day. Over the next year or so I met almost weekly with the psychiatrist and a psychiatric nurse. They were both amazing and would listen to everything I needed to let out! They also helped me come up with an action plan of what I needed to do in certain situations if my anxiety got bad.

Now my kids are 7 and 3…. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had the support of the psychiatrist and psychiatric nurse I had. I think I am one of the lucky ones who got some great support as soon as I opened up about what was happening. My husband was also so amazing!!!!!!!!  My friends and family were great but many of them still don’t understand what I went through.  I didn’t feel comfortable talking about the darkness I was in. “You have two happy and healthy kids, why aren’t you happy.” “You just need to get out and do more. You have to get out of your house.” are some of the things that were said to me during this time. Even if I wasn’t physically alone, I felt alone most of the time. Many of my days were either spent staring off into space, vomiting in the bathroom from anxiety or constantly on the go trying to keep myself busy and pretend nothing was wrong. I am not sharing this looking for pity. I have one reason for sharing my experience……. to help new moms feel comfortable to talk about this and demand help if this is happening to them.

Now, I guess I no longer have postpartum depression…… it has changed into regular depression. Most of the time it is very mild and I live my typical everyday life…… at other times there are lows. To this day I feel guilt about being so disconnected from Marlie during the first year of her life. I will be sure to talk with both of my kids to tell them my story so we can help other families…. Someday hopefully them as they have my grandchildren (but not for at least 20 years)!!!

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