Firstly, this is my personal experience, by no means am I insinuating your experience will mirror mine. However, I’m sharing because for a good portion of my pregnancy, I felt completely isolated and unsupported. I’m able to write this now from an all around better place, with hopes that it can help some of you who’ve had a similar experience.
Starting from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I wish I could tell you I was overwhelmed with joy, which I eventually was. But in all honesty, I was overwhelmed with anxiety. Coming off a personally challenging 2015, I was terrified at the thought of bringing a second child into the world, at least my world. This wasn’t my first time around and I knew very well the challenges that came with having a child. That day I sat in deep thought...I thought about the mistakes I’d made with my son Chase. I thought about how this would effect him, there’s no science to all this, but I believe most parents don’t want to make the same mistakes twice. Don’t get me wrong, having a baby is such a blessing, but it was less about her, and more about how the surrounding circumstances felt a little like deja vu.
I was 24 when Chase was born, never thinking that at 31 I’d be at all in a similar place as I was back then. As I reflected that day, I was like shit!!!! I’d just “officially” moved in with the guy I’m dating, I still hadn't made the career moves I wanted to make, I’m figuring out how to navigate in this new environment, and now a baby. You may read that and say, “what’s the problem?” Well the problem was everything I’d known in my adult life had changed, I was re-learning who I was and it was scary at that point not to have it figured out. Much like me at 24.
Going through my first trimester was extremely difficult. Physically my body had a seamless transition, no sickness, I was a little tired but overall pretty perfect in that regard. But mentally, I was suffering from an extremely bad case of antepartum depression. I was having severe mood swings and it was difficult for me because I’d never experienced something like this. I’m so use to being able to keep it together and the people around me were use to the same. So when you experience something like antepartum depression it almost feels unbearable.
I’m really against most medications, after speaking with my doctor about the risks associated with medicating to treat my depression, I opted not to. So where did that leave me? It left me to figure things out on my own. I’ll discuss the things that really saved me from breaking down in Friday’s podcast. So for now I’ll continue going through each trimester.
The biggest takeaway from the first trimester of my pregnancy journey was, only I could really will myself to defeat my depression. I did a lot of research, I had to first understand what I was dealing with, I then decided to write down the negative feelings/effects the depression was having on my life. The next step was to fight the impulses that triggered those feelings. I can tell you the wrong thing to do is place your battle in someone else's hands. You have to claim that it’s your battle to fight, and take ownership of that no matter how difficult it is. That’s the first step, did I need support, absolutely, but I didn’t always get it. So in those times, my will was the only weapon I had to fight it. Many days left me in tears, but I had to keep in mind that this was temporary and that the baby being healthy was most important. So I grinded out the first trimester even though it wasn’t pretty.
Moving onto my second trimester, gradually I began to feel better. My energy level increased, as they say it does. I kept thinking thank God, this journey has taken a turn for the better!! So many amazing things happened in my second trimester. I had a wonderful trip to Europe with friends. I found out I was having a baby girl, and all the work I was putting into stabilizing my mental state was becoming effective. This trimester was really important because unlike my first, these positive experiences, gave me the confidence I needed to handle the challenges I faced during this time.
The biggest challenge that became apparent in my second trimester, but was something that had been ongoing for quite some time, was the health of my relationship. I’d be curious to know the perspective of men going through pregnancy. It’s not often talked about but I think it’s a critical component to the pregnancy experience. In my case, as I mentioned, we’d just moved in together. Prior to the baby we were navigating through ups and downs as all relationships do. But in this trimester, we had quite a few challenges around how we were supporting each other. Let me just say, there’s a lot I don’t get about men, and hell a lot I don’t wish to understand. Men and women are completely different animals! Nonetheless when we come together, it’s critical that we find those mutual lines of respect and support for each other.
I’m not going to pretend that’s easy, because it’s not. And I wouldn’t believe anyone who told me it was. It’s a process, one that most likely has deep roots that existed way before you did as a couple. It’s important to understand that, it’s just as important to respond to what you both need, even when you don’t understand. I won’t get too personal but I will say this, you can do a million things you believe are important in a relationship, and it can still fail. Love is important, but even more important, in my opinion, is acting upon the things your partner communicates they need from you. If you don’t you’re in trouble. Don’t get caught up in the bullshit! Hold each other accountable, don’t make excuses, and don’t break commitments you’ve made to each other. Most importantly COMMUNICATE!!!!! If it were easy, divorce rates wouldn’t be so high lol. But honestly, the people in your home carry the true story of your life, those are the only opinions that matter. People grow and change therefore your life will grow and change. If you can’t collectively and individually find healthy ways to handle that, no matter the circumstance, you will struggle.
Because the third trimester of my pregnancy journey isn’t quite over yet. I’m going to hold off on my reflection. I’d like to experience it in its entirety and let it simmer a bit before I discuss it. I will say, I still battle with depression, but I have a much better handle on how to cope with it. It’s also not as intense as it initially was. My relationship is also still navigating through the peaks and valleys it needs to. We both want the best out of life, ourselves, and our children.
I look back now and say, how fortunate am I to have had these experiences. To have a pregnancy journey I can talk about because so many people can’t have children at all. No matter if I’m high or low, I get to travel from one place to another in this journey. What’s awaiting me at the end of it is worth more than any sacrifice I’ve had to endure along the way. Writing this I feel extremely grateful that I did. I’m not here to portray a perfect image of who I am because I don’t care to. Because I don’t believe in perfect. But I am here to say, “hey it’s ok,” we all go through these things in life. You can always visit this site to release whatever you need to. If you’re still reading, thanks for letting me release these things to you.
Photography taken when I was 20 weeks pregnant by Ksenia