Wow, time flies when you're taking care of four little people...while pregnant! Despite (or because of) all of my mediocre attempts at holy resignation about not having that fifth child any time soon....there is, indeed, a fifth child currently on backorder and due to be delivered this autumn. And despite (or because of) my intense longing for this child, it has been a dark, dark, first trimester. A few weeks ago I failed my prenatal depression screening (with flying colors) but managed to talk the OB staff into giving me two weeks to pull it together before starting medication.
Prenatal depression is something I never heard of before I heard I had it. Postpartum Depression (which I am blessed never to have experienced) gets all the attention. While pregnant (and miserable) with Maria, Bernadette and Joseph, I blamed myself for being such a wuss - I was disgusted with myself for allowing a little physical discomfort to send me into such emotional darkness. I thought it was just immense self-pity. I thought it was an inability to suffer well through nausea, vomiting, fatigue, sleeplessness, hyperactive bladder, painful veins, physical awkwardness (and the 24/7 discomfort of late pregnancy). I thought I was REALLY pathetic. I was ashamed of myself and envious/skeptical of women who seemed to breeze through pregnancy with such chipper spirits.
It wasn't until I was pregnant with James that I even started to wonder if it could be "real" depression. I'd heard so much about Postpartum Depression - I finally began to wonder if it had a cousin who attacked before birth and departed in the Labor and Delivery Suite. I certainly had never heard anything about it before - but I did begin to suspect it might exist. It wasn't until my midwife diagnosed me with prenatal depression a month or two prior to James' due date that someone else confirmed that suspicion. But still....I wasn't sure I "really" had it. I still wondered if I was just a wuss. A big, selfish, immature, pathetic wuss.
I also wondered if perhaps it was because I was always pregnant alone. Rich and I have moved so many times (seven times during our eight married years) that, despite an amazing network of call-on-the-phone girlfriends, I have always been bereft of physical, in-the-flesh community during the magnificently uncomfortable third trimester of every single pregnancy. While "third trimester pregnant" with Maria and James, I literally had not a single friend in town yet - that's how newly moved we were. When entering my infamously sad third trimesters with Bernadette and Joseph, I did have wonderful women around me, but I had known them so briefly - just a few months - that it was too hard to be so real about how I was coping (or failing to cope).
But this time was going to be different. There are so many great women around me this time, women I have known well for over a year and with whom I can be very real. Plus, I was going to brace myself to suffer heroically. I knew it would come, so I was reading the outstanding Diary of Elisabeth Leseur for inspiration and tips on how to suffer physical discomfort with valor. I was praying in advance. I was letting my friends know that I might need a little extra company over the next few months. I was totally prepared to fight my pathetic-ness and win. And then....I had a little nausea, a teeny bit of fatigue - just enough to reassure me that I was really pregnant but not enough to even inconvenience me - and I crashed harder than ever before. With no physical suffering at all. And only then did I realize I was blaming myself for something totally out of my control.
As the first trimester now draws to an end, I feel much more like my old self. I had assured the kind women at the OB office that I was usually f-i-n-e during the second trimester and they agreed to give me a few weeks to prove it. They also did some blood work and found some vitamin deficiencies - which means that supplements might possibly get me to the point that I can handle whatever the third trimester throws at me. Maybe. If at all possible, I want to avoid medication because of the possible adverse effects on this unborn child. However, there will be definite adverse effects on all four "born" children under this roof - and, more abundantly, upon their wonderful father - if this third trimester is anything like some of the dark trimesters of the past. I take both considerations seriously.
I wanted to write this post because I never knew about prenatal depression until recently - and it would have made my husband and children MUCH happier if I had known about it years ago. Maybe now someone else who needed to know about it knows too..... Her husband and children can thank me by praying for me :)