Stepper Emerges

I have been sitting on this post for a while. I'm a little nervous to share, anxious to tell it right. You know the kind.

So in preparation, after the kids were in bed I took a long bath, did my fingers and toes, and even threaded my eyebrows (Friday Fact teaser!). So now I am smelly-good squeaky clean - and still not sure where to begin.

During my recent sporadic posting, I mentioned a few times that I haven't been feeling myself. Blaming pregnancy, mostly. But it goes a bit deeper than that.

Turns out I've been coping with a case of Perinatal Depression. You'd never heard of that, either? Basically, it's when those crazy pregnancy hormones get just a bit crazier than usual, and dump poor, unsuspecting mommy-to-be on the dirty corner curb of "I don't feel like myself" lane and "IDON'TLIKESTUFFANYMORE!" street.

Okay, I wasn't exactly dumped. It sorta crept up on me.

I knew I was feeling out of sorts, and, you know, not like myself (I know I keep coming back to this phrase, but...have you ever felt like someone that's not you? It's very bizarre and unnerving!) - and then I started to notice that I was really, REALLY not feeling like myself AT ALL.

Where the heck did *I* go? I began to wonder.

So I started taking mental inventory.

Okay - I'm always exhausted, and am usually lying on something or slumped against something else. Not exactly attractive, but not exactly alarming either, considering I am in the throes of my roughest pregnancy yet - and had an almost-three and almost-one year old in my charge. More tired than any of my other pregnancies made sense.

I seemed to be much more irritable - and was sometimes downright mean to my Man for really no good reason at all. I wasn't just short on patience, I was in the negative. I was in patience debt! I hate it when I am like this - but again, not exactly something that couldn't be explained by a taxing pregnancy.

I began ticking them off:

No willpower.
No motivation.
No interest.
No desire to be creative.
No desire to be social.
Many many manymany tears.

I was even finding it extremely difficult to blog (hence the sporadic nature of late).


But all explainable by pregnancy and those hormone bandits that hold us preggo's at gunpoint and MAKE us do these crazy things!

But...somewhere deep inside - kinda between my heart and my gut - I knew that this wasn't just being pregnant. Something was going on. I talked to Bill about it, but he was as perplexed as I was - and aside from the random and unprovoked attacks to his person, he wasn't really seeing anything too extremely out of the ordinary for Pregnant Monster Stepper (the anagram of which is humorously appropriate).

Then it hit me.

I was pregnant. Pregnant. I let the word roll around in my brain. I tried to think about all that this meant for me and my family. Pregnant. With Child. In the Family Way. Expecting...


I got nothing.

I was not in the least bit excited about the fact that I was pregnant. It wasn't just that I wasn't excited - I simply didn't care.

A small panic took root in my stomach and started banging against my chest. Wrong, it clanged against my ribcage, making a hollow echoing sound. Wrong. Wrong.

The end result of my current condition would be a warm, snuggly little human fresh to the world - with those wrinkly little toes and those dark, trying-to-peek eyes. A baby! MY baby! I knew that deep inside, I was so unbelievably excited I couldn't think straight. I just couldn't make myself feel it.

When I was expecting Wyatt, I read every single thing I cold get my hands on about pregnancy, babies, the whole deal. I was atune to every twinge, every bump, every single pregnancy-related phenomenon that I experienced!

With Daphne, I chilled on the text-book reading (and really, who could stomach What To Expect more than once, right?) and was more into experiencing the thing than learning about what I was experiencing. My daughter person was in my every thought, and I was very into being pregnant with her.

With this one - I never even thought about it. Sometimes I forgot I was pregnant. Sometimes I would pull a face and shrug it off like it was something to deal with later. Like folding laundry.

 It was so NOT me - I just can't emphasize that enough. I felt like a stranger to myself, and it was getting hard to live in my own skin. I was I mean, Stepper? Not excited about a baby?  Something was definitely wrong with me.

In my mind, I knew that I was excited. I knew that I didn't actually not care. I knew that I was not actually irritated with anyone and that I really had no reason to be so blah. But this logical part of my mind just wasn't reaching any of the rest of me.

I knew about postpartum depression; that it was a surge or shift in hormones that caused it, and that it lasted anywhere from a week to a few years - but that it was temporary. I began to wonder - if hormones could do that to you after pregnancy - couldn't they do that to you DURING pregnancy? I mean, hormones were going nuts then too, right? Was there such a thing as prenatal depression?

It made sense to me. So I began to research.

Turns out that, yep! there is such a thing! And, oh, it's just as common as postpartum depression! They call it Perinatal Depression - and it can strike at any point during pregnancy and can last anywhere from a week to a few months after delivery.

This meant three very big things for me.

1. I wasn't going crazy! I mean, I was...but explainably so.
2. It wasn't serious. I mean, you know, on the scale of things.
3. It was temporary. I would - eventually - feel like myself again.

Just seeing that flicker of light at the end of this bizarre tunnel (Willie Wonka bizarre!) began to turn things around for me.

That and an unexpected love letter from my husband. Powerful medicine, that!

So where before I was spiraling out, getting deeper and deeper into it for weeks, finally hitting my crux of crazy at about the six week mark from when I began to notice an off-ness - now I have only my bad days, bad nights, sometimes bad couple of hours where I can feel the not-me Stepper take the controls and I become the irrational stranger for a time.

And it's all worth it! Because at the end of this journey, I will hold my little Third in my arms (wrinkled feet, peeking eyes and all) and everything we go through to get him/her here melts away into the insignificance that it truly is (I say 'we' because the Man, the Bean and the Bird have been on this journey just as much as I have. Howzat saying go? When momma be crazy, be everyone crazy?).

In a few short months, I'll meet my baby. Something I can now honestly say I am looking forward to - because I have felt it.


Jeff and Ari said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing this. I can't tell you how much I related to this. I really thought I was losing it when I was pregnant, and I didn't understand how something so happy was making me feel so crazy, etc. I wish I would have looked into this more then - it would have made a difference. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help ... or if you just wanna come play!

erita said...

you captured the struggle of depression perfectly, stepper. . .having experienced it (albeit, not the peri- or post-partum kind) on and off several times myself, i'm sometimes at a loss for words to describe what i feel versus what i know. thanks for sharing this, difficult as it was. hang in there!

Briana said...

Glad you're back:) I hate to think you went through this, but like you said, at least it doens't last forever. Wish you could say that about all depression eh? It's a maddening thing, that. Hope everything goes well with the rest of your pregnancy, can't wait to see pictures of your newest family member!! Miss yer face:D

Jenn said...

Hey Stepper, you don't know me, but we have several friends in common because I used to live at Black Horse (in Tamsin's), and saw you in the blog world and on facebook making comments, and I thought Who is this Stepper girl? and clicked on your blog and fell instantly in love with your family.
I promise I'm not a stalker, I'm a nice girl.
I also experienced depression during and after my pregnancies, and so I know exactly what you meant when you said you lost yourself. I'm glad the real Stepper is coming back. Hang in there!