Last week sucked. No two ways about it.
On Tuesday, my psychiatrist and another that she is consulting with agreed that I am in the midst of a full-blown bipolar depression. This is more than the general blues of late pregnancy. It’s another episode of this illness I have.
This means increasing my medications. In general, I’m not against meds. If I wasn’t pregnant and was feeling this bad, I would not hesitate a second to increase my meds. There was a time, perhaps a year ago, where I wanted to try to live a medication free life. Now, I am more or less resigned to what was told to me three years ago: I will be on anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and mood stabilizers for the rest of my life.
But it wasn’t just that I needed to increase my meds. It was the pronouncement that I could not breastfeed.
I love breastfeeding. It is one of the most enjoyable parts of early motherhood.
I know that in another generation, even in another context, this would not be devastating news. I mean, a whole generation of us grew up formula-fed, including myself. But it is such a big part of what mothering is to me – it signifies what makes mothers so precious, that they and only they can provide the most perfect nourishment for a new life. It continues the co-dependent relationship established in the womb, making for a smooth transition into life.
If I can’t breastfeed, I don’t feel like a mother. I feel like an incubator.
So for the last six days, I have thrown myself into researching my meds and breastfeeding. And as a result, I’m not completely sold on the idea that I can’t. The amount that is excreted into breastmilk is very small, and there have been no adverse reports. The doctors say no because “every drug is guilty until proven innocent” and there have been no clinical trials or double-blind studies, for good reason. And I get that. But…
Some people are going to say I’m crazy and selfish. Why subject your child to ANY risk? Because sometimes the unknown risks are small compared to the known benefits. Because I don’t want to spend the first months of my child’s life mourning a loss. Because I can read and understand research and know the difference between advice based on a fear of liability and one based on actual experience. Because I’m a mother and I have a feeling.
More on this in another post.
The week sucked even more. On Thursday, I learned that my favorite midwife, B, was leaving her practice. Talk about feeling abandoned. She had been seeing me since after the birth of Little A, and knew so much of my history. When you have a serious mental illness, you don’t want to have to continue to explain it to everyone. I didn’t have to explain anything to her. She knew.
The other midwives in the practice are awesome, and I’m sure the birth will be great, but I really wanted B to catch my baby. She helped me get to this point, helped me get to being pregnant, to having this third child that I wanted so much, despite all my issues. More mourning.
And it doesn’t end there. When I was talking to the specialist psychiatrist, she asked me how I would feel going back into the hospital. I went nuts. There was no way I was going back in the hospital. I want to sleep in my own bed. I want to see my children before they go to bed. The hospital is out of the question. They would have to 5150 me. I wouldn’t go voluntarily.
So, instead of that, my doctors recommended that I attend an intensive outpatient program that is specifically for pregnant women and new moms with mood disorders. The program meets every day Monday – Thursday for several hours, including lunch. I went to a similar program after my hospitalization. The benefit of such programs is to establish a routine, similar to what goes on in the hospital. Group therapy sessions twice a day and a healthy lunch. Fine. I could do that.
I went to a consultation (was 30 minutes late because I feel asleep) and was all ready to start on Monday. But of course, when it rains, it monsoons.
The program is “out of network” and my insurance does not provide out of network benefits.
They negotiated with the insurance, so now, as of today, I have authorization to attend. But the insurance still hasn’t agreed to pay for the treatment. What is the point of an authorization without payment? It’s not like they could stop me from going when I didn’t have authorization. This whole thing makes no sense to me. And I could have really used going there today.
I’m going to go anyway tomorrow, even without the payment in place. If I don’t go, I’ll just sleep all day – and since it’s going to rain for the next six days, I can’t see myself ever leaving my house except to drop off and pick up my kids. We have some FSA money, so worse comes to absolute devastation, we can pay until we run out of money.
I hope that this week is better. Having somewhere to go, a meal to eat, folks to talk to, all of that is supposed to help. I need a breakthrough.