We are extremely grateful for Marla who opened up her heart to share her experience with Postpartum Psychosis. READ PART 1 BELOW
WRITTEN BY: MARLA GURECKI-HASKINS
It seems like a good weekend to write about my story with it being Thanksgiving weekend…..I have much to be thankful for….
Six years ago I became pregnant with what would be the most amazing child I have ever known...he is perfect in every way-physically and mentally. Only, he wasn't! Two months into my pregnancy the doctors found all kinds of issues. The baby was not growing properly and we were offered termination. I already had a beautiful 6 year old daughter and thought about what life with a child who had disabilities would be like. What is those disabilities were beyond my capabilities of caring for? I was a special education teacher and I knew many of the difficulties that may lie ahead.
After much discussion with perinatologists my husband and I decided to forge ahead. All the while my health was fading as well. My pelvic bone had fractured in a couple places and the constant excruciating pain set in. I wasn’t able to be that mobile and this placed a great deal of stress on me and my poor daughter who had to care for me and the house while my husband traveled for his job. I began what seemed like the unending weeks of appointments for ultrasounds and non-stress tests. Our baby was still not growing properly and we had no answers after doing all the diagnostic tests possible. I was scared and upset that this was happening. Depression started before even giving birth to my son.
Fast forward to the delivery where many doctors and nurses were present after being induced. They wanted a full team on board as they were expecting complications. Nothing about this felt natural or “right.” My daughter’s delivery had been typical and wonderful. This was surreal for me- I kept feeling like the process was an out of body feeling. What if I couldn’t care for this child? What if the baby died? What if my whole life that I was enjoying so much changed and I hated my life? I couldn’t grasp what was happening and it was after that that everything spiraled out of control in my brain.
Ethan Adam was born on July 11, 2009. He weighed 4lbs 13oz and didn’t look like my baby should look. He was tiny and didn’t cry and my husband almost seemed disappointed that it was a boy. I didn’t feel attached and I wanted the nurses to take him away. Paranoia had set in and I instantly began assessing everything. I had to look at the placenta, I wanted to see all the testing, I wanted to know everyone’s credentials—I wanted everything to go away!
They told me he was fine-just small. I told them he wasn’t fine and to take him away and check again. Sure enough within two hours they came back and said his heart was racing and he wasn’t breathing well. We rushed to the NICU because my little tiny baby was very sick and we were told that we needed to prepare for the worst. The hospital where I delivered is one the best children’s hospitals in NY. Ethan was hooked up to all kinds of machines and tubes and my mind was literally racing so fast that I couldn’t keep up with all the info that was being presented. We talked to geneticists, neurologists, cardiologists, internists, gastroenterologists, orthopedists, and the list goes on. Ethan’s heart had a small defect, his entire left side of his body was smaller than the right, he had infections, his limbs on the left side did not work in typical fashion and he had no suck reflex. When I visited him he didn’t seem to notice that I was there-he could look at me but it was more through me than having a bond or connection.
I had never felt so much stress and exhaustion ever! I had to pump for 9 months because Ethan couldn’t nurse, the hospital became our second home and we seemed to never have any answers as to what was wrong with our son. I was a maniac trying to find answers and was on a mission like a crusader. He was labeled failure to thrive and I thought, hell no we aren’t thriving…..I’m barely surviving- so someone please come help me. Only there wasn’t much help. My husband was gone 5 days a week for his job and was only home on the weekends. This left me all alone to care for a very sick baby whom we had no answers for what was wrong with him. My daughter lost her mom because every second of my time was with Ethan. I hated my life and what it had became. Absolutely nothing felt tangible anymore. My instant response to anyone who asked was, I’m fine, we are fine, and everything will be ok. Pretty sure it was a statement I was solely trying to convince myself of.
Sleep became almost non-existent-usually about 3 hours a day. Even when my mom or husband were home I couldn’t sleep. I had to take care of everything for Ethan. What if someone messed up his feeding? What if I didn’t have clean clothes for everyone to wear? The what if’s ate me alive. Anxiety was out of control as was the depression. For the very first time in my life I wasn’t having a bad day or a bad month I was having an out of body experience that I still have a hard time describing to this day.
I needed to go back to work and wanted to. I thought if I was around people it would help me feel normal again. It was now October-three months had passed since having Ethan and the hallucinations and delusions started. I heard voices all the time. Those voices told me that death was an option and I agreed with those voices like they were my best friend giving the world’s best advice. At first only I needed to die. I had a plan and it was to leave Ethan with capable people. I believed I was a horrible mother and didn’t deserve to have my children. I’ve never been super religious but my thoughts became very spiritual. God had better plans for me and they didn’t include staying here. There was a man (he looked like the grim reaper minus the sickle) who would sit in the back of my car and talk to me. The first time he showed up I hit a mailbox because it scared me so badly. After that, he became a face I looked forward to seeing. He would chat with me and talk about death being my only option. Soon after, those voices started telling me that Ethan should go with me because his life would be horrible without me and I wanted so badly to be a good mom. He needed to come with me...
Part 2 Coming Sunday!
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