October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month! This week leading up to October 15th, I am partnering with fellow loss mama, and writer, Liz Mannegren, to help create discussion and raise awareness about this vitally important topic.
This Motherhood Story Day 3 Journal Prompt: Take the time to be honest with yourself today. Journal about what pregnancy loss was really like emotionally. What emotions were present during the loss of your child? What physical symptoms did you notice due to your mood? Use as many descriptive words as you can to share your experience.
I stood in my doctor’s office one month after the first miscarriage. It was the final follow-up to let me know that my “uterus is clear.” While I was thankful that no other medical interventions were needed, I was heartbroken that my uterus was empty. His little heartbeat was supposed to be thriving within me. Instead, every part of his existence was gone. He had gone home, leaving me here on earth.
“I’m just going to get you to fill out a form before you leave” my doctor said. She returned with a form used to diagnose depression. Depression? I don’t have depression. I’m grieving. I left that appointment with antidepressant samples in my hands, struggling to accept that I had depression.
That low, empty, dark, pit within me never really left, and seven months later we experienced our second miscarriage. I didn’t want to leave my bed. I didn’t want to open my blinds. I wanted to be in my pajamas all day. I had no appetite. The fatigue was unreal. I felt like I had been hit by a truck, then dragged for miles.
When I found out I was pregnant for the fourth time just two months later, I had no excitement. I was terrified. My only thought was, “How long will I get to carry this one?” The fourth pregnancy blessed us with our rainbow baby, and I was monitored heavily during pregnancy by my general practitioner, obstetrician, psychiatrist, and clinical counsellor. “You’re at high risk for postpartum depression” they all repeated to me at each appointment.
I tend to need a cognitive understanding of anything happening to me. It helps me with coping. I was trying to research when depression turns into postpartum depression, or if you can get postpartum depression after a pregnancy loss. There is no clear line of when depression changes into postpartum depression, and most health professionals will not separate them, but you can get postpartum depression anywhere from birth up to three years postpartum. And no surprise, I learned that postpartum depression can occur after a miscarriage.
I was in denial for many months. The depths of depression were immobilizing. There were days I felt like depression won. No matter how hard I tried to experience joy, this indescribable weight was holding me down. Lies clawed their way into my life telling me that I was not a good mother, that I had failed my children, that I would never get better.
When I finally accepted that depression was my reality, I was able to start moving through that pit of anguish, along with the grief. I had learned about the stages of grief prior to having children, never anticipating that I would have to experience the stages in the midst of trying to expand my family.
With all the support that surrounded me, I still felt so alone. I had enough courage to reach out for help, but it felt like nothing was helping. I know I lost hope at one point in time. It was a daily battle to seek light in the midst of darkness. I worked hard. By grace, I found my footing through the storm that overwhelmed me with waves of despair.
I really want to encourage you not to give up. I still fall into the postpartum depression category, and will always have some level of depression and anxiety associated with my body. The consuming darkness will end. I promise.
Resources for postpartum depression and anxiety:
Pacific Post Partum Society
Your family doctor
Reproductive mental health specialists
Clinical counsellors or psychologists
Each day, we will be tackling a new journal prompt about grief and life after loss, and we encourage you to join us! Use the #thismotherhoodstory hashtag to share your journal prompts and help us build meaningful conversations about the reality of pregnancy loss! We don’t want you to miss out on any of these posts, so be sure to follow along on my Facebook and Instagram AND on Liz’s Facebook and Instagram.