My name is Amber! I’m married to my high school sweetheart. Totally madly in love with that
hunk. We currently live in North Central Florida patiently waiting for what God has in store for
us. I’m a first-time mama to our sweet son Little Rock. Learning that motherhood is so grace
filled. I’m a bookworm, coffee enthusiast, and I have been keeping a big secret. Many don’t
know about my pregnancy/postpartum story simply because the timing has always felt off and I
was ashamed for a long time. Here is that story and my journey so far.
When we became pregnant, we were completely surprised and excited at the same time.
If that has ever happened to you, you know the feeling. As first time parents, we had made lots of
plans before he arrived. What we wanted to do before he was here, what we were going to do
once he arrived, etc.
The first and second trimester were phenomenal. I felt great, slept great, didn’t even feel
like I was pregnant, except for the baby movement. I was so excited that I felt so good
throughout so far. When I finally started showing around 23 weeks. I can still picture myself
with my small belly bump proudly walking around when he decided to make his appearance.
Shortly after coming into my third trimester I started having a very strange rash on my
abdomen. Relating that to my history of eczema I immediately assumed that’s what it was, but
thought it was so strange for it to appear on my stomach. A couple of days later the intensity
increased phenomenally and spread all over my abdomen. It felt like fire on my skin. I was
miserable and couldn’t sleep. I had to go be seen by a high-risk doctor who was unsure of what it
could be and thought I was just a typical eczema reaction by due to stress. I was sent to
dermatology to get some skin biopsies done.
Fast forward to 3 days later I was breaking out severely with blisters all over my
abdomen, hands, feet, legs, and on my arms. My throat even started to close because of the
reaction. I then was admitted to the emergency room and had to stay there and be put on some
high steroid medications.
Completely heartbroken to hear the news that I was one in 50,000 pregnancies to acquire
this rare autoimmune disease called Pemphigoid Gestationis. There is not a lot of information on
this rare autoimmune disease. The only known facts are it goes away after delivery of baby, and
it may or may not happen again during other pregnancies. You never expect things to happen to
you. Of course, you hear stories and super rare things that can happen during pregnancy, but this
was just so discouraging.
I was unable to do normal things such as go to work, go out, etc. If you’re unfamiliar
with steroids, it causes the immune system to decline. Since my body was attacking itself, my
immune system had to be shut down. At this point in my pregnancy I was too early to be
induced. So then we had to patiently wait for us to reach at least 37 weeks. At 36 weeks I had
some complications and I had to be induced early. I was able to achieve my goal of having a
natural birth. (Thank you Jesus, hubby, and essential oils)
Thinking that this was it, we were finally going to get to be “normal”. (Whatever that is!)
Our son was rushed to the NICU; he was there for almost two weeks. Two long weeks. My heart
goes out to all the parents who have their little ones in there. Since my son was there much
longer than anticipated the hospital told me I would not be able to stay with my son if I wasn’t
breastfeeding. As a new mama, fear of failure was huge for me. I hadn’t seen a lactation
consultant and had no idea what to do. I was overwhelmed.
I am not one to ever rely on someone. I have always felt very independent and capable of
doing things. I have never experienced being anxious or depressed before. I didn’t even realize
that’s what was happening to me. I felt like I was in a glass box being surrounded by water.
Nobody could hear me. Everything was a fog. I was constantly crying, afraid of being left alone
with my son, getting palpitations when he started crying. And when my husband had to go back
to work on top of all that I was devastated. It was as if I couldn’t keep up with the flow of my
new world. When this started affecting me physically, my milk supply plummeted due to my
stress, I felt like a failure.
When I started getting the severe anxiety, nausea, and palpitations, my husband
suggested going to see my OB in case it was the beginning signs of baby blues. Unfortunately, it
was not just baby blues, it was severe postpartum depression. She did a series of questions to
confirm how I was feeling. If you have ever felt this way or are currently feeling this way, I urge
you to reach out to someone. Even just to vent a little. You are not alone in this.
It was almost like all the joy was gone. Here I was a new mommy so excited to be home,
then it felt like a light switch flipped and I was numb to everything. Once my doctor and I
discussed how I was feeling, I was so upset to hear how many women go through postpartum
depression and never know. Or never even admit it. Almost like it's a shameful thing. It got to
the point where I was so depressed that I even considered leaving this life. But by the grace of
God I am here today. I have found ways to manage postpartum depression between therapy, the
use of essential oils, lots of prayer, and quality time with my family.
Women need to know that they are not alone. They need to know that this is a serious
thing and you shouldn’t be ashamed. To reach out and ask for help. I am now 6 months
postpartum and I am finally starting to feel like myself again. These obstacles have been so hard,
but so humbling. It’s allowed me to focus on helping others not be ashamed to be able to tell me
that they’ve been there or help another mama or even friend.
I was offered to speak at a postpartum conference for mental illness awareness in Florida.
I will do this with pride. Knowing that people don’t see this as a mental illness and it’s not just
“a woman thing”. That these struggles do not define me. All of these obstacles simply make me
stronger and allow me to reach out and let others know they are not alone.