When I found out I was pregnant with my first son, I was elated, and scared, and ALL the things. Then the morning (all day) sickness set in, and I was vomiting if someone looked at me wrong. There was crying, and worry. As a NICU nurse I was terrified. I kept waiting for that moment when I would go in for an appointment and there was no heartbeat, or bleeding, or I was told that my baby had some sort of anomaly. Just waiting week by week for the moment my baby would be viable only to prepare myself for the worst case scenerio. By the time I was 24 weeks I was sitting in my OB’s office sobbing because I felt so depressed when it should have been one of the happiest times of my life. I was reassured that what I was feeling was normal, and it was just hormones. The pregnancy went on, and I continued to be apprehensive, and vomit pretty much every day until I hit 32 weeks. I still felt depressed, and I cried A LOT, because I was just sure that something was going to go wrong.
I felt like I didn’t bond with my unborn baby, so afraid that I was going to lose him before he was born.
Then the time for delivery came, and although I had some complications, I brought home a beautiful, healthy, baby boy. I got caught up in the day to day feeding, sleeping, cleaning, and snuggling a newborn. I was run down, and after the initial well wishers stopped coming around, the loneliness set in. I felt alone, and unsupported, and found myself crying for hours a day despite the tremendous love I had for my baby.
But, I kept putting it off. I downplayed my feelings. I told my husband I was fine, just hormonal. Not emotionally out of control. I told myself it was normal. My husband begged me to talk to my OB when I went in for my follow up appointment, and I did.
I told my doc I felt like I had “baby blues”, and I found myself crying all the time.
He asked a series of questions, and I was reassured that all the things I was feeling were relatively normal for a first time mom, and it was a good sign that I was able to get up in the morning and brush my teeth, and put on regular clothes. That if my thoughts weren’t keeping me from daily activities, it would pass. And it did. It just took a really freaking long time; over six months before I finally felt like an altered version of my former self.
Fast forward three years and I’m pregnant again. After I got over the initial surprise and 6 hour cry fest the day I found out, my emotions were relatively even. Then the vomiting started; and this time I had a very active toddler to take care of too. And, just for kicks, let’s toss in a global pandemic, social distancing, and school closures. Other than working, I was isolated. My husband did all the shopping, I didn’t go anywhere except my OB appointments, and the lab. Again, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. This time not only did I have the requisite NICU nurse mentality going against me, I had the fear of the unknown. What would happen to my baby if I got COVID 19, what would happen to me? Needless to say, pregnancy during the pandemic was a little scary, and again, I distanced myself from getting too close to my unborn baby.
I delivered a completely perfect little boy in October. He’s such a great baby, and yet every night I found myself sitting and crying. First, it was the guilt of not being more excited when I found out I was pregnant, then it was that I wasn’t really appreciating the wonderful newness of a baby, then it was because my older child wasn’t getting the one on one attention he got before. To top it all off, the anxiety set in. I was convinced I was going to drop my newborn while walking down the stairs, or slip taking my dogs out and knock myself out and he would somehow fall in the pool. I brought it up at my follow up appointment. I was told that these things sometimes happened, especially during these uncertain times. I was told to increase my Vitamin D and Folic Acid, and to get more time outdoors. Two weeks later, I’m putting my child in fireman pajamas sobbing because I was sure that if he wore them, the house was going to catch on fire. Yep. That was the final straw. I called my docs office the next morning, and was written a prescription for an antidepressant. And let me tell you, it’s made a huge difference. I’m smiling, the anxiety is so much better, and my now 4 year old can wear whatever pajamas he pleases.
I wish I would have spoken up sooner. I wish I would have pushed for something with my first child. I didn’t need to be miserable, and feeling any sort of depression regardless of life circumstances is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not a weakness. It doesn’t make me a bad mother, and it doesn’t mean I don’t flat out adore my children.
Don’t do what I did. Don’t wait too long to speak up if you need help. Be honest with both yourself and your doctor. And know if you have more than the “baby blues” you’re not alone, I will be here for you.