Looking back on my two pregnancies, I realize that my first pregnancy was much smoother sailing, compared to my second pregnancy, both physically and mentally.
It is bizarre how different each pregnancy can be.
I was pretty even keel while pregnant with my son.
I was much moodier with my daughter.
I gained almost the same amount of weight with both kids – about fifty pounds; however, I was sick a lot more frequently while pregnant with my daughter. Granted, my toddler son is in daycare and blesses me with all of his lovely sicknesses that he brings home.
Pregnancy – Physically
I was slammed with illnesses during my second pregnancy.
I almost always had something.
It was ridiculous.
I can laugh looking back with how often I was sick.
In my first trimester, I developed a staph infection on my ankle.
About a month later, I developed a fever and debilitating body aches, which landed me up in the emergency room.
Blood work showed that mono had been reactivated.
I had about a good run for a month or so.
Then, I got the stomach flu.
I remember driving my son to school, thinking I was about to have a morning sickness episode. I immediately had to pull over as I projectile vomitted into a garbage bag, that I thankfully brought with me (Hallelujah). It was in fact not morning sickness. It lasted for two days.
I frequently experienced morning sickness and vertigo episodes throughout the day. Being in the car was difficult because I would get car sick unless I was the one driving.
I had several other colds throughout my pregnancy. But thanks to pregnancy brain (yes, it is really a thing, and still a thing after giving birth), I cannot remember them all.
Pregnancy – Mentally
Mentally, I was very blessed during my first pregnancy, especially because I have a history of anxiety and depression.
My second pregnancy was much more challenging.
I struggled with more anxiety and agitation.
My depression was much more present.
I was frequently on edge.
My obsessive compulsive disorder was very active.
I was obsessively vacuuming our apartment.
I know it sounds funny.
Sometimes it is.
Sometimes it is not funny, at all.
I would become extremely distressed over a crumb on the floor, or if I hadn’t vacuumed in a few hours (yes, hours).
I ended up leaving the vacuum out and plugged in so it was easily available.
My son would want to play, and I would, but I was also very distracted over having to vacuum (Not always, but more than I would have liked to be).
My husband would receive the brunt of my overwhelmed feelings.
I felt terrible.
My OCD had been much more manageable prior to this pregnancy.
To add to the fire, I chose to lower the dose of the SSRI in my third trimester. This medication had always been very helpful at managing my obsessive compulsive disorder.
The dose of the SSRI was lowered because my psychiatrist informed me that there may be a possible link between babies born with respiratory issues and the maternal use of SSRI’s. With this knowledge, I chose to lower my medication.
I did not think I would notice much of a difference in my mental status, but unfortunately, I was wrong. I became even more irritable, anxious and obsessive than my pregnancy was already making me.
Thankfully, it was only one trimester of my lowered dose, so I frequently had to remind myself, and my husband, that it was just a temporary adjustment. I was doing it for our baby.
After giving birth to Elizabeth, I was able to immediately return my medication to my previous dose. I thought I would start to feel better.
However, I struggled with the baby blues for about three weeks, which was very scary for me because I was not aware that it was a thing. Because of this, I thought I was sinking into postpartum depression. I was doubly upset and nervous over this thought and very real possibility. ( I struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety about five months after having my son).
I never went through the baby blues when I gave birth to my son.
After talking with my OB and dear friend, who is also an OB NP, I learned more about the baby blues.
It is common to cry.
I would sit in bed, especially at night, and just sob.
I felt so sad.
It was a terrible feeling.
I would become very anxious with nighttime approaching because I knew that was when I frequently had bouts of sadness.
Rationally, I knew there was nothing to be sad about – I just had a beautiful, healthy baby girl, but I just could not prevent the tears from coming.
I had to remind myself, and my husband, that it was hormonal imbalance.
Thankfully, after about three weeks my baby blues passed.
I finally started to feel better.
I was returning to my mental status prior to pregnancy.
It has been almost four months since the birth of Elizabeth. I am so blessed that my mental health is stable.
Mental health is e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.
Unfortunately, our society does not address it very well.
It should be nothing to be ashamed of; however, our society makes people feel that way.
Struggling with mental illness does not make you less of a person.
It might be a part of your story, but it does not have to define you or consume your life.
I feel like myself again.
I wish more mothers talked about their pregnancy experience(s), both physically and mentally.
Yes, I still get anxious.
Yes, I still get obsessive.
But, it is extremely less and manageable.
My depression has lifted again.
I feel that pregnancy, and the possible struggles that it comes with, are not discussed enough.
I felt very alone.
I am grateful for the support from my husband, parents, in-laws, and Patricia that helped guide and support me when I was having a difficult time.