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My Journey in Overcoming

Prenatal Depression

Dear Daughter,
All I could think of was becoming pregnant. Every month as I waited to see if my test would be positive,  I’d become like a helium balloon, puffed up with excitement and hope, and in the days following my period, become deflated and weighed down with another missed opportunity. When I finally saw the faint pink line I was in such a state of disbelief that I made an appointment with my OBGYN right away to confirm the result. They did an ultrasound and spotted the embryo–the miracle–that was you. I saw the mass on the screen that looked like scrambled eggs, and tears of joy streaked down my face, because no matter what it looked like, God knew, and I knew what it meant.

The beautiful gift I’d hoped and prayed for, began to feel more like a burden.
The weeks and months following the happy news became an obstacle course of sickness, confused emotions, and irritability. The joy I first felt eluded me. It became an effort to get out of bed, to get dressed, and to even eat. As friends and family began to worry, I began to wonder if I would ever feel the same again, and the beautiful gift I’d hoped and prayed for, began to feel more like a burden. What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was suffering from depression during pregnancy, or what professionals call “prenatal depression.”

We announced your expected arrival in December as the days grew grayer and colder, and my tummy began to swell with you. Members of our church in Sedona learned of our news with a picture of us we put up on the front screen along with our church announcements. The photo showed a happy couple in front of the Christmas tree, with a ribbon tied in a bow around my waist and  your daddy kneeling to kiss my bump. That Sunday morning, Barbara, a friend and mentor came up and wordlessly gave me a hug and a squeeze as tears quickly sprang to my eyes. Since we couldn’t find the care I needed in Sedona, I had been gone for the last few weeks staying with your Cece in San Diego as we tried to find a psychiatrist who would help give me the extra treatment I needed. I had spent my days as a kid would on Christmas break making gingerbread houses and ornaments, reading books, sleeping long hours, and watching mind numbing TV, as I grasped for the hope and excitement that I couldn’t seem to find. My prenatal depression left me listless.

Barbara held my shoulders and looked searchingly into my eyes. “I knew you were pregnant, but I wanted to wait until you shared the news before I said anything.” “You did?” I asked, “but how?” “Remember my best friend that I lost? I’ve told you about her before,” I nodded. Barbara had shared with me that in her 30’s her friend Candace and her were inseparable. They both had kids the same age and were involved in church together. After she lost Candace tragically to an untreated infection of strep throat, her friend had been appearing to her in dreams. She explained, “Candace told me to pray for you and your baby.” As she said this, a warmth filled my belly while a chill crept from my neck and down my arms and legs creating goosebumps. In all the grey clouds, sadness, and apathy, I had forgotten that you weren’t just something growing inside me, but a baby; you were my baby, and a child that God cared for enough to send an angel to my friend to seek her prayers.

The months following weren’t easy. God didn’t give your daddy an extra measure of patience but poured down buckets of love and patience as he shouldered the burdens of work and my depression that seemed to weigh on our house like a musty, woolen cloak. No matter what I did I couldn’t seem to find the joy and excitement that had filled me up at that first ultrasound. But, now I had something to cling to. Despite the sadness I felt in my prenatal depression, despite the void of emotions I wanted to feel, I clung to the knowledge that God already knew you as my baby, as His child, and that He had a plan for you beyond the fog of my prenatal depression and desperation.

Child, when you were born, I am not exaggerating when I tell you, you were my bright spot, my sunshine. The grey cloud of apathy lifted when I held your warm body against mine and I breathed in your sweet, milky scent. They say what I suffered from was perinatal depression. What I know is that it was a season that helped me to see more clearly. We don’t know what light is until we experience darkness–and although God let me experience the darkness of a mental illness called depression that I had never known before, He also allowed me to see His light and goodness in a way that I would have never fully grasped until I saw your face.

There are many things that can be gleaned from this story, but I think most of all I want you to know who your maker is. Mommy and Daddy dreamed of you and planned for you, but your God knew you by name before you were even scrambled eggs in my tummy. So while I will speak words to you of love and encouragement, I will try to guide you down straight paths, I want you to always know that God is the one who sent an angel for you when I couldn’t find you in my darkness. He’s given me the wisdom, courage, and strength now to be your mommy, but on the days that I disappoint you, He will never fail you.

If you or a loved one thinks they have prenatal depression, talk to your healthcare professional who can connect you with a support network. Don’t endure prenatal depression alone.

http://www.postpartum.net

 

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4 comments on “Prenatal Depression: How I Survived My Pregnancy”

  1. Thank you for sharing about perinatal depression, I had never heard of that before, and I love learning about things that others struggle with so that I can be more sensitive to them. I think it’s so important to talk about those hard things so other people know they aren’t alone. Looking forward to reading more from you!

    • Thank you Shannon–yes! – my hope is that other women can know they’re not alone in their struggle- just as you give other women that same hope through your struggle. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. First off I would like to say terrific blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts
    prior to writing. I’ve had a tough time clearing my
    thoughts in getting my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing
    but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to
    be lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any recommendations or tips? Cheers!

    • Hi Lesley– The challenge of every writer! I wait for the words to come to me, and then I write them down. I can’t just sit down and write something. It takes longer, but a lot less painful of a process. Take care!

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