Many women in their late 30’s have a similar story regarding their journey to motherhood. Waiting for the right time in their careers. Crossing all of their “t’s” and dotting all of their “i’s.” Creating their perfect scenario. However, we also often share the reality that life isn’t a strategic plan or a SWOT analysis that we can alter to fit our goals.
Everly Miller is one of these moms who had an unimaginable road to motherhood and her story has multiple layers of stress, anxiety, and pain before she could reach her goal.
Read how this wife and mother of one battled and overcame severe postpartum depression.
Tell us about yourself.
I'm a 44-year-old Nurse Practitioner. I met my husband at 32 and got married at 34. After one year of marriage, we decided it was time to have a baby.
I was excelling at work. He was excelling in his company. We just knew this was the next step and the right time for us. We never imagined having issues conceiving. Like everything else in our lives, we figured we would devise a plan and crush this goal like all others. However, my OBGYN had other plans for me.
What plans did your OBGYN have?
I went in to remove my IUD to begin the process of having a baby and what happened next was a blow I’ll never forget.
My OBGYN said, “I am not taking your IUD out. You are severely overweight, and you'll either miscarry or you'll have hypertension. You'll have issues that will be unsafe for you and the baby. You need to lose weight.”
Imagine having a conversation like that with your spouse? Needless to say, it crushed me, but it was also life-altering. I focused on our goal and lost 82 pounds. I was fit and we were ready.
We were so convinced that if we followed instructions and did our part, we would successfully conceive. We even planned a “conceive trip.” We literally went away with the intent to return pregnant.
How did the “conceive trip” work out for you?
When we returned I was certain we were pregnant. But of course, life isn’t that simple and everything can’t be planned. I was not pregnant and I continued to receive negative pregnancy tests for over six months after the trip.
What was the next plan of action for you?
By 38 years old, I was advised to go to a Fertility Center. That process in itself is extremely grueling. Daily doctor visits. Daily lab work. Daily assessments. While you may be in awe of how science works and the miracles it produces for many women, I still could not help but feel like a failure.
My husband grew frustrated with the process. If you or anyone you know has gone through IVF, then you know it takes a lot out of you. While my husband was as supportive as he could be, he didn’t realize that saying things like “why do we have to do this?” added to my already fragile state. I sat deep in my ego and wondered how I could have assisted in delivering hundreds of babies and yet, I'm unable to conceive.
Nonetheless, I continued with the IVF process and we became pregnant. Within two weeks of the results, the pregnancy turned out to be a chemical pregnancy, where some cells multiplied, but it never matured into an actual embryo. Essentially, it wasn't a real pregnancy and we were back to square one.
What were your thoughts following that unsuccessful IVF round?
By the second round of IVF, I was 40 years old and completely disconnected emotionally. I didn’t allow myself to feel joy or optimism. I simply went in for my appointments and followed the instructions. When they told me I was pregnant I was in disbelief, yet thrilled, and afraid of another disappointment. It was 20 weeks when I finally decided to tell friends and family.
How was your pregnancy experience?
I had a very stressful pregnancy. Not only was work stressful, but I also had an uncontrollable feeling that something was going to go wrong with this baby growing inside of me that I loved so deeply. By this point, it’s been years since I was optimistic about anything. Along with my anxiety about how to protect my unborn child, I suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which makes you nauseous and vomit from the scent of almost everything.
Once you gave birth did you experience any postpartum depression?
Oh yes! I delivered my daughter at 34 and ½ weeks because she had stopped moving and was no longer growing. She was born 4 lbs 7 oz.
She spent some time in the NICU and fortunately the hospital had a suite that allowed me to stay as well. When it was time for us to go home I cried inconsolably. I suppose I was just overwhelmed with the thought of going home with this tiny baby and being solely responsible for her well-being.
After two weeks, the tears continued - both happy and sad tears - and I was referred to a psychologist, Linda Klempner who’s located in Englewood, NJ. I spent a year visiting Linda to treat my depression, along with medication, and I can wholeheartedly say she saved my life.
How long did your postpartum last?
People need to understand that regardless of how much you love your child, depression is uncontrollable. It took me three years to heal. Three years to feel like myself.
Did you have support during your postpartum depression?
I had support for my daughter. In the beginning, I was never left alone with her. Between a nanny, or my mother, or my husband, there was always someone with me and the baby. Everyone was concerned for my mental state and I can understand that.
However, even with all of the baby assistance, I did not feel emotionally supported. I often felt that my husband was unsure of how to deal with my emotions. I think he believed I could just look around and see the many blessings I had and just shake it off or snap out of it. I really wish I could have.
What was the turning point for your postpartum depression?
My daughter was always a small baby. She was in the 20th percentile for everything. For me, it felt like I was constantly failing her. But, when she started to hit her milestones, developed a little personality, and was no longer a tiny baby, I finally felt the pressure subside.
What advice would you give other women who are going through something similar?
Other than my therapist, I have not had this deep of a conversation about my experience with anyone else. I’d advise any woman who is not feeling themselves to seek help. Be honest with your feelings and tell those who are closest to you that you need help.
Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?
The first thing that comes to mind is expressing to my mother and my best friend that I need them to be more present. Also, I would have accepted the help that was being offered. Whether it was help with cooking or cleaning. Or even having my husbands’ mom stay for a while so I can sleep. I’d take all of the help.