Antenatal Depression, Part 1 – The Steep Descent

2 Aug

It’s been 10 weeks and 5 days since my last post.  75 days since I carved time out just for myself…to think, reflect, and write.  I’ve been away so long, the tumblr dashboard interface has changed and I have no idea what the new little icons mean.  I’d be disappointed with myself except that I needed the break, and though there are many things I don’t do well, self-acceptance has become an area of strength for me (thanks to years of therapy).

So what the hell happened?  Um, well…remember when I went to Vegas with my husband and had the time of my life?  Turns out we brought back a little more than memories.  Yup.  Pregnant.  With a Vegas baby.

My first reaction to the two little pink lines?  Giggles.  Joy.  And more giggles.

I think hubby’s first reaction was to enjoy the humor of the situation.  Love him for that.

We had JUST discussed how we weren’t quite ready for another baby.  We didn’t feel unready (is that even a word?)…we were just so happy with the routine we had settled into.  DoodleBug had gotten to this great independent stage, my music studio was taking off, he got into Harvard’s doctoral program.  We wanted to have everything be predictable for a while.

Then BAM!  Actions have consequences, apparently.  Little tiny consequences that cry and poop…and cry some more.

But still we looked at the pink lines together and giggled.  We smiled at the idea of having a child created from a fun-filled weekend of love and a happy marriage.  Although nervous and justifiably freaked out, we were excited. There’s a Jack Johnson song that says, “You gotta be careful when you’ve got good lovin’, ‘cause those angels will just keep on multiplying.”  That’s exactly how I felt.  Until week 7.

Mother’s Day came and the weather was gorgeous.  Hubby treated me like a queen and we had a glorious weekend, filled with playing outside and snuggling on the couch with movies.  And I felt numb.  “Uh-oh,” I thought.  But I didn’t want to overreact.  Anyone who has ever suffered from a mood disorder knows that you are always waiting for that other shoe to drop – for relapse to take you down again.  Every little mood swing can be terrifying.  So I waited…to see if it was just a bad day…if it was just the hormones.

Then the tears started, and they didn’t stop.  Along with the morning sickness, the lethargy, and the headaches, I found myself profoundly overwhelmed and hopeless.  I told my husband I just wanted everything back the way it was…that I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore.  These thoughts horrified me, because I still wanted the baby…but not at the cost of my sanity, my family, or my happiness.  The anxiety crept back into my inner monologue, frightening me with images of DB being left as an only child because of a childbirth complication, or Hubby leaving me because he couldn’t deal with another round of PPD.  I had secretly hoped that although I had to stop the mood stabilizer, that the pregnancy hormones would help keep me stable and I was frustrated that the mood swings and depression came back.  When I started to feel responsible for them…when I started to hear myself thinking “if you were only a stronger person, this wouldn’t be happening,” I knew I needed to call my doctor.

She recommended an SSRI.  One that I had been on previously, after DB was born, which had pretty good results.  But oh, the side effects.  Headache (head-pounding), nausea (you know…in addition to morning sickness), insomnia (mama’s mean when she hasn’t slept), decreased libido (I know, I know.  Who wants to have sex in their first trimester anyway?  But still.), and lethargy (otherwise known as zombie-brain).  These would be my reality for some, if not all of my time on the meds, and I wouldn’t know which of these lovely door prizes would be mine until I bit the bullet and gave the meds a try.  After agreeing to fill the prescription and talk to my husband, I drove home in a bit of a daze.  I didn’t want to need the meds.  I didn’t want to deal with the side effects.  And if I did need them, I wanted to wait until the second trimester.  Fear and anxiety were spinning though my brain.  My soul started to ache…a familiar feeling I never wanted to know again.

Mostly, I think I was just panicking at the thought of going through hell again.  PPD is an ugly beast.  Recovering from it is a fight – and it’s a long one, requiring patience, inner-strength, and flexibility.  I didn’t know if I had it in me again.

I sat on the floor in my living room and sobbed.

***Please join me for Antenatal Depression, Part 2 – Where Do I Go From Here? next week.  I promise you hope, fist pumping, and ultrasound pictures.  But mostly, hope.***

2 Responses to “Antenatal Depression, Part 1 – The Steep Descent”

  1. KWoods April 16, 2014 at 1:43 am #

    I can’t tell you how much it comforts me that I am not alone in this struggle. I am so severely depressed and anxiety-ridden, plagued with insomnia, fatigue, inability to just FUNCTION normally… and I have done so much research, looking for a blog like this. THANK YOU for writing, sharing, and making others who suffer from this more-common-than-anyone-shares disorder feel that they aren’t alone!

    • learnedhappiness April 16, 2014 at 7:45 am #

      You most definitely aren’t alone. Reach out for help and support – it’s the best way to begin healing. Keep in touch and let me know how you are.

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