When I was 6, I had a bad case of food poisoning that developed into a lifelong phobia of vomiting. My entire adult life, I’ve been terrified of pregnancy for one reason and one reason only: morning sickness. Knowing that my husband and I wanted to start having kids pretty quickly, I spent the better part of our first 1.5 years of marriage mentally preparing for pregnancy and whatever that meant for my anxiety, my body and my depression.
This was a conscious journey I was on, sans anxiety medication (which I had been on for years) because I knew I wanted to go without for at least the first trimester. When I did get pregnant, I was in the best shape and probably one of the best mental states of my adult life. My pregnancy was intentional, but I was still scared. Not to be a mom, but for the unknown of the next several weeks.
The weeks that followed were filled with uncertainty and I was thrust into hormonal changes, anxiety, depression, and unexpected unemployment. In hindsight, I honestly had a great pregnancy, but my brain disagreed. The months that followed were spent actively pulling myself out of depression with the help of my friends and family and for the sake of my baby while, to everyone else, I put on my glowiest pregnancy face and pretended I couldn’t be happier. A little less than halfway into my pregnancy, I cried to my doctor and asked for medication.
Fast forward two years (Spring 2019).
We had been itching for a bigger house, but not sure it was the right time. We met with a realtor and our financial adviser and came to the conclusion that because of the current market, selling our house would be a beneficial financial move for us and we went for it. In a whirlwind 24 hours, our house sold and we were thrown into a desperate search for our new family home. After losing three houses and running out of time, we ended up living in my husband’s parents’ basement. About two weeks after we moved in, I bought a pregnancy test and it was positive.
Here I was, a married and very much loved and supported woman, unexpectedly pregnant and freaking out. We were living in a basement. We weren’t ready. This wasn’t the plan. It was in these early weeks of pregnancy that I thought a lot about women in much worse situations than myself who find themselves unexpectedly expecting and I prayed for them and their emotional and mental health. I can’t imagine.
I found out I was pregnant at three weeks and by five weeks, I didn’t want anything to do with food. My anxiety was high and I was ashamed. I felt guilty for not paying as much attention as I possibly could to my growing, playful daughter, who was no longer going to be my only. I felt guilty for not being the wife I wanted to be. I felt guilty that I no longer had the energy to provide for my family in the ways I usually did, like meal planning and cooking, because nausea had taken over. I felt guilty that both my work and social life were suffering. I felt guilty that my number one emotion was not joy, it was fear and anxiety. I soon felt like the only thing I was good for was growing this human inside of me. That felt like my sole purpose and my only contribution to the lives of those around me.
Well, hello old friend. I did not miss you, but I know you well. Thankfully (or not so thankfully), I can recognize depression in myself and I’ve gotten to a place where I know I can admit it and ask for help. Also thankfully, I have friends and family who are willing to listen, who validate my emotions, and who encourage me to take action. Not so thankfully, I’m stubborn.
As I sit writing this, I have anxiety and depression medication (prescribed by my doctor) sitting less than 2 feet away from me that I haven’t started taking. My anxiety is high. I’ve had multiple panic attacks this week about my gestational diabetes, carpal tunnel, back pain, lack of sleep, childbirth, and my almost 3-year-old baby whose whole world is about to change.
This isn’t a story about how I beat depression and anxiety, because I’m very much in it – still fighting every day. This is a story about how you, reading this and maybe having some similar feelings, aren’t alone. Mama, this is hard. I see you and I think about you often. You can do this. We can do this – our babies need us.