THE TRIMESTER THAT NO ONE TALKS ABOUT
If you've been following me for awhile, you may have noticed that back in January/February, I was pumpin' out content for the blog on the regular. My Instagram posts were consistent and I was starting to work with some big brands. Cut to - early March, and suddenly I went MIA. I started resurfacing in April/May, but let me assure you - that was all a front. It wasn't until June that I felt normal again. Here's what was really going on during that time.
It's called first trimester depression and anxiety. And it's very VERY very real. And no one talks about it.
I'm not totally sure, but I do know that society has taught us to keep our pregnancies private, because if something did actually go wrong... you wouldn't want to have to announce it to the world, would you? I mean, Heaven forbid we were actually transparent with our lives every now and then on social AND in real life. Listen, I've fallen victim to it with my pregnancies too. If you choose to stay private with your pregnancy I COMPLETELY respect that. But the stigma around it all is just something that has always bothered me.
The first time I had a miscarriage, I thought something was SO WRONG with me. It wasn't until shortly after, someone very close to me told me that it actually happens so often. I was floored. I had no idea. It didn't take the pain away, but it did help me know that nothing was wrong with me. It helped the healing process and I feel like awareness about these things can be very helpful.
Cut to: my first successful pregnancy, with Emaline. I refused to let myself believe I was pregnant, because I didn't want to have my hopes up and get disappointed if I lost the baby. I had had a chemical pregnancy the month before, and was really disappointed when that happened. We had actually stopped trying/tracking ovulation the month that Emaline was conceived and so for a while, I really didn't think it was true.
With this current pregnancy, in addition to the normal pregnancy anxiety and constantly hoping nothing is wrong - I've had a whole different round of anxiety because of what was to follow after I gave birth to Emaline.
I'm writing and sharing this because I want you to know you're not alone, and no you aren't crazy. Hormones are no joke, and they can seriously alter the way you feel and think. If you need to get help, please do! I highly suggest going to a therapist and talking your way through the anxiety and your pregnancy.
Let me just try to break it down for you into THREE PARTS. This is hard sort out in my mind, not going to lie!
Part one, how I felt when I was pregnant with Emmie.
Part two, how my anxiety is with this pregnancy.
And, part three, what the depression part was like this time around.
WHEN I WAS PREGNANT WITH EMALINE:
With my first, I wasn't completely shut down with anxiety at my first ultrasound appointment. I had a good feeling about the pregnancy and the baby, even though I had had losses in the past. Sure, I was nervous going in to the ultrasound but it wasn't really until a few weeks later that my anxiety started to trickle in. Looking back, I actually feel like I spent most of my pregnancy with Emaline in a very paranoid state. I would come up with scenarios of things that could be wrong with her, but then I'd tell myself "that would never happen to you, she's fine." But deep down, I knew something was wrong. I hoped that I was just being paranoid, but my gut feeling would later prove to be correct. I remember going in for a level 2 anatomy scan to look at all 4 chambers of her heart, and I had a feeling that something wasn't right. But the doctor came in, said everything looked perfect and we moved on. I still remember what that doctor looked like because I didn't believe him when he said it. #MothersIntuition, anyone? (To read her story: click here)
So, naturally with all of the things that happened with Emaline after she was born, I knew I would have a hard time the next time we got pregnant. And that has proven itself to be very true. But what I've been experiencing this time has been completely different.
I can honestly say, that my first trimester was the deepest depression I have ever been in.
So yeah, I'd say I've had an extreme case of anxiety this time. Emaline's heart defects have not been proven to be genetic, therefore my risk of having another child with a CHD is only slightly higher than of someone who has no history of CHD. Knowing that, and knowing that I would be seeing a specialist very closely throughout my pregnancy has been very calming to me.
But for some reason, a feeling I haven't been able to shake is the "What if something is wrong" feeling. I can honestly say that with this baby, I don't think anything is wrong at all. I have a great feeling about her. We've been to the specialist so many times, I've seen her an insane amount of times, and on a normal day I'm really not worried. But there is something about going in to an ultrasound. The night before, I can't sleep. The morning of, my stomach is turning and I've started purposely taking Emaline with me to these appointments to keep myself distracted.
When I went to my first ultrasound to confirm that the heart was beating at 8 weeks, I have never felt so crippled with anxiety and fear in my life. This probably comes from having several losses in the past, and knowing what it feels like to go in for an ultrasound expecting to see a baby, and then getting terrible news.
As soon as the tech said "There is the heart" - I started bawling. Uncontrollably. I'm pretty sure they thought I wasn't happy about the baby. Ha! I was so incredibly happy and relieved, it took all I had to get myself together.
I thought that crippling feeling would fade away, and who knows... maybe at my next scan in a few weeks it will have subsided. But here I am, more than mid way through my pregnancy, and I still completely shut down right before an ultrasound. I can't even look at the screen until the tech says something positive.
It's like I can't breathe.
I'm not writing this because I want advice. Because there is no true way to really describe how it all feels. I just hope that I can reach other women who are feeling the same way and possibly going through the same things.
WHY WERE YOU SO DEPRESSED?
Ok, so this part did NOT happen when I was pregnant with Emaline. Only with this baby.
It boils down to two things: CONTROL and NAUSEA. Hormones, man. First of all, I had the WORST morning sickness with this baby girl. Literally from week 4 until about week 18 was misery. Never throwing up, just nauseous all the time.
When you go from feeling SO GOOD to feeling SO BAD and it's all out of your control... it is so hard not to get depressed. I would spend my days binge watching TV (when Em would sleep or could occupy herself) just to distract myself from how nauseous I was. This was incredibly depressing to me. I know that, for me, I mentally don't fare well from "lazy days" usually ever. I like to be productive and get things done.
Now, I am midway through my 2nd trimester and really mentally feeling great. The best I have felt since before I got pregnant. This really goes to show that a lot of it is hormonal. I spent days thinking I was crazy for feeling this way, that I should be grateful to even be pregnant, etc. Just know that it will pass - and that, quite literally, HORMONES ARE NO JOKE.
I'm aware that I had an extreme case of PPD after having Emaline, brought on more heavily by the traumatic experiences we endured. However - at the time - you're in superhero mama mode, and it's so hard to realize what you're actually feeling. It took me about 2 years after having her to feel normal again. (And... then I got pregnant again. Ha!)
This is just me dipping into this conversation - I know there is so much more I could talk about and maybe there will be another post following up to this. I'd LOVE to hear from you mamas who have experienced the same things and have risen above! Comment below so others can see your insight. Thanks for being so amazing, as usual. xoxo
SO WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT?
This stigma that society has about the beginning of your pregnancy has got to go away. It's OKAY if you miscarry. It's OKAY if you get depressed. It's OKAY to celebrate your baby early on. Good things happen, and if something bad happens, we have to deal with it one way or another.
THIS IS LIFE. We all need to know we aren't alone in this.
Once again, if you choose to keep your pregnancy and experiences private I am NOT saying that is wrong!
Pregnant or not, if you feel like you can't get a grasp on life and are struggling with your mental health - PLEASE ask for help. You are not alone.