Pregnant women. So beautiful and serene. They glow and shine even as they waddle. The miracle of life living within them, beaming out of them.
That’s always been the vision I’ve had of pregnancy, the joy and sparkle of the expectant mom.
It took years for my husband and I to decide we were ready for children. But when we finally decided, we were all in, no turning back.
I pictured myself as that happy glowing pregnant woman feeling very zen and at peace with the world. My inner instinct told me that I’d get pregnant right away and have an easy pregnancy, not a day of morning sickness.
My instincts were proving to be right—pregnant right away, not a day of morning sickness. All was good in the world.
Until one day, it wasn’t and our first shot at parenthood was gone.
Never saw that coming.
I handled that loss with strength (or so I thought) and hardly shed a tear, but watched worriedly as it ate away at my husband.
What I didn’t know was just how much that loss would haunt me later.
Almost six months later, we were ready to try again.
Pregnant right away, not a day of morning sickness.
But before I even knew I was pregnant, something was different.
No, everything was different.
About a week or two into my pregnancy, before ever peeing on a stick, my world seemed to completely change overnight.
It was as if I woke up one morning as a completely different person.
Suddenly I could hardly drag myself out of bed and my life felt utterly worthless. Everything drained me—even taking a shower felt like an insurmountable obstacle that required all of my strength. And tears cascaded out of me endlessly, day after miserable day.
My entire world suddenly drowned in darkness and the darkness felt real and permanent. It felt like life was suddenly that bad, I was truly that worthless and times were utterly that bleak.
I obsessed over my husband leaving me and losing all of my friends because who would stand to be around this new self-loathing version of me. And I began to eat like a teenage boy with insatiable munchies, a far cry from the healthy eater I’d been for most of my adult life.
When I finally found out that I was pregnant, it only amplified my darkness.
What should have been a happy time was devoured by my fears and anxiety over losing another pregnancy.
Fears that turned into obsession.
The threat of loss attached to me like a taunting shadow. And so I stopped exercising, stopped socializing and basically stopped everything good in life as I drowned in worry, sadness and tears.
It finally came time for our first doctor’s appointment at almost eight weeks of pregnancy.
Before she could even pull up the ultrasound the tears were flowing and my legs were shaking.
And then she said something I never expected…
“Let’s look at this twin first.”
Just when I thought I had mentally accounted for any and every scenario and that there was absolutely nothing she could say to send my already emotionally-slaughtered self into a state of actual shock.
“This one is looking good, now let’s look at the next one.”
Unfortunately, that twin was not developing.
And with that my mind went blank.
All I remember after that is my husband’s first coherent question:
“Is this why my wife has been acting so crazy and eating so much?”
The doctor explained that my body still thinks it’s pregnant with twins and the elevated hormones could very well be affecting my behavior.
I’m a highly sensitive person, so the last thing I needed was a double dose of elevated hormones.
While knowing all this brought me some sense of understanding, I couldn’t seem to shake the sadness. The news of one baby not working out didn’t help things any and I remained in my dark place for a few more weeks.
Then as quickly as it consumed me, my sadness seemed to vanish.
One day I just woke up feeling better, like the darkness was dissipating—rapidly. I waited and monitored with trepidation, but with each passing day I seemed to feel better and better.
After crying every day for weeks, the tears seemed to dry up overnight.
I’ve never experienced a sadness like that before. The only way I could explain it to my husband was that I imagined it was exactly what postpartum depression must feel like, but who ever heard of pre-partum depression?
From there I went on to experience the pregnancy of my imagination; full of joy, excitement, laughter and hope.
I look back on that dreary time with empathy for myself, as if I was someone else entirely—someone who was kidnapped by their hormones, clueless as to what was happening to her.
I’ll never fully understand why I experienced this. An unlucky concoction of hormones and loss I suppose.
I was also told early in my pregnancy that my thyroid readings were off. From research I’ve now done on pre-partum depression, this may have been an additional culprit. But truth be told, I still feel very ignorant about it all.
Of all the pregnancy stories I’ve heard—tales of endless nausea, embarrassing weight gain and even crying over silly commercial breaks—I had never heard of or imagined this level of depression.
I never knew the terms “pre-partum depression” or “prenatal depression” even existed.
Now that I understand what I went through I know it wasn’t my fault.
Not only was it out of my control but I was completely in the dark (in all senses of the term) about what I was experiencing. If I had known of this condition or heard of other women who had experienced it, perhaps I wouldn’t have felt so sucker punched, lost and alone.
Since telling my story I’ve heard of many women who’ve experienced exactly what I went through, yet who’ve felt so embarrassed and ashamed of their story, as if it was their fault.
There is no shame and there is no fault.
All that’s lacking is communication, understanding and support so we can more smoothly navigate the beautiful miracle that is pregnancy—with all its ups and downs.
So if one woman reads this who’s going through something similar, I hope these words provide comfort, understanding and hope and take away some of the shame that seems to surround both depression and miscarriage.
You are not alone, it is not your fault and it will get better.
Liz is the founder of Gentle Living, a lifestyle blog for the kind, caring and sensitive who are looking for inspiration, motivation, healing, support and encouragement. Gentle Living embraces everything involved in living a gentle but powerful life. From self-love, to animal welfare, to travel, to home decor, to interviews with inspiring women and more.
Editor: Jamie Morgan
Like elephant health & wellness on Facebook.
hot on elephant
Elephant Journal’s Holiday Gift Guide 636 shares A letter to the Anger that refuses to Leave Me. 593 shares Waylon’s favorite Ethical Gifts. 13 shares Learn Social Media, Writing, Editing & Journalism Ethics with elephantjournal.com. 1 share The Real Reason so many Long-term Relationships Fail Sexually. 956 shares Trevor Noah just won my Respect. 2,562 shares Year of the Fire Rooster 2017: What to Expect. 988 shares December Forecast: Letting Go of 2016 & Leaning into 2017 with Love. 7,433 shares Why a Year of No Dating was the Best Thing I ever did for Myself. 7,362 shares These Tweets (and Retweets) actually Happened. 1,390 share