I’ve wanted to be a mother since I was a little kid. Though I was the youngest of two, it was assumed by many that I belonged to a large family. I would constantly surround myself with children and babies to tend to. At 18, a doctor told me that I would have extreme difficulty conceiving when the time would come, but I received reassurance from leaders of the Jewish people at the time that all would be fine. Shortly after I got married, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and was told I was not allowed to try and get pregnant. A weak intestinal system that had been developing for years required emergency surgery and time to heal. All was pushing off my dream of becoming a mother. I would pray and pray for the day that I would be able to hold my own child in my arms.
After all of the healing and treatment, we were permitted to start trying. Almost a year later, I became pregnant. The positive test had me jumping for joy, but the doctors had me come in right away to examine me and put me on medication to prevent loss of the pregnancy. Thankfully, everything went smoothly and life was incredible.
Fast forward to the second trimester. I was in my backyard, relaxing on a lawn chair.
Swish, swish, swish
My stomach seemed to have turned into a waterbed. Amazed, I ran into the house. “This is so cool,” I shouted. My husband didn’t see what I saw, but I was on a high. It was finally happening. There was proof of a living thing in there. I could not have been happier.
Fast forward to the third trimester. There I was, laying in bed yet again. I had not been out of bed for days. I had no interest in social contact or in doing any sort of activity. Even watching Netflix was something I had no interest in. I rationalized my behavior due to the loss of a friend of mine, who passed the week before. I decided that if these symptoms persisted, I would call the doctor.
Thump, thump, thump.
“Not again,” I thought. The kicking made me miserable. The sleepless nights made me miserable. The baby’s hiccups made me miserable. All of it made me miserable. Some nights I wished I hadn’t gotten pregnant at all. Some nights I questioned if it was all worth it. One night I wished the baby was dead. That was the night that I called the doctor.
I was diagnosed with Prepartum Depression. All of the symptoms of Postpartum Depression, just without the newborn. I had never heard of prepartum depression before. Though I would have rather not taken the risk of using antidepressants while pregnant, the pros outweighed the cons, as my mental health and the baby’s future depended on it. It was a low dosage and took the edge off, enabling me to resume activities that made me feel productive and happy.
After I got help, I posted a photo on instagram that read:
“Rocking the bump and loving it. Pregnancy is a crazy, beautiful time. It’s a time where you body goes through tremendous changes. It is a time we women are supposed to enjoy. There are many women who unfortunately suffer during pregnancy, as it can take a toll physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s super important to get help. Get a support system, speak to someone, get the help you need. I am super thankful for all of those who have helped me get to a point where I can start truly enjoying this miraculous time.”
Not too long after, I received a message from an old friend. “What did you mean by that post? Do you mind explaining further?” I explained to her that I was experiencing prepartum depression and she was shocked. “I thought I was the only one who had it! No one talks about it. People barely talk about postpartum, but I have never heard anyone speak about prepartum. I am so sorry you had to go through that, but I’m relieved that I’m not alone.”
Depression isn’t limited to a specific point and time. Some people have prepartum, some have postpartum, some have both or neither. Some have depression without a baby in the equation! If you currently have or have experienced prepartum or postpartum depression, know it’s ok. Know it’s going to be ok. Know that you are not a bad mother, or person, for thinking crazy thoughts. Know that it’s your raging hormones that are affecting your psyche. These terrifying thoughts are not a result of any wrongdoing, but rather a challenging result of a beautiful miracle. The thoughts do not represent who you are, nor does a diagnosis of depression.
If you are experiencing depression, know you’re not alone. Know there are so many others feeling the same way you are. Know that there are a plethora of treatments and support groups available to you. Know that you’re stronger than you know, and you will get through this.
Fast forward to today. I am a mom of a beautiful 5-month-old girl. I am frazzled, exhausted and incredibly happy.
Stay strong, I believe in you.