I was trying desperately to get out of my head, to breathe, to smile. My toddler stood nearby watching me anxiously.
“Mommy cry? Boo-boo?” he asked, concerned.
“Yes,” I sobbed, and he kissed me on my forehead (because that’s where Mommy boo-boos usually are).
A sloppy toddler kiss should make anyone feel great, but it didn’t. I couldn’t get out of the dark world I was living in.
We had wanted this baby for some time. The news of this pregnancy brought with it joy. As sick as I felt the first and second trimesters, whenever someone would ask me how I felt, I’d respond “happy.”
I couldn’t stand on my feet because of sciatica but I was happy.
I couldn’t keep food down, and when I did, the heartburn made me need to lie down, but I was happy.
I didn’t know where we would live once the baby was born, as we didn’t even have enough floor space for a Pack ‘n Play, but I was happy.
Then the third trimester set in.
One sister had a baby girl. My best friend had her baby girl. My baby sister had her baby girl. We were no closer to finding a home (there wasn’t even what to look at!) My house was getting messier. My toddler more demanding. But I was still happy. Except that I wasn’t. I was only telling myself that I was happy. I was trying to be happy.
But there was a deep darkness, an apathy, a despair that kept setting in.
It switched off with that overwhelming anxiety, where I’d just pull at myself, at a loss, insomnia keeping me awake.
I told myself I need to be happy and couldn’t think of a single reason not to be.
But I wasn’t.
It spiraled downward quite quickly and for a full week, I just spent my whole day crying, getting nothing done. My toddler would look at me in concern. My husband was supportive, but couldn’t understand. I couldn’t explain it well enough for him to understand.
Except that I’m not.
And then it spiraled even deeper when I noticed that I was getting nothing done. And I hated myself for being useless. For confusing my son. For not being able to get myself help. For not cooking dinner. For not getting a single blog post written. For not completing anything when I was feeling perfectly fine. And happy. Except that I wasn’t.
Guilt that I wasn’t happy set in further.
How long and how badly had I wanted this baby? How many other women would do anything to be in my shoes?
It’s called depression. It’s an illness.
It’s like asking a pregnant woman why she keeps throwing up if she’s happy.
It’s asking someone who broke a leg why he can’t dance if he’s happy.
Depression is not the depressed person’s fault, like cancer isn’t the sick person’s fault. But, even more important for a woman going through prenatal depression, is to know is that she’s not alone. She’s not crazy. She’s not ungrateful, selfish, lazy, or “being ridiculous.” She is sick and just like any sick person, she needs to take care of herself.
According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) anywhere between 14-23% of pregnant women will experience symptoms of depression. 2-5% of pregnant women suffer from gestational diabetes during pregnancy. We hear about it. We test for it. We never blame them. Yet far more experience some level of depression, and we don’t talk about it. We are afraid to.
I am writing this post while still in that state because I know I need to write it. I need to share for the moms out there who are going through it. I need to share it for myself, to help me feel better.
But as I write, I know I won’t publish this post until after my baby is born.
I know I can’t share it to the public just yet.
Why can’t we think of this like any other pregnancy symptom? Why can’t we lift up other moms who are going through it, but doing it together?
I still don’t know if I will discuss it with my doctor – it depends on how long this lasts. I know that I probably should, as there are risks for both me and my baby involved. But will I be brave enough?
If you are feeling sad when you should be happy, and can’t get past it, know that you are not alone. It’s not your fault.
You can read more about depression during pregnancy here, and try to discuss it with your doctor. You can comment below if you want and type in “anonymous” as your name if you want to remain that way. Or feel free to shoot me an email at menucha at momsandcrafters.com at any time.
As women, we need to empower each other.
We need to be there for each other.
And we need to know we’re not alone.
Update: I am publishing this post as my son hits his third month. I feel that it’s important to share it. These feelings lasted for most of my third trimester. I never did tell the doctor about it, but had he asked I probably would have. Pass this on to let a fellow mother know that she is not alone.