Tonight is the eve of my sons first birthday. Tonight I glow as I feel I’ve glowed throughout my first year of motherhood. Sure there have been some sleeplessness nights and graceless moments, but it’s a year that literally glows gold in my memories. I am so thankful to be at this stage in my life and I am so thankful for this wonderful little person who was given to me; trusted to me to shape in to a good man.
Tonight also marks the anniversary of last night of the worst 9 months of my life.
Now before I begin I want to say one thing, I hated being pregnant, but I loved my pregnancy. These were two very different things to me; one was the state of carrying a living human being for nine months and the other was the little human being. So if you have trouble sympathizing or relating while reading this please remember that to me there was a line.
My pregnancy was planned, but nothing could have prepared me for being pregnant. After well over a year of trying and deciding that perhaps God was leading us in a different direction we discovered I was pregnant two weeks after our second wedding anniversary. We were elated, a little surprised, but elated and promptly sat down making lists of names while we continued on with that nights “date” at the laundromat.
For me that elation was short lived. In a matter of days the sickness started. Not that “once in the morning, walk it off” kind of sick, but rather all day, every day, constantly running to the bathroom to revisit the paltry meal I managed to keep down for an hour sick. Little did I know this was to last well into October, and it was June – the beginning of June.
I tell you of the sickness just as back-story. Severe morning sickness is nothing new in the course of pregnancy history, and though I lost upwards of 15-20 lbs during the whole course I always managed to just barely keep my self hydrated enough to stay out of the hospital. That alone was miserable, but it was only the tip of the iceberg.
Within those first few weeks the worry began. A small niggling concern in the back of my mind had grown to full blown despair within a month. By the time, at 12 weeks, when we made our announcement to the world I could barely muster up a “Yea, I guess.” when asked, for what seemed like the millionth time, “Aren’t you excited?”
It was a combination of things that snowballed into hopelessness. I was concerned at the type of mother I would be, and I was very concerned about how we’d provide for a child, the costs of pregnancy and birth, everything. I was so sacred at how little I knew and how little I felt prepared that one day all I could do was sit in my dry bathtub holding my cat while sobbing. I kid you not.
It wasn’t long after the tub/cat/crying incident that we realized where we were living and what we were making a living at was not going to provide the type of life we wanted for our children and by September we were in a Uhaul driving back cross country. My parents had offered us safe-haven at their house for as long as necessary as we got our feet back on the ground in our new location.
I thought that the move was going to fix things. We’d be closer to family, in a better location to raise our family, in a state with a better economy; all those things so many of us want, but that wasn’t how my mind was going to let me see things. I wasn’t someone make a temporary sacrifice for the betterment of her family; I was a looser, a bum living in her parents basement, bringing a new life into the world that she didn’t know she could provide for, I was the lowest of the low. I made list of everything I should of had and achieved by the age of 27 – the house, the stable job, the income and compared my self mercilessly to every friend and acquaintance who had what I had lost. Everything I had worked for was for naught, my mind told me, and this was going to be my life forever and I believed “Me”.
By November all of these dark thoughts were also combined with the reality that the thoughts were keeping me from connecting with being pregnant at all. I couldn’t stand the fact that I was never truly alone. I hated the attention and unprompted opinions of strangers. I was filled with life and felt so empty. It was all just too much.
By the time winter started to roll across the mid-west, a particularly bitter winter at that, I was defeated. I’d had enough and it was at that point I had a long conversation with God.
I told Him that I understood. I understood that some women weren’t meant for motherhood and I was certain that this was what He was telling me. I had obviously been coveting something that I wasn’t prepared for and I had learned my lesson.
I am not proud about this next part, but it is true. Completely true. I’m sorry.
I told Him that I understood that sometimes children were taken away and that it was often for the best. I loved this little boy so much that I’d understand if that was His choice. My little boy did not deserve the mother I was bound to be. I told God I wouldn’t resent him, I told God I’d understand and I told God I’d understand if He wanted to take me too because I was a failure and I was beyond worthless.
I know God listened to me that day.
He just didn’t act in the way that I expected.
I can’t tell you that things got instantly better. Physical pain replaced physical sickness in the last month and I eventually got to the point where I had just accepted my fate in life which was the the culmination of all those terrible thoughts. In the days before my induction I was fairly convinced I was going to die, and my labor and delivery was, well, let’s just call it “eventful”. There were no booming voices, no trumpets and choruses of angels come down from the heavens to tell me “fear not”. Rather the little things kept going. The bank account kept balancing, the bills got paid, the savings even increased. A few days before Christmas I had a good, solid job interview and two weeks before delivery I had a job offer. I even had a few moments, when my son wasn’t practicing his roundhouse kick to my ribs that I even thought “I make a darn cute pregnant lady.”
And on February 8th 2011 at 9:15 p.m. I knew it had all been worth it. With my sons arrival to this world every fear and concern melted away. I was just where I was supposed to be, doing just what I was supposed to be doing. I spent the early hours of February 9th speak quietly to my slumbering son thanking God that he knew what he was doing and telling Henry everything I hoped and dreamed for him, all my plans for, everything and every bit of me that I’d gladly lay down for him and trying to put into words all my love. I still can’t do it justice.
I now believe that my 9 months of being pregnant were so dark because I need to know and appreciate how much my journey through motherhood glows. I needed to know how to truly value life and how to trust in the timing. I need to understand the signs so that I could be there for friends and I needed to know that what can come from sacrifice and how amazing it is to be filled after feeling so empty.
I share this story not to be be applauded or praised. I have my reward and I have my battle scars. I would gladly and willingly go through it all over again and that is enough for me. I share this story because APD, antepartum depression, needs to be recognized. Because we, as a society need to understand that not every woman’s nine months are glowing and happy and we need to be able to say that that is alright. I believe that these uncontrollable fears and panics, when coupled with a strained relationship or an uncertain situation can be the push over the edge that makes women make life altering decisions. While I, even in my worst moments, would not have made those choices I can see how those options can appeal to those who are lost and confused.
APD can happen to any woman, in any pregnancy. APD can be caused by everything ranging from changing hormones to the stresses of real life. It can strike the woman who finds herself alone and in an unplanned situation, the mother multiple times over and even the one who’s spent months or even years waiting to see that extra little line on that test.
If you know a woman who’s expecting a seems less than radiant extend your arms to her. Let her know that it’s okay. It’s okay not to glow. Tell her that it will get better and that you’ll stand by her side until it does.
For more information on APD please go to:
If you feel that you are showing the signs of APD please open up to your doctor and your loved ones. If you feel that you are having suicidal thoughts or tendencies please seek help immediately.
Proper support can be key in getting you through this moment and on to the next and know that it’s okay not to glow now, but I know you will someday.