As my first official entry I want to go back and begin this process of motherhood when the process really began- pregnancy. Suffice it to say that my pregnancy was nothing like I had always dreamed it to be, which is always a great start for some gritty spiritual work. Surrender was the lesson i really sunk into, and boy did i ever get a good schooling in it! For the most part, I wasn’t the happy, glowing mama I always dreamed of. I always imagined I’d be like Mother Earth incarnate meets Venus, with a big juicy belly, a radiant and peaceful smile, long, thick healthy hair and Mother Theresa’s love for all beings everywhere. Quite a lofty vision i held for myself. Maybe a bit embarrassing to admit too, but i imagined i’d be filled with a divine maternal love. My reality however was being sick and depressed for about 2/3 of my pregnancy. I was so sensitive, irritable and intolerant of everything. New York City became this smelly, ugly, overpopulated wasteland enemy and i could hardly stand being around people. I had ALL DAY sickness and vertigo for the first 18 weeks, so i didn’t have to face my new enemy NYC by leaving the house. It was severe. I thought the sickness and nausea would never end. But worse then any nausea was the depression. Having had a history of depression I wasn’t a total stranger to the landscape, but i was rightfully crushed that here it was, encroaching upon the most dreamed about and anticipated time of my life. I had honestly always prepared myself for the possibility that i would encounter postpartum depression when the time came, given my history, but prenatal depression… I had never even heard of it let alone considered it as a possibility! I have always wanted to be a mother and so looked forward to the time when I would get to be a vessel for the life growing inside of me. To arrive at such a time with a heavy heart and a veil over my eyes was like a punch in the belly.
If you look up prenatal depression online you will find approximately 3 sentences about it. What you find mostly are pharmaceutical ads and really depressing online forums. Neither helpful when in the throws of some serious darkness. What i know from all my years with depression, healing work, and emotional education is that having a healthy mirror to reflect us back in our experiences is a big proponent to healing. We need clear, healthy reflections and intuitive supporters to help us understand ourselves better. We need other peoples stories to help us understand and articulate our own suffering too, otherwise we end up just feeling adrift in a sea of sadness all on our own. That which we can’t articulate we have to act out, so it’s important to find the words to express our suffering in order to heal it, or make it through in one piece.
With all that said, I wanted to talk a little bit about my prenatal depression in case anyone else out there is suffering from it too. It’s the pits. Truly gut wrenching. Disappointing. Disheartening. Damaging to our self-esteem and possibly our overall well-being. But if you think about it, prenatal depression isn’t such a strange occurrence. Statistics actually say about 10% of women experience this. Of course no one talks about it because pregnancy is supposed to be a time of joy and great expectations. Though in reality pregnancy is one of the most life altering, self-altering times in our lives as women. Our bodies are drowning in new hormones which are tampering with our moods and emotions, and meanwhile we’re facing the greatest metamorphosis we may ever know. Emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually… Every aspect of us is being stretched. We have these images in the media of how we should be at these different stages of our lives and it ends up creating unrealistic expectations and self-judgment when we arrive at the occasion and have a completely different experience. We embark upon these radical journeys in our lives with glossy and unrealistic ideals of what the path might really look and feel like at times. More often then not, these major life changes are growth spurts and with that comes growing pains. Its as though our collective consciousness is missing the more honest images of what these various seasons in our lives are truly made of. The depth and complexity that underlays pregnancy and motherhood is so much more rich then just the joy of the fertile goddess. We need to start speaking up and honoring the dark, twisted, and tangled nature to these beautiful experiences that many of us women traverse at some point in our lives. We have to honor the death that exists at the start of any birth in our life, as well as make space for the shadows that are cast during times of great illumination.
Aside from the obvious hormonal realities of pregnancy, which are majorly responsible for prenatal and postpartum depression, pregnancy is a real death and rebirthing process for women. It is no real surprise that during these times many women suffer from some form of depression. We need to make space for all the ways that this holy, life-giving process manifests itself within us. We owe it to ourselves, our souls, and our children. For at the end of the day, don’t we want to teach our children how to be fully human?
Darkness is a part of life, and light. When the beaming moments in our lives, such as a marriage to our beloved or the pregnancy of a child dawn upon us like a bright new day, let us not turn our backs when the sun sets toward the night. The night is just as important, just as relevant, if not more so! There are so many pearls to be mined in the deep dark waters within, so take a deep breath, make some space, create some rituals for the process you find yourself in, and just hang in there. One thing we can always rely on is the break of dawn. As the song goes, “To everything… there is a season… and a time to every purpose, under heaven.”
As for my story, I was sick and down through week 18. Felt great and mighty week 22 through week 29. Was back to the blues from 30 to 41. And then at exactly 41 weeks Veda Moon was born, and the joy has been almost non-stop ever since. To be fair, i was genuinely certifiable during the first month postpartum. I had major swings in mood, serious highs and lows, but that is to be expected. Soon enough it all began to level off. And despite the lack of sleep, i’ve never felt so good.
**If you are experiencing prenatal or postpartum depression please know that you are not alone! So many of us go through it one way or the other… It’s just a passing season. Our babies survive it. We survive it. Lean into it. Allow it to coexist. Find grace in the surrender. And please be sure to get lots of love and support and help in all forms. You deserve it.