11/12/08

First Trimester Depression

Sometimes people find their way to this clueless but hopeful corner of the web through a Google search. (My latest favorites: "coverall underwear" and "can i eat cheese tortellini in first trimester"). This post's title is for you knocked up Googlers looking for someone else who is crying and cranky and miserable, even though you are pregnant with a much wanted baby.

Hi! Want a tissue?

Two weeks ago, after a few days of crying constantly for no real reason, I finally admitted to myself that this whole crappy feeling I've had for-freaking-ever 7 or so weeks could maybe just be called depression. And that maybe I needed to do something. Talking with CG, my mom, and my best friend and having them all say "Um YEAH. You haven't been yourself in weeks and weeks and WEEKS and I've been very worried about you." cleared things up as well.

So last week, I sucked it up and went to my primary care doc to get a referral to "mental health". Now, I've been in therapy before. Six years of it, to be exact. I fear not counseling, emotions, sharing feelings, delving deep into the dark, neurotic corners of my psyche. Some might even say I tend to overshare in this regard (shocking for a blogger, no?). Yet it was extremely hard for me to force the words from my mouth in the Doctor's office.

Busy HMO Doc (with thick Russian accent): "So, vhy are you here?"

Clueless But Hopeful Mama: "Um, I need a few referrals. I want a flu shot and I, uh, have this shoulder pain that just won't quit."

BHMOD: "You'll have to go to clinic for zee flu shot. Your shoulder...no need to see an orthopedist as they'll want x-ray and you're pregnant, see? What else?"

CBHM: "Uh.... I ... uh......"

*contemplate saying "Nothing! Everything else is fine! See ya!" then realize my eyes and throat and nose are already filling up with snot.

"For the last month or so, I've been a bit, uh...... sad." *big wailing sobs*

BHMOD: *patting my thigh* "You must be having boy, then, yes? Not to worry. I was so sick and cried every day with my son. It's normal but let's get you some counseling anyway."

She then went on to point out that on the back of my HMO card is the number for direct referral to mental health specialists. As in, I didn't need to do the whole sob-in-the-doctors-office-thing AT ALL.

Swell.

I wound up getting a referral from a friend for a therapist and saw her last week. One whole box of tissues and 50 minutes later, I was so glad I went. But even just making the appointment and acknowledging that I'm sad - Oh for Pete's sake, I can't even type the word "depressed"- helped bring me into an upswing. (That and the fact that I'm almost 15 weeks along now and DUE FOR AN UPSWING.) Admitting what I'm feeling has given me the energy to finally move towards feeling better. I started taking a prenatal yoga class. I have given up on cleaning and we now have house-cleaners (Who come. AND CLEAN. Our whole house. AT ONCE.). I've been working really hard to NOT feel guilty about leaving Zoe at daycare longer than I need to some work days so that I can rest.

Perhaps the hardest part of all of this is that I DO feel so guilty on top of the sadness. Guilt over the lame mother Z has at the moment. Guilt over how completely ABSENT I've been as a wife. Guilt over the damage I must be doing to my unborn child by "forgetting" to take the prenatal vitamins that made me gag and wish for death for hours afterward (I'm now back on them and tolerating them better), eating horribly unbalanced, unhealthy "meals" (BBQ potato chips and fig newtons having become a recent favorite) and basting his/her poor little developing brain in a steady stream of depression juices.

Guilt over how sad I've felt when really, REALLY, I am so insanely lucky in so many regards. People kept telling me about "the bright side", all the wonderful things I have going for me. This only makes me feel worse. I clearly have NO RIGHT to be so low when I have a supportive, loving partner, a healthy child, a fertile body, a new life forming inside me as I type, a comfortable home, a supportive family. I even had a middle of the road bout of morning sickness.

(Oh my, I'm really struggling with my tenses here. I want to write this all in the past tense. "Look at me! It was rough but phew! I'm all better now!" But I've been writing this post over several days and... it's still touch and go.)

That's right regular readers, even though you might have thought differently given all my whining, I haven't even actually vomited. And I have guilt about that. I mean, it's like the nausea and misery might as well have been all in my head. There are those who have truly, truly have suffered, like my poor friend M who puked several times a day, every day for months. And others whose blogs I can't seem to find now even though I read all about their hyperemesis gravidarum and felt so sorry for them and guilty that I was feeling so mentally lousy when I wasn't even puking. Just lying here, day after day, feeling sad and sick and sorry for myself.

I now have much more sympathy for people with chronic pain or illness. Weeks and weeks and endless weeks of nausea really took their toll on me. I couldn't think straight and was starting to lose the will to do anything. Nothing was bringing me joy. People would congratulate me on the pregnancy and I would have to work REALLY hard to not tell them : "Thanks. I'm not really excited but I guess I will be at some point."

(Oh wait, I'm pretty sure I actually said those exact words. Several times. To strangers even.)

I'm attacking this problem on several fronts; mostly I'm counting on gathering support, allowing myself to rest and, well, just TIME. Time to myself. Time to forgive myself for all of the above. Time to let the hormones do what they need to to nourish this little life along and then LEAVE MY STOMACH AND PSYCHE ALONE.

Oh! and I should just mention, speaking of "time", it's TIME TO PULL OUT THE MATERNITY PANTS.

Bump!

(Edited 6/7/11. I continue to be moved by the number of people who visit my site for this post alone. I know what a lonely experience it can be when you feel so miserable at a moment of such profound change. Please, if you're reading this post and recognize similar feelings in yourself, tell your doctor. Reach out and lean on people: friends, family, a therapist, or even me. Feel free to email me. I'm no expert, but I've been in a similar spot and I can tell you it will get better. Good luck.

PS. My doctor didn't know anything: this baby was NOT a boy. She was, IS, a beautiful girl. )

31 comments:

Kathleen said...

You are brave and precious, a gift to the universe, your husband, and your children. We are sturdy beings. I know this is hard to believe, but it takes more than a few weeks of barbeque potato chips to do any serious damage. And remember, depression is real - an imbalance that can be triggered by circumstances. (I know, I know, now I hear you getting all "I'm bathing my unborn child in depression juices!" Think of it as... INNOCULATION! A small exposure at this stage of development GUARANTEES no depression for his/her entire life! It could be true...) So no more guilt. This shall pass, and all your loved ones are better for your honesty, bravery and love. I love you!

Erin said...

You ARE due for an upswing! Good job with the doctor. Good job taking the bull by the horns. Good job taking care of yourself.

Babies & fetuses are amazingly resilient. Taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do.

Finally, YAY FOR 15 WEEKS!

*hug*

Marie Green said...

First- you look awesome! What a perfect little tum you have there.

Second- as soon as I found out I was having twins, I went into a depression that lasted.... ok, fine- it lasted YEARS. I just didn't know enough to do anything about it... and I thought anything I DID do would either mess with the fetuses or mess with breastfeeding. I had NO IDEA that there were plenty of safe options.

I wish I would have done something sooner, and I'm so glad that you did. Bravo.

miyoko said...

yep great job getting yourself taken care of (often more than half the battle). I am sure everyone is telling you this but thing usually improve greatly in the second trimester. Big hugs to you.
I am currently entering beached whale phase wooohoooohooo!!!
;)

Astarte said...

First of all, I want you to know that after I am done writing this, I am going to go and kill myself because you look better pregnant than I have ever looked in my entire LIFE.

Second, I never barfed with either of my kids, but I sure felt miserable, so barfing, as a line of judgement, isn't.

Third, about the prenatal vitamins - I didn't take them the entire time I was pregnant, either time. They made me ragingly sick, constipated to the point I was in pain, and even more sick feeling. I ended up taking children's chewable gummy vitamins, totally sanctioned by my doctor, and felt fine.

You are not hurting your baby. People who smoke, drink, do crack, and drive without seatbelts are hurting their babies. You are a normal pregnant woman who is trying not to barf.

desperate housewife said...

I was pretty depressed through the first half of my pregnancy with Eli, too. I totally understand how you feel. I had a few good months, and then went on bedrest and got sad again. I didn't feel normal again, really, until about three months after Eli was born. I wish I had had the balls to at least admit to myself and others what I was feeling- I think it would've helped it pass sooner. Good for you for just saying how it is!
Hormones are brutal, and childbearing isn't all bliss for everyone. Sometimes the road to having a family is a taxing one. But you'll get through to the other side and feel like yourself again, I promise! I'm sure the exercise and the housekeepers will help!

My Buddy Mimi said...

I'm a little late with this one, but I am also jealous of how good you look pregnant. And hoping that the clean house helped a little. I always love coming through the door an pretending that the cleaning fairies came while I was gone.

Swistle said...

I really enjoyed reading this.

Anonymous said...

You wrote EVERYTHING that I am feeling right now. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Found this by searching random stuff online...wow, you really put into words my EXACT experience. Relieving to know someone else feels this way too; my first pregnancy was a walk in the park of sunshine and lollipops...this one ain't the same bag. Assuming that means I'm having a boy, not a girl...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post. At least I know I am not alone. I am 21 weeks pregnant with our second and last girl and I have been depressed for weeks. I take it out on her a little sometimes too and I feel horrible because its not her fault at all. I just want to cry and sleep and be left alone. I hate my husband and contemplate divorce on a regular basis even though I am dead set against it. I need a break but can't get one and my husband doesn't understand, or care. Let me know if the depression eventually subsides.

Kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

i am feeling pretty terribly depressed. among the feelings: my life is over, i'll never become 'something', 'it's all about THEM, and I've died'.

pretty shameful, huh?

i already take medication for clinical depression (budeprion, 150 mg/day and sometimes 300 mg/day).

I'm 38, should be old enough to be past such selfish feelings, and have a great partner and live in a decent home.

j

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this. It's made it ok for me to mention this to my midwife tomorrow on my first appt. I just cant see how I'll get through another 7 months of work feeling like this. I just want to be left alone, don't want to talk to friends who are super excited (haven't felt sick yet but being round them makes me want to vomit) and only want to be with my husband.

Really hoping this does pass for me in the second trimester as feeling this carrying around a massive bump is going to be so hard!!!

Fingers crossed......groan!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing... I have been suffering with this pretty badly. I'm ten weeks pregnant and have had depression for many years. have been on different meds and am in counseling. Right now I'm on a low does of Celexa and seeing a (fabulous) counselor once a week. I'm pretty versed in thing of the sort (depression, anxiety, counseling, self-help) but did not realize how hard depression can hit during pregnancy. I don't think I've ever felt this low, and given my experience with depression over the years, that's saying a lot. I feel so completely hopeless and worthless. I feel I'm a terrible wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, employee, etc. I've been hiding out from my friends and have no interest in things I normally love to do, nor do I have a smidge of energy. I often wish I wasn't pregnant and then feel awful for thinking that way. How can I love that little baby inside of me (I do) and still wish sometimes I wasn't pregnant? Of course, along with this comes a ton of guilt for feeling the way we do, doesn't there? I'm trying SO HARD to keep a good perspective because I know I AM very blessed. I also suffer from something called PMDD (Prementsrual dysphoric disorder) and I wonder how much that has to do with how I'm feeling. For those of you that don't know, PMDD is not just bad bouts of PMS. It's more than that and it can be VERY tough to deal with. I've learned that those of us with PMDD may test with normal hormone levels, but that when those levels fluctuate during our cycle, we are more SENSITIVE to it, causing a schloo of undesirable symptoms, many of them "mood" related. So it would make sense that since our hormones levels are through the roof/wacky during the first trimester of pregnancy, we would suffer from some pretty tough depression. I'm hoping that I will see some relief when the second trimester hits. And you'd better believe I'll be in close contact with my doctor post-partum. I hope the best for you as well. Again, thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Ha - just noticed this is a few years old. I still hope all is well with you though!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. This is exactly how I feel!

Crystal Tan said...

Thank you for your honest and assuring post. I'm 10 weeks pregnant and have been very 'sad' for most of the time. I specifically despise my in laws to the core and even find my own mother grabbing and demanding. I feel like my own life has been robbed from me. And all my relatives want a piece of me and my unborn child. Telling me what to eat, what not to do, etc. My husband and I really wanted a child and was so happy when we found out I was pregnant but that feeling of bliss lasted for all of 1 day. Lots of guilt and lots of friends telling me to "look at the bright side". But it seems so hard at the moment. And yes like you, I now feel so much for people who are chronically ill. How do they get through it? Thank you for sharing once again and I pray I will feel better soon.

andi said...

Thank you for this wonderfull post, I have been sad myself, and guit is the one thing that comes along with being sad, I am in my first trimester and it has been hard. Its nice to know your not alone...

Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you thank you for this post--I might as well have written it myself! I too have been feeling so sad and nauseous and exhausted and joyless during my second pregnancy. And GUILTY about it to top it all off! I hope things improve during my second trimester, as they did with my first pregnancy, but getting through this 13-week slog is truly soul-sucking! I'm glad to know there are other women out there feeling the same way.

Motherhin said...

This was a welcome read as I'm wallowing in self pity in my room away from my family because I just feel so dam guilty about putting them all through this again. This was an unexpected pregnancy for us and I feel so depressed to go down this road again. I was just getting my life back, getting my body back, and feeling so much better in life after our last baby. We were done done and I allowed myself to trust a stupid chart and got caught up in a moment that is truly forgettable. See and it's all of that to come before the 24/7 nausea, exhaustion, fear of the future, and resentment that my body is hostage again. I tell myself that I will get over it and learn to accept and hopefully I will before this baby comes. Maybe I will see someone if things don't improve in my second trimester.

Thanks for putting this out there. Pregnancy isn't always a romance. The reality of it can be very disheartening sometimes.

Angie said...

Thank you for this post! I realize that it is a few years old but it still helps none the less. I am sitting here at work googling "first trimester depression" and your blog post came up. It is so good to know there are lots of others out there with this same feeling. I am a very happy healthy mom/wife with a great husband a beautiful 15 month old daughter, great job, nice middle class life and I am so depressed over this pregnancy....A PREGNANCY THAT I WANTED! My hubby and I wanted another child but the second I found I was pregnant I instantly became depressed and can't shake this feeling. I know things will be better in time but I just can't believe I feel this way right now. I didn't feel this way with my first child so this hit me like a ton of bricks, I didn't even know this feeling was possible. So thank you to all the awesome ladies out there who have shared their feelings and made me realize that this is not all that uncommon!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this up (and leaving it up years later). I'm going through the exact same thing right now. And then listening to people's BS about "Wow, you really don't seem to be happy to be having a baby." is really making me feel terrible. This was the reality check I needed to realize that all of this is completely normal.

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post ! I am about 5 weeks along and can't seem to shake my feelings of depression. I have been on medication b4 and felt great . I stopped when I started trying to conceive. I've wanted this so bad my whole life and now that it's happened I can't believe how crappy I feel. I can't help it ! Everything is so black around me . I hope this goes away in 2nd trimester . I feel so guilty ...

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am seven weeks pregnant and am feeling this exact way. I already have two beautiful children and made it through my first trimester just fine with both of them but for this baby I am sad all the time, nauseous all the time and tired all the time. To the point where I do feel something is clinically or mentally wrong with me. I just always want to cry. I am so glad that I am not alone in feeling this way and thank you so much for having the strength to share your experience with us. I am scared to call the doctor and worried they will just say 'It will get better as the pregnancy progresses'. My first appointment is 1.14.13, hopefully I'm either feeling better by then or will have worked up the courage to say something by then.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Hello ladies. Previous poster, it's totally coincidental that I'm reading thirds the day you're due for your appointment. How did it go?
Thank you so much for posting this. I've been ridiculously sad and hopeless my first trimester. I never felt this way with my other two pregnancies. I'm so worried that this will never go away... My husband and I wanted one more baby, and I'm so ashamed to say I've thought about abortion so many times in the last two months because I'm so depressed. God I pray this goes away. I, too, have PMDD, but have never been treated except for talk therapy. I just want to feel happy and hopeful again.

Anonymous said...

Hi there...I am almost 12 weeks along now and I am definitely going through my own severe bout with depression right now. This pregnancy was a surprise, with my ex, whom we are now trying to work things out, from 300 miles apart. I am moving there in April, which means moving to a place where the only person I know or friend I have is him. I feel so horrible about how horrible I feel, and how I get scared it's affecting my little one. I scream and cry and ignore my friends, even though I am devastated about leaving them when I move because those girls are my family. I hate the part time job I have, and on top of all that, I also have chronic Lyme Disease, so it's making things a bit worse for me in the exhaustion/pain department because I can't take any of the things I previously took to help me deal with things, and I also can't get any treatments while I'm pregnant. My ex/baby's dad/we don't know what we are, is also a main issue for me because I feel I've now ruined his life. Not to mention some of my family is totally unsupportive of me and us, and I feel like I am dealing with all of this on my own. C(baby dad) has a very different work schedule than me and he is still struggling to change his lifestyle of one of being single and going out often to one of now becoming a father and keeping in contact with me all the time. I feel horribly unattractive as well during all of this, and I am so scared I won't be the mother I need and want to be for my baby. I know I am blessed, accident or not, because I was told several times I most likely couldn't have children, so not only does that fact make me feel even worse about how I'm feeling. But ai am glad to see so many posts and to read your post because I at least know I'm not alone in these feelings. It's hard because all of my close friends just had babies, and they all seemed to be so incredibly happy that I feel like I can't bring it up or I'll look like a monster. Thank you again for your honesty.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. Yes, I DID find it in a google search. I think I'm about 5 weeks along in my 2nd pregnancy and this morning I awoke to the same rush of hormones that hit me the first time through 2 years ago. I wasn't prepared then. I am now.

Two years ago I was so wracked by GUILT over a minor incident I only partly remembered from several years earlier, apathy, GUILT, tears, GUILT, feeling that I had no right or reason to be feeling guilty because my life was actually pretty blessed, GUILT, and thoughts of suicide, and oh yeah, GUILT. I had no idea that those feelings could be a common side effect of a pregnancy. It was the most awful time of my life and I wish someone would have recognized that I needed help. Anyway, as mentioned before, I'm prepared this time and ready to get help if I should happen to sink down to such lows again. It was only by the grace of God I managed to survive last time. And BTW, I had a beautiful baby girl, the light of our lives! :) Now I'm hoping to encourage other new moms out there too and let them know it's okay to get help!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for everyone's honesty. This is such an unspoken side affect of pregnancy. I have been sick and crying for weeks not to mention the guilt I feel for not being the perfect wife and mother to my first born. We tried for a year and half to get pregnant this time around and here I am feeling sorry for myself and alone. Blessings to you and your bumps, we will make it through this. Let's just keep sharing and being honest.

Anonymous said...

I know this post is years old, and I also found you through Google, so I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your experience. I'm 11 weeks along now and quite miserable with depression for the first time in my life. I have two little kids and trying to make it through each day just feels like drudgery. I'm planning to tell my doc at my next appointment. Anyway, thank you!

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