Mar 15, 2011

Antepartum Depression: Stopping The Tears

Antepartum Depression: Do you have it? How to cope with it.

I'm not going to delay or postpone this any further. It's time for me to be open. For the past few weeks I have been slipping into a deep antepartum depression.

It's hard to believe that for eight months my husband and I had tried desperately to conceive this child. We had been waiting, hoping, praying and then it happened... in November of 2010, two pink lines confirmed what we had been wanting for months. We were going to have our second child.

Joy to Gloom
However, over the past month my joy has turned to gloom. I've found myself weeping uncontrollably night after night. One evening I cried for almost four hours. I used over one and a half boxes of tissue to blow my nose and wipe my tears. This tearful episode ended with a massive nosebleed which had to be handled with toilet paper as I had used up all the tissue in the house. Comical in retrospect but in the moment I knew that something was horribly wrong with me.

Guilt
My husband had been aware of these bouts of tears. He is such a supportive and wonderful husband. He offered more help, more chocolate, more time for listening but this was not enough. His caring, gentle demeanor made me feel guilty. I felt guilt that he has to be married to a monster like me, guilt that I couldn't snap out of this funk, and guilt that I am not an ideal wife.

Moreover, on a few occasions my daughter has witnessed my breakdowns. She is only three years old. She of course doesn't understand what's wrong with her mommy. She would try to help by getting a band-aid, by holding her pretend stethoscope to my head, or she would simply hug me. The fact that she has witnessed these outbursts has also overwhelmed me with guilt. I don't want my daughter to see me this way. I don't want her to have memories of a depressed mom.

In one of my distressed moments I actually wished I had never gotten pregnant. If I weren't pregnant I could be the good wife and mother that I was before this pregnancy. Needless to say, I was the first person to emotionally beat up myself for having such awful thoughts. I remember thinking:
What's wrong with me? I've waited so long for this baby, how could I ever wish such a terrible thing? I don't deserve to be the mother to this child, a mother to my daughter, or a wife to my husband. I don't deserve them and they don't deserve this life with me.
Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. The never-ending spiral of guilt. The worse thing is that it becomes a vicious cycle... the more guilt I would feel, the more depressed I would become, which would result in more guilt.

The Breakdown
Last Wednesday I went to my Ob-Gyn. I had no intention of sharing these feelings with her. However, a routine examination turned into a complete emotional breakdown. She was concerned that if these emotions aren't resolved before I give birth, I would have higher chances of slipping into a postpartum depression. She suggested that I try to relax more. She also said that we could try antidepressants but that she would prefer to keep that particular mode of treatment as a last resort. I don't want to be on antidepressants while pregnant! So what am I to do?

Why Me?
My doctor told me there are a few reasons why I could be going through this: 
  • The emotions of trying so hard for a baby and having a miscarriage back in July could be all hitting now that my hormones are out of whack.
  • The irregular heartbeat I developed as a result of this pregnancy has made me fearful of sleeping, which can also have a great impact on my emotions.
  • Stress from work.
  • Fatigue.
  • This long, cold, and dreadful winter.
  • I am juggling being a working mom and wife while dealing with the extra hormones and emotions that pregnancy brings.
  • I could be carrying a boy (which for some women creates extra havoc with their hormones).

Sharing
My doctor also helped me realize how much I've withdrawn from friends and family over the past couple of weeks. I am sure that social isolation doesn't help when one is facing depression. So over the past few days I have been sharing my emotions with my family and a few friends. And today, I am sharing this with you.

Recovering
In sharing these feelings with my family I have already started to feel better. They have offered some tremendous suggestions. As a result of their help, I'm resting more, doing things I love (i.e. yoga), eating delicious "mood foods", and making an effort to get out of the house every day. I must say, as I write this I am struggling with an all-out chest cold. I should be glum, I physically feel like crap, but emotionally I feel good. This is a feeling I haven't had for a long time and I have been tear-free since Friday.

What I've Learned
I never knew that antepartum depression existed. Apparently 10 - 20% of expecting mothers encounter some form of depression during their pregnancy. Moreover, 10% of all pregnancies result in postpartum depression. We hear a lot about postpartum depression but what about antepartum depression? It seems like the statistics are just as alarming.

I have also learned that there's a lot of public expectations and stigma around pregnant women. As pregnant women, we are supposed to be happy, glowing and delighted in the fact that we are bringing life into the world. These societal pressures only add to the guilt we feel when we aren't exactly feeling the way we're "supposed" to be feeling. There is also a stigma around the emotions a woman feels while she's pregnant. Her feelings are often dismissed as "regular" pregnancy hormones. Such misconceptions can lead to more depression and increased isolation.

I don't know if my struggles are over. I will continue to make a conscientious effort to find joy in my days and in my life. I do know that I can look forward to meeting this little person who is growing inside of me... the kicks I feel serve as a constant reminder that I am one day closer to meeting my new son/daughter. I also know that if my state of depression persists, there are other treatments I can explore. But for now, one day at a time. That's all I can do.
I just read about Antepartum #Depression by @DeliberateMom - Seek help if you're depressed. #pregnancy
UPDATE: If you're interested in seeing an update about my antepartum depression, CLICK HERE.

References
American Pregnancy. (2011). http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/depressionduringpregnancy.html

Wrong Diagnosis (2011) http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/p/postpartum_depression/stats.htm


22 comments:

  1. keep talking about it! There are lots of supports out in the blogworld...always people out there to talk to :-)
    Well done you for talking to your dr too...as mums we try so hard to be everything to everyone, but sometimes our bodies are just in charge and don't let us be perfect. Can't help the hormones, but can help by not bottling it up and pretending like it's not happening.
    I read this post recently
    http://robecriluto.com/five-quick-tips-to-soothe-anxiety-away/
    really great suggestions! Hop over and have a look...
    and don't let anyone tell you to just pull yourself together!!!
    xxxCate

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  2. So sorry you've been going through this. Never feel that you have to go through it alone, that's what your friends are for - just e-mail or call me anytime :)

    I struggle with guilt, enough that I've been to talk to a therapist over it. She told me I have an 'abnormally high guilt complex' so I really do understand your feelings of guilt. And as for G seeing you cry, it's going to happen over the years and if anything it will help her to see you as a whole person who feels a multitude of emotions.

    I wish moms felt safer to express their thoughts and feelings and know that so many other moms have been through something similar. I'm glad you posted this, it will help other moms feel safe to do the same :)

    HUGS!!!

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  3. Cate: Thanks so much for the caring words and the link to Beet's blog... she has shared some very helpful tips.

    Jody: The depression is hard but I think the guilt I feel is worse. I hope this posting helps other moms too.

    I heal through writing... so writing this posting was an important step for me to take.

    Thanks again ladies. Words of encouragement, wisdom, and cyber hugs are always a spirit-lifter.

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  4. Visiting as a fellow Warrior Mom from Postpartum Progress :)

    Great post - I love the honesty. I think I suffered from this to a degree as well, but didn't ever do anything about it. A few months after my son was born I ended up with postpartum depression and I'm still dealing with it almost 3 years later.

    I started my blog in January and writing about it has really helped me too.

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  5. After 2 miscarriages, my husband and I became pregnant. I was 39 years old and over joyed. I ended up with a severe case of postpartum depression. My symptoms were similar to yours. I hope all goes well for you.

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing this. It's so great that your doctor recognized the signs and symptoms of your antepartum depression. Mine missed them and ended up with a case of PPD so severe that 3 years later I am still struggling to get it under control.

    I am glad that everything worked out for you and your family!

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  7. I never heard of antepartum depression. However, I was not a glowing, pregnant woman, neither of the three pregnancies. In all pictures when I was pregnant, I look miserable. But, I was so sick with morning sickness for all 9 months x 3 pregnancies. The only thing good about pregnancy was that I got a baby at the end of nine months. I was not depressed, just miserable feeling. I only threw up once with each of the first two pregnancies. But, with the third pregancies, I threw up all day long, sometimes a dozen times a day, often 7 times after dinner. I was so hungry that I would eat after I threw up. Keep talking so that you will feel support from your universe.

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  8. I was depressed during my second pregnancy! I found having a second baby didn't matter to anyone else, that people weren't as joyous and excited. I didn't even have a baby shower for him. It just didn't seem fair to the little dude. Since my kids were 11 months apart, people thought that my pregnancy was an accident and that we wouldn't be happy about it. But it was planned. It made me very upset.

    Then I started to feel guilty. Guilty that I gave my oldest the short hand of the stick for not allowing him to be an only child longer. He was only 11 weeks old when I got pregnant.

    But you get through it and feel on top of the world with all the wonderful emotions going through your soul! So much love, so much appreciation!

    Please keep talking about it! It will help!

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  9. Hey lady, I cant remember how I found your blog but I'm so glad I did!

    I am a fellow depressionista and let me tell you what can help:

    -get outside as much as possible! It doesnt matter if it's cold, if it is sunny, get yourself out there. Sunshine helps, promise.

    -keep talking to people. I know its hard. It's still hard for me to talk to people about it, and they all KNOW I have depression already! But talking about it will not only lift the load off your shoulders, but it will let them know to keep an eye on you.

    -Find a therapist. Start seeing someone with a PhD that can help you "think" your way out of this.

    -If you do all of these things and still dont feel better (which is a GREAT possibility, because you have a chemical imbalance in your brain right now) you need to go ahead and get on some kind of medication. Do not be afraid that it will make you weak, or a bad mom, or hurt your baby. The benefits greatly outweigh the risks!

    I'm proud of you for being so open. And keep us updated!

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  10. I relate with so much that you write!! I was in the hospital with my daughter 2 months before she wss born. Sometimes, it helps to know there are others out there that relate and know exactly or somewhat how you feel. Good LUCK!

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  11. I'm very sorry to hear this. I'll be thinking of you and hoping that you will pull through. I read an autobiography by Marie Osmond who suffered from this too and maybe meeting others going through the same thing would help. Acupuncture helps to regulate hormones and massage gets things moving and improves your spirit. Talk to a professional as well. Healthy people seek help and you are doing something about this now. That's a great beginning towards recovery--though I'm no expert on the matter, just concerned.

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  12. HI...I just wanted to tell you that I am going thru this as well. I finally looked on the internet to see if there is such a thing as pregnant ladies going thru what I am going thru and its unreal to see that there really is! All the symtoms...suicidal, anxiety, etc.

    I broke down this past Friday. {It started from the night before as I was washing a bottle for my son and I asked my husband to help keep an eye on our son. I was taking a little longer than normal to make his bottle, so my husband let the baby walk on over to where I was in the kitchen. When I saw the baby, he crawled up to me and was tugging on my shorts and lost balance, he almost fell on his head. Both my hands were soapy because I was still washing the bottle. So I raised my voice to my husband to get the baby because I am busy still...and my husband gets all irritated because he has to get the baby and he raises his voice saying why the heck am I taking too long to make a bottle and fill it with milk?! So I tell him the reason why and also I tell him he shouldn't be upset to watch his own son! Next thing you know my husband tells me to shutup, and then I tell him to shutup and he goes to the room and I am all pissed off!!!}

    The next day came (friday) and all kinds of thoughts were coming into my head. Thoughts of suicide, not being a good mom, not being a good wife, hopelessness, loneliness, giving up, thinking that no one would miss me anyway and many many thoughts. It almost felt like I was in a deep barrel looking up and I could not see light and I was sufficating majorly...almost like I was dieing slowly but fast...drowning trying to get up for air. I cried and cried and even thought of when I give birth and baby doesn't make it, it would be okay because it's my fault anyway. I am 9 months pregnant, due December 29th, 2011 to my fourth child. I have 2 girls, 1 boy and another boy on his way. Our oldest is 8, then 2, then 1 (just made 1 on thanksgiving) and I am due this month. I didn't realize but this whole year has been hard for me and I been letting things go and not worry about it and whatever...but that Friday, It was as if every thing came back again and suffocated me for I felt it was the hardest day of my life! I ended up calling my Aunty to talk. It was really good to talk with her. I felt better. I think I spoke to 3 people that day! They all helped me get out of that deep hole I felt I was stuck in. Yesterday, (saturday), I had some bravery to speak with my husband...but I could only share a little. I only shared with him how I felt like I am not a good mom or good wife and even more so when our 4th child will be born. I didn't share with him the rest of how I was feeling and still am. I know that this is Antepartum Depression that I am going thru and I don't want that to creep up on me that hard again. I am scared this time that something bad will happen to me. I told myself I will talk to someone right away! But the thing is, I don't know when it will creep up?! I am trying to think positive and usually I really am a strong woman of faith, but this one got the best of me! I have so much to say but I will stop here.

    Thank you for sharing!

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  13. Anonymous,
    Please talk to someone.... You need to express your feelings and confide in someone.
    I'm praying for you.

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  14. I can relate to so much of what you wrote as I'm going through the same thing as witnessed by my long-suffering husband and two-year-old boy. Thank you for sharing!

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  15. I am so glad to hear people talking about this!

    I suffered from SEVERE antepartum depression with my first pregnancy and now, at 32 weeks, I am slipping again...I know that this is something hormonal or biological because it is such a profoundly deep and unwarranted sort of depression. Everything seems dark and lonely right now...colors have lost their brightness, foods have lost their taste. Every little sound annoys me and I can't see the good in anything. I have only managed to gain 7 lbs this pregnancy and am losing weight rapidly because I cannot even gather the energy to eat.

    I wish doctors wouldn't be so dismissive about what I am experiencing. They seem to think it is situational and it really isn't. I hope this isn't going to lead to a major postpartum crisis because I don't know how much more of this I can take.

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  16. I just recently found your blog and am reading up. I'm so sorry to hear about this. I, too went through this. Thank you for sharing. I don't think I realized how devastating it would be and it was difficult to process. My family was very supportive, but I don't think they could truly understand. I really wish I had found this post then. Again, thank you for sharing it.

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  17. I'm worried I have ante partum depression. I had PPD after my beautiful daughter was born two years ago and suffered from a high risk pregnancy with many scares and c section and ante partum anxiety. Now with a toddler in the terrible twos I find her constant screaming and shrieking unbearable and hopeless about my ability to conquer this strong willed child. I'm in my second trimester and fell very alone. I have a childhood history of abuse, divorce and abandonment and have another high risk pregnancy. My husband is the best. He is starting to become resentful of my "attitude" and is shutting down. What should I do please help!!!

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  18. I am so glad you're sharing this. Although I never spoke to a doctor about it I had this same thing. I cried probably 90% of my pregnancy, for hours, for no reason. My husband was at a loss. I didn't know what to do. I am normally a very social person and I didn't want to see anyone. I would feel guilty about being miserable. My cousin, who has been trying to have a baby for a lot longer than me had a miscarriage midway through her pregnancy which made me feel even guiltier about how crappy I was feeling because I knew I should be thankful.

    The good news is that as soon as I had my baby I snapped out of it and I didn't deal with postpartum depression... I didn't even have the baby blues! It's like I got all my emotional instability out while I was pregnant... so there is hope :)

    Anyway I'm so thankful you're sharing your story because I didn't talk about it when I was dealing with it and it only hurt me more to bottle it all up.

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  19. Jennifer thank you so much for sharing the link to this post on my blog. I cried reading it because it explains so much of what I'm feeling. I appreciate you sharing and reaching out so very much!- Sarah

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  20. I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time. I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find that very useful.COMBATING DEPRESSION

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  21. I'm 34 weeks with my third. The antepartum idea confused me, because I've fought depression my whole life. It occurred to me that this wasn't one of my usual episodes though, when I was able to explain what I felt. Normally, I can't even begin to explain. Right now it's all guilt, regret and dread, and it's almost all family related. I wish I had a positive thought to end on, but I don't have a positive thought.

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  22. i'm 31 weeks pregnant, and this post along with the comments really helped me. i had a miscarriage in April of 2009, before i even knew i was pregnant, and the sea of emotions that came along with it left me with a Profound Sense of Loss and Devastation. ever since then, i've felt so Empty, and also Jealous, Angry, and Resentful toward people who had kids, though i hid it so well that customers would often ask if i had little ones of my own. i'm 23 now, and ever since my miscarriage when i was 18, it seems that everyone i know has gotten pregnant and carried to term. i ached for a child so much that it hurt. my current partner was under the impression that he couldn't have kids, as he was told 9 years ago after a bad skateboarding accident, so we weren't careful at all, but we also weren't expecting to get pregnant. it only took him about an hour after i showed him the pregnancy test to accept it, and ever since then, he's been so excited and supportive, while i've been nauseous, hungry, and so emotional that i get on my own nerves more than i get on his nerves. now i'm getting stretch marks, and the aesthetic doesn't bother me at all; i've been of the opinion for a long time that pregnant bellies and post-pregnancy bellies were beautiful. the problem is that it HURTS, it feels like my stomach is ripping open all the time. i feel no joy when i see baby stuff, all i feel is fear. we just moved into a wonderful new home that is, in my mind, completely perfect. i'm having a baby with a wonderful, supportive man whom i love dearly, and who loves me, and with whom i would love to spend the rest of my life because we get along so well. this is everything i've wanted (except for my career) for almost my entire life. so why am i not happy? aha! antepartum depression! i didn't even know this existed until tonight. i've been feeling so guilty, so ashamed, of the resentment and the fear that i feel, and the fact that my partner only held me, offered to get me chocolate, tried to talk to me, and then left me alone when i said i didn't want to talk, only made me feel more like a terrible person. i felt like i didn't deserve him, and like he certainly didn't deserve someone like me, and this post gives me hope. all i could find online prior to this were posts by pregnant women who weren't still with their baby's father, so all the feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and resentfulness were blamed solely on that. i'm really glad that i found this post, because now i can admit to these feelings without feeling so ashamed, because i know that i'm not alone, and i can work on getting help. thank you so much, Deliberate Mom.

    - amethyst -

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