I shared yesterday my story of postpartum depression with my second child. Today, I will tell you the story about my third.
I knew that the chances of having another go with postpartum depression was a very real possibility when I got pregnant with our third child. I had two miscarriages in between these pregnancies, and was pregnant 3 times within 6 months. It reeked havoc on my body, my hormones, and my spirit. By the time I got pregnant with Clay, it was hard for me to accept that I was pregnant again. I wanted to be happy about it, but I was expecting the worst. Finally, we saw a strong heartbeat and began to let this little person into our lives. We finally broke the news to our family, and the next day everything changed. My sister-in-law lost her son at 39 weeks. It truly was a defining moment for me. Life is so fragile and things can change in a heartbeat.
With this knowledge, it was even harder for me to get excited about my pregnancy. We are now living in California, and we have two beautiful children, 2 and 3. I had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. I had no desire to do anything at all. Functioning in my day to day life was a struggle. Just like my last pregnancy, I was so sick that I was throwing up from the sight of food on the TV. 8-9 times a day, I would throw up and nothing made me feel better. I would sit at the bottom of the shower for what seemed like hours and not feel a thing.
It was always the plan that I would start taking my meds again at 38 weeks to preempt the PPD that I would likely experience. When I went for my 4 month checkup, I got the courage to tell my midwife what was going on. I told her that I thought that I had the flu. All I wanted to do was sleep, I couldn’t eat, I could barely get my kids to preschool. My husband was carrying our family because I was useless. She told me that it was not the flu that I had, I was depressed.
If I was ashamed of postpartum depression, nothing would prepare me for the shame that I would feel about prenatal depression. I was lucky enough to have another baby, and here I am depressed because of it. It felt wrong. I have friends that have shared their PPD stories with me, but I had never heard of anyone being depressed while pregnant. I felt very alone. I went to a new mom’s group and the women there were glowing. They were enjoying every second of being pregnant while I was truly begging for my pregnancy to be over. I was scared of not making it to the end, I was scared of having a loss like my sister-in-law. I was barely hanging on.
I went on Zoloft the day that I told my midwife what was going on. I slowly had to work up to the proper dosage. I felt uneasy about taking anything while pregnant, and the idea of having to take an anti-depressant did not sit well. She told me that she did not worry about pregnant and nursing mothers taking Zoloft. What did worry her – mothers struggling with depression and not being able to take care of themselves and their families. Something in that rationale spoke to me and I stopped at the pharmacy on the way home from the visit. I also scored a standing twice weekly appointment to get B12 shots in my ass, in hopes that it would make me stop throwing up. It didn’t stop it completely, but it did help.
I can’t lie to you, I did feel better, but I never felt good until after Clay was born. After a rough and absolutely terrifying delivery, we decided that our family was complete. The funny thing is that almost as soon as he was born, I felt something in me shift. I knew that I was getting better and that this would not be my story forever.
When I ask my husband about these days, he cannot give me specifics. He can tell me that it was bad, but he doesn’t remember it the same way that I do. I don’t think that he has the guilt that I attached to it. He said that what he does remember is that I lost my sharpness and edge. He said that he didn’t mind because I was in a much better place, but that he missed the real me. It was a concession that he was willing to make to not to have to live with a highly depressed, hormonal, pregnant woman. Can you blame him? When Clay was about 5 months old, I weaned myself off of my meds and never looked back. The flatness that I felt was starting wear off. Things began to turn around. I fell head over heels in love with our new son, I enjoyed every moment with him.
My husband and I were driving in the car one afternoon, he said something that I cannot remember, and I replied with a quick and smart ass remark. He almost started to cry, he told me that he was so happy to have his wife back.