My experiences so far with pregnancy and mood

As a dysthymic person with a history of almost yearly dips into depression, and as a planner, I took many steps before getting pregnant to prepare myself. I read articles and spoke to numerous psychiatrists in my search for one who I felt knew as much as there was to know about managing mental health and pregnancy and birth.

I know the statistics. As one who has had so many incidences of depression, it is very likely I will have more. My brain is used to this pattern, and it takes careful care to keep it from slipping back into that state where bed seems like the only place to be and life looks like a long gray stretch of things one has to do, or is supposed to do, just so that one can keep living to do more of those things one has to do. So, as such, I am at increased risk for postpartum depression.

As one doctor told me, at this point it’s more a question of when I will have another depression and for how long it will happen than a question of if. The best thing I can do for myself is to stay in regular care, take care of myself and watch my moods, and get help at the first sign of any symptoms. Knowing myself, I know the best way to do that is to have a doctor I feel comfortable talking to.

So I am glad to say I now have a good doctor that I am very comfortable with. She’s a reproductive psychiatrist and a mom of young children, and I feel I really couldn’t have better care at this point.

She and my OB told me that there was really no way to know how my brain would react to pregnancy. Some women’s moods get better, some stay the same, and some get worse.

Well, at about 3 months pregnant, I’m thrilled to say that so far, I’ve been feeling better. I can hardly remember a time when I felt so calm, confident, and at peace. I am filled with anticipation and excitement for the future in a way I haven’t felt since we got married (almost 7 years ago!). I feel the best way to describe it is that I feel overwhelmingly content.

The low-grade, nagging worry that I felt for years as I wondered if and when we would finally have the children I’d been wanting desperately since my baby fever days (see posts in 2006 and 2007!) is gone. I worried we’d never have the stability or health we were waiting, I worried we’d have trouble and I’d worry it was because we waited too long; I worried I we would be one of the 10-15% of couples who would have fertility troubles.

The sane side of my brain knew that I was and am lucky, being in a committed and strong relationship, with two capable individuals on solid career tracks, who earnestly look forward to having children together. Still, while I might bury it at times, it was hard to completely rid myself of those worries.

Until now. At nearly the end of my first trimester, with Husband recently starting a new, salaried job with great pay, and with me a year into a job that is my favorite yet and where I’ve earned recognition for my excellent work, all of those concerns are gone.

The anxiety that I wrote about in the trying to conceive and early pregnancy days has faded. Women in my forum groups write about their worries and nervousness, about their screenings and the baby’s health, and I don’t feel it. I know the odds and am confident that we are making a healthy baby. Our healthy baby.

I feel happy, healthy, confident, and excited. I know I am extremely lucky, and I am thankful.

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Changing symptoms and anxiety

I’ve been pregnant about a month now; I’ll be “6 weeks” tomorrow by standard counting, which includes the 2 weeks between your last menstrual period and conception.

It’s been just 15 days since the positive pregnancy test, and in that time I’ve already learned a lot and found my mindset and focus adjusting from myself and Husband to the amazing thins happening in me and what I can do to create the best womb and future home for my child-to-be.

For most if that first month of pregnancy, I felt cramping almost daily. It felt a lot like I feel when my period is coming, but the cause was different – implantation and then the uterus growing and adjusting.

For several days now those cramping feelings have been gone. On some of those days I’ve felt something I can only attempt to describe as a tight feeling in my tummy – like it’s being stretched but it doesn’t have the give to stretch further. My (already large) breasts have grown some and are tender but not as tender as they were a week ago. And I’m eating more frequent smaller meals and snacks, which has helped keep the queasiness to a minimum.

All of that combined to me feeling “less pregnant” than I did the week before. On Thursday and Friday this was actually to the degree that I worried that maybe I’d miscarried, perhaps this “blighted ovum” or “missed miscarriage” thing I’d recently heard about. I told myself it was unlikely and that really the odds were everything was fine. I’d read though that symptoms coming and going was normal. But then, I’d also read that morning sickness would probably be getting worse, not better, at this point. So I couldn’t completely quiet that nagging worry in my head.

On Saturday morning I took the remaining pregnancy test I had and one each of the two brands of OPK I still had on hand, as I’d heard that those could double as pregnancy tests. The lines on the OPK’s showed up super fast and dark, before even the control lines showed. That was reassuring that there is a lot of HCG in my system, so the little pea is very likely to be still growing strong inside of me!

One thing is clear though – the hormones and idea of impending motherhood have turned my worry meter up a notch! I’ll be laying in bed trying to get rest and start thinking about all the things I need to do – like check if that acne cream is safe, or the safety of the herbal teas I drink, or get our finances in shape, or start learning about pros and cons of prenatal testing, natural labor, cloth diapers, breast feeding, brands of baby slings/carriers, car seats, and co-sleepers.

Only a few weeks in to knowing I’m pregnant and my mind is on overdrive!