Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Episode 30- The Morning Of Part II

The rest of the morning was torture. I had been told not to eat anything since the night before an I was starving to death. I sent Cody away so he could eat or watch TV or something. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts so I spent the next few hours wandering the halls, and spending a lot of time looking at the new babies in the nursery. Our little girl would be here soon and I felt happy.

But right along with happy, I felt a lot of labor pains. I'd been warned that an amnio could send me into labor and sure enough, they were right. The contractions started almost as soon as I was off the U/S bed. They strengthened a lot as the morning went on and I decided that no matter what the test results came back as, this girl was on her way. To my delight they results were good and her lungs were perfectly developed. So I found Cody and we headed to the pre-op room where they took some blood and I changed clothes.

At that moment I felt really giddy and for a while, Cody and I seemed to be like our old selves again. They monitored me and the baby for a while as we waited for Draper to arrive. The contractions got stronger and stronger and at one point we debated whether or not to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I know it's all in the past, but there are few days that go by that I don't regret having a second c-section. As it turned out, the baby was in the perfect position and she was very small. I probably could have sneezed her out with our complications. But I was scared of the unknown. For goodness sake, the last several months had been full of nothing BUT the unknown.

So we headed to the O.R. It seemed like a dream. It was all a blur. At first I didn't hear her cry because she had a lot of gunk in her lungs. Then they had to give her a few puffs of oxygen and then she screamed bloody murder. My daughter, my sweet girl...had arrived at 2:05 p.m. She certainly was small. Only 6 pounds 5 ounces and 18 inches long. But she cried and got a bright pink color to her.

Within a few minutes they got her cleaned off and she was brought over for me to see. I turned my head as much as I could to face her. She looked perfect in her tiny white cap. Her eyes were puffy and swollen, but she looked at me and I know that right then, she knew me. What we had been through during those months together...how would I ever be able to explain it to her? And how could I have ever thought the things that I did about her? She was beautiful. Hailey Jane had arrived. And I'd like to say this is where the story ends and that we all lived happily ever after. But in that second, the story had only begun.





And The Angels Sang...

I fixed it!!!!!!!! I have been tinkering on this dumb computer all day and I fixed the problem with the browser! Well that is not true. I went in the back door through another browser, and turned out I like that browser even better so I'm keeping it! I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. It's the ever so small victories in life that make me feel great. Maybe tonight I can get on here and start on a massive six week update!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Technical Difficulties

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. For some reason, my server has been down. I'm going to call my sister-in-law who does I.T. and see if she can help me get it up and running again. I will have a ton of catching up to do by then!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Feeling Better

I'm doing better now. I want to thank everyone who has sent warm thoughts and prayers my way. I know they've helped because I've felt them. This has been a very hard month for us and it's a bummer way to kick off the holiday season, but I know that I have much to be thankful for. Life is about trials, right? It's necessary, but not fun. I'm ready to pick up this saga where I left off. Maybe I can grab 20 minutes before bed tonight and write some more. I have a messy kitchen and living room to clean up first!

BTW, my family blog has been set to private, but if you'd like an invite feel free to send me your email and I'll add you to my list!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Normalizing Again

Can you ever really be normal again after something like this happens to you? I'm hoping that I can be. It's been nine days since I lost our sweet baby and it's been a terrible week. The emotional roller coaster has been a very intense ride. But the last few days have been good to me. I can't thank my wonderful friends and family enough for being so loving and supportive during this hard time.

I am leaving in a few days for our Thanksgiving Vacation so I will likely be MIA until I get back. But I'm anxious to get back to writing, especially since I've had some new insight through this most recent experience. I am anxious to get it written, so check back in a couple of weeks and see what this lady has to say!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Set Back

I posted last week that I was pregnant. That took a bad turn and I've suffered a miscarriage this week. It's been a terrible experience and one that I hope to never repeat. We are devastated, but life goes on and this ache will hopefully diminish as time passes. So I will likely be MIA for a while as I pick up the pieces and move forward. I will post again when I'm up to it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Really Busy

Sorry for no new episodes lately. Our household is super busy, especially with the holidays in full force now. And I recently found out I'm pregnant and I'm REALLY tired and getting yucky morning sickness....so this blog has been on the back burner. If you are not a yet a follower through Blogger, add me to your list and it will inform you as soon as I update, so you don't have to keep checking back only to be disappointed. I'll write more when I get some free time!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Episode 29- The Morning Of (Part I)

All the preparations were done. The house was clean, bags were packed, meals were sitting in the fridge. I put Ethan to bed and sat in the darkness and starred at the clock. Cody's plane would be in shortly and I prayed that everything would go smoothly. We had both been apprehensive about him making a trip so close to the delivery, but there wasn't much he could do about it. He had to go, so we did a lot of praying that he would make it back in time.

I watched the weather and constantly checked his flight status online and although everything was going as planned, I still felt apprehensive and scared. The moment Cody walked through the door I breathed a huge sigh of relief and hugged him tightly. It was almost midnight and we had a huge day ahead of us. So I popped several pills and tried to get some sleep. Again I hadn't been aloud to eat anything and empty stomach kept me awake.

At 5:00 the next morning I got ready and went out to shovel snow. I had so much adrenaline pumping through my veins and I needed to release it. Aunt Lyn arrived to stay with Ethan and Cody and I gently kissed him goodbye as not to wake him, and then we crept out the door.

I was delivering the baby at 38 weeks and 5 days. Draper had a policy where he would not electively perform a c-section before 39 weeks without doing an amnio first to check for lung development. I guess he had seen his share of 38 weekers with immature lungs, so he insisted on checking that before beginning the surgery.

The amnio was quick and almost painless. The tech was guided by ultrasound and we were able to watch everything on the screen. "Your baby has hair," she said to us. She pointed it out and sure enough, we could see tiny wisps floating around in there. As I looked at her I suddenly felt excited. That was my baby and I would meet her shortly.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Episode 28- Our Last Day Together

The next few days were hard. Cody had to go out of town to Philadelphia and I was left alone with Ethan. I had never been left completely alone with him over night. To the normal person it would not have been a big deal...but I wasn't normal. So it was hard.

The day Cody left I sat alone in the living room and felt so small. He had made some casseroles and easy dinners for me so I didn't have to do anything, and I was grateful for it. But I felt very small, very alone, and very scared. There was a terrible snow storm that week that never seemed to let up. And apparently it was really bad out east where Cody was.

I kept myself occupied during the day making final preparations for the baby's arrival. The day before her birth I took Ethan out to drive around the University hospital. This is where I would be in a few short hours. How would our lives change? We then went to Baskin Robins to get some ice cream (even though it was January and 20 degrees outside). We sat there together and I tried desperately to take in the moment.

As I gazed into his sweet face covered in chocolate, I wondered how I would ever love another child as much as I loved him. It wasn't possible and I didn't see how it would ever happen. Feelings of anger ran through me as I thought of how our time was short. Soon there would be another person vying for my attention. Ethan would inevitably get the shaft and there was nothing I could do about it.

That night I let him stay up as long as he wanted to. We cuddled on the couch and watched American Idol and then Bob the Builder until he drifted off to sleep in my lap. I stroked his soft blond curls and sobbed. I did not want this time to end.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Journaling

I've had many people ask me how I remember so many details and how I'm able to write it all in story form. I have always been a serious chronicler and documenter, so obviously I kept a journal through this event. Some people have said that they would have blocked most of this from memory of it had happened to them. Well I feel that it is a gift that I remember the details so vividly. And as I sit and write, it amazes me how the memories come flooding back as if it were yesterday. When I get to the episodes surrounding my second hospitalization, I will likely take pieces directly from the journal because I don't think I'll be able to reenact that kind of drama. Some of those entries are extremely ugly and terrifying.

I know it is a gift from God that allows me to remember, because through writing it out, I am helping people. I can't count the numerous emails I get from strangers who say this story is helping them. Either they themselves have/are experiencing something similar or someone close to them is going through it. So I feel that the Lord is blessing me as I write to be able to conjure up feelings and emotions that I otherwise would try to suppress.

I've also had people ask me if I would consider writing a book. The answer to that is- I don't know. Draper and I talked about it on a few occasions, but I never thought anyone would be interested in publishing anything like this. Who would read it anyway? So that is why I decided to start the blog a few months ago. Maybe one day it will get turned into a book, but for now I'm slowly chronicling it this way. If anything, I want my posterity to be able to read what I've written.

I've also had people ask me how I'm able to write about this and not get sucked back into depression. Again, I think the Lord is helping me and shielding me at the same time. And I decided when I first started writing that I would only allow myself twenty minutes at a time to blog. I have a timer here on the desk and when I sit down to write I set it for twenty minutes. When it dings, I have to stop. Then I pick right back up where I left off. So that's one way I don't get sucked back in.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Episode 27- The Day of Decision

I laid in bed that night and starred at the ceiling. There was a possibility that we would hear bad news at the appointment the next day and that we would deliver a baby that day. What would be wrong with her? Why was she so little? So I didn't sleep much. And the sleep that did come was very restless at that.

We dropped Ethan off at Lance and Courtnee's that morning. It was wonderful knowing that he was in good hands with his Aunt and Uncle and they were more than accommodating in the chance of him needing to spend the night. Then we were off to the hospital. I was in agony as we waited for our turn in the ultrasound room. I had been instructed not to eat anything after midnight the previous night. Obviously my hunger pains contributed a little to my lack of sleep that night. Here it was almost lunch time and my poor belly was empty!

I held my breath during most of the test. We were again assured that our baby was in fact a girl and that everything was perfect. They took very detailed measurements and that looked good too. From what they could tell, she was right on target and in perfect health. So we then went in to see Draper down the hall. I sat there in the exam room and felt so relieved. I told Cody that when we left there I wanted to get a big fat cheeseburger. "What makes you so sure that you are going home? You don't know that Draper is going to be happy with the results." Then a pit formed in my stomach as we waited for him to come in.

It turned out that according to the test, the baby was measuring in the 60th percentile for size. Draper was in fact happy with the results and we were given the okay to go home. We were instructed to be back there in one week for her actual delivery. I wanted to jump for joy!

Cody and I immediately dashed out of there and headed for TGI Friday's. We had eaten at this particular restaurant several times while dating and before having children. It brought back so many fond memories of when life was simple. As the two of us sat there and ate (and while I wolfed down any parcel of food in sight) things felt safe and for a brief time, I felt happy.

Episode 26- The Dream

I barely slept at all that week, even less than I normally did. The pills kept coming and I did my best to make final plans for our girl's imminent arrival. My feelings about her were so torn. On one hand I wanted to pretend like she wasn't going to be born and that the whole pregnancy had been a terrible nightmare. I was sure I would wake up any minute.

But on the other hand, I was looking froward to finally meeting her. Draper and Schneiman both felt confident that things would get better once she was born. They thought that the majority of my problems had been hormonal. Little did they know that it was largely due to the poison I swallowed on a daily basis, poison which I had grown terribly dependent on.

As I sat on her bedroom floor folding tiny little onesies and receiving blankets, I thought about what the next few weeks held in store for us. What really would take place once she was born? How would I feel about her? Would I ever be able to love her? Would I love Ethan less? How would I share the love?

I began having a reoccurring nightmare that week, which was a large reason why sleep wouldn't come. In my dream, he and I are sitting on the living room floor playing with blocks. Then I hear him say "Mommy..." in a far off way. So I look up only to see him dissolving into thin air. I yell his name and he only gets farther away until he is gone. I then look down and in my lap is a baby swaddled in a pink blanket. And then I wake up.

Schneiman said it was my fear of losing Ethan when the baby came. I was worried that she would steal my love and attention away from him. She would take his place, I suppose. It was a terrible dream and one that I couldn't shake when the light of dawn hit my face. It made me hold Ethan tighter and longer during the day because it was, after all, the only precious time I had left with him.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Episode 25- A Hard Realization

The holidays came and went. I spent most of the days around Christmas with my feet up because I was contracting constantly. But the baby never decided to come early and I was grateful.

Cody had a company party at a hotel downtown the first week of January and my little sister came into town to babysit Ethan so we could have a night off. To say I felt miserable the entire night was an understatement. It was horrible and I was so swollen. Ironically, I gained the least amount of weight with Hailey and she was the smallest baby yet, but I was the most swollen by far. My fingers and toes looked like sausages and I could barely bend my wrists and ankles.

On this particular night I sat through dinner and the performance just counting the minutes until we could leave. About half way through the evening I started contracting again, but this time they didn't let up. They worsened and finally I told Cody we needed to get going. I wasn't due for three more weeks, but maybe the baby had other plans.

I remember having a hard time breathing while I waited in the lobby for Cody to get the car. I had to breathe through the contractions and I felt certain that the baby was on her way. But by the time we got home and I got into a warm tub of water, I felt much better and the contractions stopped.

A few days later I had an OB appointment and Ethan went with me, of course. My c-section had been scheduled for January 19th which was still two weeks away. I was Draper's last patient of the day and he did all of the standard measurements. It was nice that he wasn't rushed to get off to another patient because we were able to sit there and talk. I had grown to like our weekly visits because I felt like I could unload on him in a way that I couldn't on people who were closer to me.

As he measured my belly, I mentioned to him that I was concerned that I wasn't very big. People were always making comments to me that I was tiny for being so far along. Underweightedness was a possiblele fetal side effect from all my medications and that was always a worry in the not so back part of my mind. Draper and I talked about it and he said that I was in fact measuring small. So he scheduled an ultrasound for the following week.

He said to come to the hospital that day with a bag packed and arrangements made in case I needed to deliver. I was so confused! I assumed that if she was too small, then they would want to let her cook a while longer to ripen more. But he said that if the ultrasound suggested she was measuring below a certain point, he would want to go on an deliver her because that would signal a possible problem and she would need to get out right then and there, but he did want to give it another week to see how things progressed. So we made the appointment and I left the office.

The moment I got in my car I began sobbing in deep heaves. I cried the whole way home and when I walked in the door I was met by Cody's concerned face. I relayed to him what had taken place with Draper and I cried "Cody, this is our last baby for sure. I just can't do this again. My heart can not take anymore!!!" We had been going back and forth about our family size. Were we done? Should we chance it one more time? Should we go on and do something permanent upon delivery? But at this point my mind was made up. So the two of us sat there on the couch and he let me cry it out as he held me. The dream of our big family had been shattered.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Jumping Ahead- Why I Love Hailey

As I sit here and read what I have written, I am distraught to see my feelings toward her so long ago. But in my defense, they weren't my real feelings at all. They were the feelings of a deranged, addicted, sleep deprived, disconnected, crazy, and overly emotional person who had taken over my body.

I am writing this so that my readers don't become too disheartened. I want you to know how much I love, adore, and cherish the sweet person who lived with my through this ordeal. As I tucked her into bed tonight, I was overcome with such deep feelings of love that my heart almost burst from my chest. We have gone through so much together, and I'm very thankful that Heavenly Father trusted me and loved me enough to assign me to be her mother. It is a task that seems daunting on an almost daily basis, but what mom doesn't feel that way about motherhood, right?

Hailey has an incredible life force about her. Her spirit is so strong and she has an awesome mission to fulfill in this life. How lucky am I to be such a huge part of her life, and to able to raise her and love her day to day. I know that one day she will read this and she will be saddened by my harsh words. So I say this to her.

Hailey, my sweet angel.
You were sent here to teach me lessons in life that I could learn no other way. I often wonder if maybe we were friends in the life before we came to earth. I wonder if we made a pact to love each other, help each other, and look out for each other along the way. The circumstances surrounding your entry into this world were likely not what we had in mind, but I wouldn't change it for anything. The things I have learned because of our experience together are priceless and they were necessary. Hailey, look at how far we've come. I love you more than you will ever be able to understand in this life. There is nothing I wouldn't do for you, no price high enough, no sacrifice too great, if it means that it will ensure your happiness and your eternal salvation. You are my precious girl and I don't know what I did to deserve the honor of being your mother. I love you.





Episode 24- The December Illness

I believe it was the second Friday in December 2005. I went to bed that night feeling very sick to my stomach but I had no idea what had caused it. By this time I had added 50 mg of Benadryl to my nightly cocktail so I downed my meds and tried to sleep.

I tossed and turned as the discomfort in my stomach worsened. I threw up many times during the night and had my first night of complete sleeplessness in months. As the light crept in through the window I realized dawn had arrived and I went into hysterics as I realized I hadn't slept at all. 100% insomnia had become my greatest fear because I worried that one sleepless night would send me into another tailspin and that I would start hearing voices again and end up back in the hospital.

I crawled out of bed and went down stairs to wake Cody up. I just needed to be near him and feel his warmth. At this point I thought I'd been food poisoned and that it wasn't a virus. By mid morning I was in serious pain and it was stemming from my stomach. I continued to vomit so Cody called Dr. Draper. He called in a prescription of
Phenergan and Cody ran to the pharmacy to pick them up. At this point we were all worried about dehydration because I couldn't keep anything down.

While Cody was gone, I spent my time on the bathroom floor. I began having what was feeling like contractions, but it wasn't that because it was only on one side of my body. But every few minutes an intense pain would hit and I would scream out in agony. Cody finally got home and I took the medication, only to throw up soon thereafter. Dr. Draper had said that if I continued to throw up I needed to get up to L&D to get on an IV.

We decided that was the best bet so we packed up and left. But I made sure that I grabbed all my meds just on case I was going to be there for a while. The thought of being away from my candy made me sicker than I already was.

I was on an IV and monitored for hours. The pain in my left side had subsided a little, or maybe it was just the drug in my IV that made the pain subside. Late that afternoon they discharged me and we went home. When we got home Cody took Ethan to do a massive grocery shopping trip. While they were gone I wandered into the bedroom, still groggy from the IV medication. I drifted in and out of twilight sleep for a few hours, even after the guys got home.

I got up to go to the bathroom and I noticed that I'd passed a kidney stone. Oh okay, that sure explained it. It hadn't been a stomach bug at all. I'd passed many kidney stones in my adult life, some mild, some that made me want to put a bullet in my head. This one had been one of the more mild ones, but it still made me throw up and hurt a lot.

I tried to relax a little because I knew that I would sleep better that night now that the culprit was no more. Around midnight I laid down and tried to fall into real sleep...but sleep didn't come. The harder I tried, the less successful I was so I finally got out of bed and started pacing the floor. I don't know how ling I paced, but I think I wore a path into the carpet. I then sat back on the bed and starred at the blinds as traces of street lights showed through.

Then out of no where a beast errupted from within me and I began to punch the pillow. I got on all fours and beat the crap out of the thing. I punched and I ripped and I cursed. I remember shouting out "I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!" And I know who I was talking to. The baby. I hated her at that moment. I hated what she had done to me and I hated who I'd become. And it was all her fault! At that moment I wished that she'd never come about. Here she hadn't even been born yet and I wished she never would be. And so I punched the pillow and cried and somewhere along the line I fell asleep.

Episode 23- 3D Ultrasound

My mom had been asking me what I'd like for Christmas and I knew there was only one thing. I wanted an ultrasound session with Fetal Fotos, one of those 3D ultrasound franchises. I knew that she would be our last baby and I really wanted to have this done. I also felt that by seeing her in such a real way, that maybe I would feel more connected to her. So I made an appointment for around 32 weeks (even though it was before Christmas).

During the entire thing I held my breath as I waited to see something bad on the screen. I feared that there would be something wrong that hadn't been caught on a previous ultrasound. The tech looked and looked and only had wonderful things to say. But even as I laid there on the bed and saw that beautiful baby on the screen I still didn't feel the connection that I longed for. Instead, I felt very sad.

Cody hadn't wanted to go with me that day. It hurt so much that he wouldn't be a part of it and his lack of interest made me feel like even HE didn't care about the baby. As I drove home that evening the tears feel like rain. Why was it so hard for us to feel kindly toward this innocent girl? Did we love her at all? She had done nothing wrong, yet she was being born into a family that might not give her the best life she deserved. Over the next few days I starred at the pictures and watched the video intently. I prayed that somehow I would feel that this baby was in fact mine and that I was capable of giving her love.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Episode 22- Pre-Term Labor

A few days before Thanksgiving I had an appointment with Schneiman. I happened to take Ethan along with me that day for the heck of it, as I sometimes did. He would usually sit on the floor in the room and tinker with some little gadgets that Schneiman had. I actually loved taking Ethan along with me.

On this particular day, I left the office and as I held Ethan on my hip I walked down five steps right outside that led to the parking lot. I lost my footing and fell forward, flat on top of Ethan. His poor head caught my fall and my entire stomach. He conked his head so hard on the pavement and he didn't make a sound at first. I was completely terrified and panicky as I scooped him back up. Finally he began to cry and I did too.

The whole thing happened so quickly and I didn't know what to do. I was very afraid that he had a concussion and rather than run back into Schneiman's office, I instinctively called Cody on my cell phone as I held my screaming toddler. Cody asked me if I was okay to drive and I said yes. He then said he would meet me the children's hospital. To this day I don't know why I didn't go back into the office and ask for help. Obviously I wasn't thinking clearly at all.

I prayed the whole way to the hospital that Ethan was okay. I was afraid he would lose consciousness on the way there, but he never did. I ran into the ER and my arm was covered in blood as I held him. The nurse grabbed him from me and started asking me questions. She then noticed a huge gash on my wrist which was the actual source of the blood. My arms must have grabbed his head right before he hit the pavement and my wrist bore the brunt of it.

As she continued questioning me, she noticed me wincing in pain. She finally asked if it was the pain from my wrist or something else. I told her I was contracting and we were quickly rushed into an exam room. The next few moments were surreal. A doctor came in to examine Ethan, who turned out to be fine. Another doctor came in to check on me and she discovered I was having regular contractions only four minutes apart. They took some blood from me and found that I had virtually no sugars in it. I then realized that I hadn't eaten all day. This was common practice for me. Between the high doses of meds I was on and the depression, I never had an appetite. It is a wonder how I gained fifty pounds during that pregnancy.

By this time Cody had arrived and he took over care of Ethan. It was so strange being treated in a children's hospital! I was hooked up to an IV and they got me to drink lots of juice and eat cookies. But the contractions kept coming and they were starting to become more painful. The nurse called Dr. Draper and he said to send me right over to Labor and Delivery at the University hospital. Luckily the two hospitals were on the same campus and were linked by an indoor bridge, so the nurse wheeled me over to the other wing.

Once I was in LD they hooked me up to a fetal monitor and sure enough, the contractions kept coming. A resident came in to check me and said that my cervix was still tight and thick, so that was great news. But for the next two hours I continued to contract despite anything I did (or didn't do). I was only 32 weeks along and I felt like I would have the baby soon. I prayed so hard that it wouldn't happen and finally around 10:00 that night, the contractions suddenly stopped!

I had been lying in a hospital bed for several hours watching dumb re-runs on TV, so I was very distracted from what had happened and worse- what could have happened. After a thorough evaluation, they decided I was in good enough shape to be discharged, so late that night I drove home with Ethan asleep in the back seat while Cody drove ahead in his car. What had started out as a two hour trip to Schneiman's office that day had turned into much more.

When I finally pulled into the garage I looked in the back seat to see my precious boy sleeping soundly, his head slightly tilted against his car seat. He looked so sweet and innocent and thoughts began racing through my mind of what could have happened. What if my wrist hadn't caught him and he'd busted his head open on the pavement. What if he'd hit it just right and he...died?

And then I thought about the baby kicking in my belly. What if something had happened to her? She had endured so much already in the seven months since I'd known her. What if something terrible had happened to her too? I tried to block the thoughts from my mind but it didn't work. I slumped down the seat and sobbed silently for several minutes and then finally I got Ethan out of the car and went inside the house. I quickly put him to bed and then raced into the kitchen to get some meds. I needed to be high and right then too. I'm not sure what I took or how much, but I was successful at getting into a deep fog and staying like that the rest of the night.

Episode 21- Dr. Newman

Dr. Draper decided to refer me out to a psychiatrist who could handle my prescription needs. He felt that the psych could better know drug interactions and possibly some more affective drugs.

I actually began seeing Dr. Newman in September shortly after the Zoloft experience. On our first few session it felt a lot like talking to Dr. Schneiman, however Newman was much more quiet and reserved. And he seemed overly willing to prescribe me anything I wanted. He had a million samples in his office and was always asking me if I wanted some. But I exhibited some self control and passed.

But on one visit that fall I told him I wanted to try the new Ambien CR sleep aid that I'd seen heavily advertised all over TV. He was eager to prescribe it for me. That is what I learned about those doctors. They are in the drug business and are alwasy excited to push a new drug on you.

So I started the Ambien CR and continued to see Newman twice a month. He never really counseled me on anything. It was always a drug re-evaluation to see how things were working for me and what I wanted to change. This seemed to help with my Ativan problem because I told him I needed a higher dose and he was all for it, never questioning my level of addiction. So I upped that and I upped the Trazodone too. I was high as a kite. What a cocktail I swallowed every evening!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Episode 20- Working the System

As time went on, my dependecy on my meds only worsened. I remembered how upon discharge from the hospital during the summer, the psychs said I should be off all drugs within thirty days. Months had passed and not only was I not off of them, my dosages on everything had increased and I was highly addicted. It was a physical addiction for sure, but morover it was a psychological addiction.

There were nights when I would be sitting there alone in the darkness and wonder what it would be like to dump all my pills down the disposal. What if I was to never take them again? I would entertain the idea for a moment, then I would panic at the thought and I couldn't get those pills down my throat fast enough. I was aware that I would be hooked on pills for the rest of my life. It was something I had come to accept.

During this time Cody's mind and sainity began to suffer as well. You've heard of sympathy weight, referring to the weight a man gains during his wife's pregnancy. Well Cody was experiencing sympathy insainty and sympathy insomnia. He wasn't sleeping well amd I convinced him to go to the doctor to get started on some meds too. We would be one happy pill popping family! Our family practitioner prescribed him ATIVAN!!! I was so thrilled, and this is why-

Ativan is a controlled substance and I was only able to fill it once every thirty days. I would go in to see Dr. Draper but I was never fully honest with him. He would ask me how I was doing and how the meds were working for me. I always wanted to tell him that I wasn't surviving on 2 mg of Ativan a day. I really needed at least 4 mg. I was afraid that he would see that my addiction was out of hand and by some turn of events I would end up hospitalized again. So I would lie to him and.

For thirty days I would only have sixty mg of Ativan, but I would always use it up by about day fifteen. Do the math and you'll see that I was out of the stuff long before the end of the month. No way no how could I refill it before then. So when Cody came home with his prescription for Ativan I was ellated because I knew I could steal his. Even if he needed it, I didn't care. All I cared about was having more at my disposal. If he noticed his pills were being depeleted, I would figure out some way to cover it up or make up some lie about how they got dumped. At the moment I didn't care about the consequences. All I cared about was my next fix.

So as soon as my thirty day supply was gone, I began to dig into Cody's. Luckily for me, the Trazodone was not as highly controlled so I always had more of that on hand. If for somre reason I ever ran short on Ativan, I would double up on Trazodone and get my fix that way. Or if I didn't have enough of those, I would take anything else in the medicine cabinet that had a similar effect. Nyquil, benadryl, cough syrup, Xanex, codine or percocet (left over from a back injury)...anything to make myself feel high.

Watching Your Child Cry

It's often times so hard to sit back and watch your baby suffer. There is so much that they go through during the first year alone that is necessary pain. Necessary or not, it kills me to watch them hurt.

I remember when Ethan cut his first teeth and he was miserable. I did my best to soothe his aches and calm his fussiness, but there wasn't really anything I could do to make the hurt stop. When Hailey cut her first molars it was hell for all of us. I remember one day when she was fifteen months old I did nothing all day but hold her against me and cry along with her. She would scream and scream, then quiet down and finally fall asleep. Then the pain would start again and she would scream some more.

I rocked miles with her in that rocking chair during that month. Then one day Cody was brushing her teeth and he yelled excitedly "Get in here and feel this! Those suckers finally popped through!" Sure enough, we could feel sharp points on the back of her gums. Things were a lot better after that and I know she enjoyed her new found chompers because it made eating crunching things much easier. She was much happier from then on, until the next set of teeth came in.

I have often thought about that night when I sat in my car in the Targert parking lot and had that "discussion" with Heavenly Father. Looking back on it, I wonder how it made him feel. I wonder if he sat by me that night and held my hand and cried with me. I wonder if, in someway, he too tried to rock me to sleep and hurt as I hurt. How many miles did he calmly rock me during that time.

As much as I love my own children, I know that Heavenly Father loves me even more. He was my first father and I am his little girl. He saw the bigger picture and knew that I had to endure that terrible trial. He had a purpose and I'm sure he wanted to badly to be able to show it to me. But instead, I had to learn to trust him. He knew that it was for my own good that I go through it. But just like a loving parent, I'm sure he would have done alomst anything to make the hurt stop.

If I walked away from this experience having learned only one thing, it is that Heavenly Father knows me so personally. He knows who I am and he loves me more than I'll ever understand in this life. He gives me challenges so that I can grow, but he is always there wanting to help me along the way. He doesn't intend for me to suffer alone. He suffers right along with me and wipes my tears away. I can call on him any time that I need to and he is so quick to listen. I don't know if I could have developed a testimony of this on such a level any other way. And for that alone, I am thankful.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Episode 19- Target

It was a cold and wet evening in mid October when Cody sent me out to run an errand. This particular day had been exceptionally bad for me and for no real reason at all I had spent most of the day in and out of tears. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d gone the entire day with out food and water. Whenever I tried to pull myself together, something would remind me of the nightmare I was living and the feeling of hopelessness would consume me all over again. Each time I felt the baby move I would be overcome with feelings of guilt. Guilt for not wanting the baby, guilt for despising her for what she was doing to me, and guilt for being such a dreadful mother. For days I had been fantasizing about what it would be like not to exist anymore. I don’t think I necessarily wanted to end my life, I simply didn’t want to be alive at all…not ever.

Cody could tell by the condition of the house and the expression on my face when he walked through the door that evening that something was very wrong and I needed to get away. The house was in total disarray. Dirty dishes were piled high in the sink, laundry was scattered through out the entire house, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ethan was still in his pajamas covered in his breakfast. Truth be told, I didn’t even shower that day.

It didn’t take a genius to realize that I needed help, so my dear husband told me to get away for a while so he could take care of Ethan. We had been doing some organizing in the basement and had run out of plastic storage bins, so that seemed to be the ideal thing for me to go fetch from the store. I didn’t hesitate when he said I should go. I was in such a fog from all the crying I had done that day, and I don’t remember grabbing my car keys and heading out the door. I just remember that I suddenly found myself driving down the highway, and from the surrounding landmarks I gathered that I must be heading toward Target. At this point my whole body felt numb and I didn’t think in a million years that my tear ducts had anything left to give. So I pulled in to the Target parking lot, took a deep breath, and headed through the front doors.

Once inside the store, I felt the world spinning around me. I looked up at the fluorescent lights and I saw a jillion little spots dancing on the ceiling. For a few moments, I couldn’t even remember where I was or how I got there. I grabbed a shopping cart and began to push it. I knew I was there for a specific purpose and I figured if I wandered long enough I would remember what that purpose was.

And then I smelled it. It was the familiar scent of popcorn making its way from the snack center and suddenly I was taken back two decades to a little league game in Texas. There I was, six years old standing in the ball park complex where my brothers played ball each season. The smell of popcorn lingered in the air and I never failed to beg my mom to buy me a bag of my own. Popcorn and cherry flavored Jolly Ranchers which where always sold at the concession stand seemed to be staples of little league for me.

But there I stood in what seemed to be a million miles from the security of childhood. There in that Target store I stood with my hair still damp from the rain outside, breathing in ever so deeply that familiar scent of innocence. The simple smell of popcorn instantaneously reminded me of what it was like to be naive, small, and unattached. I kept my eyes closed tightly as not to let in the reality of what lay beyond the safe feeling of the Bear Creek Baseball Complex in Houston, Texas.

My body felt completely weak and I didn’t think I had the strength to face yet again the despair that was encompassing me. As long as I kept my eyes closed I could feel my dad’s warm embrace around my tiny six year old body. I could even detect hints of Old Spice aftershave on his skin. And I knew that if I stayed like that long enough, the soothing sound of my mother’s voice reading to me could be heard above the ringing cries of help in my head.

I’m sure I looked like a moron standing there like I was. Then I heard a voice come over the PA system and I suddenly jerked back to reality. That flicker of happiness was gone in a second and I realized I was still standing there holding on to the cart. Oh that’s right. I had come to the store for something. I still couldn’t remember what it was, but somehow my feet obeyed the message sent from my brain and I began to walk. My empty shopping cart felt as if it had one thousand pounds in it and it seemed impossible to push.

As I started down one of the main aisles, I looked straight ahead of me and even though it was probably only two hundred feet to the back of the store, it looked as if it was an endless trek to reach it. My perception of everything was utterly blurred. Everything continued to spin around me, but I kept on walking. I could hear noises around me. People were talking, music overhead was playing, even the wheels on the cart were squeaking. But it was all an empty echo in my head. All life around me was being played in slow motion.

I guess I decided to wander until I recognized what I had come to the store to get. I have no idea how long I wandered for, but at one point I rounded a corner to see a display of neon orange and black storage bins. Who on earth would pick such hideous colors to keep in their house? And then I remembered it was nearing Halloween and above the display was a sign that read “For your Halloween d├ęcor needs”. I thought for a minute about whether or not to buy storage bins in such dramatic colors. I thought about it and thought about it. Looking back, it was a very trivial decision. One might say to themselves “Who cares about the color. They will be stored out of sight in the basement anyway.” But to me, as I stood there weighing out the pros and cons in my mind it seemed astronomical.

My body began to tremble and I could feel the hot sting of tears welling up in my eyes. Why couldn’t I get my head on straight enough to make such a simple decision? If I chose not to get them in that color, I could easily find some others in another department of the store. It really wasn’t a big deal at all. But at that moment I couldn’t think rationally about anything, and I suppose this was the final straw for me.

I buried my face in my hands as to control my sobbing. I wasn’t going to let this monster take a hold of me again, not right there in the middle of the store and give strangers the opportunity to gawk at this crazy lady. Somehow I got a hold of myself, wiped the tears from my eyes, and began pulling bins from the shelf to load into the cart.

For some reason I had the impulse to take off one of the black lids, perhaps because I thought something scary might be lurking inside. After all it was Halloween. I unsnapped the lid and peeked inside and of course found nothing but the potent smell of plastic hit me. Satisfied with the emptiness, I went to snap it back on. And then I saw it. On the underside of the lid was a bright yellow warning sticker with a horrific sketch of a baby being locked inside. In huge black letters it read “Warning- may cause suffocation.”

I can barely describe what I felt next. My heart began to beat so fast that it felt as though I was having a heart attack. It was as if I was living that experience with the Zoloft from September all over again. The pit of my stomach came right up to my mouth and I could taste vomit. I quickly clasped a hand over my mouth and luckily swallowed whatever had made its way back up my esophagus. This time there was no possible way to control the tears and they poured like faucets from my eyes.

I dropped the lid I was still holding on to as all strength left me and I sank to the floor. Something inside of me began to scream and I longed to let it out for all to hear. Instead, I sat there and sobbed silent tears into my jacket sleeve. I clenched my eyes closed and all I could see was Ethan’s little body lying lifelessly inside that bin. It wasn’t real by any means, but it didn’t matter to me. In my mind it had already come to pass. Part of me really thought that when I went back home that night I would be met by paramedics and neighbors telling me that Ethan had been found dead inside a storage bin. All logic was totally gone and I sat there and cried for my loss.

I don’t know how long I was there on the floor, but it was probably somewhere around five minutes. I wonder how many people passed by me asking themselves what in the world could be wrong. At one point I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up through blurry eyes to see a man in a red shirt kneeling beside me. “Are you okay, Mam?” I could hear fuzzy voices coming from his walkie talkie and I could see his nametag which read “Chris”.

I looked at him blankly for several seconds, wiped my eyes and told him I was fine- I was just having a bad day. Normally I would have been humiliated by what had just taken place. But in my state of mind I don’t know if I was fully aware of anything that was going on. Chris then asked me my name and it was as if everything inside of my brain was gone. I didn’t know how I had gotten to the store, what day it was, or even my own name! I knew I had to tell him something, and I think I told him my name was Jennifer or Janet or something like that.

All I wanted right then was to be exiled away from all life. I wanted no one around me and after a moment, Chris walked away. Somehow I convinced him that things were okay. Again I’m sure I did a great job of lying, something I’d become a pro at in the last few months. I gathered all of my lost marbles from the floor and gained some composure and decided to finish what I had set out to do when coming to the store. I loaded up my shopping cart and attempted desperately to push the image of Ethan’s lifeless body out of my mind.

It seemed like a never ending walk from that aisle up to the check out stands, and it seemed like an even farther distance from there to my car. After I made my purchase I said to myself “Okay, now all you have to do is make it to the car and then you can explode again.” As I stepped outside I could feel the rain falling down all over me. The air was frigid and I thought for a moment that it was far too cold to be July. Why was it so cold if it was summer time?

I looked around me, so confused and alone. “No wait a second,” I thought silently. “Halloween decorations were out in the store. It must be October. The cold makes sense then.” Even though I was freezing and wet, I was in no hurry to get to the car. I walked sluggishly through the parking lot, taking in the chilled, damp air. It so perfectly mirrored my every thought and it was like the weather itself was the only thing on the face of the earth that understood how I felt. So in some twisted way, I took comfort in it.

I loaded the storage bins into the car and slumped down in the front seat. I sat there for quite a while, starring vacantly into the night. I didn’t care that I was soaking wet from head to toe or that my hands were so cold that I could barely feel them. And then from out of no where, a sound ruptured from deep within my soul. It came out in such a violent way that it almost scared me to hear it. I began to scream and scream, and then scream some more. It was like everything that had been bottled up, everything that I was afraid to tell anyone, every bit of anxiety, anger, and fear came bursting out of me. I felt like a three year old child throwing the tantrum of the century. The tears gushed freely and I clutched my abdomen as I felt the baby begin to kick vigorously. I’m sure that this outburst was quite alarming for her. I was crying in heaves so hard that I thought my lungs would burst. I could imagine the baby saying “Mommy, why are you so sad?”

“I don’t know!!!” I yelled out. I started banging on the steering wheel with my fist. “I don’t know why this is happening to me! I don’t know what’s wrong with me! Why me?! Why, God?! Why?!”

For the next several minutes I had a very intense conversation with God. Well, it wasn’t really a conversation so much as I was simply letting God have it. Then the fear and anxiety changed to pure rage. I was so angry with God and I wanted Him to know exactly what He had done to me. I felt like He had taken this perfectly capable, sane, happy, thriving human being and broken her. And for no reason at all! “Is this some kind of joke to you? Do you get a kick out of seeing me like this?” I felt so powerless and the only way to combat it was to scream. Here was God, this gigantic and powerful being, totally in control of my life and everything that happened to me. And here I was, an insignificant pawn in His little game. I was being tossed around, moved this way and that, all for His pleasure.

And so I yelled, and cried, and beat my fist so hard that one of my knuckles began to bleed. “Why won’t you just take this from me?” I pleaded over and over. “I know you can. You can do anything, and yet you won’t do such a simple thing for me. Make me sane again! Let me sleep again! Make me want to live! Take these terrible thoughts from me! Just give me back the person I once was!”

I caught my breath and sank back into the seat. That episode had completely exhausted me and I had no more voice to yell. “Okay, God,” I sighed “You win.” I sat there in the dark for a long time and cried for the better part of an hour. And then by some miracle, an ounce of logic entered my mind and I had the brilliant idea to listen to the silence. I bowed my head and humbly prayed “Dear Lord, please help me. Help me.”

I don’t fully understand what took place next. All I know is that I was suddenly calm and the foreign feeling of tranquility overtook my body. It had been so long since I’d felt anything like it, but I sat there and tried to absorb it. Then it was as if I saw a flicker of light before me. I know it wasn’t a real light, but in my mind I saw hope. I was encompassed by this deep, dark tunnel, and at the end there was a pinhole sized light shining through. I think that when we are going through a trial, God does allow us a little breathing time. Wave upon wave crashes down on you, but in between each one you get a second to take a breath of air before the next one crashes. And as I sat there in my car on that cold and rainy night, I was allowed a small breath of air. I was completely aware that the calmness I was feeling was fleeting and that I would likely feel the despair and confusion again.

But for a tiny moment, I was calm.

Episode 18- The Move

The big day finally arrived. We closed on our house and moved in on September 24, 2005. That first night in our new home was crazy and a little unerving, but I made it through okay. I had been looking forward to the moved because it meant a fresh start for us. No one new of my condition and I was going to do everything I could to keep people from finding out. Even if that meant that I was a hermit, I would keep it a secret as best I could.

Everything surrounding our new house was a stresser for Cody and me. It had taken a toll on our marriage, even before my illness began. We had been house hunting for months and we couldn't agree on anything. There were days when divorce seemed like the only option for us! Not really, but it was very stressful. Then I found this new dvelopment and I was excited about it. Cody, however, hated it and was against it from the start. But in the end I won and he resented me for it.

Then I got sick and our marriage suffered terribly. Looking back on it, I don't know how we survived as a couple. I guess the test of true love is when things get really bad, are you willing to stick it out and make things work? Or will you hit the road. There were times when we wanted to hit the road. Cody began going to see Schneiman with me every once in a while and it never went well. I would talk and he would clam up. Then we would leave there and he would say he had been "attacked" by Schneiman and me.

His resentment toward me about the house got so bad and we fought about it all the time. I often wondered if it was really about the house, or was it something else. I felt like he really resented me about the illness, as if it was my fault. Or maybe it was too much for him to deal with and he wished he'd never married me. I thought he wished he had married a more sane woman; a woman who would never get sick like I had. He didn't deserve this. He deserved someone better, somone stronger, someone who could be a better wife and mom.

I hoped and prayed that was we settled into our new home, both Cody and I would feel better about the situation. But at one point I called our realtor and asked him what he thought of us trying to sell the place. I wanted to know if we could break even on what we'd bought it for. I was desperate to fix things between Cody and me. I prayed that time would heal it.

Despite my best efforts to stay hidden from the neighbors, I met Becky one day while I was unpacking the garage. She mosied over across the street and introduced herself to me. I did my best to be friendly and polite, but on the inside I felt like a small child on the first day of kindergarten and I was scared. I was scared of being found out! But I would later realize that Becky truely was one of my greatest allies during this ordeal and I would grow to rely on her very much. I thank God for sending Becky into my life to be my friend when I needed someone like her.

Episode 17- Zoloft

Dr. Draper and I had discussed me going on an antidepressant, but I was not in favor of adding another drug to the mix and I wanted to see how I did without it. And since things had been going a little better, I thought I could manage on my own just fine with out it.

Then things took a turns for the worse and the attacks started coming frequently and I was crying all day long. Again I began having irrational thoughts that the baby was harmed and that I was a terrible mother. There were days when I couldn't even get out of bed. Then on a Sunday afternoon I was reading in Parents magazine (I loathe that magazine, BTW) and there was an article about prenatal depression. It talked about how the placenta can actually be damaged if the mother is depressed. There were other things mentioned in teh article that scared me beyond belief, so I decided to try the Zoloft.

The doctor had given me a sample pack at a previous appointment and I had it on hand, so that evening I took my first pill. I was aware that it would take about two weeks to work so I wasn't expecting a quick fix. But I also wasn't expecting that I would experience every side effect listed on the label.

The next day was pure hell. I was dizzy, I threw up a lot, my mouth dried up, I shook like a leaf, I was more anxious than normal, and my heart rate was accelerated. I decided to give it one more day so I took another dose Monday evening. Tuesday was even wrose, if you can believe that. I could not function at all and Brandi came over to babysit me during the day while Cody was gone.

I called my mom that afternoon (she happens to be a PharmD) and asked her if what I was feeling was normal. She went down the list of drugs I was on and said that Trazodone is actually an antidepressant in itself and I was taking 100-150 mg a day, so I could actually be overdosing when combining that with the Zoloft. I decided the side effects were worse than the depression and anxiety so I decided to throw the pills away.

That evening Brandi, her little boy, Ethan, and I went to get dinner and then to see the development on our new house. It was all but done and we walked through it and sat in the empty living room and talked. We would be closing in one week and I tried to feel happy about it, but I couldn't get past how awful I was feeling at the moment. I was trying to distract myself from my misery but it wasn't working.

We drove home, but on the way there I noticed I was breathing very hard and my heart rate had accelerated even more. Brandi helped me back into our apartment and I sat down on the couch. Cody was home by this time and Brandi told him what had happened on the way home. It was like all of the ill side effects I had experienced were now ten fold. I ran to the bathroom and started throwing up again, then I laid down on the bathroom floor and had what I thought was a heart attack. My chest hurt beyond words and I could not breathe.

Cody paged my doctor and when he called back he said to get me up to the hospital for an EKG. What I was experiencing was not normal. On the way out the door I grabbed my Ativan and Trazodone and downed a few pills in the car. Brandi was so sweet to stay at our apartment with Ethan. By the time we made the twenty minute drive to the hospital, I had calmed down immensely and and I was in a state of euphoria. The EKG came back normal and they chalked it up to a massive panic attack. Who knows what had really happened though. We drove back home and I crashed very hard when I hit the pillow.

Episode 16- Different To Others, Too

For a people person, going through something like this is terrible because it turns you into a socially awkward person. For the first time in my life I knew what it was like to be shy.

Cody's family reunion was coming up and I dreaded it. Many of his family members knew what had happened and I hated to see their pitty faces. I didn't want people to feel like they had to walk on egg shells around me. I didn't want people to see me as fragile. I would have rather stayed away from the reunion all together, but I was a good sport and I went along.

It was a weekend ordeal and I lasted okay during the first evening's activities, but as we were driving to his aunt's house for ice cream, I started having an attack and I became hysterical. The thought of being around people made my stomch hurt. I felt that I couldn't do it but somehow I managed to pull myself together and I made it through the night. But I knew what people were thinking the whole time and it made me ill.

At the end of August we had our ultrasound and that was the first time since I "snapped" that I felt at all close to the baby. I had felt close to Ethan from the first moment I found out I was pregnant. By the time we had the ultrasound I felt like I already knew him completely. Then by the time he was born I felt like I'd known him forever. I longed to have that same closeness with out baby.

We found out it was a girl and that everything was perfectly healthy. They could find no traces of anything wrong with her and I felt a little relieved, but not fully convinced. But I tried to put it out of my head and focus on my daughter and what all that meant. I was estatic and for the rest of the day I was on cloud nine. It was as if God granted me a small break and I felt good again.

For the next week or so I was doing okay. My attacks were not happening as often and I was sleeping just a little better (heavily medicated, of course). We went to Cody's parents house for Labor Day weekend and I felt tranquil, even with his family around. In fact on Labor Day we were sitting out on the lawn and I felt the cool breeze on my face and I remember feeling peaceful and happy, for the first time in a long time. Things seemed to be looking up and as we drove back home, I even said to Cody that I felt good.

Schneiman and I talked about it later in the week and he seemed hopeful. Perhaps things in my mind and body were evening back out. Maybe things were looking up.

Or maybe it was the calm before the storm.
My sweet baby girl
Labor Day in Idaho

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Inside My Own Liberty Jail

I hate to interrupt the episodes, but I have to share a few thoughts; thoughts that have hit me like a ton of bricks tonight.

I have been watching KBYUTV tonight and I've seen/heard some great talks. But one talk in particular had profound meaning for me. I wish I could put this talk into words for you, but I can't find the text version. It is a CES fireside given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.
You can listen to the talk here, and I highly recommend that you do. Take 30 minutes out of your busy schedule to listen. You can actually download it onto your Ipod and listen while you fold laundry! But at any cost, please listen to the talk.

I believe the talk is entitled "Lesson from Liberty Jail" in which Elder Holland speaks about the trials that Joesph Smith went through during his stay there. This part of D&C has always been so meaningful to me, but as I listened to Elder Holland tonight I likened it to my experience these past three years.

The trials I went through (and my family too) were so intense and there were days when I really thought I wasn't going to make it. I probably felt a lot like the Prophet on more than one occasion. Continue reading the saga and you will understand why. I felt that the Lord had forsaken me and I was alone. Why was this happening? What had I done to deserve it? When would it be over? How would I make it through? These thoughts circulated my mind on a daily basis.

I continually prayed for strength, although there were many days when I was about to give up and I felt that my prayers weren't going past the ceiling. But looking back on it, I see that the Lord was so close to me during this trying time. It was when I felt the weakest that His arms encircled me and held me up. It was when I felt that I could not make it that He carried me piggy back across the depths of despair. The words of D&C 122:7 keep coming to mind as I reflect on this.

"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."

This trial was given to me for a reason and I am so much stronger because of it. If I could have only seen things at the time the way I do now. But my vision was mortal and couldn't see past the moment that I was in. I am so thankful to the Lord for trusting me enough to give me such a challenge. I know that He only gives us what we can handle. I saw what I was made of and I am thankful that I was in fact able to sit in Liberty Jail for a time. And I'm thankful that the Lord carried me out of it.

Sorry again for the interuption, but my heart is full and I felt that it may burst if I didn't get that out. Keep reading and my words will ultimately make sense to you.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Episode 15- When the Sun Goes Down

4:00 in the afternoon became my least favorite time of day. I could feel it in the air and in my bones. When the temperature reached it's peak and began to fall, I knew that night time was imminent and I tried to keep my anxiety at bay.

Night time held new meaning for me. It meant that another round of insomnia was beginning and it was a battle I could not win, no matter how hard I tried. As I made dinner each night I would look to the cabinet where my drugs were kept. My hands would start to shake as I looked to my next dose. I would count the hours until I could feel the Ativan seep into my blood. It felt like a warm bubble bath encompassing my body. Then the Trazadone on top of that and maybe a Xanex....oh it was pure ecstasy.

The days were getting shorter as it does after the summer solstice and it only made my anxiety worse. Autumn has always made me feel a little blue and I feared for what lay in store for the next six months. I didn't know how I would cope once the cold weather hit and I was no longer able to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. But it was still August so I tried not to dwell on that.

Each night I found solace in three things. The TV show "Everybody Loves Raymond" was one of them. On one particularly bad night I was on the verge of a massive attack when Cody sat me down on the couch and began rubbing my shoulders and helping me with my breathing exercises. We were watching TV and this show just happened to be on. I recall sitting on the living room floor with him as he helped me through the attack, all the while hearing laughter from the TV. Despite the drama I was experiencing, I felt safe and I appreciated the comic relief from the sitcom. From that night on I turned the TV on to that show and it instantly took some of my desperate feelings away.

The second thing that brought me comfort was the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". Again, one night I was having a hard time and Cody turned this movie on and we sat there together and laughed and it relieved the pressure from the attack.

The third thing that brought me comfort was the movie "The Sandlot" and that was for the same reasons already mentioned. Are you beginning to see the pattern here? I found that TV or movies was a great way to distract me from my depression and anxiety. It was a superficial and temporary fix, but it was a great way to keep a massive attack from occurring. I found that the key was catching it before it got out of hand and that's what these shows did for me.

I started watching each of them (at least in part) on a nightly basis and it quickly became routine for us. In fact, I would pop my pills, grab a pillow, then lie down and let Hollywood do it's thing. I would soon drift off to sleep, then about halfway through the show I would wake up, go to the bathroom, wander into bed and I was usually able to go back to sleep in very little time (thanks to the high doses of drugs of course). This is how every night played out for us for weeks.

One thing I wanted to mention is that Cody and I were no longer sleeping in the same room by this time. Since my sleep patterns were so sporadic and restless, I began sleeping on the spare bed in Ethan's room. For some reason being in the same room with him took away some of my anxious feelings. I guess it was being in there listening to him breath that helped me.

Episode 14- A Changed Person

Someone had died.

I would walk around each day with the sick feeling in my stomach and heart that one might feel after losing a loved one. I wasn't really dead, but the part of me that used to be vibrant and full of life was no more. She may as well have been dead and I was certain she wasn't coming back. Things I once loved didn't hold luster for me anymore. Things that used to bring me joy now brought me misery and confusion.

I had once been a person who was in control of her life and her surroundings. I got things done. I was a go getter and I feared almost nothing. That is not true because I feared people thinking less of me. I had been working in the primary presidency at church for a long time and I was on top of things. I know people thought of me as a pragmatic and responsible person. But after my downfall, I knew that their opinions of me had changed. I was fully aware that word had spread through out our ward and I was mortified beyond belief.

Our house was going to be finished in one month and I decided to hide out from everyone I knew. I was looking forward to moving because it meant that I could start fresh. No one in our new community would know of our circumstances and I felt that I could leave it all behind and re-invent myself. Oh if only life worked that way.

I had once been a daring person. Schneiman and I talked about this numerous times and he believed that the old Veronica was not dead, but had been shocked into hybernation. He said all we needed to do was wake her up so on one occasion he gave me an assignment. He said he wanted Cody, Ethan and I to go to the local ski resort and ride the tram. It would take us up to 10,000 feet elevation and drop us off at the top of the mountain. Then we would catch another tram back down to the resort. He wanted me to do this because it was a great opportunity to practice
REBT in a real life setting. (I will touch more on REBT in a later episode).

So one Saturday we packed up and drove to the ski resort. To shorten the story, it was a terrible and frightening experince for me. I was overcome with panic the whole time and after we got off the tram, I got on the ground and held Ethan and sobbed like a child. I cried because I was scared, but I cried more out of frustration. Why did I feel so much anxiety from the experience? It my normal mind it would have given me a rush and I would have gotten to the bottom and jumped right back on to do it again. But there I sat on the cold cement, clinging to my child, my knuckles white with fear.

Where was the old Veronica? Would I ever meet her again?

This is us at the top of the mountain after riding the tram. The smile on my face is very forced.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Episode 13- The Parinatologist

I called the number that Dr. Brown's nurse had given me. There were several parinatologists at the University Hospital and I had no way of knowing which one to pick, or even if that is how it was done. I talked to the receptionist who took a brief history of my condition. She said she would pass it on to a higher up and they would review it and "match" me with the appropriate doctor. She said they would give me a call back in a day or two, so in the meantime I waited and waited.

I wondered if they would do the same as Dr. Brown had. I figured they would review it and decide that they didn't want me as patient either. I was bracing myself for the worst. But to my surprise I got a call the next day and the nurse said I would be seeing Dr. Draper, who happened to be the chief of OB residency at the hospital. It sounded like I would be in good hands and I was so relieved.

Within a few days I had my first appointment. This experience was unlike any OB experience I'd ever had before. My OB with Ethan had a beautiful inviting office with comfy chairs and nice wallpaper. The exams rooms were warm and it felt safe there. This place, however, was in a hospital and I have never been a fan of hospitals. I walked through the sterile halls which reeked of industrial strength cleaner. There were gurneys in the halls and high tech looking equipment everywhere. This was not at all like any OB's office I'd ever seen.

When I got into the exam room, it was even worse. There were posters on the walls about support groups for this condition or that. I knew that the women who frequented these rooms had problems of all sorts. Some women had problems, some babies had problems, sometimes the mother AND baby had problems and I prayed that I was not one of those people.

After the medical assistant took my vitals and my urine, I was met by the nurse midwife. Her name was Sam and she sat down in a chair across from me and began by taking my history. I hated when I had to give my history because I didn't ever know where to start and I always sounded like a crazy person. As I got further and further into the story, I couldn't control the tears and they fell freely. There are few things in this world that I hate more than crying in front of strangers. It always makes me feel so vulnerable and stupid, but Sam was so sweet and I could see genuine compassion in her eyes. As I continued with the story, I would have to stop to regain composure so I could go on. Sam would reach out and touch my arm and say "It's okay, you just take your time. I know this is very hard for you."

She took all of the history that she could, then she told me that Dr. Draper would be in shortly and he would want to hear it all again. I later realized it was pattern that Sam would come in first, then Dr. Draper would come in for a second exam/evaluation and then they would compare notes and double check each other's work. I suppose they were making doubly sure that everything was accurate. I was left alone again in that cold room and I felt so small and scared.

In a while a man came in wearing a blue pair of scrubs and sneakers. I noticed he had a a blood splatter on the cuff of his pant leg and I thought it was pretty gross. I later found out that he had just come from a delivery. He was middle aged with a little gray in his hair and he wore glasses. He grabbed a chair and flipped it around backwards, then straddled it and held out his hand. "I'm Mike Draper. I hear you're having a hard time. Want to talk about it?" Who was this guy? Was he a REAL doctor? He seemed so unprofessional, but in a good way. I was suddenly put at ease and I began to speak freely.

As I re-played everything I had just told Sam, he hardly ever looked up from my chart that he was writing in. I talked and he wrote. I talked and he wrote. And he wrote and he wrote and he wrote. He would occasionally nod and look up, stopping me to ask a question or get a fact straight, then he would go back to writing. At one point he ran out of paper in the chart, so he started grabbing paper towels out of the dispenser on the wall and he wrote on that! I wondered why he didn't just stop to go grab more paper from another room, but I know now that he was so engulfed in the moment of the story and he didn't want to stop me for fear that I would lose my train of thought. To this day, those original paper towels have holes punched in them and they are secured in my chart. This guy was not messing around!

So I finished up the story and he sat back and took a breath, reviewing his pages of notes. I could not believe that he listened so intently. In the past few weeks, no one...not even Schneiman had listened to me like that. I felt like maybe this guy was the one who would figure it out and save me. I had a good feeling about him and for the first time in a long time, I breathed a sigh of relief.

We continued to talk for a while and he said he wanted to do an ultrasound the next week. I would be about 17 weeks and we could likely tell the sex of the baby then. He told me that he would review his notes and ponder on it. He assured me that I had not harmed the baby. He said that he dealt with nothing but high risk pregnancies and that he was optimistic that things would be okay.

As I was about to leave, he put his hand on my shoulder and said "I want you to go home and not worry about this. You are a good mom and you have not done anything to harm that baby of yours. We are going to figure this thing out and I won't rest until we do. You are going to be fine!" And I felt like he really meant it. Looking back on it, it was a blessing in disguise that Dr. Brown dropped me as a patient. Dr. Draper came into our lives for a reason and I know that it was the Lord's plan.

(You can read more about Dr. Draper in this blog post)

Episode 12- Erin

Cody saved my life by hiring a babysitter who stayed at our house from 9-5 Monday through Friday. Erin was a fourteen year old young woman from our ward and she was eager to make some cash during the summer, so it worked out well for all of us. We were in the process of building a house and we didn't have a dime to spare, so Cody took some money out of our 401K to help pay her the $5 and hour that she charged. Her fee was more than fair and she was saving up for an Ipod.

Erin was such a funny teenager and reminded me a lot of myself when I was her age. She never understood the specifics of why we needed her help; she thought that I was just having a complicated pregnancy and that I had a lot of doctor appointments. So she would come over in the morning and help with house work and entertain both Ethan AND me. I loved hearing of her teenage woes. She would tell me about the boys she liked and the drama that surrounded her "relationships". Erin lightened the mood a lot in our home and I don't know what I would have done with out her.

Simply having someone else in the house (besides Ethan) made me feel safe and more calm, even if she was only fourteen. It was a life saver because I had appointments with Schneiman twice a week and I would soon be meeting with the perinatologist once a week. I completely trusted Erin to watch Ethan while I was gone and it put my mind at ease. She continued to work for us until school started at the end of August.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Episode 11- The Refill

The time was drawing near to refill one of my prescriptions. I had been instructed upon discharge to consult with Dr. Brown (the OB) on all my prescription needs, so I called his office to have the nurse call in a new prescription to the pharmacy. When I spoke with the nurse, she asked me my name and date of birth. Then she said "I need to talk to the doctor and then I'll give you a call back." That made me feel uneasy, but I tried not to think anything of it until I heard back from her.

Later that afternoon I got a call from her and it flipped things upside down. Her end of the conversation went something like this-

"I talked to Dr. Brown about this issue, and he said that he's sorry but he can no longer keep you as a patient. You are too high risk for our clinic and he doesn't feel comfortable prescribing medications that are that risky to the baby. He wants you to see a perintaologist at the University Hospital instead."

The room was spinning as I absorbed her words. I did not understand! Why was he cutting me off as a patient? Was I that far gone that he had to wash his hands of me? Was the harm I was doing to my baby that big of a liability for him? WHAT HAD I DONE TO MY BABY?!?!?! The nurse gave me the phone number to the high risk clinic and that was that.

I got off the phone and collapsed into a puddle on the floor. Ethan was down for a nap and I was grateful that he didn't witness the episode. I tried to call Cody at work but he didn't answer. Then I called my wonderful friend, Brandi. She had been my rock from the moment I'd met her a few years before. Brandi and I were kindred spirits and we knew it from the start.

So I called her and I cried and cried, and she did the only thing she could do. She listened. She listened and she cried with me as we thought about the sudden turn my path had taken only a few weeks before. Why was this happening? What had I done to deserve this? All I wanted was to be a good wife and mom, and I wasn't able to be. All I wanted to do was grow a healthy baby and I wasn't even able to do that much. And now I didn't have a doctor who would touch me with a ten foot pole.

Episode 10- Adjusting To A New Life

We somehow made it through the first few days and we tried to adapt to this new life that had been thrown at us. All of us walked around every day on eggsells, not wanting to disturb the fragile new balance we had atained.

There was one particularly bad blow that made me feel like a complete failure. I had been tending our nephew, Carson, who was the baby of Cody's brother Lance. He is only a few weeks younger than Ethan and I watched him in our home since he was five months old. The boys were toddlers at this time. Obviously when things went "koo koo" with me I was no longer his sitter.

It was just one more thing in my life that I had given up, something that was beyond my control. And I felt like I had let Lance and Courtnee down. Obviously they were well aware of the situation and they understood, but I felt like a failure and I was mortified to even see them.

I can only imagine how hard it is to send your baby to a sitter's every day, and I'm sure they felt fortunate that Cody and I were in a position where it was possible for me to watch him. And here that was no longer a posibility and they were forced to look elsewhere for his care. It was a giant blow to my ego. Looking back on it, I was lucky that I was still able to care for my own child, but even then I know that it was because of divine intervention that I could still do it.

When I was discharged from the hospital, the doctors were optimistic that I would be weaned from all meds within 30 days. Who were these people and who issued them their medical licenses? Okay sure, that is how it works. Get me fully hooked and dependent on the drugs and then expect me to be done with them after four weeks.

I continued to see Schneiman on a bi-weekly basis. On my first session with him post-discharge, I sat in his office and wept at the thought of my detox. How on earth was it possible? How could I suddenly give up what I had become so dependent on for my sanity, my security, and my SLEEP!!!

He didn't fill me with false hope. He said that he thought it was a long shot that I would be off the drugs in one month. He thought it seemed impossible, but we would work toward a more realistic plan. At hearing his words I was filled with a little peace. It was something to work toward and I was willing.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I Am Back

Hello readers! I am back from vacation and we are slowly getting normalized again. As soon as I get settled I will write the next installment of the saga! Stay tuned...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hiatus

Hello readers! I am taking a short break from this blog while I am on vacation. I will start updating again the first of September so be sure to check back then!

Monday, August 4, 2008

My Thoughts on Hallucinations

Today I got this comment from a reader on my Celexa post and it really got me thinking.

"Hi, I don't know you but I don't belive that you were hallucinating. I believe that when we take drugs that weaken our minds, Satan and his "angels" have more power over us and I truly belive that because of a weak mind, you were being taken advantage of by evil. I can sympothise to a point because I have had buffetings with out a weakened mind, I can't imagine the power and strength of evil when you are in the condition you were in. "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to leave" has usually worked for me. Not that you were mentally in a state to think of that but I am interested to know if you truly believe it was all a figment of your imagination or if you feel otherwise?????"

I think she is exactly right. As I've looked back over that experience, I've realized more and more than Satan was in my home that night. That "voice and shadow" that was there was real and I don't think I imagined it. If only I'd had the strength and coherence to grab Cody out of bed and asked for a blessing. I wonder if it would have made a difference in the saga.

Anyone who knows Hailey knows that she has an incredible life force and energy about her. This has been apparent since the day she was born. As I get to know her more and more, I see that she has a very strong spirit, maybe even stronger than most. I believe that she has a very important purpose and mission in this life and that Satan had his team working over time to keep me from bringing her into this world.

You will see as you read on that Satan had strong influence over me on many occasions. I think I even realized it then, but I coudln't tell doctors that. The last thing I needed was someone thinking I was posessed! Let's just cast the demon out of her with another pill!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Episode 9- The First Few Nights

That first night, as you can imagine, was nerve wracking. Cody and I tried our best to act as if everything was as it had been a few short weeks before. We did our typical night time routine with Ethan, and let me say how refreshing it was to be back home with my sweet boy who seemed to always smell like soggy Cherios. That night I popped my pills, waited a few minutes to start feeling the affect, then Cody and I climbed into bed as if nothing was different.

It was strange lying in bed looking at that different spot on the celing. It was calming in a way, but it felt like the first night in a new home and I was very apprehensive. I lied there trying my best to relax and drift off to sleep, but my mind wouldn't let me and before long that all too familiar feeling of panic crept up on me. I could hear Cody snoring softly which told me he was already asleep. I was terrified of disturbing him, so I got up and went out into the living room.

I sat in the couch and starred into the dark. Still trying to keep my nerves at bay, I decided to take an extra 50 mg of Trazadone. What could it hurt? It was a higher dose than what was on the drug vial, but I knew I had been given much higher doses while in the hospital. The rest of that night was spent in and out of restless sleep.

The next night was even worse. Jane decided to stay the night after spending all day with me and seeing that I really needed help. That night started out the exact same but around midnight I had a massive panic attack. I recall Jane and Cody kneeling by me as I lied on the living room floor crying and hyperventilating. Jane was doing her best to calm me down by having me do some simple breathing exercises. I kept screaming at her to shut up and leave me alone. I was an absolute mess and I was out of control.

I took another Ativan and a while later they turned the lights out and put a movie on. I remember it was "Now And Then", that movie with Demi Moore and Rosie O'Donald. I put my head in Cody's lap and he gently stroked my hair as I drifted off to sleep. I'm pretty sure that Cody was up almost all night making sure that I stayed calm and comfortable there on the couch. Oh if we could have seen the road that lie before us.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Episode 8- The Return Home

Going home was filled with bittersweet feelings for me. All I wanted was to get back to normal, to regain a sense of order and predictablity like my life once revolved around. Cody and I left the hospital and went straight for the pharmacy to get my prescriptions filled.

I had been to that Kmart pharmacy many times for various reasons, but as the Pharmacist did his typical consult about these particular drugs, I was filled with shame and remorse. What had I done? How could I continue to posion my baby in such a way? He probably thought I was a disgusting and horrible person. Why couldn't I deal with these mysterious issues on my own with out drugs? Why would I put my own health above that of my baby? As a mother, I had grown acustomed to putting myself second before my son. I think it is just an insitinct as a mother. Yet here I was, knwingly hurting my unborn baby and I wasn't about to stop. I was a terrible person for it.

As we walked into our apartment, a creepy feeling of deja-vu engilfed me. It was so familar to me. We had spent two years in this home. Our family had started here and numerous beautiful memories were made. But also, the memories of recent weeks came flooding back to me. The horror, the confusion, the nightmares, the hallucinations...and the Monster.

Jane was still in town and Cody's Dad, Allan, had also come in to help. They decided to re-arrange our apartment while we were gone. When we walked in they were in the middle of making the final touches. Our bedroom was completely different. The bed was moved, the dresser, desk, everything. They figured it was bad for me to come back into the place and have it look the same. The last thing I needed was to lie back down in that bed and stare at the same spot on the ceiling. They thought I needed a new spot. Turns out they were right because when I saw that things looked differently, I breathed a small sigh of relief. In a way I felt like I was getting a fresh start. It's funny that something as simple as changing furniture around helped me with the transition back home.

That afternoon I sat on my bed as everyone continued to unpack my things and finish with our newly changed apartment. I sat there and began my Bliss Jounral, something that Chris the Buddhist had suggested I write. I started by listing all of the things I could think of that I was grateful for. Sunshine, family, Ethan, the gospel, slip 'n slides, swimming pools, Texas, air comditioning, high heels, pretty earrings...the list went on and on. I would continue to add to that journal on a daily basis. Whenever I started to feel panic, anxiety, depression, or anything that could get me down, I was to write anything down that was positive and happy. Chris' reasoning behind this journal was "fake it until you make it".