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Answer: Keep Going

posted Dec 20, 2009, 2:28 AM by Ross Olson   [ updated Dec 26, 2009, 6:58 PM ]
Question: What do you do when you’re going through hell?

Friday marked James’ first month on the planet, one-twelfth of the way around the sun since his first breath. It was a quiet first couple of weeks while he was in the NICU, but now, things have changed.

Week Three

LISTS: The past two weeks have been a strange ride, as postpartum depression has come in like a drunk heavyweight boxer, landing hits on Amy's psyche with frightening intensity. Right out of the gate, our perinatologist and our OB/GYN referred us to a counseling group but they had no openings until the middle of January, which was far too long based on Amy’s state. I ended up calling our insurance company to find additional resources, but (as I later found out) got routed to the wrong department, and ended up with a nearly useless list of providers as they didn't specifically call out postpartum specialties. I also checked with the Oregon Psychiatric Association and got a list of providers who specialize in postpartum issues, but they had no idea of which insurance company panels each provider was on. Finally I had a list of referrals from the counseling group (a list which had mostly psychologist, not psychiatrists and no insurance information)

Throughout the week, Amy's condition continued to worsen. Although she never gave any signs whatsoever of wanting to hurt James or myself, her thoughts were mostly focused on how to get out of the situation. Her first idea was running away and the second was... more dire. She was sure that either way, James and I would be better off without her.

GROUP: One of the earliest resources we found was the BabyBluesConnection website. The new mothers group sounded like a place to start. When we arrived at the SE meeting spot at 7pm, we found out that the website was out of date and no one would be there until 7:15. We waited in an upstairs loft that was powerfully over-scented and by 7:15, Amy couldn't stand the smell any further as it was giving her a headache and making her eyes water. My distinct lack of smelling ability helped me out here, but not by much. As we were about to drive off, the facilitator, caught us and I opted to stay and talk, keeping James with me while Amy took off for some alone time. The session was fine, although it was just the facilitator and I (no one else showed up). Amy and I are firm skeptics in regards to naturopathy and homeopathy when there’s no hard evidence to back it up, so neither the spa nor the facilitator would have connected well with Amy.

I spent most of Wed Dec 9 - Fri Dec 11 desperately trying to find a provider from the 3 lists who could A) take our insurance, and B) could see Amy within the next few days, and C) prescribe medications in order to get something started now and D) specialized in postpartum issues.

Week Four

Know Your Tools: Eventually I found a psychiatrist, Dr. F. We had an appointment with her on Monday Dec 14 in an office that was obviously set up to interview mostly children not adults. She prescribed Amy a med, starting with a half-pill to take as soon as possible. In response to that half-pill Amy experienced trouble walking/standing, severe headache, diarrhea, increased thirst, lightheadedness and dizziness. The doctor oddly thought that these were unrelated, even though these were side effects clearly listed on the information sheet from our drug store, and a few of which were under the heading of “Contact your Doctor immediately if...” As Dr. F followed up with us it turned out that she was not on our insurance network, so we will not be able to continue with her, although Amy had already decided not to because she was not focused on postpartum issues.

However as Dr. F tried to find out what our available benefits were, she triggered someone at our insurance company to reach out to us. This person was very interested in helping, saying that A) they would cover the cost of the visit to Dr. F fully, as a one-off, and B) pointing us to 2 quick-turn options through another local hospital.

Tweeter and Facepage: Tuesday night I sent out a Twitter tweet and Facebook status update that was seen by a friend (who once hired me at OPB) and was able to put us in contact with a Towering Figure (TF) in the national postpartum mood disorder scene. TF has graciously found us some more resources to look into.

Wednesday was a bit of a day off and Thursday was the second weight-check appointment with Dr. S. She was happy to tell us that weight-wise, James was perfectly at the 50th% for his gestation-corrected age. Having a healthy baby has made this easier. On another positive note, Thursday night Amy took her evening walk for the first time in nearly 6 months. She had been ordered off of walking due to the pregnancy and bedrest orders. A positive sign, but we're not out of the woods yet.

This weekend presented its own unique challenges, some of which we met, some of which felt like getting body slammed. Through it all James has been blissfully healthy and easy-going.

Upcoming Weeks Five and Six

As we are heading into the holiday season, I'm lucky enough to have a few company holidays over the next two weeks so I can continue to take care of things. Of the three remaining work days I'm hoping to patch over with work from home, a visit to the office with James and a short stint of leaving James home with Amy. After the new year, we'll need to have some longer term solutions in place.