May 8, 2019
I hope that by meeting these courageous mothers that have navigated their way through the toughest of circumstances, they can be uplifting and encouraging to those of you who may be experiencing the same. If you ever want to submit your story for consideration, you can always email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with a little snippet of what you would love to talk about!
Since I was a little girl, I couldn’t wait to be called “mommy.” The number of kids I ended up having never mattered to me- as long as at least one precious human would call me mommy one day.
I married my husband in 2013, and he was aware that waiting to try for this dream of mine wasn’t in the cards (haha), regardless, he had held the same dream for several years as well, and so our journey to parenthood began. Along the way we discovered I would need a surgery to get pregnant, a serious one, where I was put to sleep and all. There was literally no hesitation, I would have to *have* a baby, and so off I went into the operating room. The operation worked like a charm, and the very next month we found out we were pregnant. This was November of 2013.
We. were. ecstatic! We did not know what to expect after my operation, or how long it could possibly take to get good news. The amount of happiness we felt was beyond words.
I had zero anxiety of carrying a baby before the pregnancy hormones hit. I had always imagined how amazing being pregnant would feel, how I would “glow” and how my husband might treat me with extra special care while I carried our child, making sure I didn’t slip on a single puddle.
The latter portion of these thoughts about pregnancy, I had completely right. I was treated with extra special care from my husband. However, pregnancy hormones hit me like a brick to the face and I began to have a nightmare experience that NO ONE had ever warned me about. I had only heard of postpartum depression and anxiety, and here I was all of a sudden, a walking panic attack.
To be transparent, I’ve always dealt with a bit of an anxiety problem. But pregnancy brought on a new, special, and terrifying type of anxiety, that was VERY different. For the first 3 1/2 months of pregnancy, all I did was throw up every single thing I ate. I mean everything- except the occasional yogurt. In parking lots, at home, and inside my car. I lost weight. It was truly an awful experience. I had no glow. But then it got worse.
“Just wait until your second trimester” people said. “Once you’re not sick anymore, you will LOVE pregnancy” they said. My “morning” sickness did stop, but that was when my emotions took a front seat. My sickness was a thin veil over my slowly bubbling anxiety, and when it was lifted, all I was living was an intense fear for no reason at all.
I had to quit my job working as a manager of a clothing boutique. I would beg my husband to not leave my side, especially at night. He had to go to work, so I would constantly call my parents, (who lived in NYC at the time, and me in North Carolina) and just ask of them to stay on the phone with me and remind me of who I was. It is scary to think about now, just how vulnerable the mind is, and just how STRONG those hormones can effect some women. At that point my husband made me an appointment to talk to a counselor that had experience dealing with postpartum depression.
I remember expressing to the counselor just how confused I felt about what the reason could be that I was feeling so awful and afraid. She asked if I was scared to deliver, and I said of course. However, I did not have any reoccurring thoughts that could place exactly what the root cause of my fear was. I never had worries about the baby having defects, and I certainly didn’t worry about being a mother. I KNEW I was made for this and was confident that I *had* this. I just didn’t understand where it was coming from. I fought a deep, dark, shaky fear day in and day out. I would wake up and tell myself, “just get through the day.” I told myself I would never get pregnant again, and there were a handful of times I even wondered if being a mother was going to be worth feeling this terrible for almost a year. I tried an anti-depressant for one day in my second trimester, and it brought my sickness back with a vengeance, so I did not continue with that. I just dealt with what I now know to be the hardest season of my life. Then, the third trimester rolled around.
Regarding the stories I had been told about the trimesters, I had anticipated my third to be my hardest. Again, pregnancy surprised me. My third trimester ended up being my best. I had figured out coping strategies (none of which came from my counselor, by the way. They were all tailored to my liking. She pushed exposure therapy- “push yourself to be alone! be afraid, and you’ll get over it!” kind of thing. I stuck to a more “Stay comfortable. Do what feels right. Keep company with you whenever possible. Keep calm, keep the baby calm” approach) I also realized that crying out the anxiety really helped me. I would make myself cry by feeling sorry for myself, for the struggle it all was, just out of pure frustration. I would feel a sense of peace afterwards that would break any sense of panic in half.
I was told my baby (boy! 🙂 was breach. I would have to have a planned c-section. I was nervous to go through with this, but at this point I had become very accustomed to heavy handed nerves. Shaking, I got the epidural, and laid on the table. My husband placed my phone next to my ear playing the “calm meditation” radio on Pandora. This was a station I listened to constantly during my pregnancy to help keep me calm. I delivered Parker, on July 18, 2014. He was healthy and happy, and so was I. We struggled with nursing in the beginning but we eventually got the hang of it.
I had no postpartum depression which I was at “high-risk” for. People do not talk much about perinatal depression/anxiety, which I now know is what I dealt with. It is far more rare, but it is oh-so real. I hope by writing this, I can spread a bit of awareness. It was hard dealing with what I did not understand, and I felt very alone at that time. If anyone reading this is going through what I went through, the only advice I can give would be to take it day by day and stay true to yourself. Do what makes you feel calm- this may be over in a flash and it is possible that the only powerful emotion you will deal with after pregnancy is *JOY* – (and exhaustion. 😉 but JOY mostly!)