I can always tell I’m pregnant when I start salivating over fast food billboards. When there is no developing fetus in my body, we rarely eat fast food. I can’t even remember the last time I had a fast food hamburger, but every time I’m pregnant, the Big Mac begs to get in my belly. I never give in to the hamburger craving, but Taco Bell sure does see a lot of me during my pregnancies. And I can’t tell you how many stamps I received on my loyalty cards (plural) at the soft pretzel place during my first pregnancy.
The other way I can always tell I’m pregnant is a profound sadness that seems to engulf me and drag me down. I’ve read countless articles and books on pregnancy, and I talk about pregnancy with countless women. I’ve never seen or heard anybody mention this issue, so I don’t know if it’s just me, or if I’m a bad reader and listener.
One way to describe it is buyer’s remorse. It’s really a strange phenomenon — because months before I get pregnant, I really want a new baby. I dream about the baby, name the baby, and imagine how it will fit into our family. I pray for the baby, and can’t wait to see a positive sign on my pregnancy test.
And then I see the positive sign and think, “What have I done?”
Sometimes women are frustrated when they talk to me. So far, I haven’t had particularly difficult pregnancies *knock on wood*. I haven’t been sick, which seems unfair to women who do experience horrible symptoms. Women who have been through hell sometimes don’t understand why I’m not over the moon with my pregnancy, especially because I’m feeling physically fine.
But something psychological happens to me at the beginning of my pregnancies, and I really feel as if I can’t control it. I go into a deep funk, maybe even a mild depression. I just become so sad.
I’ve wondered if this is something I should admit in print — it makes me sound particularly awful, and I know my children may read this one day. Ultimately, I decided to be open on this issue in case my daughters experience it as well. I don’t regret my children for a second, but I’ve learned that sometimes even when you have exactly what you want, you can still be sad beyond your control.
Incidentally, I also think I have suffered from baby blues after the births of both of my children. It’s possible that this funk that engulfs me at the beginning of my pregnancies and the pit of despair I dwell in after the births is somehow related.
Before I got pregnant this time around, I expected the sadness to come. Maybe the sadness that then came was self-fulfilling prophesy. Maybe it would have come anyway. But I was prepared, so I secluded myself and allowed myself to be sad and work through my issues. I waited a long time before I told people about the pregnancy because I was certain I wouldn’t be able to bear happy claps and congratulations.
It seemed to work well. I was sad, but I was dealing just fine. As I emerged from my sadness step by step, I told one trusted friend and then another. I was completely surprised to find myself not depressed by their cheer, but lifted.
Women friends are essential — don’t I know that yet? Ultimately, my friends are what lifted me from the sadness that followed me around like Charlie Brown’s rain cloud. I’m a slow learner. Had I known how awesome my friends could help me feel, I would have gleefully discussed my pregnancy with everyone.
I’m scared for the baby blues that may come this June, especially because my parents will still be serving a mission in Detroit and won’t be here to help take care of me. But I think I’m finally starting to understand that friends are how we get through these difficult stages. Hopefully I’ll remember this lesson — but six and a half months is a long time to keep something in my brain.
Plus, I’m spending the majority of my brain’s energy fighting fast food hamburger urges.