Today’s Warrior Mom is Lindsay H. She was and still is very frustrated that there’s so little information out there about pregnancy depression, also called antenatal depression or prenatal depression.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when my world was turned upside down by pregnancy depression and anxiety. Somewhere between the not-so-pleasant thoughts of aborting my baby and the suffocating panic attacks I realized that this was not your average pregnancy. Something was definitely wrong, but wait, I was STILL PREGNANT. There was nothing postpartum about it. Everything I had read about depression or anxiety related to having babies talked about feelings after the birth, not during what was supposed to be a euphoric time of prenatal massages and glowing skin.
Pregnancy depression, also known as antenatal depression, is like trying to run a marathon with a broken leg. I felt like I had ruined my life by getting pregnant again and that I would never be the same. I just didn’t understand. I had always wanted a second child, but as soon as I saw that extra blue line, I panicked. Tears flowed like rivers and anxiety struck me like lightning. My hopes of feeling better dwindled every time I saw a new doctor who didn’t know what to do with me. I couldn’t find anyone who specialized in antenatal depression and was therefore lumped in with everyone else, being prescribed antidepressants as if taking medication during pregnancy was supposed to help relieve my anxieties. Were they kidding?
I was told to exercise and keep busy, not an easy feat when your belly is expanding and you can’t walk twenty feet without your back aching. Doctors kept assuring me that my condition was temporary, but that prognosis made me feel like no one really understood what I was going through. I felt there was no way this condition was temporary. As far as I was concerned, it was my new reality and I couldn’t bear to live in it. After trying medication with no success, I was convinced that my baby was going to suffer for the rest of his life because I wasn’t healthy enough to provide a good start for him. Suicidal thoughts poked their ugly little head in every now and then, with my husband hiding sharp objects when he went to work and calling me constantly throughout the day to make sure I was still breathing.
Trying to hide my condition was as exhausting as dealing with the problem itself. Our friends and family knew something wasn’t right but I was able to chalk it up to mood swings and fatigue. “Just relax and take a nap,” is all anyone knew to say. Little did they know that sleep was something I had lost along with my mind, and relaxation was just a muddy pool for my negative thoughts to swim in. I felt hopeless and alone and terrified.
When the day arrived for “it” to be born, I had mixed emotions. I was incredibly relieved that my nightmare of a pregnancy was going to be over, but incredibly nervous that I would not connect with this thing that had spent months inside of me. I prayed for a happy ending to a miserable story, but I didn’t get it. The day the baby was born, I was overcome with unexpected joy and thought I had finally crossed the finish line, about to get my medal, but a week later I fell once again into the deep, dark depths of depression and anxiety and realized that having the baby was only a pit stop along the path.
My baby felt like a stranger who I couldn’t wait to pass on to someone else. I didn’t want him, which initiated an immense feeling of guilt and sadness. I kept wanting to run away from a life that I used to love. My desperation grew by the day and I didn’t believe I would ever get better … until I did.
With the help of medication, therapy and time, I began to realize that my baby was not the problem. What I had was pregnancy depression, a real medical condition that, although still scarcely understood, is treatable. My tears began to dry up and the tools I was given in therapy finally started to make sense. I can now look at Kyle (yes, he has a name … no longer an “it”) and know that he and I will forever be bonded by the tumultuous journey we endured together. I truly believe he is meant to be here with me. His smile melts my heart and his chubby little fingers wrap around mine as if we are connected for life. And while I still sometimes feel sadness toward my pregnancy and Kyle’s early days, I can find comfort in knowing that Kyle is a beautiful, healthy little boy who fought his way into my heart.
As far as the marathon goes, we are getting closer and closer to the finish line, broken leg and all.
~ Lindsay Hays
Photo credit: © Bianca de Blok – Fotolia.com
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