Is it possible to contract postpartum depression before one’s baby is born?
I feel like I was handed a “Get Out of Jail Free” card when Natalie was born. The depression I was expecting, due to both my mother’s lifelong misery and my own pessimistic streak, never materialized. I never felt trapped in an impossible life, resentful of my baby, overwhelmed by the minute hand. I never had to measure the success of a day by how few irrational crying sessions I managed. I never battled fatigue that pinned me down with almost-physical force. I never felt unthinkable thoughts like I don’t want to be a mother anymore.
Until now. Yesterday was our due date according to my first ultrasound, and I can’t fathom why I’m still pregnant… not when the baby is big enough to be a two-month-old, not when her sister was born four weeks early, not when I’ve spent every day of the last month analyzing contractions. It feels like punishment, especially since my mind and body no longer cooperate with the simple task of surviving. And no, realizing that she will be here soon no longer makes me excited.
I already want to delete this post because I don’t want to admit that this October has sucked, tremendously, and because I don’t want to give people the impression that I’m imperfect (Pastor’s Kid Syndrome) or–heaven forbid–neurotic. That’s why I haven’t written much lately and why I haven’t posted most of what I’ve written.
This morning, however, I was reading some of Dooce’s archives about depression as well as journal entries from a friend whose newborn daughter was born crippled, and their honesty loosened the straightjacket I’ve shoved over my struggling brain. I have plenty of relatives who cope with problems by stuffing them into a sealed vault that eventually corrodes and leaks acid over everyone around, and I don’t want to do that to myself or my family. Ever.
So this post has no point except to say I’m having a hard October, which feels a lot like admitting I’m an alcoholic or a serial killer or possibly a combination of the two. But I’m glad to open the vault. It’s my grown-up way of rebelling against my parents and also a pretty good way to actively unregret myself. Call it therapy.