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Pregnancy isn’t Magic: Prenatal Depression

Sep13

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Dear Amalah,

I’m 37 and a half weeks pregnant, and I’m not ok.

On my best days I can fake it, but on my worst days I feel like I want to disappear, that nothing is right, and that anything and everything is wrong. My fiancee says he feels like he’s losing me…that the person he used to know is fading away and being replaced with someone bitter and depressed and mean. My solution is to get up a few hours earlier so I can cry in private and get it out before he sees me.

This baby was a surprise (accident? mistake?). Two weeks after getting engaged in a wonderful, year-long romance I discovered I was pregnant. My fiancee and I had been planning to hold off on the whole having kids thing for a few years while we better established ourselves as a couple, and when we had jobs and he had crossed the threshold into his late 20s (we’re both grad students–he’s 26 and I’m 29) but despite the consistent use of an extremely reliable birth control method, the universe had other plans. His first reaction was to assume I would terminate the pregnancy and we would wait until we both felt ready. I made the Planned Parenthood appointment and was counting down the days until my D&C, because what I want more than anything is a family, and a functional family doesn’t exist when one party is only there out of obligation.

I think that is when I started to break. I spent my first few weeks of pregnancy grieving for this baby. I didn’t want my fiancee to touch me, hold me, or talk to me, and I spent my time not engaged in the essential activities of daily living curled up in bed.

Eventually we started to talk and I told him what I was feeling and together we decided yeah, the timing wasn’t perfect, but what is a perfect time to have a kid, anyway. Since that day, he has been behind me 100%. Though it’s tempered by a healthy dose of fear and uncertainty, he’s thrilled to be a dad, he reads the baby books, and can’t wait for our son to be born.

Except now I don’t know if I can do it. It all feels wrong. Everything is wrong. I’m so scared. First, about labor: my baby is in a bad position, and I’m terrified he won’t turn, and I’ll have to have the medicalized/interventionist birth that I’ve done everything in my power to avoid. And I know that if that happens, I will blame myself. And there is our relationship: I take all my fear and anxiety out on him, even though I don’t mean to. I am afraid that I am wrecking anything we ever had, and there won’t be a chance to repair it once a baby is in the mix.

The intimacy that we previously had is gone. Mostly because I have exactly two comfortable sleeping positions that both necessitate the use of body pillows, I don’t remember the last time we cuddled together or even just enjoyed each other’s company. I am shrill and demanding and mean to him, even though I honestly don’t mean to be.

I see a therapist, but it only seems to calm me down for about two hours every week. I just don’t know how I am going to get through this when I don’t have a vision of peace and calm and love waiting for me on the other side. What if it only gets harder? What if this is what drives us apart anymore, and I lose my partner because I’m too fucked up to be in this relationship?

I feel like the parts of me that aren’t sustaining a child are dying. I am afraid that I will never get the old me back, and that my relationship with myself, my partner, and my child will suffer irreparable damage. I live with these fears constantly, with almost no reprieve.

I don’t really even know what I’m asking for right now. Hope, I guess? Some redirection and reassurance?

Thanks,
L

Oh you poor, sweet, wonderful thing. I am so sorry you are not okay. I wish I could make it all okay.

Has your therapist, by any chance, mentioned the possibility of prenatal depression? Because that is a Thing and while I am not a doctor nor am I authorized to play one on the Internet, it sounds very much like a Thing you might have (and are clearly not being very effectively treated for by this therapist). Here’s an article about it, and here’s another one. Slate ran a three-part series on it.  The excellent Postpartum Progress blog has an entire category dedicated to it. Studies suggest prenatal depression is every bit as common as postpartum depression, and every bit as real and serious, and yet most of us are completely unaware that it can happen or of what warning signs to look out for. And I include myself in that “most” group, until my THIRD PREGNANCY, when my OB brought it up after I volunteered the information that my father was dying of cancer and wouldn’t most likely live to meet the baby. Thanks for the heads’ up all those other times, doc! Particularly since prenatal depression can happen without any external stress factors, but is more the result of misfiring, messed-up hormones. (Though since just about every pregnancy IS accompanied by external stress factors, it’s super easy to lay blame on things OTHER than the misfiring, messed-up hormones, and super hard to distinguish “normal” hormonal shifts from the not-normal ones.)

Let me warn you, however, before you click on those links: They might scare you. (Oh God, you already clicked on them, didn’t you? I’m sorry.) Prenatal depression is a serious, SERIOUS condition and can have adverse effects on both you and your baby — especially if you feel so depressed/sad/worthless that you stop taking care of yourself (eating right, taking vitamins, going to doctor visits, turning to alcohol, etc.). There appear to be a lot of links between untreated prenatal depression and other complications during labor and delivery, which again, I haaaaate being all scary but I’m going to need you super motivated to kick some mental health ass by the end of this column. (Then we’ll all hug, ‘kay?)

Of course, like all depression, everyone experiences it differently. For some people, it’s less “depression” and more “I am two breaths away from a panic attack at all times.” Some just have persistent, intrusive generalized anxiety. Some people cry all the time; some find themselves incapable of crying or feeling any emotions at all. Some people lose their appetite while others overeat.

Add to this overstuffed, mixed bag of symptoms the simple fact that “normal” pregnancy hormones can cause some of these things, and you’ve got a serious condition that is really, really easy to miss. Oh, I’m not eating much because of morning sickness. I’m eating too much because of cravings. I’m crying all the time because I’m just generally weepy. I’m not sleeping because I’m uncomfortable. I’m detaching from my partner because I feel fat and gross. I feel scared all the time because labor IS scary and my worries about money and timing and the effect this pregnancy is having on my relationship are ALL TOTALLY VALID THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT.

But. You are experiencing All Of These Things turned up to 11. Past 11. To an uncomfortable, painful, overwhelming level and you are describing great suffering here. And I can see you trying to contort your suffering into something that makes sense: unplanned pregnancy, last minute change of heart, shifts in your relationship, and above all blaming “yourself” for not embracing the joy! and excitement! and squee! that the world expects you — exalted glorious carrier of life — to feel. (Which: Eff you, world. Go get me a cheesesteak.)

This isn’t your fault. This isn’t you failing at pregnancy. There’s nothing different you could have done to prevent this from happening. And above all, this isn’t how it’s going to be forever.

Call your OB or midwife IMMEDIATELY. I freaking mean it. TELL THEM. Call your therapist. And if your therapist gives you a blank look at the words “prenatal depression,” find another one. (I might vote for that ANYWAY, because I’m not really feeling the love for a therapist who sees you weekly and yet still let you get to this point.) Get a referral for someone who specializes in pre/postnatal depression and call them. Print out those scary links and shove them in people’s faces — your partner, doctor, therapist — and say THIS. THIS IS ME. THIS IS NOT OKAY. HELP ME.

Prenatal depression is not like other pregnancy complications, like gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia. It doesn’t always immediately and miraculously vanish after birth. Sometimes, yes! But sometimes, no. According to BabyCenter, about half of women who experience depression and anxiety during pregnancy go on to develop postpartum depression. (AckmorescarylinksI’msorry.) So please — please please please — don’t think that because you’re so close to the end of your pregnancy that it’s not “worth it” to raise the alarm and cause a fuss. Get a treatment plan and support network in place now. There are antidepressants you can take while breastfeeding, there are (better) therapists, there are holistic options, there is whatever you feel comfortable with. And get comfortable with the idea of leaning into your partner and letting him help without freaking out that you’re imposing on him or driving him away. Open up to family members like your mom or a sibling or someone you trust and let them know that you could really use their help and support in the months ahead — cleaning, delivering food, babysitting, whatever.

But above all, believe me: This isn’t how it’s going to be forever. There is light and hope and wonderful years of clear-headed motherhood ahead of you. Please just reach out for it, today, right now.

[Editor: in addition to Amalah's links, here is the direct link to contact information for Postpartum Support International which also provides assistance for prenatal mood and anxiety.  Their depression helpline phone number is 1-800-944-4773. They offer free and anonymous info sessions.]

 

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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24 Responses to “Pregnancy isn’t Magic: Prenatal Depression”

  1. Tricia Sep 13 at 12:25 pm Reply Reply

    I don’t even know what to say except I feel so proud of you for reaching out for help! That was the hardest thing for me when I got pregnant. I thought I was a burden on people so I didn’t ask at first. Once I realized that there were people who wanted to help me it got so much easier to cope. And remember that no matter how your son gets here, he’s going to be here! And he won’t care how he was born, just that he can snuggle
     on your chest and hold your hand and let out a little sigh of contentment because he’s with his mama. You can do this!

  2. Claire Sep 13 at 12:33 pm Reply Reply

    Big hugs.
    I have no more useful advice than Amy has. I second everything she has said. Also, just a side note, if you don’t get that overwhelming rush of love straight away it’s ok too. I didn’t with my son, but it grew over time – he’s 20 months now and just awesome. My daughter is 7 weeks and again I’m working on it, on the bond and overwhelming rush of love. But I know it will come. It doesn’t make me a bad mum or person that it’s taken me a while.
    The other thing – seeing your other half become a father is amazing. Watching my husband with our children only deepens my love of him.
    You’re going to be ok. You need help to get you there, and you need it now, but you will be ok.
    Good luck, I hope you can update us when you’ve got things under control and are in your mummy groove x

  3. Heather Sep 13 at 12:50 pm Reply Reply

    I want to offer you my story.

    Your depression sounds very similar to mine.  I’ve had bouts with situational depression before, and NOTHING came close to the depression of my pregnancy.

    I gutted through.  I made decisions that took my son’s safety into consideration (absolutely) but were made based on what I thought I could actually do.  For me, that meant a scheduled-c which I have never regretted but that was what worked for me YMMV.

    I found out later that my husband and mom were making plans in case the depression got worse.

    Less than a day after he was born (which I generally think of as “got out of my body”) I felt fine.  My mom could see it right away.  All of it just cleared.  I did not have trouble with PPD.

    He is 5 now, I like him a lot and I love him like crazy.

    I hope you call your doc, and I trust that this will clear up.  Good luck.

  4. kathleenicanrah Sep 13 at 12:53 pm Reply Reply

    Oh lady, I feeeeeel you.
    I’m 26 weeks and have been diagnosed with prenatal depression and it is THE PITS. and makes me feel so crazy and I can’t even stand being around myself/in my own head so I don’t know how my husband and friends and everyone else is dealing with me.
    I wrote some about my experience here: http://blog.ohbabyfitness.com/2013/08/01/pregnancy-and-depression/

    I hope you get help and feel much much better soon, and sending all good thoughts for a peaceful, calm, wonderful delivery. Things are going to get better.

  5. Alison Sep 13 at 1:08 pm Reply Reply

    A therapist trained in Bowen Family Systems Theory has helped me tremendously both emotionally and physically and could be a really great option for something like this. The Bowen perspective and tools have been very stabilizing for me while trying to conceive, pregnant, and postpartum. A link to info on Bowen theory: http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/theory.html Best wishes to you! I know myself how terrifying depression and anxiety can be.

  6. Felicity Marie Sep 13 at 1:40 pm Reply Reply

    Oh yes, I could easily have written this letter two years ago. Except I wasn’t brave enough to reach out to anyway, and stupidly suffered in silence, counting the days until I could get this “alien” out of my body.

    Surprise pregnancy? Only dated my boyfriend for 5 months at that point? Never planned to be pregnant in my life, ever? Yep, yep, and yep. My pregnancy sucked, and for a few weeks after I felt better. Then, PPD hit hard. Really hard. It took months for me to find someone to talk to about it. 

    But you know, then it got better. I started on anti-depressants, told all my friends what was going on and how they could help. And the best thing for me was that when my daughter was 8 months I went back to work and realized that I could be a mom and have a professional life at the same time. I could make it work! Now my little one is almost 2, and I feel like I’m really hitting my stride as a mom.

    Anyways, all that to say that it really can get better. Also, I’m a therapist (even we wait to get help sometimes – depression sucks the motivation out of you). Please, please find a new therapist if your current one isn’t helping you. Some therapists are amazing, some suck. Just like all people. :) So please find someone who can help! Check out: http://locator.apa.org and pick some areas of specialization (like depression and/or pregnancy/childbirth) to find someone who can help.

  7. nb Sep 13 at 1:47 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, honey. *hugs*

    This shiz is hard, yo. It is hard no matter, what, and as Amy says: it’s turned up to 11 right now, which is even harder.

    I’m just here to say (from the perspective of lady who’s never even *been* pregnant, so you know: I support you, I love you even though we’re strangers, and you are tougher than me): It is perfectly ok to be Not Ok. You are creating a whole freakin’ person—that is some serious work, and some serious mind bendery to get your head around.

    Please please please grab your therapist, your fiance, your friendly neighborhood checkstand lady by the shoulders and say: This Shit Sucks. Please Help. Bringing a new little person into the community is no small task—and it is appropriate, acceptable, laudable, and altogether wise to reach out to that community and say: “Lil’ help here, guys?”

    We’re cheering for you. 

    • Kat Sep 16 at 3:52 pm Reply Reply

      Completely agree with all posters – but I love this: “It’s perfectly okay to be Not Okay”. I don’t have anything more helpful than anyone else, but you are already on your way to feeling better if you are willing to reach out to get a little bit of advice. I can say this: my pregnancy was pretty rough on my now husband. Once the baby arrived, we healed a lot of hurts. We were united in our efforts to take the best care of our son possible, and so many things that seemed horrible during pregnancy (my snappy temper being one of the worst) seemed to melt away once we had our son and could focus on supporting each other and the baby. I’m not saying it was overnight magic, but we are about to celebrate our 2 year anniversary and we have an incredibly strong and mature relationship thanks to the rougher times we faced right off the bat. There is hope!! Take all this advice, talk to your doctor, your therapist, everyone who will listen. I can tell you are strong and intelligent, and you can totally do this. You will make a wonderful mommy!!

  8. Ally Sep 13 at 1:58 pm Reply Reply

    I wish I could meet you (in a non-creepy way I promise). I am also 37 weeks pregnant. This is my fourth, a baby who I wanted so badly and had to use fertility treatments to conceive. About three weeks ago I feel like everything changed. I cry all the time and I just don’t want to have another child. Part of it is that my oldest is really really struggling and I can barely give him the attention he needs now. I’ve been talking to my OB a lot and he has been really helpful and supportive. I hope things change for you in the next few weeks and that the birth releases all these emotions. 

  9. Stefanie Sep 13 at 2:56 pm Reply Reply

    L, I’m so so sorry that you’re feeling this way. My first pregnancy was also a surprise, and although my then-fiance and I were both on board right away, major family drama caused me to feel the way you’re feeling, right around the same time. I remember driving to work each day and spending 20 minutes sobbing in my car before I could summon the strength to go inside, and a constant feeling of being alone, being hopeless, and being certain that I would never be able to handle the baby since I couldn’t even cope with being pregnant.

    Definitely get treatment, like Amy said. I’m surprised as well that your therapist has let you get to this point. I also don’t want to scare you, but I did end up with PPD after my baby came, but continued to blame my feelings on family drama and being a bad mom/human being, until one day I found myself standing on a busy street corner trying to find the best place to park the stroller so I could throw myself in front of a bus but not have the baby get run over. If my husband hadn’t called at that moment and heard something in my voice that told him to get home right then (because I kept saying I was totally fine! Having a great day, honey, don’t worry about me!), I might not be here today.

    After the baby comes, it will be hard. And you and your partner will fight. You’ll be sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, but eventually you’ll figure the kid out and work like a team. But you are NOT too fucked to be in the relationship, you’re just having a hard time. And part of his job as the baby’s father is to support you right now and after the baby comes. And you will get yourself back, or a new mom-version of yourself. I definitely did, after some good therapy and some medication. 

    I hope this gets better for you, I really do. Hugs. 

  10. Rachel Sep 13 at 3:21 pm Reply Reply

    Hugs…Amy’s advice is excellent, and I also want to add that you need to show your fiancé this column and the links too. He may be able to help you find help. I hope things get better.

  11. Brigid Keely Sep 13 at 9:30 pm Reply Reply

    I have a long history of depression and anxiety and when I mentioned this to my APN she asked if I wanted to preemptively go on an anti-depressant I’d used successfully before which was safe to use while pregnant. I think it really helped stave off very, very serious PPD while also alleviating existing depression and anxiety symptoms.

    Like you, I was eager for a “natural,” vaginal birth. I wound up requesting (and getting) an epidural, and ultimately having a C-Section. My baby was in the appropriate position, but I wasn’t dilating and he wasn’t descending. There’s a huge huge HUGE focus in some places online on avoiding medical interventions of all kinds to the point of demonizing both medical interventions and the people who have them. Please remember that you are NOT “a failure” if your child’s birth isn’t the birth you want or expect. You can’t control the world or your body or your birth, you can only do the best you can. C-Sections are not failed births, they’re just births.

  12. anon for this Sep 14 at 1:15 pm Reply Reply

    I was very struck by your description of your finance’s reaction to terminate the pregnancy and now the effort you are making to welcome for a child that you once grieved for. I’m pretty sure going through that with a pregnancy would break me too. I would encourage you to seek counseling that is specifically geared toward grief and post-abortion healing (even though you didn’t have one, you need someone with that expertise). Look up a local pregnancy help center, pro-life organization websites always have hotlines, and maybe Planned Parenthood does too if you are more comfortable there. Keep contacting organizations until you find the one that is the right fit for your needs. It is a very difficult conversation to work through, I bet your current therapist is just not up to the task. I doubt you will be able to move forward and cherish you sweet baby until you are able to counsel through this very difficult start to your pregnancy.

  13. Elizabeth Sep 14 at 2:40 pm Reply Reply

    I’m so sorry that you are going through this, but I’m so happy that you are able to take a step back and recognize that something is wrong. In my case, I was over the moon happy to get pregnant, had a supportive husband, and then little by little sank into this funk that lasted until my baby was born. This was my first pregnancy, andIt was so easy to blame it on morning sickness, hormones, or just being tired. By about 20 weeks, I was barely functioning on a daily level. God love my husband, he tried to be supportive, but I was an insanely frustrating person to be around at that point in my life. I wasn’t working, and couldn’t muster up the energy to do much of anything. I didn’t feel much of a connection to the baby, and thinking about meeting her made me anxious and not excited. 

    Let me tell you though, that these feelings 100 percent do not have to last forever. Within a few weeks of giving birth, it was like somebody lifted a curtain in front of me, and I could start to see clearly again. I recognized myself, and fell in love with my little girl. I wish I could give you a step by step guide to feeling right again, but the best I can offer is that you will make it through to the other side. It may not happen right away, but put together a team (including a new therapist…because seriously not ok that you’re at this point and he/she isn’t more concerned) that will help you get there.

  14. Autumn Sep 15 at 1:26 am Reply Reply

    First, interwebs hugs!

    Second, congratulations on reaching out and more “hugs”

    My daughter was very planned but even so when that little stick had the 2 lines, my first thought was what the stupid thing did we do.  Talk to your doctor.  If he/she tries to brush things off, show them the links that others have provided and say you have a problem (now we are on a 12 step program. . . but not really that different).  Find a new therapist who specializes in women’s health/post partum.   Your condition is serious but treatable.  And you have made the greatest leap so far, you asked Amalah for help.  You will be an awesome mom!  

    the other thing I offer is my dad’s stress management technique.  Breathe in deeply, and then out, saying “calm in, tension out.”  Slowly and easily.  (BTW my dad is an engineer. . .but this really helps me focus on my down days) 

  15. Kim Sep 15 at 11:25 pm Reply Reply

    The one thing I want to add to everyone else’s good advice is that it absolutely does not matter how your child is born, as long as you get a healthy baby.  We can work toward and hope for a natural birth with no interventions, but any way that baby gets out is ok.  If you need an epidural, or pitocin, or a C-section – ll of that pales next to a healthy child. 

    I hate when women think they’ve somehow failed because they didn’t have a “natural” birth.  There is no failure in childbirth.  NONE.

  16. Tara Sep 16 at 12:16 pm Reply Reply

    Yes yes yes! My pregnancy was not a surprise at all – totally planned, totally wanted, but still, I haaaaaaaaaaaated being pregnant, was filled with doubt, totally lost my sense of self worth, had zero intimacy with my husband, all of it. I got so upset when people *pressed* me to be excited. I got even more upset when no one would allow me to vent/complain, like that made me the most evil sub-human in existence. I also very much wanted a natural birth, and ended up with a scheduled C section. And it was…totally fine! And as soon as my daughter was out of me, every single upsetting thing went away. No kidding. It feels like forever, but it really isn’t!

  17. MR Sep 16 at 3:12 pm Reply Reply

    ((Hugs)) Everyone has had really good advice. I wanted to add a little piece about birth. OP, you said baby was in bad position, and that is making you dread the natural birth you wanted. I am so sorry! Hopefully baby will turn, and all will work out great. In case a cesarean ends up being necessary, please check out the natural cesarean (http://youtu.be/m5RIcaK98Yg). It has a lot of lovely ideas on how to make a cesarean more family friendly so you don’t miss out on some of the things you probably were looking forward to with a natural birth. Talk to your dr about incorporating as many of these ideas as you want. Also make sure your doctor does double-layer sutures, so you will be a great candidate for vbac if you have more children later.

  18. shelly Sep 17 at 3:48 am Reply Reply

    First and most importantly, the main objective of pregnancy is a live baby. Not a “birth experience”. At the end of the day no one gives a rats behind about whether or not you had natural, c section etc. The first primary and only goal is whoh. Live baby. Stop thinking about the “birth experience”. Then take a deep breath and go
    “wow my entire life is about to change and yes it is OK to freak the fuck out.” We do not all have a magical fairy dust unicorn filled pregnancy. It is OK to hate, loatl abhore and have visions of the movie Aliens while pregnant. I am not a good pregnant lady. I hate being pregnant. I lov adore and am amazed daily by my children. It. Is OK to hate being pregnant. No one will say it out loud. But pregnancy sucks. The prize at the end however is totally worth the wait.

    • Amy Sep 17 at 9:19 pm Reply Reply

      Hey now. Maybe *you* didn’t give a “rat’s behind” about how you got your babies out, but giving birth is a) a MAJOR thing happening to your body and b) a MAJOR change happening in your life. I think it’s perfectly natural to want those things to happen in a way that you find safe, comfortable, and in accordance with the way you try to live your life, and to try to make plans to that end. Sure, it may or may not work out that way, but let’s not tell people they’re doing something wrong to have preferences! I am wishing the OP a birth experience where she feels safe, supported, and informed, whatever that turns out to be.

      • MR Sep 18 at 11:10 pm Reply Reply

        Thank you for that, Amy! Shelly, I am sure you were well intentioned, however, saying that the only thing that matters is a live baby is completely, utterly dismissive of the mom. Baby is NOT all that matters. A healthy baby at the expense of mom is NOT the goal. A healthy baby AND mom are the goal. And in order to get a healthy, happy momma she has to feel respected. Dismissing her feelings about her birth is disrespectful. If a positive birth experience matters to her, then it MATTERS. Her feelings are her feelings and they are never wrong. You can say that the birth experience doesn’t matter to YOU, but you cannot think and feel for OP or for anyone else. And quite frankly, enough studies have been done to show that PPD is higher after cesareans and birth trauma, and PPD affects momma AND baby, so birth experience matters according to SCIENCE. Please do not tell a woman who has reached out for help because she is depressed about her upcoming birth that birth doesn’t matter. 

  19. Sam M Sep 17 at 10:38 am Reply Reply

    Hello. I just wanted to write in and let you know how incredibly proud of you I am. I’m 29, 38 weeks pregnant, and in graduate school as well and I’m just a little bit emotional while writing this response because- wow, I totally understand another side of this for you, which is the complete professional stress and fear you must be feeling. Our pregnancy was planned, but I don’t think I suspected how much my emotions would swing to abject fear and just well, sad, during this pregnancy (in the last week I’m been pretty much the most horrible human to be around ever). Along with all the usual (or I assume usual) pregnancy anxiety, the academic portion of the event is at times so depressing/rage inducing that I can hardly deal. And part of that fear, the fear of professional issues and what I’ve done and chosen and if I can even do this, gets transferred onto my mate because he didn’t have to carry the baby, didn’t have to put his career on hold for even a little while, doesn’t have problems getting out of bed or concentrating on work, his colleagues can’t see his physical manifestation of a choice (he’s 3 years post doc). It affects him, but not the same and when you do the same job and you’re working towards similar goals it’s so easy to transfer your fear and stress onto him. Echoing everyone else on this string of comments, get help! But to add something, get help not just from professionals who deal with pregnancy and depression, but seek out help from your campus counselors or advisors that can give you advice on balancing your graduate work with your family life. Nothing has helped me more than several older female academics at conferences who have offered advice and personal narratives about working in our field with a child. While it might not seem that different than other fields, it really can be (for good and bad reasons) and confronting our fears about post natal changes is important. Your campus should also have a support system, including childcare options you can already be looking into  for graduate students, that might help to calm a few of your fears or make you feel proactive on days that you just feel like screaming from the trudging through mental sludge. You’re awesome and you’re not alone. 

  20. mart Sep 18 at 5:03 am Reply Reply

    Hello, I am 26 weeks pregnant and my feelings are pretty mixed. Sometimes I am happy, sometimes I feel like shit. I want the baby, the whole thing was planned, but this 40week experience is terrible, although I don’t have any health problems… I sometimes feel like everything I used to love about my life is over. It is a big change. But millions of women did it before us, we will have to do it too… Just try to survive it and it will be ok again. I believe so.

  21. J Sep 24 at 12:33 pm Reply Reply

    Pregnancy was absolutely the most miserable time of my life. It was planned but I’m 36 and we were so ready for it to take a while that getting pregnant the first month really threw us- by the time we told people we were trying, I was already pregnant and didn’t know it! Add relationship problems, work stress, gaining weight and getting bigger than I ever thought I could, horrific acne, and feeling like an elephant in a glass house for TEN months and it just all around sucked. My pregnancy ended with an awesome 2 1/2 weeks of extended contractions and pre-labor that went nowhere and a scheduled induction at 41 weeks. The week before that my mantra was was “in six days they harvest the beast from my belly, but I do not know if it will be torn from my body or cut from my flesh.” My husband didn’t like to hear that. I cried every day for the life I used to have that this kicking, squirming thing inside of me had taken away. But now my baby is 2 1/2 months and seriously she is the most awesome thing ever, my relationship is getting back on track, my skin cleared up instantly and the weight is *almost* all the way gone. Everything is different but the things I used to enjoy have been replaced with other stuff that’s way, way better. I think during my pregnancy the real changes and fears were coupled with hormonal problems that were actually impossible to handle. My biggest fear was not knowing who I would be after the baby came, would this baby destroy me and my life, and the best thing has been seeing and knowing that despite how things change and how I might change with them I’m still me. It’s hard to describe but I believe it will be the same for you.

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