So I’ve been holding something back, and it’s been hard on me. I’m typically a spill it all out on the emotional table kind of girl. But this I couldn’t, and so for a long time I’ve been feeling disconnected, from everything, and generally not myself…
The big news, I’m pregnant with my first child. I’m beyond excited and grateful and 100% emotionally ready to start a family with my husband who I’ve already given the father of the decade award; preemptively but well-deserved. We’re incredibly happy, excited, scared, you name it.
But these past few months have been some of the hardest times of my life, and that’s what I never expected…
I’d like to say it started with the first week of our pregnancy, but really it started before then. Without getting into the details, we lost our first shot at parenthood. And while I thought I handled that loss like a rock star, hardly any tears shed despite the trauma involved, it came back to haunt me viciously during this pregnancy.
But that loss wasn’t my only culprit…
I remember waking up one morning and suddenly the world was different, my world. I was barely a week pregnant and didn’t even know it. But the cliched “dark cloud” came over my life like I’ve never experienced before.
I could hardly drag myself out of bed, I didn’t want to talk to anyone except a select few who know me inside and out, and I wanted to get off from being online completely. I thought of shutting down my blog, closing my facebook account, and virtually vanishing. I began ghost-writing for other websites and enjoyed the freedom of not having my name on anything. I wanted nothing more than to skip town and hide under someone else’s proverbial rug.
I was suddenly seeing the world through someone else’s relentlessly sad and dreary eyes. Everything seemed dark and bleak and I cried for any and no reason, every single day. I didn’t know I was pregnant so I just assumed that I was changing, that my feelings of darkness were completely real. That I was that unhappy and my life was really that bad. I began to obsess over things that weren’t real, like my husband leaving me, losing my friends, and endless reasons why my life was crumbling in front of me. I became so certain I would lose my husband, because how could he be married to such a sad mess of a person, that I started planning in my head where I would live, how I would get by, who would get our dog…
A couple of weeks later I found out I was pregnant (I had suspected as much), but the darkness didn’t fade. And now it was compounded by my fears and anxieties. Fears of losing another baby. Fears of what it would mean for me as a woman if I couldn’t carry a child. Fears that all my years of saying “I’m not really a kid person” were biting me in the karmic tush. Fears of seeing my born-to-be-a-father husband broken by another loss. Fears that turned into obsession. I waited for another traumatic experience to surface, as if it was always lingering right around the corner.
And so I stopped exercising, stopped socializing, and basically stopped everything that made me happy. And to be honest, I started emotionally eating, something I don’t think I’ve ever really done for such a long extended period of time in my entire life. In just 9 weeks I gained almost 10 pounds, after being the same weight for nearly 5 years straight. As someone who enjoys and thrives off of eating healthy and exercising regularly, I didn’t know who I was anymore and I hated looking in the mirror.
Day after day I spent worrying and crying and lamenting. I felt so annoyed with myself for not being able to snap out of it that I didn’t want to be around me, let alone have anyone else deal with being around me. I could hardly get myself to do anything. Suddenly I was accomplishing nothing and I no longer cared about my dreams or aspirations. Truth be told, I felt like I no longer cared about me. What should have been one of the happiest times of my life, felt like the darkest.
When it finally came time for our first doctor’s appointment at about 7 weeks, I was a broken reck. My legs shook uncontrollably as she pulled up the ultrasound and the tears were already flowing. I expected the worst.
What I didn’t suspect was what she said next…
“Let’s look at this twin first.”
Legs meet convulsions. Heart meet attack. Mouth meet speechless.
“This one is looking good, now let’s look at the next one.”
Unfortunately, the other twin was not developing. At this point, my brain was fried. I was in complete shock. Twins don’t run in either of our families and this was a completely natural pregnancy. Of all the news I had expected, I had never expected this.
I don’t remember much after that. But I do remember my husband’s first coherent question to the doctor:
“Okay, is this why my wife has been acting so crazy and eating so much?”
Doc’s response, yes, her body thinks she’s pregnant with twins, so the hormone levels are even more increased which can affect her behavior. As the highly sensitive person that I am, heightened already hormonal hormones perhaps equaled my emotional disaster. But she explained that at some point my body will come to recognize that the second twin is not progressing and my hormone levels should even out some.
While I was excited to hear the good news that one baby looked healthy, the news of the other baby not working out did not help my emotional cause. And for another few weeks, I remained in my dark place.
I tried to see a therapist to at least have someone to vent to where I wouldn’t feel like I was burdening anyone. But unfortunately I picked a therapist at random through my insurance whose form of therapy meant that she did all the talking (literally). In a one hour appointment I maybe said 10 words.
It became so ridiculous how much this woman talked that I nearly started laughing uncontrollably midway through. I had to think of every sad thought in life to keep my inappropriately timed hysterics from bursting out and I kept wondering if she could see my lips curving awkwardly. Fortunately she was too busy talking to notice. This would have been my first big laugh in weeks, a real shame I had to hold it in! Needless to say, I never saw her again, but I did feel better when I left her office, at least in that moment.
It’s hard for me to fully understand why I was so depressed. The only way I could explain it to my husband was that it felt like I was going through postpartum depression, even though I was exactly the opposite of postpartum. It was a depression I’ve never experienced before and there was no pep talk or work out video on the planet that was getting me out of it. It simply became me for far too many weeks than I like to remember. And while I’ve been depressed before, who hasn’t, I think this was my first real understanding of what it means to be clinically depressed.
Then all of a sudden one week, I started to feel better. I stopped crying completely (haven’t cried since) and the dark cloud faded away. I’d still have my moments here and there, but the veil of depression that had taken over me was lifted.
It’s possible that this is when my hormone levels adjusted to reflect only one baby but I honestly have no clue. The cosmic woo-woo side of me might say that my body was depressed due to another loss, but that would just be silly spiritual speculation that I’m not sure even I believe. I did read that about 10% of all pregnant women fall into depression, so maybe it’s as simple as that. I honestly don’t know the exact cooky concoction of hormones, worry and loss that were brewing against me I just know I’m glad it’s over.
By about 12 weeks into my pregnancy, I was back to my old self. We are now in our fifth month of pregnancy and the joy and excitement I had always expected to feel, are fully here. I do realize now that I wasn’t in control of how I was feeling during those dreary weeks, my hormones were doing something to me from the very first week of pregnancy. If I had known that then, perhaps the future wouldn’t have seemed so bleak.
So why do I write this post?
One, while this is something that’s been hard for me to talk about, I feel like I just cleansed myself as I typed out these words. Words I haven’t spoken to most family members or friends, yet I feel a sense of comfort writing them here.
Two, when I was going through this I read this blog post: Motherhood Mondays: The Two Hardest Months of My Life. She tells the story of what her hormones did to her when she was weaning her baby off of breast milk. Comfort isn’t strong enough a word for how I felt reading this blog. It‘s like her words enveloped me in a blanket of understanding, hope, and human validation. Suddenly I knew what I was experiencing wasn’t my fault and it didn’t make me a bad person.
And so I wanted to pay that forward to any woman who happens to read this and is going through what I went through or something similar. If this helps even one woman feel better, it’s worth it to me.
Being pregnant hasn’t been what I expected. But I have learned why they say having a baby is a miracle. And while I still have worries, because we’re only half way through, I know I’m doing the best I can, nothing is my fault, I deserve this pregnancy, and nothing in life is guaranteed so we just have to keep learning each lesson as we go.
I wasn’t sure when I would share this story but I started to feel like I just couldn’t go forward until I vented this out. So there it is. By no means is this post meant to be a ‘what to expect when you’re expecting’ kinda post as I think this situation was somewhat unusual but I do hope that it finds it’s way to someone who needs it.
Have you ever experienced anything like this?
Please send us wishes for a continued miracle.