Imagine feeling excited about the prospect of motherhood one minute, then fantasizing about jumping off a building the next. Or shopping for onesies for your future child, only to break down in the changing room because you suddenly feel like your baby will hate you. While it's normal to experience a number of mood fluctuations when you're pregnant, prenatal depression is on another level. I know, because I experienced it first hand. Twice. There were so many things I was afraid to ask for while experiencing prenatal depression that, in retrospect, I truly wish I had.
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), 14-23 percent of women will struggle with some sort of symptom of depression during pregnancy. Depression — whether prenatal, postpartum, or general — has a way of isolating even the most outgoing of people. And while every person is different, so their experience with depression will vary, in my experience prenatal depression has a knack for causing you to feel as though absolutely no one cares about you. When I was depressed I felt like I was worthless and unworthy, and even selfish for choosing to become a mom. I was suffering tremendously, but in silence because of the prevailing stigma of depression. I mean, I was pregnant, so I was supposed to be happy, right?
During those 40 weeks (more or less) of pregnancy, depression made the smallest thing feel like the end of the world, I felt fragile every hour of every day, and that certainly prevented me from advocating for myself the way I needed to. Looking back, these are so many the things I wish I’d asked for during those long and complicated months. Perhaps if I had simply spoke up, things would have been different. Perhaps.