After Oliver was born I had a bad experience with postpartum hypertension, I was one of the lucky ones who was caught before I had a stroke or worse but still... it was traumatizing. I didn't really understand how serious it was, but I knew that I couldn't die - I had a new baby and he needed me. This is such a wrong experience to have a birth tied to a life threatening complication. I spent the next few months trying everything to get better, but I have never been able to stop taking the medication for hypertension. I became so focused and obsessed with this that I started having trouble sleeping, I was totally panicked about dying and leaving my baby. There were days on end that I didn't sleep for more than an hour or two. Finally the doctors put me on sleeping pills, which meant I had to quit breast feeding. This was devastating for me and Oliver, he refused the bottle (he was five and half months by then) and we had to rock him to sleep with a soother and sneak the bottle into his mouth once he was asleep. If he wasn't out all the way you had to start all over and if he fell too soundly asleep then he wouldn't drink at all. We both cried for two weeks while my milk dried up, this was our first Christmas.
It took about the same amount of time that it took for my milk to go, for the doctors to figure out that this wasn't just a lack of sleep, but a form of postpartum depression. I kept saying no, I love my baby - we're well bonded, it's not postpartum depression. Apparently not everyone experiences these things the same, mine was anxiety induced. Since then I've learned that a traumatic delivery is common with PD.
Anyways, I remember praying that the Lord not take me because my family really needed me. He couldn't be so cruel as to give me a child and not let me be his mother.
A few months later, things were much settled down and I was feeling great and in the process of weaning off of my medication for PD (suddenly I found myself a druggy, me who never took anything but vitamins, hater of drugs and proud of it). Then I fell off a ladder and shattered my knee, I had to have pins and a plate put in to put Humpty back together again. I wasn't too afraid of dying going into that surgery, I figured if I had made it through all of this - it's gonna take more than a broken leg to get me!
They told me it would take one to two years to fully recover. Six months later I found myself pregnant again and absolutely elated about it! "I'm strong, bring it on. I'll stay healthy and be careful about the weight gain for me knee, we'll get through this.", I thought. I have to say that I was concerned about going through the hypertension issues again and possibly experiencing PD again, but I knew I would do anything for another child.
My pregnancy with Max was uncomplicated, in terms of the hypertension. In fact by the time I was eight weeks pregnant my blood pressure was so low that I had to stop all meds and it stayed that way until after he was born. The day he was diagnosed, after our discussion with the doctor about what to do next, as we were getting ready to leave I said to her, "and I just wanted to get through this pregnancy without having a stroke!".
The day after Max's funeral (our fourth wedding anniversary) I woke up not feeling well, I had been monitoring my BP three times a day as ordered, so I checked it. It was slightly elevated, I knew it would be because I'd been having trouble sleeping and felt....like I had after Oliver. I know they say that you can't feel high blood pressure, but....it's hard to explain. I rested a bit and checked again and it was higher, so I went into the hospital. They were able to get control of it much more quickly than they had with Oliver, again I prayed for the Lord not to take me. I also prayed to my baby because I felt like he was calling me, I told him how sorry I was that I couldn't be with him. That my Oliver needed me more right now, but one day mommy would come to him. Sadly, I was not afraid of dying. I felt totally torn between my children. My mind knew that Oliver needed me more, but it was hard for my heart to understand.
We went home by noon and I went to sleep for a while, feeling terrible because the medication makes your blood pressure drop like a stone. When I woke up I had a fever, so we called the doctor and she sent us back to the hospital. I had a bladder or uterine infection, they never were sure but I spent another day in the hospital on IV antibiotics and I felt like Max was calling me even more. I left myself completely in the doctors hands, I wasn't worried at all. I had learned that we really have no control over life and death and if this is my time, it's my time. I would never want to leave my family here, but what do you do when you have someone you love just as much on the other side? I felt totally indifferent to death and way too young to feel that way.
I have to say that I don't feel so close to the other side anymore, if that makes sense, but I don't think I'll ever be afraid of dying like I used to be. This is not to say that I am suicidal in any way, but I know that other parents who've lost a child will understand.
This is one of those things that you can't just talk to anyone about because they might think you're crazy....