Friday, May 17, 2013

Blogging for Mental Health - Part 2

I knew right away. I just had a feeling. A feeling that I was pregnant. The only way to confirm my intuition was to pee on the 'ole stick. Instantly two pink lines appeared and instantly I broke-down and cried.

These were not 100% tears of joy. Although I was thrilled to have a life growing inside of me, these were tears of shock, disbelief, and I'm not going to lie... tears of, "this can't be happening."

I was pregnant with our second baby as our first baby had just turned ONE!! We always knew we wanted to add to our family but this happened much, much earlier than we anticipated and I found myself pregnant with a "surprise baby!" A baby that I used to be all Judgey McJudgerson over when I'd hear of other people "accidentally" getting pregnant. I didn't understand how that was possible. Didn't they know how babies were made?!?!? How could you seriously not be aware of your body enough to make a mistake like that?!?!?

::inserts foot directly in mouth::

It took us over a year of trying to get pregnant with Little C and I was naive enough to believe it would be the same when we were ready to go for #2. Clearly this was not the case. I can't tell you how overwhelmingly guilty I felt for NOT being genuinely happy about it.

I was scared about how this would impact us. I was panicking about how we would make this work. Logistically, financially, emotionally? How will it affect Little C? I didn't feel like we had enough time with just him. In addition, I felt embarrassed that it was not a planned pregnancy. This concept was completely opposite of who I am. I like to have plans and I don't do well with curve balls. I felt irresponsible and was kicking myself for letting this happen.

This all may sound crazy but it was real and valid at the time. As I mentioned, I felt awful that I wasn't jumping up and down with the same enthusiasm as I did when finding out we were expecting Little C. This baby deserved the same level of excitement and I was beating myself up for not feeling it right away.

Once the shock wore off I was also catapulted into a pregnancy that was completely different from my first, and not in a good way. My first pregnancy was text book from start to finish. I felt great the entire time, I slept great the entire time and life was easy peasy. The second pregnancy was the opposite on all fronts.

But the biggest difference this time around were hormones. I know I would drone on post after post about how my "hormones" were out of whack and how "miserable" I was but I don't think I truly conveyed what I was really going through. I would talk to my therapist and my OB/GYN regularly about how much I was struggling and that I was terrified and basically resigning to the fact that I was going to have PPD. They both said we would just keep an eye on it and keep the dialogue open on the topic as we went along.

In short, I was a mess. There is no other way to describe it. And other than my husband and my therapist, no one really knew what I was going through. I didn't want to tell my parents too much because I didn't want them to worry (sorry, mom!) and I didn't even tell my friends more than the 'ole hormones quip when asked how I was feeling. I didn't know if people would understand, heck, I didn't know if even I could understand what I was going through.

I did not know who I was. I did not feel like me. I was either sad or "ragey" all. the. time. My poor husband didn't know what he was in for on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour or even minute-to-minute basis. {dreamy, I know!}I could be chipper one minute then in tears about something completely ridiculous the next. Worse yet, if it wasn't tears that I was battling it was just anger. I was short with my husband, my son, my dog, my cats, you name it. There was no reason for it, nothing that I know of that caused it. I was just out of control, or at least I felt that way.

Why? I don't freaking know!! And for an analytical minded person by nature, not understanding why something is happening and not having a plan in place to fix it is extremely hard. I would talk through it with my therapist and we were able to come to some conclusions in order for me to work toward getting back to "me."

Let me just tell you that I have never been through a more grueling 9 months in my entire life. Not just because of the pregnancy but because I was tackling some personal "demons" that up until this point I had not done a very good job dealing with. What I discovered was that because of this pregnancy I had to change some old behaviors of mine and for some reason it took getting pregnant in this way for those changes to take place.

Because of this pregnancy I learned more about myself and what I need to be happy. My marriage also grew stronger as we worked through my "ragey" episodes together and then even went further into our relationship having some of the most profound and real conversations that we've ever had in all our years together.

The out of control feelings and emotions did continue for the entire 9 months of my pregnancy but each month and each day that passed I became better equip to handle it and I slowly but surely started to feel like myself again.

In fact, once my beautiful baby was born it was like all was right with the world again {well, in regard to my hormones anyway}. I did not have PPD but I did experience the "baby blues" which was normal. After they passed, I wasn't feeling depressed and the light that was buried deep down for 9 months started to resurface.

Although I was feeling like myself again I still was dealing with a whole new life as a mother of an almost-two-year-old and a newborn baby. I had some really hard days as I adjusted and there were times that I felt so completely lost and overwhelmed. But because I new how to take better care of myself and how to communicate what I was going through, I was able to get through the tough days.

So why share all of this? I wanted to share because I think it is very important to be aware of ourselves and be able to recognize when something is amiss. I also think it is important to not be embarrassed or ashamed of our feelings and to have the courage and strength to admit we are struggling and may need some help.

You are not weak. In fact you are quite the opposite because it takes tremendous strength to take even the smallest steps toward picking yourself up out of a deep dark hole. People who have never experienced anything like depression or moments of mental health distress may not truly understand why you are struggling at all. They may wonder "what happened to you to make you sad?" Or, think to themselves, "suck it up!" But you and I know it is not that simple.

For me, the biggest triumph out of all of this was that by the end of my 9 month journey I was ecstatic to welcome our baby girl to our family. I was starting to get giddy with excitement for her arrival and I made peace with the timing in which she was brought into our lives.

If it weren't for my "surprise baby" I may not have made some of the positive changes that I had desperately wanted to make in my life. I would not have grown as much as I needed and wanted to. Or perhaps my husband and I would not have grown in our marriage if it weren't for the timing of our girl.

My sweet P-Nut literally changed my life in a way that I know I'm not doing justice here. I have still kept a lot out and still hold many of the things that I went through during this pregnancy guarded near my heart because I believe that is where they belong. But I hope what I did share with you reminds you that you aren't alone and that if you do find yourself going through a tough time you can get through it.

I used to say, "everything happens for a reason" because it was just the thing to say in certain situations. I never really put much stock behind it. But now I truly understand why people say that, and I truly believe little baby P-Nut came into my life when she did, and the way she did for a reason.


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  2. ::Hugs:: Kendra, you are so strong for sharing this. I connect with so much of it. I haven't gone through months of feeling like this, but I'm terribly PMSy and I always know when it hits. My brain *feels* different. I know I shouldn't be upset or crying about something but I just can't help it. There is a pall over everything, a grayness. I know now just to ride it out. I can't imagine how scary and frustrating it was to feel that way for so long.

    I also so connect with the idea of not regretting something because you don't know what changes would have taken place if it didn't happen. For instance, my parents divorce--awful, horrible, terrible time. But if it didn't happen, I may not have gone away to college, met Hubs, had Munch. I'm so glad you were able to tackle things you needed to. HAVING Munch pushed me there, and I just wish I would have dealt with everything during my pregnancy because there's a lot I would have changed in the first days/weeks of his life, but that's not how it worked out.

    I'm writing a million words on your blog today! Hope you have a lovely Tuesday.

    1. I love it when you write a million words and I hope you always do! Thank you for sharing all of this. That's why I share this stuff. It isn't always glamorous but it's my life and it's such a huge part of what makes me who I am today. Sounds like it's the same for you. Also, don't beat yourself up about the stuff you wish you could have changed. That will only drive you crazy. I bet the first days/weeks of Munch's life you did the best you could have given the circumstances. Now it's just time to move forward and focus on the present and the future. Right? ::virtual fist bump and hugs::