My husband and I both met as single parents to two beautiful children. My son Ryan was five and my husband’s daughter, Lilly was 4. We fell in love quickly and got married in March 2007. I received the news that I was pregnant with Izzy two months after our marriage and I felt like our new bundle of joy would complete our family.
I had a high risk pregnancy due to an incompetent cervix and sick for six months. Finally, our daughter was born on February 8, 2008 and I was overwhelmed with happiness and love for my perfect little girl.
On the third night we were home with our daughter, I woke up with my chest burning and barely being able to breathe. I thought I was having a heart attack and woke up my husband and said that we needed to go to the hospital. He thought I was crazy and kept telling me to relax and that it would be ok. I was awake all night pertfried that I was dying and sobbing all night. I had no idea I was having a panic attack.
We went to visit my OB the next day who said “This is not my Stacy! You look miserable!” and sent me for EKG and a referral to a therapist. At this point I still had no idea that this was postpartum depression. My EKG was fine and I then began the process of therapy along with a prescription for Xanax.
For months, I was petrified and worried when the next panic attack would occur. I would not leave my house and everything induced a panic attack. I was afraid to hold my newborn daughter and feared that I might hurt her. My mother moved in with us for two weeks and took xanax every night so I could sleep and my mother would take care of Izzy, and then I could care of her during the day. My day was filled with crying, depression, fear of everything around me, praying I would not drop my daughter down the stairs, and waiting just waiting for the next panic attack.
Outside appearances can really deceive. Here, Stacy holds her two month old daughter, smiling on the outside but “secretly scared and broken.”
My husband was furious with me and had no idea on how to help me. He thought I could just control my feelings and that I could control the fear and anxiety.
My sister in law came out to visit me when Izzy was three months old and told me that she had experienced postpartum depression too and asked me what my biggest fear was. I told her that I was afraid that my throat was going to close up and that I would not be able to breathe. My sister in law then told me that the worst possible scenario would be that I would pass out and then wake up once again.
That statement had a profound impact on me and put everything into perspective. Shortly after, my husband received a transfer from San Diego to Chicago. We had to travel with two 7 year olds and a 3 month old and drive cross country. I was terrified at the idea of driving cross country alone (my husband) was driving the truck and not being able to take xanax when I needed it. I did it! I stopped at every rest area and puked, cried, washed my face and continued our journey.
After a year, I was finally able to control my panic attacks and stop them before they were coming. My daughter, Izzy, is almost 13 years old and a beautiful soul. The first three months of her life are a blur but I thank God I had my doctors and family who believed in me and had the faith that I could overcome my postpartum.
Stacy Ellington is a 44 year old happily married woman to my best friend, Matthew and mother to four beautiful children. Her two oldest (Ryan & Lilly) are 20 years old, her daughter (Izzy who this blog is about) is almost 13, and her youngest Luka is 8. For the past two years, she has been working in the non-profit sector and currently is the Director of Fundraising & Special Events for the YWCA Lake County whose mission is to eliminate racism, empower women, promote peace, justice, and dignity for all.