Oh Fiddlesticks, It’s Friday

I’m climbing in the car, off to visit my children. And when I come home I’ll be full of sadness and regret and longing. What feelings for a Friday.

It’s a two hour drive north, through some of Illinois’ finest small towns (and I ride as a passenger due to DCFS rules. With a great driver of course). Sometimes my husband comes but has been having to work more lately. So I’ll go alone. See the babies for three hours, tear myself away, ride two more hours home and then…nothing until next Friday.

Is it too difficult for me? It may be difficult but I don’t miss the chances I’m given to see my pups. They need their bitch of a mother, at least once a week. And only for now. I’ll have ’em back soon enough, I’m sure.

Well, have a good last day of the week. For me. TGIF, right?

Hospital Happenings

I told them that I must have smoked laced weed. That someone must have been putting something in my coffee. I felt drugged. I was manic, but that’s how it feels. My blood tests came back negative for everything besides a small amount of THC (I won’t lie to y’all and say I’m an angel). I’m sure that that news surprised at least one county cop, who my mother reports as having said that the truck “reeked” like alcohol. I try not to drink, and had not had a lick of liquor on the day of the incident.

They asked so many questions. And I asked for water a lot of times. They refused to let my mother see me, who might have been able to connect with me in a meaningful way, in a way that may have snapped me out of my delusions. But she spoke with a loud voice and, being extremely concerned, acted boisterous. A police officer asked her to leave at one point.

Critical decisions were made in those first minutes of my involvement with the hospital and DCFS. I was suffering from a rare condition, one that affects about 1-2 women out of 1,000 births, according to the MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health, yet they decided to take my children into their care. My husband, who arrived later, was not given custody because of his “work schedule.” I hope you can read between the lines here.

As for giving the children to other family members, they decided not to – probably basing their decisions off delusions I reported to them involving family members. Because I was very paranoid about everyone around me and had many delusions involving those close to me. Mistrusting those around you is a common theme I found in my research of postpartum psychosis. But they didn’t have to take my delusions as the word of god.

Now my children are trying to adapt to another home, are learning their ABC’s without me, and struggling to crawl in a daycare center.

So am I an alligator? Not just yet.

What Happened Next

After they took my children, ripping them away from me as if I were truly an alligator wrapped around them in the backseat of the cop car, they got us into the hospital. I was put in a bed, probably a triage unit, and asked questions. All I wanted was water and to see my babies. I got up twice to search for them, hearing their cries coming from the other room.

I was sent back to my room, treated as a danger to my children. I would ask for water and they would ask me another question, like how long had we been in the field? Four hours? I said. Who knew? I didn’t for sure. I only received water after a woman told me she was taking them. I was still delusional and agreed. They gave me water and no water has ever tasted that good. I wish I had refused it though. I wish I had fought harder to see my children.

On the Road Again

Cat got your tongue? 🙂 I know. What do you say to that story? Most people have heard about women doing crazy things to their children postpartum (I’m not researching that stuff right now but you can go for it). So there’s a stigma. Stigmas can’t be changed overnight. I can only relay my experiences. So put your seat belt on and let’s go. I’m not done.

What Really Happened

So yeah, I survived an assassination attempt. Delusional discussions begin here. I “survived” by diving into the weeds with a three year old and a seven month old baby at 11:00 a.m. on one of the last days of the summer. I had left the truck open in the driveway of the “house.” The house where they had been brainwashing my children at night. The house I was sure I had found secret access to. And I would confront them for hurting my son! For whatever they had done to him! For they certainly had! But, like Bambi’s mother, I’m not much for confrontation.

Once we had laid in the weeds however, I discovered us in the middle of a “test.” That’s a delusion for ya: always changing. I would have to cross to the other side of the field with both children. Choose only one and you fail. Lose both and you fail. Turn back and you will be killed. But you will need to find water. For you came unprepared. As always.

It’s difficult to quiet two children while carrying them through razor sharp weeds. But you must for “they” have guns. You must get down. You must know how to hide. My two pups quieted after some time. They were listening to the only person they had available to them at the time – me.

My left elbow still hurts. I carried Sergio in that arm. God, he was pissed. He wanted to go back. But I was terrified. We couldn’t. I failed right there. Should’ve listened to that baby. But the delusions had control and I was trying to save us. You must listen to me here. I was trying to save us.

So I pushed the grasses down to create a path. Sergio walked behind me. Then I let him lead. Then we had to stop to lay the baby down and rest. Which plants did I know? Why didn’t I just bring one bottle of water? Which plants could we chew on for water? Come on! Survive!

It gets real hot outside after a little while. Especially when the trees are on the other side of the field. Hold on, I feel like throwing up.

I took off my black jeans. I took off Sergio’s pants. I took off Marisol’s onesie. We needed to breath, didn’t we? Through our skin? I took the diapers off. They were wet and heavy and I had no way of changing them in those circumstances. Marisol was getting lethargic. We crouched under some tall weeds. It didn’t help much to cool us. So we had to continue on. Away from the “house” and towards the trees on the other side.

We got there, following purple topped “butterfly” grasses. Pushing through here, re-directing there. Some weeds are much more difficult to push down than others (there’s a tip for ya :)). I laid the baby down in the shade under those trees, on top of the clothes I had taken off but continued to bring with for that purpose. I had to keep laying her down – lowering my overall “score” in this delusional “test” of primal fear and instincts. Sergio was being argumentative and was calling for his abuelita, for help.

But still, there was no water. And no one was there to help us. I had hidden pretty well. So we waited in the shade. Until I finally realized what was happening. What was happening? I suddenly had the epiphany that the “power” was in my hands all the time. So I picked the kids up and we found our way, walking in an old creek bed, crawling through the drainage tunnels beneath a road, coming up into a new field and finding the road again.

Above us was a drone (yeah baby, I was on local news) and a police officer quickly made his way over to us in his vehicle. I was half-naked, as were the children. His eyes were wide and terrified. But I was calm. Having passed the “test”. I chose both children and saved the three of us. I held both of my babies to my chest as the police car raced to the hospital.

When we arrived, they reached inside and took those babies from me. The next part is hazy and makes me want to cry. And I will need some coffee if we’re gonna keep going. Which we might as well.

If you feel like you might harm yourself or your baby call 911 or go to the ER. Postpartum psychosis and/or depression are serious conditions and need prompt treatment. I will be providing more information and resources as soon as I collect it and process it myself. Postpartum psychosis happened to me suddenly, has had a huge effect on my life, marriage, and the lives of my children. If you are feeling overwhelmed, guilty for no reason, like you can’t get enough sleep, or paranoid about your baby, seek treatment. This post is not to diagnose or treat, however. I am not a doctor. I am simply a survivor.

My children are currently with DCFS because of the events I have described above. I could have harmed my children they said. But I didn’t. And I never would. This is an explanation of the delusions that led me into the field that day. I just would like to mention, again, that I got us all out. Comments, experiences, and the like are welcome.

An Itinerary

Buenos dias. I brought you some coffee.

Oh. You heard me crying last night? Well, aren’t you special. It’s kind of something I do now that my children were taken from me solely because of a mental illness that was in itself caused by childbirth. I cry at the frustration I feel towards the paradox I’m caught up in. I hope your sweet dreams weren’t disrupted.

No, no, you’re fine. I’m fine too. No need for apologies. Let’s just…I don’t know. Here’s the coffee.

I have a map – looks like we’re a ways from the highway now – and I also have some recommendations on things to do locally, thanks to our dear motel keeper.

Like Billy’s gun range. That’s just a couple miles down the road and is supposedly a real popular place. Yeah, I can shoot. But I hate guns.

Or there’s the Country Crock’s Antique Barn. Yeah, I’ve got enough antiques to start my own barn.

Or we could go about ten miles to this farm where we can buy apples and shit. The motel keeper said it’s just beautiful out thatta way.

You’d rather keep driving? Me too. I’ll meet ya in the car. And I say we head north. To where? We have time to decide.

Don’t worry. It’ll be fun.

The Motel

Well this place looks a little sketchy. Just the way I like ’em.

Alright, alright. Don’t look at me like that. Nothing bad is gonna happen to us. Don’t be a scaredy cat. It’s the only place around so hold on and I’ll go get us a room.

Ok. That guy was a talker. But I got us a double bed room and there’s wi-fi! No honey, we ain’t at the Hilton.

Get on in there and I’ll grab our stuff. Then I figure we just go to bed. Oh, you want me to finish the story? Ugh.

Just go inside. Here’s the key. I’ll think about it. And you’re gonna have to tell me a story some day…

Alright, I’ve seen worse. I’ve actually lived in a hotel a few times – another interesting tidbit about me. No, it’s not really that fun. Well, depending on where you’re staying I suppose. But yeah, this place is ok. So sit down. It’s story time again, but not the story you want. Let’s talk about the golden hour.

You can relax. This might make you sleepy. You might not remember yours (hopefully you had one) but the golden hour is a special time immediately after you were born – when the nurse placed you on your mother’s chest simply for your hearts to meet, and for your little lungs to get the rhythm.

The golden hour was incredible each time I gave birth. Having a small human placed on your skin – the human you were dying to meet – is a moment that awakens you to life. To what it is, how to give it, and how to hold it for the very first time.

I can still imagine Sergio’s tiny cheek pressed against me, his newborn eyes blinking in amazement at the light, as he breathed and breathed for the first time. And Marisol, though she was a bit less happy about being out – laid her heavy head on me to learn how to breathe in that golden hour. The golden hour was a bonding time for us, and one that brought us very close…

But yeah. They’re not here now. They’re alive. But someone else has ’em and I’m just sittin’ around tellin’ stories. Go to bed. I’m off to ask that guy for a map.

Change of Tune

I gotta stop talking about my “near-death”. Seriously, talking about that day gets me all panicky. But I can tell you something about Bella. And then we can go back to talking about the kids.

You want to stop for the night? We can. As soon as we find a town.

As for Bella. I’ve gotta tell you this one. I tell it to everyone ‘cuz I think it’s kind of important. I got her when I was like thirteen but I was like 16 when we decided to go for a walk one day. A walk that turned into more of a struggle to get back to society.

I don’t remember why, but I was pissed off about something and decided to take Bella for a walk one day. My car wasn’t working, there was no way to get it started right that second, and I was sick of being in the house! So I strapped her leash on and we set out.

We were gonna go far. Fuck it. I was pissed about something I can’t remember now. Bella was ready – a strong, agile, cheerful, and energetic dog. Fuck ’em, she seemed to agree with me as we strode down our street.

Northern Illinois towns are all surrounded by fields. Fields of soybeans, of corn, of junk. We reached a “small” field soon enough, one that we would cut through to make it to another road faster.

Were we prepared? Not a bit. I think I had tennis shoes on but that’s it when it came to preparedness that day. The field was dry nearest the road and we easily made it down into the rows of older, dry corn that nobody was caring for. The sun shone hot on us. It was fun.

Soon we reached a creek. Not a real creek but one of those arroyos that appear in fields – most likely full of run off. It was low so we crossed it easily. We were doin’ it – strikin’ off on our own, I mean.

During none of this time was I delusional. Just a dumb kid walking with her dog. But “outside” is still much more difficult to traverse than many realize. We soon found that out.

After the arroyo we reached the end of the drier field and the grass became much taller. I couldn’t see the road we were trying to reach anymore. All we could see was grass. Mud was suddenly deep and sucking us in. I had to choose – struggle on or turn back.

We turned back. And turning back was the hardest part. The grass was so tall, the mud so thick and everwhere. And what direction were we going? Finally we came back to drier soil, but we were in a different area and the arroyo was running full right in front of us.

Arroyos can be deceiving – they look shallow but their currents are strong. I, not having crossed many arroyos before, took two steps in, almost lost my balance, and jumped to the other side. Bella had waited, watching me cross, and thought she could do it then.

She had been more tired than I had realized and as soon as she set down a paw into the creek the water picked her up and started to carry her. Thinking fast, I pulled her to me with the leash still connected to her collar. We sat down on the ground after that. Soon enough we picked up and went home, mud-covered, wet, hot, and scared.

As a leader, I sometimes fuck up. I sometimes misjudge currents that I haven’t seen before. But I know an arroyo now. Bella and I never did that shit again – walking around where we don’t know the ground.

The point? I don’t know. I’ll give you a minute to think of one. I see neon up ahead.

Like a Komondor

I was guarding my house like a komondor the night before it happened. The night before they tried to kill me. I was up all night, pacing the perimeter (this part is literal) and watching for someone I thought I had seen. The babies were sleeping in their beds. But were they?

I checked three times before I was sure they were there. I was terrified. So I went back outside and did my rounds again. No one showed their face so I retreated inside and made sure all doors were locked.

Smoke bothering you? Well roll your window down. And the road’s gettin’ bumpy here so I’m gonna slow down even more. Ok. Anyway.

The two babes were there. We slept. The next day, though, I thought I had to run for it. If not, they’d be back to slip inside my house at night and take the little ones. They knew how to trick me and send me off on the wrong trail – I’d seen that already.

So I decided we would run. But I was tired from watchdog-ing all night and my delusional train of thought told me to wait another day. Just go to the store, I decided. But take both children! Don’t let them out of your sight!

So I loaded my precious ones into the Chevy and we left. Calm down, I kept telling myself. I was fighting it- the delusions, I mean.

Then, we ended up at the place where it happened. I don’t know how we got there – the turns I took (I was trying to lose “them”), but suddenly, a red train caboose parked on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere was calling the excited attention of my three year old.

He’d been there before, I was sure. I parked the truck, which had been acting weird anyway. The house was charming and the owners had multiple buildings, grain bins, and silos on the property.

“Gigi!” Sergio cried with excitement. What? He must have known that this was not Gigi’s house. So who’s house was it? I would find out.

Being a sunny, hot day, I unloaded the kids and placed Marisol’s carseat on the ground near a picnic table in front of the house. The front door was pink. Music, or a TV, could be heard mumbling inside. Sergio and I, holding the baby in one arm, knocked on the seemingly inviting door.

No one answered. So, being like a komondor, I took my pups on a tour of the perimeter of the suspicious house. A sudden crunch of gravel announced the arrival of someone and I knew I was in danger.

Lifting my three year old into my other arm I ran (like Bambi and his mother) into the weeds on the backside of one of the outbuildings.

Immediately the children were screaming and I fell once. I calmed them – talking calmly, quietly, in fear for our lives. For a few moments we laid in the tall grass while I caught a breath and slowed my heart. Then I picked us up and ventured further into the field of wild weeds.

Someone was trying to kill us. Kill me so they could take my children. Well, I wouldn’t let that happen. Let me tell you how we escaped.

This post is part true but contains delusions. It is a way for me to digest my own post partum psychosis. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any symptoms of post partum psychosis or other delusional mental health disorders. If you fear that you will harm yourself, your baby, or others, call 911 or go to your nearest ER.

Riding in the Passenger’s Seat

Shit, did you see that? It was like, the biggest eagle I’ve ever seen! But I should probably watch the road anyway. You didn’t see it? Man, you should keep an eye out.

I know. You’re nervous now. You have that right. I come off as a little loca sometimes. Really, I’m just stalling on that story. We barely know each other and I’m basically telling you everything. But, whatever. Talk is what one does on a road trip.

Remember where we were going? Me neither. But we are not turning back now.

Ok. The story. Light me a cigarette and I will begin to set the scene.

I Know…The Road Trip…

Sit back dear. I’m sorry I left you on the roadside back there. But I came back for you, didn’t I? I threw you out and all but I’ve calmed down now, I swear. Forgive me.

It’s just that, suddenly, you reminded me of something. A delusion I once had. I will drive a bit slower now. And I know some good back roads. So we have time to talk.

I will tell you about the time that someone once tried to kill us. Me and my two children, I mean. We made it. But it’s just you and I now, unfortunately. On this ride, at least. Hold on. I’ll tell you.

This is meant to be a cathartic way for me to digest my post partum delusions. It is mostly fictional and contains delusional episodes. It is not intended for any purpose other than my own healing.

Post Partum Psychosis

Post partum pyshcosis is an acute but terrifying condition that is caused by childbirth. This post is not to diagnose or treat. If you are feeling depressed with a new baby, or are having irrational thoughts, or thoughts of harming yourself or others seek medical help right away.

I suffered from post partum psychosis and on one of the last days of August of this year, I was found to be delusional and manic which resulted in a nine day hospitalization. My children were taken from me and my husband has turned on me. The most recent events of this summer will be shared, in due time, and to the best of my ability.

Ready to be a little scared? Cause I want to show you the scary reality of delusions, separation, mental health, and marriage discourse. I hope to illustrate the pain of post partum motherhood for you.

I will start with this little mental image of what I currently feel: I feel like I’m stuck in a spider’s web that I didn’t see coming as I rounded the corner of the house. Like the spider web is clinging to my face, nose, cheeks, throat. Like it’s in my hair. But I must have the patience to pull off each silky strand, examine it, and release it into the breeze. Or it will never get off. And, I think, there’s already a spider on top of me.

If you, or someone you know, is suffering with their mental health please seek treatment. And I will be updating this post with the information of national or local entities that help with mental illness. If you know of some good ones, drop a comment with the info. Thank you.