Ariane Audet

Nikki, Herndon VA (USA)

Ariane Audet
Nikki, Herndon VA (USA)

We started trying to have a kid five years ago. Most people think that when they'll decide to get pregnant, well, they're going to get pregnant. Sometimes it happens, of course, but it didn't for us. It took us one year to have a positive result. We were excited, but when we went in for the 20-week appointment to find out the sex, there was no heartbeat. It was heart wrenching. They told me I had to deliver the baby and they induced me. It was in May 2014 and it was a girl. We named her after my mother, Eva, who passed eleven years ago from cancer. Since then I've always felt sort of like a lonely island, missing that motherly connection. I think that's one reason I wanted to have a baby so badly. I craved that undeniable connection between mother and child. On the bright side, my husband and I really supported each other. I don't know what would have happened if it wasn't for him. We cremated our daughter and put her in the mausoleum next to my mom, so they can be together. It was the darkest time. It's still hard to talk about it because, you know… that's your baby. At the time, we'd been trying for so long and it was sort of… why would this happen? It was a blur for a long time, but we picked up the pieces. You eventually go back to work and wonder how you're supposed to do that. Nothing really matters. Thankfully family and friends supported us and we got through it. As soon as we had the go-ahead, we started trying again. But it just didn't happen.

Nikki2_Faces_of_Postpartum

Everyone kept telling me, "The silver lining is that, a lot of time, women are very fertile after a failed pregnancy." We were ready to be parents and I had already been pregnant, but it still wasn't working. At the end of 2015, we went to a fertility clinic. I couldn't keep sitting around. We did all the testing and there was nothing wrong on paper. It didn't make sense. So we started the IUI procedure. It was less invasive and expensive than IVF. I was sure this time it would work. We went through four rounds… nothing. When that didn't work we decided to take six months off, just to see, and let it happen because we were stressing ourselves out. But again, nothing happened. We went back to the clinic and started talking IVF. That was mentally hard for me. Even though I was ready, the thought of having to pay 20-25K to maybe have a baby, when everyone else in the world seemed to just be getting pregnant… it made me bitter. I was trying to stay positive as we went through the first try, and it was unsuccessful. I actually became pregnant, but lost it. They call it a chemical pregnancy. I tried to tell myself that this was good. My body was trying to remember what's like to be pregnant. We jumped right in the next time we could, got pregnant again… and that was this guy!

Nikki_Faces_of_Postpartum

I was nervous for nine months, but I learned to appreciate everything in the pregnancy. All the good. All the bad. When we reached the third trimester, we started getting excited. Finally, he came. The birth was hectic - I checked in on Sunday and had him on Wednesday, via C-section. I just remember thinking, as they were pulling him out, "Please let me hear something. If after all of this… please let me hear him." And finally, he cried. It was such a relief. I don't think I cried like that before. We were so happy. So, so happy. The first few days in the hospital were hard, but I expected them to be. I hadn't slept for more than 24 hours, and after he was born, I couldn't sleep. I stayed awake for two more days. I felt crazy. I was just crying and crying and knew right away something was not right. Nothing went as expected. We were having issues with him latching. You know, you're conditioned to expect this euphoric moment and as much as I was in love with him, I didn't feel the magic. Instead, I felt like I was thrown into this reality check. There is one moment I remember vividly: in one of my crying moments, there was a million people in the room and I overheard a doctor say to a nurse, "We need to get her to relax because this is how people spiral into postpartum depression." I was so angry, thinking she probably shouldn't have said that in front of me - and at the same time not to me. I was right there. I could hear! That was the first time the whole idea of depression or anxiety crossed my mind. The nurses were sweet and offered to take him for a couple of hours so we could sleep but… nothing more. I eventually got to sleep a bit, I took a shower - felt like a new person! I thought, "That's it, I'm good now. It was just momentary." So, they signed the release papers and I just went home.

Nikki4_Faces_of_Postpartum

In a way, I was still in a bubble back home. I had waited for him for so long. He was a normal baby: cried and pooped and ate. It took him six weeks to latch and I felt like a failure: I couldn't feed my child. Nobody had told me that, when you have a C-section, it takes longer for your milk to come in. With the help of a lactation consultant, we eventually made it work, but that added to my anxiety. He also was intolerant to soy and dairy, which made feeding him stressful. Around this time, I started reading about postpartum depression and anxiety. I was pretty sure I had the latter. Everything seemed like such a big deal. I called my primary care physician who gave me a number for the psychiatry line. But the thought of taking five minutes to make a call and schedule an appointment… it was just too much. So, I didn't call and, eventually, I went back to work. It was hard. A month into it, I still had this lingering. Something didn't feel right and I finally called the number to talk to someone. She suggested a couple of options (natural and medication.) She was very nice. I tried different things and I eventually asked her to prescribe me something. But I still didn't take it. The bottle of pills sat in my drawer for two weeks. I felt guilty. I tried to self-manage… until last week. I had dinner with a couple of friends, two of whom went through some major anxiety-depression. They just told me about how much better they are today after taking medication, and how there's nothing wrong with it. Something just clicked that night. After our evening, I went back home, and I took my first pill. I realized that anxiety isn't something you can control. This is the most helpless feeling I have ever felt. That takes us to today. The last few days have been really hard, but my friends told me it gets worse before it gets better. You just got to stick it out for a little bit. I don't want to deprive my son of the best version of me. I want to be able to tell him that I took care of myself first, to be able to take the best care of him.