I want to just cast this out there knowing that this is in no way everyone’s experience in pregnancy. I am joyful with the glowing pregnant women, but during several of my pregnancies… that was not me and I felt SO alone. Come find out the truth about depression during pregnancy.
I want to talk about anxiety and depression DURING pregnancy. First of all I just want to say that this post is not in any way clinical information. If you want the facts talk to your doctor or midwife about depression and treatment during pregnancy. It’s a day and age of labeling everything – depression, anxiety, every disorder imaginable that our children might have but I want to have a good, old fashioned, sit-around-the-table-with-a-cup-of-tea heart to heart and maybe a cry.
You’re pregnant. You’re happy (or you should feel happy), you’re glowing, radiant, on a hormonal high of eminent baby bliss OR maybe you are so flippin’ tired you can barely get out of bed and when you do get out of bed pouring cereal for the other 2 babies you have feels tedious. Every precious sound they make seems piercing, every smell makes you nauseous. The overwhelming emotion is something like ‘WHAT WAS I THINKING!’ There are lots of other Moms out there that look perfect. They tote their kids around with energy and seem to also find energy to spare to tote their pregnant heiney to the gym 3 times a week for a prenatal workout! They have an organic garden in their back yard and just finished canning 20 jars of home-made salsa, applesauce, and jam. First I just want to say – that’s ok! – That that’s them and not you. I’ve had pregnancies where I have felt the same on-top-of-the-world mommy mojo. But my third and fourth pregnancies have not been those.
I lie awake at night worrying about everything; bills, babies, furniture, friends. I wake to a lack of drive to do anything about anything. It’s a well kept secret because I still manage to go through the motions. The kids are fed, played with and learn-ed although I know I smile less than they are used to. I still call my husband – honey although I know he is missing his friend (Is she still down in there somewhere? and what is she crying about now?). It’s confusing for those around us to really understand what is going on inside because, heck, we don’t understand it. All I can explain it as is that, that precious baby is sucking everything from us our energy, our health, our SANITY and that baby is fine. It is probably getting everything he or she needs but let’s face it, you are not.
For the Friends and Family of a women struggling with depression during pregnancy
A ‘Type-A’, go-getter, rock-solid person that turns into a water fountain of of emotion is an enigma to many. I can understand that. And all the sympathetic – ‘oh she’s just pregnant and hormonal’, just seems a bit insensitive and non-empathetic. There’s more to it than that. She needs community. (Talking to you again preggo) -You need community. I don’t know how to change that for women going through what I’m going through except to remind us women to start being more real. Don’t cast off the friend that is sick and in constant pain – she really needs you. Don’t expect her husband to look after her and provide her with everything she needs, cause he won’t be able to. Don’t expect her Mother to do it or her midwife to do it or, heaven forbid, her doctor to do it. If she seems a little off – she is; and she really probably doesn’t want you to know it. You may assume wrongly that postpartum is the time needs the most attention but for a lot of women, especially women that are pregnant that have other little kids at home, pregnancy, even in the very beginning, requires lots of care and sensitivity from her community.
My suggestion… JUST DO IT! – Go visit her, listen, take her kids for an hour, bring her a meal. Don’t make her initiate it or confirm it. Community is about SHOWING UP in each others’ lives and I don’t think we do that enough. We have every excuse of why we don’t need to show up and those excuses just leave people feeling disconnected.
For you, friend. I just want to send a cyber-hug and say I-GET-IT! I know what it’s like to not feel like yourself and to feel incredibly guilty for feeling that way. It’s times like these that you really find out who your friends are and you may be really surprised. The bubbly, ‘going-out-for-friends-night’ friends stop showing up and replacing them is someone that maybe you aren’t even that close to right now but for some reason is asking, how you are doing in more than just a passing way. She’s admitting that what you are doing is hard and seems to show an interest in the real stuff of your life. Hold on to her for dear life! She’s a keeper.
Find other safe places. I went to midwife appointment the other day. I really like my midwife. I’ve known her now for several years and even though I know she is extremely busy and has many patients that she cares for, I feel like she cares. I walked into her office last Thursday and burst into tears. I was SO relieved that she was OK with that. She passed me a tissue and said something about – if I only knew how many women have their breakdowns sitting right here on this couch. I felt SO much better. Sometimes the appearance of having it all together is what is taking up so much of our energy and letting that guard down seems to be the start of picking up our heads again. Get to that place of transparency and if you need to talk to your Doctor about any medical solutions he or she might suggest then, do that! There is no shame in that. But even with treatment, the support of those around us is a necessary part of cooking up that little one inside of you with love.