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Me, on July 30, 2003. Big Girl was born October 8, 2003.

Me, on July 30, 2003. Big Girl was born October 2003.

I am obsessed with all things related to pregnancy. I always have been. I read trashy-but-fun celebrity baby bump gossip. I quiz my friends about their impending childbirth. I get misty-eyed when I hear about a new baby or a new pregnancy. I’ve even written about the topic for magazines such as Parents, Shape, and Fit Pregnancy. So you’d think, because I have babies on the brain, that I probably loved it when I was actually pregnant myself. You’d be wrong. I hated every one of those 40 weeks. With all my being.

From the moment I found out until the moment I delivered I obsessed about not being pregnant. I was angry. I was depressed. Actually, I was more than depressed. When I found out I was carrying Big Girl, who was a planned pregnancy, I literally went off the deep end. My life was over. I would be huge. I would lose my career. I would lose myself. I was so anxious, sad and ambivalent about being pregnant that I ended up on a therapist’s couch for the final six months of my pregnancy. Of course, I felt guilty for having these terrible feelings, so that only made me feel worse. And as soon as my baby was delivered? I fell in love with her, and with being a mom. My midwife and my therapist were in agreement with their diagnosis. It — antepartum depression — is hormonal, and my experience was not that uncommon. Between 10 and 20 percent of women experience antepartum depression, but few talk about it. It’s often a precursor to postpartum depression, too.

I was lucky. I was pretty much cured once that little redhead came out of me. But I was thrown back into the chasm when I got pregnant again. At the time, Big Girl was only 18 months old. I went home numb from the sonogram holding a grainy picture of the baby. Again, the symptoms set in. I found myself stomping and crying around the house, saying I was ruining Big Girl’s life by bringing another baby into the picture so soon. Then, at 13 weeks, I miscarried. We found out at a routine visit. We couldn’t find a heart beat, something we saw only a few weeks prior. The guilt was overwhelming then. I felt like I wished that baby away.

We tried for several years to get pregnant again, even though I knew I was almost guaranteed to suffer the same symptoms. And we were blessed with my miracle baby — Little Girl — after we gave up trying. Yes, I went through the same horrific nightmare. This time it was even worse because I was told that I could literally die from carrying her. So I felt all the same emotional symptoms, but I also had another feeling: Intense guilt about putting myself at risk. I didn’t want to leave Big Girl without a mother. And then the moment I went into labor I could hardly wait to meet my new baby. I look back at the delivery photos and can’t help but smile. I have never seen such pure love, exhilaration, and emotion on anyone’s face. It’s completely obvious how in love and excited I was to become a mom.

Becoming a mother — from the first moment you find out your pregnant to the first late night feeding — is supposed to be such a natural thing. We’re programmed by magazine covers and other women to think that pregnancy is wonderful, and mothering is instinctive. Women glow when they are pregnant, right? They dream about it like I did — and still do. They’re supposed to feel blessed when it happens. And yet that is not the experience of many people. Even those who aren’t afflicted with antepartum depression may, for example, hate the third trimester with all its aches and pains. They might pine for the day when their bodies are their own again. And that’s okay. That may be the most natural thing for them.

It seems like such a sin to be depressed about such a miracle. At least that how I saw it. But it’s a fact of life. It’s okay to hate being pregnant, and still love the outcome. Are you feeling sad about being pregnant? Talk it over with your doctor. She can shed light on any misconceptions you might have about your pregnancy or delivery. If you’re clinically depressed, she can refer you to a therapist who specializes in prenatal care. For example, some doctors are prescribing light box therapy—sitting in front of a specialized bright light for 30 minutes a day—to alleviate antepartum depression.

No matter what, though, don’t suffer silently. Broach the subject with other moms and moms-to-be. Chances are, they’ve felt the same way at one point during their pregnancy.

How did you feel when you were pregnant? What strategies did you use to get through it? Or were you, like some, blissfully happy? I’d love to hear your story.

3 Responses to “Pregnant Pause: Why I Hated All Nine Months”

  1. Jen says:

    I, too, had difficult pregnancies. Hyperemesis gravidarum X 3. Lost SO much weight. Was in the hospital. Confined to bed. It was torture. I came very close to reaching my breaking point and yelling for somebody to “get this thing out of me.” (At which point my mom arrived at my bedside in record time with fuzzy socks and trashy magazines. Perfect.) Pregnancy is such a gift. And such a challenge. Emotionally AND physically. I’m so happy that you have been blessed. That you are on the other side. And that you have the perspective now that allows you to appreciate it all.

  2. Never having been pregnant I’m fascinated by this post! Love it. Love the honesty and balance and directness.

  3. Jen Haupt says:

    Thanks for admitting your true feelings. I think there are a lot of women who think “What’s wrong with me, I’m not glowing?!” It’s important to share that it’s OK to be glowering and even depressed and scared.

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