In the early weeks of my first pregnancy, I braced myself for the misery of morning sickness.
At six weeks, when the nausea hit, it was way worse than I’d imagined. I had pictured an upset stomach, maybe a bit of vomiting in the morning. I hadn’t prepared myself for the 24/7 nausea and vomiting that seemed to consume my body, and even the thought of eating had me running to the bathroom.
I tried to find comfort in knowing that I wasn’t alone. Being in the first trimester over cold and flu season it seemed like I was constantly battling colds on top of the urge to vomit every minute of the day. It takes a toll on you, physically and mentally.
What I was completely unprepared for the was my anxiety shooting through the roof.
I had always been a “worrier.” But whatever worries or anxiety I had experienced before wasn’t anything in comparison to the panic and fears that took over my barely pregnant body.
Every day, the dreaded fear that I was going to lose my job because I was so sick I could hardly focus on getting my daily tasks completed.
The fear that something could be wrong with my developing baby because getting sick this much and this often just couldn’t be normal.
Fear that my husband was going to distance himself from me because I just wasn’t myself, and he couldn’t understand.
You see, being a mother is something I have always anticipated, almost as if God put me on this earth to love and care for a little one. Yet once these fears starting to creep up on me, I started doubting myself.
I mean how could I be a good mother if I’m already an anxious mess, right? WRONG.
What took me awhile to understand was that I wasn’t alone. The fears and anxiety taking over my body were completely normal. Being a first-time mom is a scary thing and no matter how prepared and ready you think you are, you will never be 100% ready for what’s to come.
The closer I got to my due date, the more the fear of postpartum depression started to set in. I struggled with depression a few years back and fought like crazy to pull myself out of it, so knowing it could happen again is a very real, and terrifying thing.
The hardest part is knowing the difference between postpartum depression and the average fears and anxiety most women face.
The “baby blues” is something up to 80% of women experience and it generally only lasts for about two weeks after delivery. Postpartum Depression is very different. Postpartum Depression affects up to 10% to 20% of new moms and is a full-blown clinical depression.
So how do you know if you’re battling PPD?
Some of the symptoms are similar to the baby blues such as weepiness and anxiety, as well as becoming moody and irritable. Women with PPD can lose their appetite or their ability to sleep, and panic attacks start to occur. A small number of women believe they can’t adequately care for their baby. In some extreme cases, women feel suicidal or they develop hate or aggression towards their baby.
My baby isn’t here yet, and I have no idea what struggles lie ahead, and honestly, I don’t really know if there’s a way to avoid them. You never know if you will be hit with postpartum depression or not, but you can prepare yourself before a problem occurs. I do know, that as I sit here and approach my due date, there are some things I wish someone would’ve told me as I embark on this journey.
- You are not alone. Anxiety and depression may not be as common as morning sickness, but there are so many women out there who have faced the same fears that you are facing right now, you are not alone!
- You can get help. Tell your doctor, your family and your friends. The minute you start to feel yourself slipping, talk to someone. I know you might try to tell yourself you’re ok, or you might be ashamed to talk about it, but you need to. They can all contribute to your healing. Support, counseling, exercise, sleep, maybe even medication—your doctor can help you determine what is best for you.
- You WILL feel better. When trapped in depression, we often feel hopeless, like the person you were is too far gone. But it isn’t. Good days will come again, but it will take some time, so hold on, and don’t give up.
- PRAY. Even if you aren’t the praying type, pray. Every day pray for strength. Pray for reminders that you got this and you are doing a good job.
This is just a season, and like all seasons this too shall pass. PPD does not define you, so hold on girl, you got this.