The Aftermath

Tonight I spilled red wine all over our dinner table and thought very seriously about mopping it up with a nearby burp cloth. That’s my life lately. Spilled wine & burp cloths.

Teagan was discharged on April 22nd, 2017. Earth Day. While everyone else was planting trees, we were planting seeds of our own. She weighed 6 lbs 5 oz when she left the hospital. We’d been there for 48 days (55 if you count my stay) and good God, I thought I was dreaming when I watched Mario put her in her carseat. I finally got to take time off work (Two weeks, if you will), and those two weeks were hard, but an exhausted honeymoon state of baby bliss. I couldn’t and still can’t believe she belongs to me.

One of the things they don’t prepare you for is the constant state of fear you’ll live in at night when the baby sleeps. Hard enough that she’s this tiny thing that could break at any given moment, but even harder because of her journey thus far. Those first 2 weeks, Mario and I took shifts at night. A friend gifted us an Owlet Monitor, but I trusted it as much as I trust any form of technology…

Before we left the hospital, we learned that Teagan had essentially failed her hearing test 4 times. It’s common when a baby is just a few days old, but 7 weeks old and failing means something’s definitely wrong (nurse’s words, not mine). This was frightening to learn. Hearing loss runs in our family. I have this amazingly strong niece who is deaf and the epitome of what it means to fight the good fight. She’s overcome more obstacles in almost 10 years than some people deal with their entire lives. But, what if Teagan isn’t that strong? What if I’m not that strong?

We went for follow-up testing at an ENT and it seemed that every time the doctors learned we had hearing loss in our family, they immediately concluded that my daughter was deaf. Deaf? After everything we’d been through up until this point, we were now being handed yet another challenge?! I crumbled. I made Mario tell our family. I couldn’t say it out loud without losing every ounce of composure I had. Those were some of the darkest weeks of my life. Imagine surviving what felt like World War II, only to be told there’s a third? I even wrote a blog post about the stages of emotion that you’ll go through upon hearing that your newborn is deaf. It’s not published yet, and may never be, but it’s tucked away in a random “drafts” folder…

We began to prepare ourselves and Teagan for life with no sound. Thanks to family experience, we had a huge support group waiting to help and love on us. It made it a little easier, and less foreign.

We saw an audiologist a week after the ENT and Teagan spent 3 hours hooked to a machine that checked brain activity:

After the test was over, the Audiologist concluded that she has fluid in her Middle Ear and that things may sound like they are under water at the moment, but she’s definitely not completely deaf. There is a good chance that she may need hearing aids (based on potential nerve damage that she found), but they won’t know that until the tubes are in and they can retest. So… after 3 weeks of believing that my daughter was deaf, I now find out that she can hear some things, just not all things. The audiologist showed us what pitches she can hear better than others currently, so we’ve both been talking like Mickey Mouse to her. It’s super entertaining.

On top of the Ear Drama, as I’m calling it, we learned that Teagan would need a follow-up Cardiologist appt due to a heart murmur. She’s got 2 small heart issues that we are hoping resolve themselves within the next 6 months.

I need an emotional bullet proof vest. Can we not have anymore surprises? Can I just heal for a bit? Like a month… Is that too much to ask? Just a month to heal. 3 weeks will do, even.

The last blow came when we showed up for Teagan’s 2nd pediatrician appt. I was given a multiple choice quiz of sorts at her first appointment, and it seemed like a fun little gauge the doctor used to see how I was adjusting to motherhood. When they handed it to me at her second appt, I told the woman that I’d already taken it once before. She encouraged me to take it again. So, I did… laughing at the last question, which asked whether I’d considered taking my own life. I was certain my answer of “Never” gained me a passing grade.

When the doctor entered our exam room, she performed Teagan’s physical and we laughed and discussed how much she was growing. Then her eyes got super serious and she pulled out THE test. “Typically, when someone scores over a 9 on this test, we like to start a conversation about postpartum depression. You scored an 11.”

Well, hell.

I couldn’t believe my ears. First of all, I’m a straight A student. I graduated 2nd in my high school class. I don’t fail things. Sure, I’d burned the bacon to a crisp the day before and cried about it for a good hour, but Tami Hallman doesn’t fail tests. So, I don’t look forward to things as much as I used to? So, I may have lost my Mojo? Who wouldn’t after going through what I’d been through?! Do I feel depressed? No. Do I feel as numb as the new scar on my abdomen? Maybe, yes. But, I was under the impression that I was doing really well and working through it. This was a shock.

Hearing that you may be going through postpartum depression is enough to make you depressed, if you weren’t already. I began to question everything I did on the daily – “Would old Tami have done that?” “Is this the depression, or just a bad day?” “Was that guy’s joke actually funny and I should have laughed, or was it just as horrible as it seemed?”

Apparently, I’m to be retested in another week and if I fail again, they’ll refer me to my OB/Gyn for further discussion. So that’s it, folks. When you look up the definition of “Postpartum depression,” my photo pops up, smiling (or crying, rather) right at ya! Postpartum depression is a 5 foot 4 inch 123 lb ginger. Who knew?!

I’ll go ahead and bring this post to an end by saying Pregnancy doesn’t end with birth. Here we are, 12 weeks out, and I’m still dealing with hormone-related migraines, postpartum depression, physical & emotional hurdles, and further testing for Teagan. Is it wrong to say that I just want to feel like myself again? She is the most adorable thing in the world and the tiny life that I fought to have, because I knew that I was supposed to be her mother. But, man… she & I are a hot mess together! 😉

 

tamihallman

One Comment

  1. When I think back to the months after Ramona was born and consider what I was thinking at the time, I’m HORRIFIED. And I thought those thoughts were completely normal. No one pegged me for postpartum depression but I can’t help but think that I would have benefitted from some kind of intervention. You have had a hell of a few months. Take good care of yourself. You wouldn’t hesitate to put a single tool in Mario’s or Teagan’s arsenal of health–treat yourself the same way.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them!