We Don’t Talk Enough About Mental Health During Pregnancy

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Dexter Chatuluka/Unsplash

Early in May I gave birth to a perfect baby boy. He came 16 days early, and I could not have been more thankful. I know, most pregnant women are over it by the last month or two, but this pregnancy was much different from day one compared to my other two.

The moment I found out I was pregnant, I collapsed into a sobbing mess. I won’t hide the fact that we weren’t planning it and I was pretty content with this life my family of four was living. My kids were becoming more self-sufficient: getting themselves dressed, eating without having to be fed, and even asking to take on showering without any help. My husband and I had more time to reconnect outside of being mommy and daddy. And I was finally starting to feel like an individual again, focusing on myself a bit more. When all six (yes… six) pregnancy tests flashed “pregnant,” something inside me broke.

I spent 37 weeks losing myself. When you get pregnant your life changes, but it felt like this time all of these normal changes I had been able to manage a few short years prior were amplified. I couldn’t seem to get on board with the physical changes, hating the way I looked daily despite trying my hardest to remind myself that this would be the last time my body would do the spectacular job of growing a child. I found it impossible to accept the physical limitations of pregnancy, and the side effects were much worse. For the first time, I was constantly nauseated well into my sixth month, and I had gestational diabetes.

But all of this was minimal compared to the mental toll pregnancy took on me. I’m not so sure my therapist would have committed to the word “depressed” when describing me, but I just felt emotionally horrible the entire 37 weeks. I was sad — sad for a change in my life that I didn’t ask for, sad that my children would have to share me. I found myself becoming more withdrawn in social situations. It had become a job to figure out how to happily contribute to conversation, so I found myself staying quiet more often than not.

To say I was worried about postpartum depression was an understatement. I was terrified, and I’m sure those around me who knew what I was going through were also concerned. However, when I had this perfect baby boy it was like a weight (physical and emotional) were lifted right off of me. I saw this baby and fell in love immediately. I knew our family needed him and our unit wasn’t complete until that moment. It was more than the baby though — I was able to genuinely smile again. The cloudiness in my brain was gone. I felt better physically, like I was a completely different person. Imagine pushing out a baby and feeling like you could hop off the bed and run a marathon immediately after. I’m a few weeks postpartum and I feel amazing!

So why is it that we don’t talk about the effects that pregnancy has on us mentally? Yes, we share our horror stories of morning sickness and delivery room hell. But, let’s open this conversation up. It’s time to discuss the fact that pregnancy can also take you to a dark place mentally, one where you feel alone, like a shell of your former self.

I started my third pregnancy surrounded by an amazing support system and it didn’t matter. I had done this twice before and it didn’t matter. There isn’t a word for this. Call it depression or extreme sadness. But if you are pregnant and feel like this, it’s okay to say it out loud. It’s okay to admit that a moment in your life that is supposed to be special is inexplicably painful. It’s okay to seek help, and it’s okay to be honest.

I reach out my hand to you, my friends, who are going through this. You are strong and YOU will be back before you know it.

 

We are Scary Mommies, millions of unique women, united by motherhood. We are scary, and we are proud. But Scary Mommies are more than “just” mothers; we are partners (and ex-partners,) daughters, sisters, friends… and we need a space to talk about things other than the kids. So check out our Scary Mommy It’s Personal Facebook page. And if your kids are out of diapers and daycare, our Scary Mommy Tweens & Teens Facebook pageis here to help parents survive the tween and teen years (aka, the scariest of them all).