Pregnant While Depressed

I thought of a million ways to address this subject during the course of my pregnancy. I couldn’t figure out a way to broach the subject. Then I reminded myself about how candid I’ve always been in sharing my battle with mental health  (see this blog) and that this blog post should be no different.

Let me begin but making sure I clarify that I am not depressed as a result of pregnancy. I have had a depression diagnosis for practically all my life. I admit that a grand amount of anxiety did come with this pregnancy because of our loss just 15 months before this pregnancy. I never imagined we’d be blessed with the opportunity to have another child. I spent a lot of time making peace with that idea and being thankful I had the two children I did.

The first 12 weeks were the most worrisome. Every cramp, twinge and speck of blood made me think certain doom was pending. Even by 16 weeks when I could see a whole human looking baby, I was racked with fear and anxiety. And it’s continued this way…the entire pregnancy. Couple that with the hormones I can’t control,  and it has made for one heck of an emotional roller-coaster ride.

Prior to conception, I was taking 300 mg of Bupropion (also known as Wellbutrin) and it was working wonderfully. All the angst from the loss made me afraid to continue this medication so I stopped. The plan was that I’d get back on 4 weeks before delivery in preparation for postpartum depression which I suffered from severely after my first two children. How’d that plan work? Well, emotionally and mentally I was struggling to hold on during the course of this pregnancy.

Being depressed is losing total control over how you feel. You can desire to feel one way but your mind and body will do quite the opposite. I utilized therapeutic techniques and supports I’ve learned through the years to help me cope. I was relieved to start medication a few weeks ago; but it wasn’t without anxiety and worry about what it might do to my baby. The reality is there is not enough data to know. The particular medication I’m on is a category C which translates to “risks cannot be ruled out”. The hope is that taking it past the development stage will minimize those unknown risks. The doctor’s advice? The benefits outweigh the risks.

Better to have a healthy mama who can take care of her baby than an emotionally and unstable mama who can’t. There are many people who disagree with that theory; and I used to be one of them. However, experience has taught me that the other side of the coin isn’t so pleasant, and it was better for me to try this time than not at all. I look forward to seeing how effective this is after birth, and can only pray that this time is better than it was before.

The blunt reality is, depression is just as bad if not worse during pregnancy as it is on any other day. Though I will say, with each milestone we hit, developmental markers and successful appointments I walked away knowing his heart was beating, feeling his kicks, hiccups, squirms and wriggles; that has brought an elation that hasn’t been felt in a long while.

The mantra never changes whether pregnant or not: One day at a time. As always, if you are  a person (pregnant or otherwise) who is feeling pervasive sadness, episodes of sadness, crying and melancholy that last more than a few days, feeling hopeless or experience thoughts of self harm; please contact your physician immediately or  Call 1-800-273-8255. If you prefer to online chat please click Suicide Hotline.