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On the 2nd Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me: Hope in the Darkness of Pregnancy

I absolutely hated being pregnant. Both times. I completely understand that being able to actually get pregnant is a blessing. I’m just not one of those women who got that “pregnancy glow”. Instead, I got fat and crazy “backne”.  I didn’t have the quintessential, easy, oh I just love being pregnant, pregnancy. My last pregnancy was particularly hard because I got pregnant only six months after having my oldest daughter was born. You would have thought I was a naïve teenager who didn’t fully understand the repercussions of her actions.  Instead, I was a 28-year-old, fully capable adult, who knew the results of her actions.

But BOOM! There I was.

I was afraid of what was to come with having two children; under two.

My second pregnancy started like my first one… rough. I had extreme nausea all day long. I went to my doctor to seek relief, only to be given medication that was prohibited from use by breastfeeding mothers. As a result, when my oldest daughter was eight months old, I stopped producing milk altogether. My pregnancy hormones replaced my milk producing hormones, and I had ‘mommy guilt’ because of it. I knew it was my fault she had to be placed on formula and I regretted it.

I was so excited to begin the second trimester. I was over the constant feeling of sickness. I had one month of second trimester bliss before the back pain started. I read blogs about pregnant women sharing their experience with excruciating back pain. I later discovered that this condition was called Sciatic Nerve Pain and was notorious for its bouts with pregnant women. Some cases are more severe than others and with my luck, I ended up with a severe case. I could barely get out of the bed to use the bathroom. (And mom’s know how cute your bladder gets throughout the night when you’re pregnant!)

On a good night, I can use the bathroom at least three times.

I ended up going to a physical therapist that only seemed to make the pain worse. I would leave his office sore and barely able to walk. My back got so bad that I was working from home nearly every day of the week. I would go a full week without even leaving the house. I was pregnant the entire summer and I missed the entireeeee summer. My back pain made me immobile and my immobility made me depressed; and it worsened. I was so ready to have this baby for no other reason than to have my body back. I received some joy in the thought of being a new mother again, but for the most part I wanted my life back.

My little bundle of joy was born 5 days before her due date. It was a smooth and easy delivery. She was perfect when she arrived. All ten toes and ten fingers… and bald.

(My babies never come out with hair.)

I was excited for this new adventure and to finally be free of the pain that had been plaguing me for months. I was free of the pain, but now something else filled its place.

Since I had been immobile for months, I purchased some clothes and a few new personal items, but overall nothing was in order.  I was nowhere as prepared as I was with my first child. I needed help; but didn’t know how to ask. Part of me knew how illogical it was to not rely on my support system, and the other half of me had a point to prove. How could I possibly need help with something that is so instinctual to women? So… I went on like nothing was wrong.

My almost 2-year-old had a hard time adjusting to the new addition, initially. She would hit her new sister; finding the heaviest object she could pick up and throwing it at the baby’s head. This frustrated me and I would get really mad at her… a 2-year-old. I would alienate her during the day and go hours without speaking to her. I knew this was wrong, but it continued as my only way to cope. Some days were good and some days were horrible.  I had no clue what was happening to me. I think I expected some freedom since I had given birth, the burdening symptoms of pregnancy had dissipated and I could move as I pleased, but that wasn’t the case. Again, I found myself in the house for extended periods of time because now it was Winter and I had a newborn. I would stay in the house 9-12 days at a time. That light at the end of tunnel, that I envisioned to be my escape to productive motherhood and happiness, turned into a dark hole that swallowed me alive every chance it got. I felt guilty for wanting freedom. I felt guilty for not entertaining or having the motivation to take my oldest child out of the house. Unintentionally, I was dragging my two daughters into my depression with me.

No one prepares you for this rough period after pregnancy. The Dreaded 4th Trimester. The 4th trimester is like that bitch in high school that always ran her mouth but could actually fight. Everyone hoped for the day she would get her ass whopped, but that day never came and she continued intimidating everyone because they knew she had hands. This darkness had become my everyday life. I was simultaneously nursing two children under 2 years old and it was my hardest job yet.  In addition to being depressed, I was suffering from sleep deprivation. The new baby was a horrible sleeper, and to avoid being awakened, I would lay awake hoping she remained asleep. I was literally getting no sleep, and neither was my husband. I felt like a bad mother for not being able to manage my child. I felt like a bad wife. I felt hopeless.

Let me tell you how intensely hopelessness can fester when accompanied with silence! I was silent because I was embarrassed to admit I was depressed. I didn’t say anything to my husband about what I was experiencing. I think he knew; I mean I was doing a terrible job at hiding it. Ultimately, I fell into the deep dark pit of depression and couldn’t find my way out.

We’re a family that believes in exercising our 2nd Amendment right. We own a 9mm Sig Sauer, a 22mm AR-15 and a shot gun. I knew I had options. I knew that I could end the never-ending darkness if I wanted to. I contemplated it. I started feeling like a burden to my family. I felt I wasn’t worthy of the beautiful family I helped create. One day, my husband came home and I was on the bathroom floor crying uncontrollably. I had recently vented to my Line Sister about the hard time I had been having and another one of my wonderful Line Sisters referred me to a therapist. I had been to a few sessions by then, but nothing had changed. When my husband arrived at our home that day, he knew the situation had reached a critical point and immediately outreached my therapist. I was so mad at him for invading my privacy. Despite my anger, I knew I needed him to save my life.

It’s hard for women to open up about Postpartum Depression. Most women don’t have a support system. Fortunately, I did. My husband stepped in when he saw I needed help. There is a stigma associated with this condition. You literally hear stories about women denying symptoms of mental health to medical providers and you ask yourself why would they do a thing like that when they know they need intervention…

“Yeah okay, self!”

At my six-week appointment, after having my daughter, my doctor asked me if I had been feeling depressed. I lied and said no. The truth is… I had heard horror stories of women opening up to their doctors about their depression only to be committed and have their children taken away from them. Believe me. The fear outweighs the opportunity to receive help.

I’m glad my support system consists of my husband and Line Sisters. Who knows where I would be without them.  My one piece of advice is if you need help find someone you can trust. Don’t suffer in silence. It’s normal to feel like shit after having a baby and everyday won’t be easy. Take it day by day. You just grew a whole human! That’s a super power. When things start to get hard and the darkness starts to creep in, remember you’re a super hero!

To Motherhood… and BEYOND!

Alicia M.

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