My Friend Always Wanted To Be A Mom; Then She Got Prenatal Depression
From Mrs. Frugalwoods: I don’t publish posts written by other people, so today is an exception. When my friend Emma told me about her struggles with prenatal depression and anxiety, I begged her to write about it. Last year, I shared my raw experience of being diagnosed with postpartum depression and received hundreds–if not thousands–of responses saying a version of: “I went through the same thing” or “Reading this gave me the courage to call my doctor” or “I’m going to start taking the medication I was prescribed for my PPD,” and crucially: “I thought I was a terrible mother and the only person who felt this way.” You are not alone. We are not alone.
Trigger warning: this post contains information about depression and suicidal thoughts, which may be triggering for some people.
Today’s post was written by Emma Pattee. You can find more of her insightful work here and follow her on Instagram here.
Here’s the first moment I knew I was not okay: I was hiking in the forest with my close friend. My stomach was heavy with dread but I knew I couldn’t put off telling her any longer.
“I have some news,” I said, “I’m six weeks pregnant.”
My friend started yelling and jumping up and down. Her face was awash with joy and she was clapping her hands. Just smile, I told myself. My teeth were clenched so tightly together that I could tell it didn’t look right. Instead I just kept hugging her so that she couldn’t see my face and know that something was wrong.
“This is amazing!” she screamed. “I’m so happy!” People hiking nearby stopped to stare.
“I know,” I said, “Me too.” I forced myself to give one limp clap.
I didn’t know why I wasn’t jumping for joy and clapping my hands. I didn’t know why I was so unhappy. I had all the ingredients for happiness: a strong marriage, a fulfilling career, financial stability, friends and family, a healthy body… and now, a planned pregnancy.
All I knew was that I was six weeks pregnant and didn’t want to be.
Here’s what’s scary about prenatal depression: it’s very common and yet, nobody has heard of it. It’s estimated that as many as 23% of pregnant women might suffer from prenatal depression, but I wasn’t asked about it in any prenatal appointments, by my OBGYN, by my therapist, by my midwife, by friends or family, or by my doula. I didn’t read about prenatal depression in any of my pregnancy books.
I was well-versed on attachment parenting, birthing options, prenatal yoga, whether or not I could get in a hot tub, and if I should drink that glass of wine or not… but the idea that pregnancy might cause me to get deeply depressed or incredibly anxious? Never crossed my mind.
At first, I was very, very tired. Before I found out I was pregnant, my writing career was starting to take off. I had an article picked up by the New York Times, I’d been accepted into a program for emerging writers,and I was starting to work on a novel. I was focused, energized, excited.
And then I got pregnant.
Within a few days of finding out, I was so foggy I couldn’t remember why I’d ever been excited about anything. I spent an hour trying to get out of bed before a phone call, I canceled plans and spent afternoons curled up on the couch or the floor. I stopped answering emails and checking my phone.
I stopped caring about anything that I’d cared about before. My work, my friends, my writing, my plans for the next year… it all seemed like a movie I’d seen years ago, vaguely familiar but I couldn’t quite place it.
- Grad school? Out the window.
- Officiating my friend’s wedding? Sorry, no can do.
- That trip backpacking around the world that I had always planned on taking? Gone. Destroyed.
- Burning Man, finally!? Off the table.
- Finishing my novel? Ha! In my dreams.
It was all gone. I started thinking that if I had this baby, I was going to be trapped forever as zombie Emma, and the formerly excited energetic joyful Emma would be erased off the face of the earth.
I would lie in bed in the morning and think, why am I even awake? And then, why am I even alive?
Then at eight weeks, the morning sickness started.
Except that it was all-day sickness. Which meant I could only eat toast and couldn’t wear anything that touched my stomach. I threw up at holiday parties and in the middle of the night. My entire life became a long, winding car ride that wouldn’t end. And I was supposed to be happy… Because everybody I told was happy! Like so visibly and overwhelming happy. I’d try to shift my face and mouth around and wonder, “do I look happy now?” I’d repeat the word “yay” over and over while they clapped and hugged.
I didn’t know how to talk to my husband about how I felt. So I just stopped talking. Instead, I blamed everything on the nausea. He was so happy: singing to the baby and making plans and thinking of names. His happiness only highlighted how miserable I was.
I felt completely alone. And ashamed.
What kind of a person intentionally has unprotected sex with their husband specifically to have a baby and then gets pregnant and decides they don’t want that baby?! I kept thinking of how many women struggle to conceive and here I was, a heartless, extremely-fertile-monster who was like, “yeah, I don’t know about this whole baby thing anymore…” Then I would think, what kind of pregnant mother can have another living being inside of her and think, I don’t care about this thing inside of me?
I was about ten seconds pregnant and I already felt like the worst mother who’d ever lived.
I was also worried all the time: about the birth, genetic defects, the earthquake that everyone says is going to hit Portland any day now, a house fire caused by a candle. I spent hours going over possible scenarios: What if my husband died? What if the earthquake hit while I was en route to deliver the baby? What if I had to drive alone to the hospital and I was so pregnant that I couldn’t fit behind the wheel of the car? What if I died in childbirth? What if the baby had fetal alcohol syndrome? What if somebody stole it?
If my husband was thirty minutes late coming home from work, I would call his phone over and over, crying, convinced he was burning in a fiery car crash. I would sit up in bed at night listening to the smallest sounds. Was that a window opening? A footstep? A door creaking open?
When I talked to people about these fears, they would counter with logic: intruders are fairly rare, the smoke alarm would alert me to a house fire, my husband was probably on a work call, etc. And I would sit there nodding, ashamed and frustrated. Why couldn’t anybody see how scared I was? That everything could go wrong in a split second?
What Is Wrong With Me?
At about twelve weeks, my husband finally said, “you don’t seem very happy about being pregnant.”
I nodded and stared out the living room window.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
I tried to tell him, not the whole thing, but a taste of it: the exhaustion, the darkness, the fear, the lack of connection with the baby, the regret that I hadn’t lived enough.
“I haven’t even tried ecstasy yet,” I said, crying.
“But you don’t even want to do ecstasy,” he said.
“That’s not the point!”
He didn’t understand. How I could feel so weighed down when he felt so ecstatic. How I could say I wanted a baby, and talk about it for years, and now say that maybe I didn’t want a baby. How I could be so unhappy at a time when we should both be so happy.
I had no answers, so we just stopped talking. One day I was driving home and thought, I don’t want to kill myself but I wouldn’t be bummed if I was in a car accident and never woke up.
I tried to remember the feeling of joy–a long coffee date with a friend, a movie night in bed, a massage, a hike in the forest–all the things I used to love to do. But I couldn’t remember why I’d ever enjoyed them. Is hiking fun? Why would I sit in bed and watch a movie? Do I even have friends?
I would stare at babies in cafes, or on the sidewalk, and wonder why I’d ever wanted one of those weird little loud things. Why had I longed so much to smell a small fuzzy head? A friend asked me to hold her baby so she could eat and I felt myself shrinking back. The baby was so heavy. My arms started to hurt. I just wanted to hand him back to his mother.
The worst part was that I knew I should be experiencing all these feelings of joy and happiness, and I felt cheated out of them.
I became jealous of other women who were pregnant and excited. I felt like somebody had stolen my happiness and left me in the dark. And every glowing pregnant woman, and every baby gift that my husband brought home from work, was a reminder that everybody was getting to experience something that I wasn’t.
One day I was at my friend’s house and she asked how I was doing, and I was so scared that I decided to tell her the truth: I didn’t want a baby and I was so depressed that I was thinking I might want to die.
She listened to me talk and then said, “This doesn’t sound like you. You’ve wanted a baby since you were eight years old.”
“I know!” I said. “Now I can’t remember why. Why would anyone want a baby?!”
She looked and me and said, “I’m just gonna say this. It’s okay if you want to get an abortion.”
I responded, “I think it already has toenails.”
I knew I wasn’t going to get an abortion (even if, at that moment, the idea of being not pregnant was very tempting). The fact that she said it out loud, that she would look at me in all my messiness, all my complete-opposite-of-Instagram-life-ness and not turn away, shifted something inside of me.
That night, lying awake while my husband slept beside me, I googled Pregnancy Depression, and found a forum where pregnant women post about how miserable they are, and how they’re thinking they don’t want their babies. Or that they’re so sad they can’t stop crying and don’t know why. And even some posts from women pregnant with their second children who were thinking they only wanted one child. And other moms telling them that this was pretty normal and would pass.
I laid there with my laptop open, crying with relief that I wasn’t the only person who felt this way.
I put my hand on my stomach – on my growing baby with his or her tiny toenails – and whispered something that I would whisper again and again over the next few months: we are going to get through this.
The next day, I started to read everything I could about prenatal depression and anxiety. As I was reading, I stumbled across this fact: When you’re in your first trimester, you are getting the progesterone equivalent of 400 birth control pills a day. By the time you give birth, you are ingesting the equivalent of 1,000 pills a day. One thousand.
When I read that, I called my husband and said, “remember when I was taking birth control pills?”
“Oh god.” he said. “You were totally nuts. That was horrible.” He was right. It was horrible. I was anxious, exhausted, volatile, depressed, manic. I lasted about a month and then decided I would never go on birth control again.
“Well my body is producing like 400 of those pills for the past three months.” Look, I wanted to say, I’m not losing my mind. I’m not a bad mom. I’m just on a hormonal drug trip.
It was the first moment that I understood that during pregnancy, your mind is not your mind. I could not will myself to feel differently, or rationalize my way into sanity. But I also didn’t need to take my hormone-induced feelings as evidence that I didn’t want a baby, or that I was a bad mom. My prenatal depression and anxiety didn’t magically disappear once I understood what it was.
No, it stuck around. I stopped throwing up, and I got some energy back, but even as I sit writing this–at 31 weeks pregnant–I’m still in the trenches with my depression. I may not lay awake listening for intruders, but only because my husband changed all the locks and bought dowels to hold the windows shut.
What helps is that I can now talk openly about it: to my midwife, my doula, my therapist, my friends and family, and my husband. I’ve found the language to explain what’s happening to me: I have prenatal anxiety and depression. Yes, I am happy to be having a child. But I’m also enduring a hormonal imbalance that makes it hard to experience that happiness.
Medication can be an option for treating prenatal depression. Had I known what was happening earlier in my pregnancy, I probably would have started some kind of treatment. I decided not to take medication because by the time it was offered to me, my symptoms had lessened significantly and I didn’t want to spend the last few months of my pregnancy adjusting to medication.
Talking about it has helped me see how common it is. Friends have started to tell me their experiences with doubting their pregnancies, or having intense anxiety while pregnant, or struggling with postpartum depression. Being vulnerable about my struggles has given me a look behind the Instagram curtain that so many of us hide behind. I now know a group of mothers who are right there with me, living their messy, confusing, hard-to-caption real lives the best way they can.
I’ve stopped doubting that I will be a good mom, or if I want to have a kid. I’ve learned to find evidence of my love in smaller things: standing up for myself and my baby with healthcare providers, taking my prenatal vitamins, the rush of anxiety I feel when they search for the heartbeat, not letting the dog stand on the baby bump (as she loves to do).
And some days I see a baby in a cafe, or in a cart at Target, and she reaches her tiny little finger out, and I realize, I’m gonna have one of those and it’s gonna have tiny little fingers, and I feel my throat getting tight and my ears ringing and my whole body starts to tingle, and I think: what is this feeling?
And then I realize, it’s joy.
Prenatal anxiety and depression is complicated, and this is not a researched or medically factual article about it. This is just my personal experience. If you think you or a friend might be dealing with prenatal anxiety and depression, here are some resources:
- Baby Blues Connection
- Depression in Pregnancy
- Mayo Clinic: Depression During Pregnancy
- Pregnancy and Prenatal Depression: Why didn’t anyone warn me I would feel so bad?
- I’m Embarrassed by My Prenatal Depression. Here’s Why I Talk About It Anyway.
- Open Path Collective: information about affordable therapy options. You can also check with your local college or university to see if their graduate program in counseling offers discounted sessions.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741
Have you struggled with prenatal depression? Or postpartum depression? What helped you?
Never Miss A Story
Sign up to get new Frugalwoods stories in your email inbox.
Thank you. Thank you SO MUCH for your honesty and bravery and willingness to share. I really believe that women telling their stories saves lives. I’m 10 weeks pregnant and although I’m certain that I don’t have prenatal depression I have been so completely bowled over by nausea and fatigue and headaches that I have had many moments where I thought, “Why did I want this?! Why did I try so hard to make this happen?!” My two closest mom friends both think back on their pregnancies as the best months of their lives. They just glowed for 9 months and I’m glad that they had those experiences but I just can’t shake the feeling that I’m…doing it wrong…or something. I think that “we are going to get through this” is going to be my mantra for the next 7.5 months. Thank you again, so much.
I just posted below, but I just saw your comment and wanted to respond directly. I’m currently 17 weeks, and my first trimester was exactly as you described. I had moments really regretting wanting to be pregnant because I was so sick. And I thought that I wasn’t normal because of them. But what I’ve found is that many of my friends were that sick too, but they literally just “forgot” when they were telling me about their experiences. I think there is a biological eraser that helps to erase some of the bitter memories of pregnancy. It’s not all beautiful and glowing. And when I had a cousin tell me to “enjoy each moment pregnant while I could” I literally wanted to punch her in the face. I was so mad. Hahaha. But being firmly in the second trimester, I can tell you it gets better and it gets easier. I’m not 100% better, some days I lay around nauseous still, but I had other days where I can eat what I want and go on a walk without fear, and I’m starting to feel excited about the baby coming, and I’m looking forward to putting together a nursery soon. So it gets better!! Hold on, one day at a time!
Just some words of encouragement—when I look back on pregnancy, I feel like it was this magical time while I was growing my vibrant, beautiful daughter whom I love more than life. When I factually think about pregnancy, I remember daily nausea, terrible heartburn, discomfort while sleeping, etc. Once your baby has arrived, you start viewing pregnancy as an amazing thing that brought you your baby. While you’re experiencing it and are not yet a mother, it’s considerably harder. I like Rachel’s concept of a “biological eraser”—exactly. Otherwise we’d be a world of only children. 🙂 Hang in there!
Jen, I’m so happy you enjoyed the post and that it felt helpful. I didn’t realize how impactful feeling sick can be on our mental health and mindset. I think I told myself that I should be happy that I was pregnant and that to complain about how sick I felt would be selfish or ungrateful. Those first few months are also such a tough time because nobody knows you’re pregnant and they just think you’re flaky and tired 😉 Hang in there! Also being honest with others does help. A few of my friends have revised their “I loved being pregnant” when I’ve been willing to say, “well I’m hating it.” Sometimes people just say what’s expected.
Wow. Thank you for being so honest and for sharing your story. You are absolutely not the only woman who has experienced this depression. During nursing school, I learned that experts believe every woman who has wanted a child experiences a period of regret about being pregnant. Like you, they’re essentially mourning the loss of the life they knew and dread the life they’re about to have. This realization and mourning is totally normal, but most women are too scared to say anything for the same reasons as you.
One of my good friends had no desire to become a mother, then found herself unexpectedly pregnant. She confided in me during her pregnancy that she was more jealous of people’s dogs than their children and wanted a dog more than a child. Abortion was not an option for her (it wasn’t something she wanted, and she was in a very happy and healthy relationship and wanted to maintain that relationship). Once I told her what I had learned in nursing school, I could see her relief in knowing she wasn’t being selfish or that she was a freak. No, she’s normal. And I believe you’re normal too. I’m so, so, so glad that you and Mrs. Frugalwoods have chosen to share your respective stories because this lifechanging event of pregnancy needs more attention, and not just Instagram-happy attention, but real stories of struggles. Because we’re all human and all face these unexpected and scary times. These are the times we most need to know we’re not alone.
Best wishes to you and your family!
Btw, my friend was overjoyed to become a mom and absolutely loves it! Her relationship remains strong, and her little boy is 3 now. 🙂
Hi Katie – Just to clarify – I think what this woman experienced was beyond what you learned in nursing school. And, it wasn’t “normal.” I, too, experienced antenatal/prenatal depression – I was severely suicidal, on meds, off work, severely depressed. Antenatal, or prenatal depression is an official clinical diagnosis and something very serious – beyond just feeling slightly overwhelmed about being pregnant. It is directly related to brain and body chemistry.
I appreciate your sincerity and kindness in your response – truly. But, I think it is important for all medical professionals like yourself to understand what antenatal/prenatal depression is, how serious it is, and how to get women who are experiencing it help.
Hi Mary – Thank you for your comment. In reading your comment and reviewing mine, I see I did a very poor job in articulating my thoughts. What you and this woman experienced is not the same as what my friend experienced – your experiences were much more severe, though I believe my friend tried to downplay what she was feeling. Nonetheless, I wanted to convey that she is normal for experiencing antenatal/prenatal depression, that it is exists, and that she is not a bad person for suffering this condition. I think because there’s so little awareness about this particular depression that it can cause a stigma or make a woman feel like she’s abnormal, a bad mother-to-be, etc., but that’s not true because it’s not her fault. And I still feel like I’m failing to articulate my thoughts. So I will leave it at that. But I appreciate the efforts here to raise awareness for this condition and to know there’s hope.
Katie, thank you for drawing attention to the whole element of “mourning the life you had.” I think this is a very real element, and while it might not be connected to the hormonal or mental changes, it’s still something we should all be talking about.
I am 39 weeks today. I’ve had a lot anxiety (I had anxiety pre pregnancy). I’ve struggled with letting myself feel ok with saying it’s not easy being pregnant as I have a friend who has been trying to adopt for over a year and others who would love to have a baby now. Physically, I’ve been really lucky because I haven’t been sick so that adds to feeling bad about complaining. Emotionally, it’s really lonely. I have felt inadequate and undeserving at times. Luckily, my doula and midwife have all been checking in and have been reassuring. My husband has also been doing his best to support me and give me space when needed. It’s hard! Sometimes you feel like you don’t have control over these emotions. Again, speak up to providers and people who care about you. You don’t need to have a smile on your face all the time.
Thanks for sharing Julie! I’ve been learning that having anxiety pre-pregnancy can play a big role in how intense you will have it during your pregnancy, and I wish I had known that before now! Totally agree about feeling undeserving, especially when people in your life would love to be pregnant.
Wow Emma. What a courageous battle you fought/are fighting. I have to say I am one of those that had no idea this was a thing. I think it’s awesome you are willing to share this and I have no doubt you will help others just as that forum helped you. I have always been thankful for those who are open and honest about parenting at all stages – not just the humorous stories but the fact that it’s normal and OK to have those thoughts that you made a mistake, you are in over your head, you just want to go back to your old life, etc, etc. Parenting is wonderful and fulfilling and exciting and all the fun things….but sometimes it feels impossible between the work and struggles and pain and hoping every single decision you make is going to work out for the best. It’s hard! In the book “Tuesday’s with Morrie,” Mitch asks Morrie’s wife how their marriage lasted so long and she commented that it isn’t about the every day but the 15 minutes of spectacular moments here and there tied together that should be the focus. That was about marriage, but through the trials and self doubt of parenting, I think it’s just as applicable. Just remember those moments of joy will always be there to be found if you look hard enough (and sometimes you have to look awfully hard!) Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for speaking up about this issue. I had not heard of prenatal depression before. We tried for 7 years to get pregnant. Then, after rounds and rounds of miserable treatments I was finally pregnant, and I was so sick and nauseous that I had many of the same thoughts you have expressed here. 6 months of vomiting and 9 months of nausea is trying both physically and mentally. I truly hated my pregnant friends who “enjoyed” being pregnant. Even 4 years removed, it was such an awful experience that we never even considered having a second child. We are going to get through this – for me it was just power through one more day. Best to you, and again thanks for your honest sharing.
Thank you, I needed this.
My wife was lucky to not feel any effects of prenatal depression during the pregnancy of our two daughters. However, we have had many friends who showed the signs you outlined in this article. Being there for them and listening really helped them out a lot, but it was definitely a struggle and hard to see. It was great reading about this battle that so many women have to go through. Thanks for bringing awareness to this emotional depression, always remember to be there for your loved ones!
Thanks for sharing. I wish more people knew and talked about this. I don’t know if I had prenatal depression – more just hated how I felt physically the whole time – but my anxiety shot through the roof when she was born. I had constant intrusive OCD-type thoughts – “what if I lost control of my arm and it grabbed these scissors and hurt the baby?” I’d been down this road once with non-pregnancy related intrusive thoughts so knew the more I talked about them the more they would go away, so telling my husband helped. It was one of the more unpleasant experiences of my life, and a large part of why we’re One and Done, but we got through it and she’s a happy 4 year-old now!
I had awful post partum anxiety with intrusive thoughts as well, like “seeing” the baby drown and stuff. I had to be hospitalized for a month and medicated for a year. It’s aweful. 9 years later all is good and no problem with my second pregnancy/post partum, go figure!
Wow this is such a powerful read. Thank you so much or sharing!
I was lucky that I, prone to depression under normal circumstances, didn’t experience prenatal or postpartum depression. However if I had I know I would have been cared for as I was asked about my mood at every single midwife appointment. My doctor also checked in once I was released from the midwives at 6 weeks. I feel very lucky to have such support.
As a guy, I can only sympathize but a word to the to-be-dads of the world.
Be super nice to your wife. Carrying a baby is hard. Being a hormone machine is hard. Taking care of a baby is hard.
If you think you are already being nice and caring. Be nicer and more caring. It’s all you can really do and this stuff is very serious.
We had a lot of fertility issues and that crushed my wife. Things are great now (years later) but be the best husband you can be. Its practice for being a good dad. 🙂
Thanks for sharing Emma
THIS. I have had all of these feelings — the comparison ones are the hardest because unlike starving children in Africa failing to convince me to finish my lunch as a kid, I could reach out and text several people who have been trying to get pregnant and would have hated me had I shared even one of those feelings. All I know is that pregnancy is as close to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” as we get and everything is temporary and you get back to some semblance of pre-pregnancy normal, whatever that is. You’re already a good mom, Emma. <3
Thank you for sharing your story. It makes a difference.
Wow, I had no idea prenatal depression was a thing. I’ve never heard of it. I can’t imagine what you must be going through. I’m so glad that you have shared this with everyone. I think you’re going to help a lot of other people.
Peace and good luck.
Thank you so much for sharing. The more I learn about mental health and parenting the more validating it all is. After a really happy pregnancy I got slammed with postpartum depression and intrusive thoughts, and so much of the guilt you’re describing. “Why can’t I enjoy this time that I’ve wanted my whole life, what’s wrong with me? Everyone else is happy.” So, so real.
Learning more about prenatal depression and the similar feelings you’re experiencing is so helpful, because it just validates that it’s all kind of a dice roll. It actually makes me feel less guilty about how hard those first few months were, because it was just the straw genetics drew for me; happy pregnancy, very hard first few months. Good job figuring out what’s going on, and I hope you’re feeling better soon. Your kid is already in good hands with such a self-aware parent.
This is 100% my pregnancy story. Even including the car crash thoughts. I will warn you, the third trimester was as bad as the first, maybe worse. I took Zoloft and it helped but it didn’t fix it. The first time I was excited about my kid was the second I heard her cry. The depression was gone within seconds. Hopefully it works out for you that way. My daughter was early by 11 days and small under 6 lbs but she is now almost 3, very healthy and very smart. Good luck!
Jenni – I too was in the same situation. I was on the highest doses possible of Zoloft and send my days trying to figure out how to end it. And, the minute my son was born, it was all gone. So glad things worked out for you. Also glad to be reading this (even 13 years later) to see that one isn’t alone in these situations!
Thank you for sharing your story with us! It’s so important for us women to speak about our experiences so that others who come after us won’t feel so afraid and alone.
I’m currently 17 weeks pregnant (very much planned, wanted, and expected) and throughout my whole first trimester, I was quite sick, and I was not at all excited about the pregnancy. I wasn’t quite on the depressed spectrum, but I was afraid something would go wrong with the pregnancy, I did not allow myself to feel real joy about it. I constantly said to people who I hated all the women in my life who had been pregnant before who didn’t prepare me for how hard it was going to be. I was only half joking when I said this. But it was true, I have many friends, not to mention family members that have had children, and when I asked them about their experiences, many of them could only give me the “glowing”, joyful version. So when I finally was pregnant myself and feeling horrible every day, I thought I was the unnatural one. But then when I googled it, I learned how incredible normal all of the things I was feeling really is. And when I really pressed my friends, and said “well, I feel horrible because of x,y, and z” they usually would say “oh yeah, I had that too, but I forgot about it.” Or “oh yeah, mine was bad too, but I didn’t want to scare you.” Etc. And hearing that really did make it easier and calmed me down. So thank you again for sharing this story- it’s important!
Thank you for sharing your story, Emma. Creating a human, another organ (placenta) and an extra 1250 liters of blood is so small thing! I wish you all the best physically and emotionally, and know that your baby is already blessed by a courageous intelligent mom! For you and any other women contemplating pregnancy, already pregnant, or postpartum: please see a very good naturopathic doctor and/or a functional doctor experienced in women’s hormones. There are things that you can do, eat and take that are effective and powerful, but are not pharmaceutical. Anyone reading this blog is smart and willing to research. I urge and encourage you to investigate tactics and supplements that are not psychotropic drugs. There are huge downstream effects from those pharmaceuticals, usually no plan to get off them, and other ways to handle this very real issue. Testing for nutritional deficiencies (micronutrients), gut function and infections (where most of your neurotransmitters are made and used), and genetic variabilities (MTHFR) spring to mind first. Many blessings to you and your family.
Hi Lin – Appreciate your response. I am a big supporter of natural approaches to healing – through holistic medicine, herbs, etc. However, having experienced severe clinical antenatal depression for the length of my pregnancy, I am concerned about your post. Antenatal depression is a very real clinical diagnosis – and I can pretty much say that pharmaceuticals, combined with therapy saved my life. Trust me – I tried some potent vitamins to try to fix it – and nothing worked – and my MD physicians were supportive of alternative approaches initially. But they didn’t work. Antenatal depression has nothing to do with gut bacteria, nutritional deficiencies, etc. It is the type of depression that can land people in hospitals or sadly in their grave. It is driven by body and brain chemistry during pregnancy–and is a known and researched pregnancy-related disease. For some women, herbs, acupuncture, vitamins may work. However, for many suffering from clinical antenatal depression, alternative medicines do not work. Untreated antenatal depression can lead to poor maternal health, poor fetal health, low birth weight, and pregnancy complications. It is hugely important for women experiencing this to see licensed medical providers that specialize in antenatal depression and can treat it appropriately before it escalates.
Lin, I know you mean well, but plenty of pregnant women take antidepressants. This is a decision to be made between them and their doctor/midwife. Posts like this can add to the stigma of getting professional help. There is nothing wrong with taking medication after discussing with medical providers. Exercise/food can help and so can modern medicine. I’ve been in the rut where I thought I could eat more organic food and go to the gym more to “fix” myself and anxiety, but in those cases it took medication and therapy to really help me feel better again.
I will have to respectfully disagree with you here. Unless you have been through pre/post partum depression yourself, it’s very hard to comprehend the level of mental/emotionnal and physical distress that these women are going through. Great if a natural remedie can help, but sometimes it takes more. And this kind of post is just very good at putting even more guilt on these women. They need help, and sometimes the help is medication. And it’s ok. Because sometimes it’s a question of life or death, not simply just “trying to feel better”. I know for myself that if I had not been hospitalized and medicated almost right after giving birth, I would not be here today. I would have ended up dead by suicide. It’s that simple. I stayed on the meds for 1 year. It’s been 9 years now, not needing the meds after that first year. I am forever grateful for the pharmaceutical help I got back then : it saved my life. It gave back a functional mother to my first child. It gave me the chance to have a second child (without complications!). And 9 years later I am a well adjusted and pretty freaking awesome mom if you ask me.
Your experience resonates so much with mine. I am currently 36 weeks pregnant, and I am really in the thick of major anxiety and depression. It all started with insomnia back at the beginning of my second trimester. In the midst of it all I lost my mom to ALS at the end of April. I have gestational diabetes and I have never felt less like myself. It has been the absolute hardest time in my life. I beat myself up all the time for thinking I would be able to go through another pregnancy. I have a beautiful daughter who is 3. I had a much smoother pregnancy with her. I did have moderate postpartum depression/anxiety that started 8 weeks after having her, but nothing like this. I have tried many things to help myself natural and pharmaceutical. I speak with a counselor and a grief counselor. I am feeling so defeated that I don’t seem to be moving through it, and I am very scared of postpartum. I also had a very bad reaction to birth control in the past, I found it interesting that you had that experience as well. Did it get better after the baby came? I can’t imagine feeling worse.
I just want to give you a hug – so here is a virtual one. Thank you for sharing – and with such excellent prose.
God bless you! Honesty can be so hard but it’s the beginning of freedom.
So GLAD to see you posted this. This is something that so few women and doctors know about. I, too, suffered from HORRIBLE prenatal depression during my pregnancy with my son (born 13 years ago.) I have never experienced anything like it – before or since. I was severely suicidal and I had horrible nausea throughout my whole pregnancy (I would eat something and immediately go vomit.) At 6 months into my pregnancy, I weighed 10 pounds less than I did when I first got pregnant. I wanted my son desperately, but the depression was beyond anything I had ever felt in my life. I truly and very seriously contemplated suicide, without remorse or fear. I didn’t leave my bed some days, stopped eating at meals, couldn’t work. My employer (a Fortune 50 company who ironically at the time was voted the best place to work for women) was AWFUL. They accused me of faking things. All-in-all it was a really terrible time for me. Fortunately, I had a great OB/GYN that diagnosed me fairly quickly and got me on anti-depressants. In addition to medication, I spent my pregnancy with several psychiatrists and psychologists that specialize in women’s health and pregnancy related anxiety and depression, which helped tremendously as they provided the therapeutic tools to help clear the ‘noise’ in my head.
And here’s the funny thing. After I gave birth, the depression went away almost immediately. To this day, my husband still talks about how it was like a light switch just went back on in me and everything was fine. I spent a few months weaning off the meds and things pretty much went back to normal. But I haven’t forgotten what I experienced. It was very real and very scary. And, no woman should ever be made to feel that she is faking it, that it is nothing to worry about, that it is just hormones and she should learn to cope, etc.
To any woman experiencing this during pregnancy, I would urge you to talk to your OB/GYN about it. If you need medication, they will ensure you get the right dosage. They can also help you find additional help and support. Don’t do this alone!
I feel like you just described my second pregnancy, I carry a lot of guilt from that time wondering why I felt this way. Thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you for speaking up about this. My oldest is 14, but I still remember the nights when I was consumed by what I called “the void”.
Just makes sense that some women experience PRE-natal anxiety/depression when hormonal changes flood a mother’s body. Can you try to get this article published elsewhere as well because I don’t think many people are aware of this issue? And, I imagine that expectant mothers and fathers everywhere would be helped by knowing this condition exists.
Thank you for sharing your story!
I think there is a general lack of understanding on how difficult it is to cope with pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting. Thankfully I didn’t have HG or even need to take prescription meds for my nausea (I’m still pregnant but feeling generally better now). It’s mentally and physically trying to cope with feeling exhausted and nauseous EVERY DAY for months… with no explanation except that it’s hormone-related and no idea when it will lighten up. And everyone is expecting you to be nothing but over-the-moon for your baby. One of the kindest things a friend has done so far is send me a letter that said “I know this sucks, pregnancy sucks. Things will change, even if it feels like they won’t”.
I like this comment. I feel like everyone assuming this is some chemical-imbalance-caused disease is not actually supported by the science. What they need to consider is that constant physical illness like that (nausea, vomiting, etc) (not to mention combined with looking down the barrel of an extreme life change) is a perfect psychological set up for suicidality and depression. The depression is not caused by pregnancy per se, it’s caused by the suffering inside pregnancy that some women go through. Anyone who was healthy and happy and then suddenly incapacitated for almost a year would or could easily experience depression.
Thank you very much for pointing out that serious physical suffering can cause depression- it really does, for some people, and understandably so. However, both Emma and I had an artificial-hormone-induced mental health episode, followed by a very similar but much worse episode involving higher levels of the natural equivalents of exactly those same hormones, and we are not the only ones. It’s pretty clear that increased progesterone induces depression for some people, apart from any extra burden caused by physical suffering. For years I had severe CRPS, a disease that causes spectacular pain and major lifestyle change because you can’t, for instance, walk up the stairs or get your own shirt over your head. Suicide for people with CRPS is many times higher than the background, and I support those people’s right to end a torture greater than any man could devise. I coped extremely well. I maintained my household and my 3.9 GPA as a full time college student. And recently I coped similarly well with the extreme fatigue, hair loss and joint pain of a serious selenium deficiency, while homeschooling two small children and maintaining our farm. But one month of the progesterone in the mini pill was enough to make me start to spin out, and pregnancy was 1000 times worse. For some people it really is the hormone imbalance.
First off, thank you for sharing. It’s so hard to put our thoughts out there, especially such deep and personal thoughts. Second, you’re not alone. I’m at the end of 29 weeks with my first and, while I haven’t felt as bad as you describe, I have definitely gone through periods of not being excited about this baby. Yes, he is planned, but I’ve felt scared and limited and so, so, so, so, so overwhelmed. There were several times, particularly in the 1st trimester, when my husband pointed out to me that I didn’t seem very excited about this pregnancy – and truthfully I wasn’t. However, I didn’t feel comfortable telling him that or, really, anybody. When we get pregnant, we’re supposed to be excited! All the time! But that’s not how life usually works. I wish mothers were better about sharing their real experiences with friends – a little head’s up from my mom friends that, “Hey, pregnancy can really suck” would have been nice. I still probably would’ve chosen to get pregnant, but it would have been good to go into it with my eyes a little wider open. Also, our baby daddies need a head’s up too because they’re our first line of defense and, if they don’t have a clue what’s going on, they can’t help us at all and might actually hurt us more. Okay, done rambling! The bottom line here is you got this, Emma! There are a whole bunch of people here who support you!
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I do not have any children because I’m afraid I’ll regret having them, and you’re such an inspiration for not letting such thoughts stop you.
You are incredibly brave and I wish you and your family a world of happiness.
I have never been a “loved to be pregnant” person. I literally could not wait for labor. I gave my first obgyn the cold stare every time he said “how are WE today”. My reply was “I am fine”, emphasis on “I”. I had easy pregnancies and fast deliveries – no morning sickness either.
IMHO, there is no “norm” when it comes to being pregnant. A woman may have totally different experiences with her each pregnancy.
I have also always been of the opinion not all women are cut out to be mothers.
Oh thank you so much. I’m 12.5 weeks and can completely relate only I had no nausea. I feel like my life was just getting started and now it’s ending. We planned this, but it happened right when I was ready to throw in the towel and was starting to feel good about being childfree. I will be looking up these resources after work.
I wish I could have read this 28 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was so miserable! And my son was such a three-nager. It was a horrible time in my life & I thank you for your honesty. God bless.
Thanks so much for sharing, i didn’t know this was a thing either, wish I had as then I would have understood what I was going through. I had a miscarriage a year before I became pregnant and felt I couldn’t enjoy my pregnancy as was so worried it would end at any moment. I never once talked to my bump or ever thought that a tiny human was growing in there. It didn’t help I hardly felt any kicks so was constantly monitored for this and the stress of this added to the way I felt. Physically I was fine, very active no aches or pains and no sickness so I just carried on life as before not really thinking about what was going to happen. I focused on getting prepared for the birth as knew there was no going back but didn’t really connect with the fact I was having a baby. I feel really sad I didn’t enjoy my pregnancy as think this will be the only time I do it. Seeing friends showing their bumps on social media and being so proud makes it even worse and also seeing women in lovely maternity clothes showing off the bump. I covered mine up and never told strangers I was pregnant. My baby came 15 weeks ago and we are bonding and love having him in my life. I wish prenatal depression was more talked about and health professions picked up on it more
Thank you for this. My husband and I plan to wait a couple more years before we start TTC but just last night I told him that I know I’ll need therapy before we go down that road. I’ve just always felt I could have a lot of anxiety and depression around that decision and this post right here had me tearing up and feeling validated. THANK YOU and good luck with the rest of your pregnancy <3
Thank you so much for sharing your story! I started crying when I was reading it. I’m currently 27 weeks pregnant and was going through the same thing especially in the first trimester. I felt ashamed and embarrassed to tell anyone how I was feeling, since everyone else was so excited. I actually felt it was easier to talk to my childless friends, even those that don’t ever want children! I was also very, very sick and then that made me even more worried how the rest of pregnancy would go. Things are definitely better, but still feeling anxious.
One thing I wanted to draw attention to is that men can also have these feelings. My husband seemed to have just as hard a time as me, if not worse and is actually taking longer to adjust. I’ve read some men can’t really even connect to the fact of becoming a dad until they see the baby born.
I like the way one person above said that part of the underlying thoughts for us is mourning the life you’re leaving behind. We both loved our lives, and are now dreading that we will replace them with something we’re not as happy with. But so many of our friends/family say that once the baby comes, it will be a love you cannot even imagine. I hope it’s true!
When I started reading your story, I was curious, but by the time I’d finished, I found myself nodding my head in agreement. See, nearly 35 years ago when I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was exactly the same way–only I didn’t realize it until I read your story. With my second daughter, 19 months later, ditto. I, too, was unable to take birth control pills–they made me crazy depressed. Same way when i was pregnant.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. Who knows how many other women will ready your story and think, “Oh…that’s me! I thought I was so alone in this…”
Recognizing what’s going on is a very important first step (or leap!) and I hope that you will feel more like yourself soon. Best of luck and health to you.
Wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it.
I had never heard of this! It makes so much sense, though, as the hormones are flooding our bodies when pregnant. I always felt so lucky not to have PPD, as my mother had it after at least one birth, but now I see there is this to consider, too. This will definitely make me more caring and empathetic if someone I know is pregnant and admits to not being over the moon about it. And perhaps, we who have read this, can share this post so that the word gets out.
I’ve concluded a good thing to say to a pregnant person is “How are you feeling?” Rather than “congrats!”
Thank you for sharing this story. 6 years ago when I was pregnant with my second child I feel like I was suffering through depression, even though I was lucky enough to not have many of the physical complications of pregnancy. I kept wondering why I felt so horrible about everything, at the time I tried to research it, but only found references to postpartum depression. Sharing your story will help many women who are going through the same thing and wondering what is wrong with them. Just knowing that it’s normal helps..
I don’t think my post saved but I’m 12.5 wks and could have written this myself with the exception of the nausea, I never got that. I’m avoiding telling people because I don’t want to manage their excitement. I can completely see how my life is over–i see some moms claiming it’s not but I also see a lot who say that they are a shell of their former self and I wonder why I ever wanted this.
Oh I guess it did post above! Derp.
I have had concurrent morning sickness and prenatal depression for my last three pregnancies at least (just morning sickness with the first, and I’m not sure on the second). I didn’t realize that the depression was depression until the last one. I just thought I was tired and felt suck and thus was miserable. Now that I realize what was going on, I tell everyone about it. I heard plenty about postpartum depression (which I’m glad I’ve never had), but nothing about prenatal depression until this pregnancy, when my midwife started screening for it. Just realizing what’s going on is so important, and that 23% statistic is scary when it’s never mentioned! I talk about it because I never want another mom to not know that this has a name and a treatment, but it’s still very scary to open my mouth every time. It’s hard to break out of the accepted way of talking about pregnancy, especially with women who love it or who would love to be pregnant and can’t in the group. Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your story.
I am so glad you have started to feel better and that you have support. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It blows my mind how much relating to pregnancy and parenting is kept in the dark these days. It’s interesting; I’ve worked a lot with seniors, a generation that doesn’t like to address mental health. Yet most of the women are real and honest about what it was like being pregnant and raising kids. They don’t hide the stuff that isn’t “pretty.”
I don’t know how we got to here as a society, but I know the only way it will change is for people to be real and open. I know that takes courage, so everyone who does is a rockstar in my opinion. I don’t have kids, unfortunately, but I grew up with a mom who was a nurse working with teenage moms, most of whom had no support. I heard the honest truth. I didn’t realize until I was older how rare that has become. I’ve worked with a lot of new moms, as a nanny and a social worker. I always try to be as loving, supportive, and honest as I can.
Pregnancy and parenting is hard. It’s nice to see the tide is starting to turn and more people are open about that. It’s the only way to get the support you need. Thank you again for opening up to strangers. You are definitely a rockstar!
Thanks for sharing. You’re a great writer. Good luck with everything!
I could so relate to this, I felt similarly, hated every second of both my pregnancies. I just want you to know Emma that it’s also going to be okay after the birth if you continue to have the depression. I literally felt nothing when my daughter was born. I did not get that instant love rush that most parents talk about (my husband did). For me that took a few months of counseling etc and just generally getting into good health again. My daughter is a bright and happy six year old who is the light of my life.
I knew I was going to be okay (i.e. would probably not get ppd) with her little brother when my first thoughts at seeing him at birth was “Aw, he’s soooo cute!”. It was a totally different experience. Anyway, if you don’t get that magic connection at birth, it’s not something else to beat yourself up about, it will be okay with help and support and time. Much love to you.
Same! With myh 1st I had Pre and Post anxiety/depression and it felt like I was babysitting my husband’s child. I could not stay alone with her. I had to be hospitalized and medicated when she was 4 weeks old and felt like a failure. (Despite wanting this baby, wanting to get pregnant and having an healthy and relatively easy pregnancy).
9 years later she is (with her sister) the love of my life, we have and amazing bond! My second child I bonded with immediately, I felt this rush of love when she got put on my chest after birth. It’s ok, both processes were different and not indicative of “being a good VS bad mom”. Lose the guilt ladies!!!
Hormones are horrible! Whether it is pregnancy or menopause, the emotions and what it does to your mental well being can be devastating. Whether it is destroying family relationships, causing marriage problems or even suicidal thoughts, women need to reach out and get help. Going it alone is not necessary.
Pregnancy, childbirth, and the early baby years can be really hard and adding wildly fluctuating hormones on top of it all can be a recipe for disaster. And the kicker is that, once you think you’ve figured it out, everything can change with each new stage! With each pregnancy! It’s kind of ridiculous, especially if you aren’t aware it can happen, but forewarned is forearmed, so thank you for sharing your experience. There’s a lot more information available about postpartum depression these days, you’re helping to get the message out about prenatal depression, and there’s another spot to look out for – the end of breastfeeding (if you choose to do so). Since extended breastfeeding can take a mom well outside the traditional postpartum period (when you and others might be on the lookout for depression, etc.), just know that ending that stage can cause another hormone crash which hits some women (ME! ME!) really hard. The first time around I definitely “went nuts” for a few months and this time we (me and my doctor) are managing the anticipated crash (and a touch of PPD) with meds. Good luck with everything!! Reaching out and sharing can only help yourself and others.
Currently 19 weeks with my first. Feeling oddly grateful I had anxiety before getting pregnant so my medical team has been amazing! As one of the first in my friend group to be pregnant I’m trying to be really honest about how hard it is. My hope is that while I may sound like I’m complaining that when my friends are pregnant in the future they feel like they can be honest and have support too. I feel like no one ever told me that it’s normal for pregnancy to be really hard!!
Emma – Thank you for speaking out. It will be so helpful to other parents. I’m a grandma now, but vividly recall the depression I had during 2 of my 4 pregnancies. Like you, I couldn’t take birth control pills – they made me crazy. During the 2 pregnancies I would drive home from work and think how easy it would be to just drive off the road. I didn’t really want to die, but I didn’t want to live in that state either. Fortunately, the depression ended once the children were born. No one I knew ever had this problem (or at least didn’t talk about it). It was a feeling of being alone, thinking I was an awful person, etc. Best wishes to you and your family.
Thank you for sharing your story! I was not aware this was an issue before reading this article. I appreciate your honesty and wish you the best!
You are so, so not alone. I deeply relate to this post. I remember joking that I missed the PPD everyone was so sure I’d get because I was SO depressed during my first pregnancy that everything felt like a relief after. (Didn’t miss out on PPA though, gah). My most recent pregnancy was even worse, as we’d had numerous traumatic miscarriages in between, so all the guilt and depression was even more compounded. I begged to be induced at the end because even though my body was so ready, and when barely induced my baby pretty much flew out in record time, I was just not able to relax my mind beforehand (went into labor naturally with my first though).
I hope the rest of your pregnancy is easier. The thing that really helps in those last weeks is knowing there IS an end date.
Thank you for your reply. It actually makes me feel so much better to know that some people had miserable pregnancies and then felt relieved after.
I definitely experienced prenatal depression and anxiety. I was having a dozen or so panic attacks a week in my second trimester, and then I’d berate myself that the hyperventilating and adrenaline surge from them was probably harmful to my baby. I hid my panic and depression from my husband because he works so much that I felt I would be an additional burden to him. My doctors office actually had a questionnaire about prenatal and postnatal depression but I just lied because if they found out and wanted to do something, then I’d have to tell my husband that I was lying by omission for so long—and that felt (and still feels) shameful. Depression is a monster, I tell you. I still haven’t told anyone. This is the first time Ive even typed it. If I can offer any hope to the writer, it’s that within a couple weeks of my daughters birth (after that hormanal surge dissipates) I felt so much more even. Not perfect…but even…and how that she’s about 6 months old and sleeping through the night, I feel downright good! I hope you can say the same.
Yeah, my practice had lots of screening questions and questionnaires as well. And while I didn’t *lie* per se on them, I definitely answered them in a way to just barely screen as “typically miserable” rather than as “depressed and needs help,” and still felt like I was answering honestly. It’s really difficult, when you’re depressed, to tell the difference between normal pregnancy/postpartum, sleep-deprived misery, and actually depression. Even when you think/know you’re depressed, it can be so difficult to admit to it because you don’t want to take the time/be a bother/are sure it will pass soon, etc. I can see NOW that I was horribly depressed for almost a year after my second baby and probably for quite a while after my first, but could not, for the life of me, see that I needed help for what I was feeling while I was deep in it until I almost broke. That’s why it’s so insidious and also so important to talk openly about your experiences so others know it can happen to them.
Thank you for being honest and brave. I think it is extremely to talk about parenthood in all its glory- the good, the bad, the ugly as only then can we truly heal. I had Post Partum Anxiety and Drepression after my first, although was never diagnosed. I have since had my second child (without any PPA/PPD) and parenting without that extreme anxiety/depression truly is like a walk in the park in comparison. Those days were so dark, afterwards everything feels so much lighter. I am much better at self-care these days. It’s critical. It is also critical to keep talking about it, to keep letting it out. When you bottle it up it all makes it worse. Your baby is lucky to have such a strong and brave Mumma.
Thanks for your encouragement, B! I think that’s why Liz’s post about PPD last year was so powerful because it showed so many of us, including me, that it was okay (vital even!) to talk about all the aspects of parenting, not just the good ones. I definitely wouldn’t have written this if I hadn’t read hers.
No words of wisdom from this old mom (47!!!), just wishing there was a such thing as a big verbal hug I could give you. You are going to be all right, friend 🙂 Hang in there!
Thank you for sharing your story. May talking about it so openly help you to get thru it. Prayers that when the baby is born, you feel nothing but JOY!
Peace – Joy – Happiness
Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure that you have helped some people. I was told to not talk about my feelings and struggles when I had children. Yet, there are some who need to know they are not alone or experiencing other intensely strange feelings that accompany all the physical, emotional and social pressures during pregnancy and beyond. Each story is valid and important.
Just want to say, been there. With two babies. Its horrible. I remember both times the feeling of “I don’t want to kill myself but I don’t really want to keep on living either.” Also the feeling of “old me is gone forever and this new one is so miserable and negative.” For me as well I had relatively few physical symptoms (slight nausea, heartburn towards the end, but nothing super serious) so it seemed harder to explain to people how I felt as most people can relate to “horrible back pain” more than “exhausted beyond the reach of imagination.” Once the babies came I started to feel much better; even though practically speaking it was a lot more work to have a baby than be pregnant, I had the energy to deal with the work, so it was OK. My husband and I would love to have more children, so I’m trying to psychologically prepare for the misery of pregnancy already. At least I have had the experience both times that I feel better almost as soon as I give birth, so for me the depression has an end date. But yes its really really rough. My sympathies to all who suffer this way.
I didn’t have a single thought that wasn’t sad, angry or guilty for 8 months. (I was also extremely nauseous and so dizzy i had to stop taking the stairs because I kept falling down them). Never having had a mental health issue, I asked my ob how I would know if I had prenatal depression, and he laughed at me. Literally laughed big guffaws into my face. I left that practice, but by that time I was completely unable to think into the future, so it took some months to get another ob, and even then I missed a lot more appointments because I could not plan to schedule them, and then could not plan to arrive at them. It was like amnesia, but for the thing I was about to do. My husband did all the cooking because I would turn the water on to boil and then just never put the pasta in the pot, and never realize I hadn’t done it. To this day I’m curious how it happened that I didn’t get fired, but I honestly don’t remember at all. My water broke at 35 weeks. I felt instantly better, like waking up out of a bad dream. Through my second pregnancy I skated along just above that darkness, an inch away from sinking. After the second baby was born I started having 1-2 week depressive episodes. They finally stopped after months of taking high doses of EPA. Now I’m a normal person again.
I’m so glad you shared this. I found the progesterone amounts really interesting. I also struggled to conceive and bear my children and one of the cycles, they put me on a double-dose of progesterone-only pills. I thought I would crawl up the walls. I also struggled with the medically-induced menopause that is part of IVF cycles and had a lot of unsettling anger and exhaustion (that I now believe was pregnancy-induced anxiety) when I was carrying my amazing children.
Thank you so much for sharing. When I was pregnant with my first son, I felt very similar to how you felt for over half of the pregnancy. I remember telling my Mom at six weeks and saying, “I am so happy to be having a baby, but I HATE being pregnant.” I wanted to have a baby so badly, but that didn’t change how I felt. I was so sad all the time. I wanted to stay in bed and found it difficult to drag my butt to work (even though I loved my teaching job). Similar to you, I had sickness and nausea all day and night. I am certain that didn’t help. When I finally talked to my doctor about it, the feelings had started to lessen. He told me about prenatal depression (because I had no idea that was a thing!) but we decided against medication because it had improved. Prenatal depression does not change the joy you feel when the baby finally arrives. I also want to tell you that just because you feel this way this pregnancy, doesn’t mean that you will if you decide to have another child. I just had my second son 2 and a half weeks ago. This pregnancy was so different. I only threw up twice and I did not feel the sadness I felt the first time. It is so true that every pregnancy is different.
I’m so so so happy that your starting to feel tiny bits of joy through the fog. Not much longer to go and you’ll be able to snuggle him or her in your arms. I wish you all the best in your new adventure 🙂
As I’m dealing with infertility, it was hard to read this without feeling like “Life is so unfair (pouty face)” but you’ve made me realize that life really isn’t fair and that no matter what it looks like from the outside, you don’t know what the other person is going through and what hardships they are enduring. So thank you for writing this and I truly wish you all the best!
Yes yes yes, thank you for sharing this! I was fortunate not to have the depression, but I know that I had anxiety before and after I had baby. Perhaps that’s one of the (many) reasons we are sticking to having an only child? I remember snapping at a coworker that was expressing a bit too much excitement for me one day. Couldn’t they see how stressful this all is? Working full time, being uncomfortably pregnant, going home and just going straight to bed because it was all just WAY TOO MUCH to handle? And the anxiety ramped up to a million after baby was born.
Thank you for sharing this important reminder that we all experience pregnancy (and childbirth, and motherhood..) differently, and all of those ways are completely valid!
Thank you for sharing your story! It’s so important for everyone to hear experiences like yours, and for all of us to be reminded that life is complex- often especially so for women navigating motherhood. It’s so much more nuanced than what we usually see portrayed in media (social media included) of everything being happy all the time. Being honest about our struggles helps us all to feel more safe to be vulnerable and connect more authentically.
Oh, I was there. With both my first and my second pregnancy (which resulted in a loss). Everyone knows about PPD… no one talks about prenatal depression. I ended up giving birth to my first two months early. It turns out one of the side effects of uncontrolled prenatal depression is spontaneous premature labor. I think the only reason it was not as bad for my sixth pregnancy (second child) was that I had experienced four consecutive miscarriages and was so unbelievably thankful to have a healthy pregnancy that the hormones couldn’t touch the natural high. Thank you for sharing your story. I have told all of my friends about my prenatal depression once they are expecting… not to scare them, but to let them know that it is more common than anyone realizes and that there is help available.
I had antenatal depression with my first. It was horrible and most people didn’t understand. I was already in therapy for an eating disorder and frankly downplayed how horrible I was doing because I didn’t want to be forced to be hospitalized. Fortunately, it went a way at birth and didn’t have it with subsequent babies.
Thank you!!!! We never hear about PRE-natal depression/anxiety and it’s SO important that the message is being put out there! You are very brave for speaking up while still in the thick of it. I myself had a planned and wanted pregnancy 9 years ago that quickly developped into pre-natal crazy anxiety and ended-up in post-partum anxiety/depression, needed to be hospitalized for a month when the baby was only 4 weeks old, and on meds for the following year. Very hard landing!! I wish I had knowned about pre-natal anxiety (and treatments!) prior to conceiving, and prior to giving birth and falling even deeper into the abyss…. 9 years later I have an amazing bond with this child, I had a second child without those complications, and I am an awesome mother! So all the soon-to-be or new mothers out there struggling and questioning your worth as a mom, please hang on. Get help. Open up about it. Take care of yourself. It’s treatable and it’s just human feeling, not failing.
Mine started at 16 weeks. I wanted to drive my car off the bridge on the way to work. I had a bright day the moment she was born, within 48 hours I had fallen into the deepest darkest hole. After 2 rounds of anti-depressants, the baby was 3 months old and the mania started. My pre-natal depression and anxiety was the early signs of what would turn into bi-polar triggered by child birth. I’m now 9 months post-partum. I’ve been searching for the right help since day one. I’m still not stable, I still don’t feel like I have help. Everyday I wake up, trying my darnedest for a good day.
I really appreciate both this post and and Mrs Frugalwoods post partum depression. I’m a few months before my first ever pregnancy and seeing these issues discussed helps open my eyes about the possibility of experiencing something similar
I would like to throw out a resource for healthy marriage enhancing methods that might be able to repair any rifts occurring do maternal depression. Dr John Gottman out of the University of Washington in Seattle has a groundbreaking marital therapy method called the “Sound Relationship House” theory. Shortcut method is to order his video workshop by mail which is $165 shipped. Best money I ever spent, have built a beautiful marriage out of his research and methods. Budget option is to listen to audiobook or check out his book “7 Principles for Making Marriage Work” and put his free love app on the phone and work through the card decks. A mid range option is to spend $30 plus shipping to get his “relationship booklets” that have a streamlined version of his method. I wish Pete and his Mustache family had found Gottmans research before their family experience divorce. Best luck to you Mrs Frugalwoods and anyone doing the hard work of keeping marriage and family alive amidst baby raising and depression/anxiety and childhood wounds.
Does anybody know where to find these forums to regularly talk with other people about this issue? I’m experiencing it myself and live in a secluded area, 2,000 miles from the nearest family member (I’m a transplant due to my military service), and don’t really have many friends- the closest of which are about a 2.5 hour drive away. I have Hyperemesis so travel doesn’t work well. I just need someone to talk to that understands. Any info helps. Thank you. And thank you for this article. It’s extremely accurate.
Wonderful story. I appreciate.
Thanks for sharing.
I am so so glad I came across your story. I am 9weeks – waiting on my first scan and the way you have described how you felt is exactly what I’m going through right now. I’ve only just gotten to courage to speak to my parents about it. I am so so scared and keep doubting wether I want this baby but I know ending the pregnancy isn’t the way out. I will be speaking with my health care practitioner in a few days and going to explain exactly how I feel. It’s so horrible feeling this way!
Emma, thank you for your story. I felt like you, and I went one step too far. I had an abortion. I aborted a baby I was so looking forward to having, pre getting pregnant.
It all started fine, and within 4 weeks of getting pregnant I felt suicidal, scared, torn, not worthy, grieving, ashamed. I wasn’t sure I would get out of that pregnancy alive.
I am not sure what triggered it..I’ve never been depressed before. My mum died 7 months ago and I thought having a baby, and having a sibling to my 13 year old would be amazing. I can’t explain what happened. I am so traumatised by the experience….I wish things were normal..and I think I am the only one with this experience
I wish I saw this article sooner. I had a planned pregnancy through ivf and went through the exact same thing. All I could think about was “I can’t do this” and the unrelenting nausea. I couldn’t even take my antidepressants bc of the nausea. I spiraled, snapped and had an abortion bc a perinatal therapist told me it was a choice and asked me to list pros and cons of having a second baby. Others told me it was a choice. Never never say abortion is a choice to a woman exp antenatal depression and is vulnerable. I can’t blame people for trying to help. I’m pro choice but I wish someone said “you can do this.”
I remember reading this post a few years ago. At the time I had never heard of prenatal depression and anxiety. Now, a few years later, I am going through it myself, and knowing already it existed truly has helped me, especially in pushing to get the right healthcare, since the two first healthcare providers I talked did not take me seriously at all. So thank you for raising awareness and opening up the conversation. Even a few years later you are still helping people with this post.