baby blues

7:15 PM

I've tried to start this post a dozen times... I don't exactly know why it's so hard to just say it. To get it out. It's taken me months to understand this on my own and some days it's still hard to process and certainly talking about it openly carries added weight. But for the sole reason that speaking to others about this has helped me immensely I want to share in case my words could make some of you feel less alone. So here it is - I've been struggling with peripartum depression during this pregnancy.
When we first found out we were expecting this little boy we were thrilled. The timing wasn't "right" but it felt perfect, nevertheless. Another little one to join our family of four! But as the shock and the thrill wore off a new feeling took up residence in my chest... Was it dread? Was it anxiety? Was it just plain old fear? I've always been a little anxious until I hit that 12 week mark but this time it was worse, I was constantly fearing the worst. Playing out scenarios in my head, googling symptoms incessantly and tossing and turning at night. Then 12 weeks came and I watched my little boy sail around my uterus in black and white in a darkened room. There he was - thriving. I drove home from that appointment glowing and full of joy. But as nighttime and nausea descended the heaviness settled in my chest again. My mind would grasp at straws of worry and as soon as I would loosen its hold on one it would expertly find another one to wind its tentacles around. And then as the nausea and exhaustion came to a crescendo around 14 weeks I just found myself feeling perpetually numb. Not warm and fuzzy numb but rather black hole numb. Nothing seemed to bring me joy and the anxiety was replaced with static, white noise.
But I convinced myself that it was just the nausea and the vomiting. Once it would pass I would most certainly feel better. After all my second trimester was something I had relished with my other two. My body would be bathed in hormones that made me feel superhuman - I had more energy than ever, I was constantly happy and felt full of life and love. And so I coaxed myself - just a few more weeks, just hang in there and it will be better. And lo and behold much to everyone's great joy the nausea lifted and the vomiting stopped. My energy came back. And yet... That feeling, the one in my chest, was still ever present. I began to try and will myself into happiness - "Look at this growing babe! He's healthy! The kids are thrilled!" And yet it still felt like my happiness was just out of reach, I could see it, I could hear it but I just couldn't get my hands on it. I began to feel hopeless...
I have spent the last few months desperately struggling to get out of this fog. And while I continue to make my way through this dark path I feel suffocated with guilt and shame. I hate that I spent the first two months of my children's summer vacation in bed or on the sofa with my eyes closed. I hate that I can't will myself to feel as joyful about this pregnancy as I did the other two. I hate that I wake up every day taking my mental temperature only to be disappointed when I can't seem to lift the veil that seems to smother any ounce of happiness I can scrape together. I hate that I'm struggling to connect to this baby boy, even though he couldn't be more wanted or loved. I hate that I'm ashamed of feeling this way. I hate that my children have seen me cry more in the last three months than they have in their entire lifetimes. I hate everything about this.
But there is one thing I am grateful for and that is clarity. Finally understanding that this is chemical, temporary and has no bearing on how I truly feel about this child helps. I've begun seeing a therapist again, I'm trying to make some lifestyle changes and I'm trying to talk about it more openly rather than continuing to wear an "everything's great!" mask. I am slogging my way through this for my prize on the other side - this precious soul that is growing inside me.
For those of you who have been there, or are there now, I see you. This feels like one of the hardest journeys I have had to take. The nature of this depression, how unnatural it feels, makes it ever more difficult. The constant guilt and shame further compound the pain and the weight of it all. But perhaps, as always, the silver lining is the ability to see other women and to see their pain laid bare in the recognition of something that is so familiar to me now. Because beneath it all - the pretending, the trying, the "I'm sorry," is the century old tale of us as women desperately wanting to make everyone else happy, to not cause discomfort, to ameliorate. Because saying I'm with child, I'm tired, I'm nauseous AND I'm sad feels like a little too much. At least one of those things we must carry on our own. And so I am incredibly grateful to those people in my life who have continually said "You don't have to carry any of this, give it to me to hold, even if for just a little while." So if I can offer anything it would be that you lay down the sadness, the tiredness, the worrying because the babe you are carrying is heavy enough.

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