The joys of pregnancy.
And, get back to me when you’re done sifting through the results…in ten years.
Now, Google that.
And, get back to me when you’re done sifting through the results…in ten minutes.
(It has gotten much better over the past few years, more women are speaking up.)
Firstly, please don’t misinterpret my point here. This is not about bitterness towards beautiful pregnancies or birth stories. On the contrary, I’m elated for those women.
I love happy.
Thankfully, there are many women that carry around bloated bliss for nine months, and go on to push out rainbows and unicorns with their baby. And, these women deserve all the resources they can get their swollen fingers on.
But, so do we…
The ones who battle the nine-month Beast.
* * *
When I was pregnant with my first, I obviously had no idea what to expect. I only thought that I did.
Me, waddling around with a cute belly, puking sunshine and dreaming up baby names, venturing out nightly for brisk walks right up until my birth-day and…
I won’t even get into the physical issues of the pregnant Allison. Just think irritable uterus (can you blame it?) and bed-rest.
And, while that part sucked, it was the mental aspects that left me gutted, and clinging to my sanity.
The Beast crept in slowly.
Lurking around, poking and prodding, quietly setting up shop. Once it was all settled in, a couple of weeks from that positive pregnancy test, it reached in and swiftly stole my mind.
Initially, I chalked the despair up to normal pregnancy blues. And, also, to the lack of wine.
I waited very impatiently for the second-trimester boost, the one everyone talks about, to kick in.
Only, it never did. Instead, the Beast grew meaner, despite the fact that I was already on an antidepressant.
But, I battled through, going on to receive the best prize possible in the end.
* * *
And, then she went and did it again two years later, folks.
The depression that came with my first pregnancy was bad, but it wasn’t completely debilitating or all-consuming. I managed to hang on, smiling when I was expected to smile.
All of that was just a preview.
When I became pregnant with number two, the beast wasn’t as patient this time.
It sat back and laid in wait, ready to pull me under again, down into the hole it spent two years digging deeper.
I shouldn’t have been so shocked. I knew there was a pretty good chance it would return.
But, I’d hidden it away somewhere, somehow, convincing myself it was nothing but a bad dream; a horror flick someone else had starred in. Not me.
* * *
I was drinking a glass of wine, when I peed on the stick again.
I was elated!
I was excited!
I was super drunk.
I threw out my wine, hugged my husband, and adamantly told him that this time would be different.
Silly me thought I could out-will that Beast. I knew him and I knew what to expect. I was showing up ready for the fight.
A week later, my husband found me curled in a tight bawl on the bathroom floor, sobbing, and cursing us for letting this happen again.
The beast laughed in my face, loudly, smirking at my stupid will and positive mantras.
* * *
When I was pregnant with my first born, there was nothing worse than having to pee. Reaching down to wipe, I would hold my breath, willing the toilet paper to still be white when it came back into view. White, instead of streaked with the tell-tale blood that had shown up on it two months prior, to tell me the babies inside me were dying.
Sadly – so, so sadly - this time around I prayed for that blood-streaked toilet paper; I prayed for the tell-tale sign that sanity would soon be mine again.
Luckily – so, so luckily – my baby boy was stronger than those prayers. Not about to let the beast win, his heartbeat grew stronger each day…his body longer.
* * *
I heard the same thing at every therapy appointment.
You are not abnormal. This happens to more people than you think. People just don’t talk about it as much.
I wasn’t convinced.
How could I be?
Every search for answers, for other women like me, only made me feel like more of an anomaly.
I spent my days frantically typing in the same search terms in different orders.
Is it normal to feel so so sad you’d rather have a miscarriage?
Sad while Pregnant.
The lack of results confirmed what I already knew at the time, “You are not a normal woman, you’re a monster, one who has no business making babies.”
As much as I’ve opened up about my war with antepartum depression, it’s impossible to convey just how deep the hole was. There simply aren’t enough words in the English language.
But, I keep trying. I keep putting it out there for those that have taken my place in the hole.
* * *
The number one search terms that bring people to my blog?
Is antepartum depression normal?
Who gets antepartum depression?
Antepartum depression what’s wrong with me?
With, “Kirk Cameron is an asshole,” being a close second. But, since that one’s a fact, there’s really no need to address it.
I get weekly emails, sometimes daily, from readers who desperately sit where I once sat.
When that subject line pops up in my email – Antepartum Depression - my heart drops.
These women are looking for help, from me, closing out their emails with exactly that, “Please help me.”
Who the hell am I other than a chick who’s been in the trenches? The only thing I have my doctorate in is bullshit.
But, I’ve felt their level of pain.
And, I know their brand of shame.
The shame of being able to conceive a healthy baby and hating every moment of it.
The shame that so many women would give anything to be where they are.
The shame that they are broken and crazy, and the fear that this will always be, because it’s so damn hard to see the light when you’re buried so deep.
I struggle in my replies to them.
Having written it so many times, I fear it will come off as regurgitated, or disingenuous.
There are emails I’ve let fall through the cracks, making me physically ill with disappointment.
* * *
Why write all this again?
Because, I am not ashamed.
Because, I hope someone will read it when they need it the most.
Because, I hope those women that I’ve failed will forgive me.
Because, putting it out there is the only way I know how to try and make a difference.
And, finally, because I want people to know that it gets better.
No, that it gets AMAZING!
All of it, every single second of this battle, is worth it times a million.
I could not breathe without my boys. They are the best things I’ve ever done.
So, in closing, I have just one more thing to say.
Suck on that, Beast.