When it is More Than “Pregnancy Hormones”

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On Halloween, I received an email from a friend suggesting we change the date of a group dinner date we were trying to plan. She meant nothing by it; it was a completely valid suggestion. But I lost it. I sobbed while I made dinner. I irrationally thought I was losing my friends if this get together did not happen with at least one of them.

The next day my MiL wanted to Christmas lists and to know what everyone’s plans for the holidays are. Despite her saying she would wait until I told her what I was going to get for G for Christmas, she said she was looking into it. More of my emotional shit was lost and I spent an entire weekend sobbing and staring into space as I tried to process what battles I needed to fight there. In reality, Hubby needed to fight them and I told him so. But neither of us felt heard when the subject of Christmas presents was brought up a week later at a family dinner. I ended up fixing things, but it wasn’t something I wanted to fix.

The week of Halloween, Hubby worked late one night, he worked that Saturday, spent half the day doing yard work Sunday, worked 6am-10pm the following Monday and Tuesday. I’ve known this wacky schedule was coming, so I can’t be mad. We need the money, so I can’t be mad. I don’t want I complain to him because I don’t want him to turn down OT because being a one income family means we will be depending on it sometimes. This is one of those times.

By the time Tuesday rolled around, I was done feeling like a single parent and I had five mini breakdowns that day alone. I wanted a break, but not a little one. I wanted to leave and not come back. When Hubby called to check in that night and told me he may not be home in time for bedtime Wednesday and would have to work Saturday I broke down on the phone.

That feeling of leaving and never returning was all too familiar. It’s what I wanted to do when G was born. When I was down the rabbit hole of postpartum depression. I started wondering if I was once again staring into the darkness of that hole. Hubby asked if I was mad at him, I told him I couldn’t be. I was just tired of feeling like a single parent. Parenting is hard. Especially when you feel you’re doing it alone.

Hubby called his parents to see if they’d be able to either come over to watch G while I went to the store Saturday morning or watch him for the day if I dropped him off. They were okay with either, so I had to make the final decision.  Since I was already having a “Me Day” on Sunday so I could drive back home to see a couple of friends for lunch, I felt guilty about having an entire weekend to do what I wanted without G. But I decided to get over myself and take him to my in-laws for the day.

My weekend to myself helped. Catching up with friends helped. (So glad I’m not the only one whose in-laws stress them out over where to spend holidays and Christmas presents!) But there was the looming feeling that this break was a temporary solution to a bigger problem.

I’ve been scheduling doula consultations this week and Hubby sent my emotions spiraling again when he said he didn’t know what evenings he’d be free because he thought he’d have to work a night or two, but didn’t know which. It is what it is, but I felt panicky at the idea of spending all day with G when we don’t have much planned to break up our days.

During last month’s nurse check-in (part of my insurance’s healthy pregnancy program), I was told that those with a history of postpartum mood disorders can actually see those issues emerge during their next pregnancy. The way I’ve reacted to the events of the last couple of weeks has made me wonder if this is what’s happening to me.

Our Bradley class seems to be making me think a lot more about my pregnancy and how things will be once New Baby is born. It isn’t going to be easy. I think about how things were the first couple of months after G was born. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t pretty. The thought of doing it again, with a toddler and with no break (work was a break for me), makes me anxious and panicky. It makes me cry. It makes me want to run away.

After my series of breakdowns, I decided I had to find a therapist I meshed with before New Baby is born. Hubby and I have talked about it off and on during the last week and a half. More than likely I will not find someone I mesh with who takes our insurance. We have to be okay with that. After my disaster trying to find a therapist when we moved, I decided to ask my midwife at this week’s appointment if she had any recommendations.

My midwife has been quick to say, “Oh, every pregnancy is different, you may not have issues this time” when I’ve tried discussing my blood pressure issues with G. She’s given me the impression that I don’t need long, detailed visits because Meh, I’ve done this before.

But this week’s visit had to be different, so I went in with a half-page list of things I wanted to discuss. The first asking if she had any counselors/therapists she recommended. I handed my list to the nurse who decided to give it to my midwife to review before she came in to see me.

I had hoped that my midwife would have names, but I went in with the assumption she wouldn’t be much help. I was right. She rattled off a name but was quick to say this therapist, although very good and family oriented, was hard to get in to see. But a conversation was started — our first, I felt, since I started seeing her for my prenatal care.

My midwife asked if I had “a history” and said yes, and that I had postpartum depression after G was born and I did not want to go there again. I was scared to, especially with the number of not-so good days increasing in the last month.

So we came up with a plan. She told me to try to find a counselor through my insurance, but that as soon as New Baby comes out, Happy Pills will start going in. She seemed to understand that perinatal mood disorders are not something to mess with. She didn’t want to “wait and see” if I went to a dark place. She wasn’t interested in trying to drag me back out of there at 6 or 8 weeks postpartum. She said that if I had postpartum depression before I’d probably get it again (I know that’s not always the case, but it’s likely) and because I’d be at home with a newborn and a toddler she’d rather just start treatment as soon as New Baby was born so that hopefully by 6 or 8 weeks the antidepressants were already working. If I felt awesome after a few weeks giving birth then I could try and wean off the pill myself. If I’m still awesome great! If not, she’d have already given me a year’s prescription to help me out.

Hubby didn’t seem as happy as I was when I told him that I’d be taking antidepressants as soon as I give birth. His response was, “Then why not start now?”

Actually, my midwife said I could start now if I felt I needed to. But I don’t. I don’t think I’m quite “there” yet. I want to see if therapy helps. I’d rather not take something if I don’t have to while pregnant, and if I do I’d rather wait until closer to my due date. But she said if I changed my mind she wouldn’t argue; the benefits outweigh any risk when it comes to depression and other mood disorders.

I know some may read this and think my midwife is jumping the gun. I mean, I might not have an issue with postpartum depression this time. I get that. But the events of the last week have made me think, once again, about how I handle changes and stress. The short answer is: not well. I don’t believe I’m going to be able to emotionally handle two under two when Hubby goes back to work. I couldn’t handle one when Hubby worked 30 minutes from home. This time I’ll be home all day with two when Hubby is 1-2 hours away from home. If I’m feeling that “fight or flight” response to stress and want to fly away now, am I really going to be okay when New Baby arrives? My experiences in the past tell me no.

To me, it’s worth it to go back on my Happy Pill when New Baby arrives. It will take some of the guesswork of “Is it normal Baby Blues or is this something more?” “Should I make an appointment now or wait until my 6-week check up?” These are questions we were constantly asking ourselves after G was born. It can be hard to tell what’s normal “We’re figuring it out and it’s hard” and what’s a problem. In the end, there was a problem and I have felt guilty about those lost weeks when I was too emotionally unstable to bond and enjoy my new baby.

I can’t let it happen again.

2 thoughts on “When it is More Than “Pregnancy Hormones”

  1. I agree that it’s better to proactive about these things. Always better than trying to dig yourself out a hole later. You’re very self aware and brave for not being afraid to seek help early.

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