This has been one hell of a week for me, and even though I mentioned this would not be a mom-centred blog, I am breaking my rule this one time to go over how my anxiety shaped my experience of labour and bringing home my baby.

On Wednesday early morning (12:40 am to be exact), my water broke. I wasn’t sure at the time and I called my husband from downstairs to make sure that I wasn’t just peeing myself again (oh yes, the lovely late stages of pregnancy were terrific on my bladder) It wasn’t until I moved around slightly that my curious trickle turned into a full-on gush and the panic started to come full force. THIS IS HAPPENING. Immediately I felt my first contraction and went upstairs to lie down to time it out: 1 hour apart, lasting 1 minute. I wasn’t in active labour just yet, but my anxiety was flaring up with the usual physical symptoms: overheating, rapid heartbeat & dizziness. I did not feel safe at home and thought it would be best to go to the hospital. We packed up the car and went straight there, where I was closely monitored before being admitted.

I told my husband to go home and sleep, so one of us could at least be coherent when it came closer to being admitted – he was relieved. I spent the next four hours lying in bed, trying to get some sleep but the contractions were getting debilitating. Trying to walk around to ease the pain and move things along were not an option for me, and I already felt as if I were a failure. I cried in the darkened room, waiting for a nurse to come so I could ask for some pain medication. The O.B. on call came to see me about it and mentioned I could get some morphine, but I had to wait until my contractions were 5 minutes apart. It was roughly 6 am at this point, and I knew I was getting close to that time frame. I called my husband to let him know I was scared and I needed him, he told me everything would be OK and to try to calm myself down; he would be there as soon as possible. He arrived, and I instantly felt better, I always do. The pain was getting worse, and several hours went by – I was getting impatient. Around 9 am, I was finally admitted to the hospital; however, I was not dilated. Due to specific procedures that I had back in 2008, I was running into complications that would need to be addressed. The plan that we set at 6 am had now changed; however, I was able to receive an epidural early to help ease the pain. After 7 hours of my anxious mind racing through this pain, I welcomed it. I’m happy that my husband was coherent because it knocked me out, and he was able to fill out all the necessary paperwork.

As I crept in and out of sleep, so did my husband. The nurses came in to check on me as often as they could, but our little one was still taking her precious time getting ready to make her grand entrance. My heart was pounding, remembering what doctors told me years previous that if I were to have a child, I might run into issues. The medication that they administered around noon to speed things up was taking its time, and we spent the next 8 hours waiting impatiently. Nurses needed to come in more often to help out; when I was awake, my mind would race with worry over the length of time that it was taking and I was starting to get more nervous and scared as the time approached for me to push out a tiny human. When I was stuck at 8 cm for several hours, I started to cry out of frustration; I just wanted her to be out of me! That’s when one of the nurses suggested I put this peanut looking ball between my legs, which essentially helps dilate you to where you need to be.

When the moment finally arrived at 8:40 pm, my heart sank, I was unsure how I would feel at this moment, and every emotion possible seemed to course through my body. All lights went on, and I noticed I was placed perfectly under a reflection of what was going on. If I kept looking up, I would be able to see it ALL. The nurse started to explain to me how to push, and I immediately thought I would somehow screw this up. I did my first push and couldn’t hold my breath long enough. I started to cry, again, thinking that this would take longer than usual and already felt like a failure. My husband and I already made a plan beforehand to play music during this process, so he put on my favourite album “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd. When the music started to play, I got emotional once again thinking to myself – Holy shit I’m about to be a mom. I’ve been preparing myself for this moment for MONTHS, but honestly, nothing can prepare you for that overwhelming sensation.

The song ‘Us & Them’ holds a lot of meaning for both my husband and me.

* It was the song that we listened to on our first visit to B.C., staying up late on our hotel room balcony basking in a moderate snowfall that was gorgeous.

* It was the song that we found an instrumental version of so I could walk down the aisle to marry him.

* It was the song that unintentionally played during our Gender Reveal party when I sliced our cake open sharing that we would be welcoming a girl

so, when it started to loom in the background after 30+ minutes of pushing, I told myself this is going to be the last couple of pushes, she WILL be born to this song. I put so much effort into these pushes that my husband needed to put ice chips on my forehead, which quickly trickled down the side of my face from the immense heat. The nurses cheering me on in the background as the last push brought her out into this world, 42 minutes later. Yes, I saw everything in that reflection. EVERYTHING.

The song ended, and I heard her cry, up to this moment I was so worried that I wouldn’t love her or want to hold her but as soon as I listened to that cry all I wanted to was calm her down. My body rushed with so much love for this little human being that I was overcome with joy and relief. I held her without interaction from anyone else and knew at this moment that I would never want to go through pregnancy again. Her though, she was worth it. We named her Eve Lilly, a name we picked out months prior but wanted to ensure she ‘looked’ like the name.

It wasn’t long before I was wheeled into my semi-private room with her in an adjoining bassinet. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her and kept saying, “I made this.” My husband asked if I wanted him to stay the night and even though a part of me did, I said he could go home. I wanted to spend my first moments with Eve together and try to bond over breastfeeding. The nurses tried to help, but it was extremely difficult for both of us, instead of being anxious over this, I told myself that plans never go the way we want them to. I asked the nurses for supplements, and they made me feel incredibly guilty for doing so, I didn’t care. All I did care about was that she was fed and happy.

My anxiety was levelling out, and I just wanted to be home, I was tired, sore and swollen that I couldn’t even put my shoes on! Being pregnant and giving birth has given me a new perspective on what matters and what doesn’t. I made some big decisions during this time, one of them being that I don’t think I can go through this process again for my mental health. After going through months of depression on top of my anxiety was trying. I don’t think that’s selfish of me in the slightest, regardless of what others think. I grew up as an only child and i’m somewhat normal 😉

It’s been hard for me to write this article for the past couple of weeks, for two reasons

  1. I have lost the motivation to do what I generally love, including writing
  2. I’ve been debating whether or not I should share this

The truth is, I’ve been dealing with prenatal depression during my third trimester, and it has not been easy in the slightest. The reason why I’ve decided to share this is because pregnant women don’t divulge what’s truly going on with their mentality during or after their pregnancy – and since I come from a maternal line of different types of depression, I feel there’s a need for me to be open and honest with everyone.

If someone were to ask me right now how I’m feeling, I will generally say “I’m dealing with some depression, but I’m trying to remain positive” instead of the typical “OK” I would typically say during any depressive state. When others ask pregnant women how they are feeling they’re not looking for a paragraph response of ailments, but, I’m hoping that with my concise response that we can change the way society looks at pregnant women instead of thinking we’re all fine and dandy with our belly and glow.

The last trimester of pregnancy is a whirlwind of emotions and a roller coaster of hormones which should be going up and down throughout these last months. However, I still feel as if I’m at the starting point, on the bottom, waiting to feel elated from the adrenaline rush. When I mentioned this to my OB over a month ago, I was given one of those questionnaires that are all too familiar with me. I’ve filled these out numerous times before when I was seeking help through a therapist. When I tallied up my point score at the end of it, I started to shake. I knew that I had been feeling off due to circumstances out of my control, but the answer had been lying in front of me the whole time. I am depressed.

After I got my request to go to a mood clinic, I left the office angry. Why was I angry? Because this whole time during pregnancy, I’ve been anxious about postpartum depression, that I didn’t even think that I could get prenatal depression. I was angry at myself for thinking in the future instead of listening to my present, which, is one of my anxiety symptoms.

I started to look back at my triggers from March onwards: Not only did I go through some stressful life events (losing my Grandmother and the events that followed) but I was also feeling alone in my relationship with my husband. He started on a new production that is being managed a little out of the ordinary, and I’m lucky if I see him once throughout the working week. Add my family history on top of all of this, and you’ve got your recipe for depression.

I was showing the basic signs:

–    Persistent Sadness & withdrawal from others

–    Difficulty concentrating and making decisions

–    Sleeping & crying too much; my exhaustion is pretty extreme at times

–    Loss of interest in the things I usually enjoy

–    Change in eating habits

–    And of course, my lovely sidekick: Anxiety

I have to admit; I was in denial during those moments. Since these symptoms mirror usual pregnancy symptoms, I felt that it was just a bump in the road. What I did realize, after the fact, is that it’s not normal to feel consistently sad/uninterested and I started to feel guilty that I was making my unborn baby feel this way on top of it all. What started to worry me was the fact that I felt as if I couldn’t take care of myself properly, from a lack of motivation to cook and eat. During these moments I turn to my Grandmother’s spirit and think ‘what would she say?’ – the Jewish guilt is still palpable, and even if it was a quick PB&J that I fixed for myself, I knew she would be happy to know that something is better than nothing.

Since I’ve dealt with depression before, I started to do the following to help (aside from Therapy):

  1. Meditation

I remember a time when I meditated every morning, but ever since I got pregnant, it went down to the bottom of my list. I’m trying to put more effort into this, even if it’s just for 5 minutes a week

  1. Going outside

Even though Toronto humidity is killing me most days, I know that being in the sunshine helps me a bunch. I recently bought some frozen fruit bars to enjoy while I sit on my balcony basking in this sweltering heat! Mmm fruit bars.

  1. Napping

Even though I feel unproductive nowadays with my excessive exhaustion, I still manage to try and nap each day to make sure that I’m getting enough rest. My logic is, either my body or baby need it so everything else can be a lower priority

  1. Set up Reminders

I’m terrible at remembering to drink water throughout the day so several years ago I set up reminders in my phone. It’s been an enormous help, and I started to use it again to remind myself to eat throughout the day. Although to be fair, this little Spawn is the best reminder of all since she likes to kick me in the ribs if I don’t eat on time

  1. Spend time with family and/or friends

This one has been hard on me, so I decided my priority is to spend time with my family instead of my friends. I only have enough energy for one visit at a time now, but I make sure that I STICK to it and remind my friends, online, that it’s me and not them. I’m lucky that they understand that.

  1. Hire Help (if you can)

It’s been no secret with my family what I’m going through, I was honest with them from the start about my depression, and I’m glad that I did so. My mother-in-law suggested that we hire a cleaning service for the time being so I don’t have the responsibility or guilt to get EVERYTHING done personally. I’m glad I listened to her – the service is outstanding, and what would typically take me 8 hours to do, they did in under 3. Worth. Every. Penny.

  1. Communicate

There are days that I don’t feel like communicating, and I want to bask in silence on my couch. Then there are others when I need to express what’s going on. Unfortunately, I don’t have a proper routine for when these moods strike me, and they generally coincide with my husband’s schedule – the need to talk to him some nights when he’s working can feel excruciating at times. When I do see him, I try to cut past the moods of silence and force myself to tell him how I’m feeling, even if I can’t make sense of it myself at the time.

Even though I’m still battling this depression, I feel as if I must make this public since most women don’t seek treatment for their prenatal or postpartum depression out of embarrassment, shame or guilt.
To be honest, I feel thoroughly embarrassed that I’m going through this, and the guilt is heavy. But you know what? There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with how I’m feeling or the fact that it even crept up on me silently throughout these last months. I am now more susceptible to postpartum because of this, and the fact that I’m already on the right path of healing and treatment is excellent news for baby and me. Untreated depression can lead to a lot of issues, not only for yourself but for your unborn baby too.

If you think there’s any chance that you’re suffering from this type of depression – ASK FOR HELP. Your baby will need a mother who is healthy, not only in body but also of mind.

I can’t believe I’m at the end of my second trimester. These months seem to have flown by compared to my first trimester even though I was still going through some significant symptoms. The biggest being my mood swings – oh boy, they have come full frontal in these months. Trying to calm myself down during these swings has been nothing but challenging, but the worst was when my husband went out of town to work for several days. I was utterly overwhelmed by everything in general; housekeeping, cooking, etc. I didn’t realize how much I relied on secondary help until it was no longer available for me – I cried, panicked and did something I usually didn’t do. I reached out to numerous friends, telling them “I’m not OK.” I didn’t bother going into more detail than that because I couldn’t even put into words what was going through my head. I’m lucky that a friend who lives close by decided to drop in to check up on me – even though it was a short visit, I was able to put into words how anxious I was and immediately felt a weight lift off of me.

A sense of community during pregnancy is KEY to surviving any turmoil

Healthwise, I’ve been gaining weight appropriately and eating everything in sight. I still get some morning sickness (once or twice a month), but this is considered normal even though I could happily do without it. My cravings have been interesting, nothing out of the blue per se but I have noticed the types of food I’m craving all come from my childhood: PB&J, Kraft Dinner, Cinnamon Rolls (Just to name a few!) I am loading up on everything carb and not regretting a single bite. Curious to know if there’s any correlation or connection with childhood foods and pregnancy!

Unfortunately, the bigger I get, the more uncomfortable I am. Aside from the daily ligament & back pains, little Spawn is moving at a gargantuan rate, and my sleeplessness has come back. Even though I know it’s due to the pregnancy my anxious mind likes to set up camp during these times. I’m overthinking everything and lucky if I get 6 hours during a work week. Kudos to all women who still work full-time while pregnant! I feel as if I’m struggling most days to be present. My exhaustion has improved vastly from my last post but it’s still here, and I still hate it. I try to push through it the majority of the time, but there are certain days when I just sit on my couch for hours, watching terrible Hallmark movies and hoping a fairy will come by to do my dishes.

I finally had my first OB appointment this month; I was so nervous on meeting my new Doctor since I haven’t had the best track record with them in the past, but I was pleasantly surprised! She’s down to earth and offered me a lot of mental health support pamphlets once I told her about my G.A.D. – she was just as concerned as I was about delivery and post-partum which made me feel relieved that it’s just not in my mind. I honestly feel as if I’m in good hands, even though my mind will be racing for the next three months regardless.

I’ll try to give another update before little Spawn arrives but who knows when this one will want to make a grand entrance – expected due date is August 14th!

It’s been roughly a week since my husband, and I made out news public: we’re expecting!

When I initially found out that I was pregnant, all I wanted to do was scream it from the top of my lungs to anyone who would want to hear, but I knew better and tried to keep it hush as long as I could. We told our family members as soon as it was confirmed at five weeks but keeping it from so many other people has been a challenge! I’m happy that it’s finally public and that I can write about what’s been going on in my mind for the last little while

I have been off my medication for quite some time, and just that in itself has been an adjustment. Between weeks 5-12 I was drowning in several symptoms from pregnancy which seemed to have amplified my anxiety. The most severe one was morning sickness, which crept up on me every morning at least once or twice. Even though I was shoving food down my throat, I wasn’t gaining any weight and even lost two pounds. The over-thinking ensued at this point, and I already convinced myself that this was not normal. I also was struck with severe exhaustion and couldn’t even do my side business, let alone a sink full of dishes.
Luckily I have an excellent doctor who reassured me that gaining no weight in this time is completely natural and exhaustion is just one of the normal symptoms of pregnancy. Hearing this was great but if you knew me personally, you’d know that I hate being unproductive.

Since I was growing a tiny human, I knew that I had to change a lot of things both mentally and physically if I were to keep my anxiety at bay. The sleeplessness that I usually encounter seems to have disappeared – a blessing in disguise mostly – my husband has encouraged me to start napping. I scoffed at the idea since I haven’t been able to take a nap since I was a child (my mind is always racing!), but to my surprise, at the end of a long workday, both my mind and body were elated for me to plunge into a nap.
Due to my exhaustion, I have been unable to do my normal routines and have been slacking in working out. I convinced myself that the full pregnancy will not be this way and to do what I can: I started doing some stretches throughout the day, and even some basic yoga poses. Every inch of me is cracking when I do this, instead of being angry at myself I am trying to be happy with what I CAN do. Not an easy feat but changing my perspective has been helpful.

Aside from this, my mind has been racing from day one on everything associated with this little one. I am already in full mom-mode, worrying and over-thinking of every aspect from a baby, toddler and teenager. I have poured over all resources & books and lucky to have close friends who have gone through this already, so I feel as if I am prepared even though nothing can prepare you for something like this. My BIGGEST concern at the moment?
“What if my child is an extrovert”
Yes, I am seriously contemplating what my life will be like as a Highly-Sensitive-Introverted-Mother to a Popular-Extroverted-Do-All-The-Things-Kid.
Hopefully, all of my naps will cumulate and pour into this overstimulation if it happens (Yeah, right!)

*To those wondering, I will not be doing a mom-blog, there are many out there already that even cover the topic of Anxiety so I will not bother. Instead, I will be updating semi-regularly (by trimester most likely) and will continue with other topics as planned.