But one year ago was also the last day of a terrible pregnancy.
This was a pregnancy that began as a huge surprise, challenged me physically (any Moms dealing with extreme pelvic pain, seek help! I wish I did earlier), and brought my mental health to the edge.
When I think back on the nine months of pregnancy, I feel a sense of grief. Like it is nine months of my life that were lost. That I was lost. It’s hard to access the feeling of darkness those days brought, anymore.
Instead I just remember months spent sitting on a couch, with zero motivation to socialize (very unlike me). Binging shitty TV shows and ice cream at basically the same pace.
I internalized so much guilt about being upset by a surprise pregnancy. So many people would do anything to have a baby and here I was feeling sorry for myself. I couldn’t allow myself, guilt-free, to just realize that getting pregnant again in less than one year was not my plan so it was scary for me, and it was okay to feel that.
Every day that I didn’t feel joy sent me spiralling deeper into guilt and shame.
I remember taking care of my toddler by myself every day after struggling through a day of work. I remember wanting, more than anything, for my husband to just get the fuck home and take over. For it to be bedtime, already. And wondering if that meant I just wasn’t good at parenting.
This experience was in such opposition to my first pregnancy, where I remained quite physically small (read: more comfortable), healthy and active. So where I beamed at the thought of having my daughter, I agonized over whether my son could feel the difference.
I spent nights in bed awake. Yes, uncomfortable like all expectant Mamas, but also plagued by terrible and graphic intrusive thoughts. At one point I wondered if our new home, so close to a cemetery, was haunted.
The guilt and shame I felt about not acting like a happy mom-to-be kept me from telling anyone just how dark I was feeling. The other thing that held me back was not really understanding that depression can hit us in pregnancy, too, just as it can postpartum.
I didn’t recognize in pregnancy how depressed I already was. Instead, I assumed that if I felt bad now, I’d probably have postpartum depression later. So I signed up for future counselling, though what I really needed, was help then.
There isn’t a lot of talk about this. In fact, I have never talked openly about this because it is still hard to shake some of the shame and guilt, even if the depression is in the rearview.
But the bodily changes, the hormone fluctuations, the change in identity and lifestyle, these can be a perfect storm for depression, too. If that’s you, you’re not alone.
Luckily for me, my story ends happily. With my son, Fionn. With joy.
As I went through the motions of mothering, of love, our bond really began to grow.
Whatever it was I did or didn’t feel throughout pregnancy, melted away into the relationship we were actually forming.
One day, walking down the street on a sunny summer day with my four-month-old baby strapped to my chest, the phone rang. It was the postpartum services I had pre-registered for, telling me they had an open appointment for me.
But with the sun shining, my son physically close to me and smiling away, I realized… I was happy. Truly, happy. I told them to give the spot to a mother who needed it.
And I really hope that mother takes it.
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