When Depression Strikes Before the Baby Even Arrives
I texted my good friend a couple weeks ago and said, “I think I need to talk to someone. I am a mess. Can’t seem to shake it. Everything feels too hard, too overwhelming and too loud. Everyone seems too needy. I’m fantasizing about gardening and the odds of me taking up gardening are about the same as me opening a nudist resort in Jamaica.”
My friend Mandy is one of my favorite people ever. She responded with the right amount of help and humor. She’s confident I could, in fact, be successful if I decide to pursue gardening or the resort. She helped me make and stick to the decision to find a therapist.
I have an appointment next week. It’s not my first time seeing a therapist, but it’s the first time as of late. I should mention I’m pregnant, almost into the third trimester. I’m so grateful, excited and also feeling all of the other feels, too many of them, and too many all at one time.
I’m scared, anxious and so freaking tired. I’m sad. I’m angry and frustrated. I’m lonely. To quote one of the greatest works of my time, “Jerry McGuire,” “I’m pregnant, and I’m incapable of bullshit.” I don’t feel right, and I don’t feel well.
I should also mention I have complicated pregnancies. I’m considered high-risk. I have had to have surgery with each of my pregnancies I’ve carried to term. There was bed rest with my first one and a couple complications from surgery. There were, in each pregnancy, months of severe morning sickness, for which medicine barely provided enough relief for me to live my life.
Don’t get me wrong. I want this baby so much. I love her already. My husband and I and our oldest daughter, who is 6, keep dreaming up names. Maybe Amelia, Chloe, Sophie, Delaney or Pizza Ding Dong, which is my 2-year-old son’s best offering.
My life is good. When I look at it, I can see that. I am a person of faith, and I believe in eternal assurances and hope that anchor me. I enjoy my job. I love my kids and my husband. I write, and I carry this baby, from a place of much privilege.
Yet everything feels too much right now. My emotions are haywire, beyond what I’ve experienced in my previous pregnancies. This is, after all, my fourth time being pregnant. I had depression and anxiety (so in-plain-mama-English, postpartum depression) with my first, so I know a little about being pregnant and about experiencing depression when the baby arrives. I was not ready for the draining, exhausting, frightening feelings of depression before the baby even gets here.
I’ve talked to my husband, who gets it and is supportive, but of course, can’t actually get it. Get it? I’ve talked to Mandy, who has been such a friend. I’ve done some Googling.
“Pregnant and crying all the time.”
“Pregnant and miserable.”
“Pregnant and life feels really hard.”
Turns out, there is this thing called antenatal depression, which I had never even heard of until I Googled. I don’t know much about it really, just that it exists. I know I could use some help, someone to process the thoughts, the emotions and the overload of hormones. Because even though my life is good, my blessings are many and I love this baby, I need help. So I’m seeing a therapist next week. That’s my best next step for my mental health. What’s yours? Let’s take a step together, shall we?