Antenatal Depression? PTSD? Thanks Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I’m having a bit of a difficult time right now, and that’s hard for me to admit.

This may be a short post.  I don’t really want to write it.  But Kat over at Love Makes a Family and I had a conversation recently about how important honesty is, so I need to be honest about this.  It would be easier to tell you all that things are fine, I’m doing well, thanks so much.  But that would be a lie.  And lies hurt people.  I’m not lying to myself anymore and it would not be fair to lie to you.

I’ve been reading some of the post partum depression posts and tweets from James & Jax which have really helped me get to a place where I can ask for help.

In case it’s not completely obvious from my obsessively detailed protocol, I’m just a teensy bit of a control freak.  I’m sure you haven’t figured that out by now.  Being a control freak means that I “handle” things way past the point of it being wise to do so.  It makes it really hard for me to ask for help.

It’s not a pride thing.  It’s more like, I don’t feel like I should be a bother.  I don’t want to make a big deal.  It’s why I suffered for so long during the hyperemesis gravidarum of my first pregnancy.  It’s why it took me years of writing and rewriting to be willing to show the protocol to my doctor and it’s why the long, gentle, and affirming conversation that I had with my doctor during my preconception visit probably saved this baby’s life.

So last week, I got up the courage to ask my midwife for the names of a few counselors.

But I didn’t call them.  You know, I just wanted to have them around in case I needed them.

Then, this past Tuesday, I ended up basically walking out of the office in tears for absolutely no reason.

Okay.  So that’s not good.  I called my midwife again and asked her to diagnose me with something because I just didn’t feel like I could handle work, home, pregnancy, everything anymore, and she very gently gave me the push I needed to pick up the phone and give those counselors a call.

So, I’ve made the calls.  I’m trying to figure out what’s going to happen with my insurance.  She’s out of network, but there don’t seem to be any in our area that are good for PTSD and pregnancy related mental health issues.  My doctor has also been kind enough to look into it for me as well.

I’ll be 35 weeks tomorrow.  I can’t wait to be Not Pregnant.

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13 thoughts on “Antenatal Depression? PTSD? Thanks Hyperemesis Gravidarum

  1. I’m so sorry to hear that, Molly. Keep us updated – you really are doing an awesome job getting through this.

    Something crazy – have you considered placenta medicine for after the birth? It does help for postpartum moods and might help in warding off PPD. I’m sure your midwives can help you with that if you’re interested (or your doula). I did it last time and loved it. You can look it up on my birth blog.

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    1. Diana, It’s my understanding that placenta consumption is not recommended for HG patients due to the hormones in the placenta and the amount of filtering it has had to do with all of the drugs I’ve had to take. But I will ask my midwives for their take. I’m lucky enough to have a midwife who actually had HG, so if anyone will know, she will.

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      1. I’ll be interested to hear what your midwives say!! I did it and had great success with it, but then again I am not a severe-HG mother. Hoping you feel better very, very soon!

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  2. Bless your heart. Been there, done that. I felt all of those feelings. I felt SO depressed, so upset to still be pregnant. I even asked my doctor if she could just deliver early. I told her I trusted that NICU would take good care of him, and that he would be fine. {No judgment please people, I love my son more than anything in the world, but that’s how depressed I was.} She said no. I cried and begged. I counted down days. I would lay in bed and cry myself to sleep saying over and over, “Just say I don’t have to do this again…” to Travis, and he would. He would say it over and over again, promising me that I would never go through that again. And later, when I doubted my choice, he remembered and held to his promise. I’m so grateful for that.

    When I went in for one of my twice weekly NST tests, and the nurse (who had become my friend over the time spent there) said at 39 weeks, “Wow, honey, I almost didn’t expect to see you this week! But you’re still pregnant!” I burst into tears and requested a different nurse. She felt so bad she cried too.

    It was a bad bad time. And honestly, I probably should have sought professional help. There were many reasons I didn’t, some I’m not proud of. Since we’re being honest, I’ll share one of the reasons: I knew that we would be adopting someday, and certain countries like China specifically, will not adopt to a couple where either of the partners has EVER been treated for depression. That terrified me. *If* we adopt internationally, it will probably be Korea and not China, but I didn’t want to shut the door to any nation for something that I just knew in my heart would get better. And over time, probably six months after Little was born, it did. But many many people don’t. I still say I should have gone to speak with someone. It shouldn’t have taken as long as it did for me to feel okay with life again. But I didn’t know how our adoption journey would play out and the idea that I’d have to “explain” something later, or that my entire beautiful family would be rejected because of my stupid depression just made me hate myself even more in that time.

    I respect and admire your honesty and transparency. It’s no laughing matter, and you’re absolutely doing the right thing to not only admit this but also seek help. I wish I had. I wouldn’t have suffered alone for so long.

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  3. When people (and practitioners) talk about the difficulties and the nuances of HG they only touch upon the physical aspects; no one mentions the emotional toll it takes on us.

    With my first daughter the antenatal depression was bad. Thankfully I switched my care to a CNM at 34/35 weeks and she helped me through the last bit of pregnancy, watching me post-partum very carefully for signs of PPD.

    With the second pregnancy I was already under the care of a therapist due to depression (that stemmed from other major medical problems) back in 2009. On weeks where I was too sick to make it to appointments — I had a PICC-line for just over 25 weeks — she’d stop by the house for a session or we’d chat over the phone. She was my lifesaver and my antenatal depression was much more controlled.

    Both times the depression has caused serious impacts upon my relationships with friends and family. I’d hoped the 2nd time they’d be more understanding; if anything it was worse. I gave birth almost 8 months ago and am still working diligently to repair damages done.

    So I give you huge props for taking the steps to get help. You ARE doing a fantastic job. Soon enough you will put the HG behind you and move on to the next chapter. ((hugs))

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  4. Dear Molly…
    Thirty-five weeks. I remember how that felt. I wish I’d had a post like this to read so I would have known I wasn’t alone.

    This is why I send your link to girls all over the world.

    I, too, can’t wait for you to be Not Pregnant. I think the pure smell of a newborn baby is one of the most powerful anti-depressants in the world.

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  5. Hi Molly. I’m so happy to have helped! I want to second Diana’s comment about the placental pills. I keep hearing about how ingesting the placenta in pill form is a powerful weapon against PPD. I think I will try it if I ever give birth again. Can’t hurt.

    I will continue to keep you in my thoughts. I hope you keep reaching out like you have & being honest here on your blog. What Mandy said, that is so true–you ARE doing a great job and you should be proud of yourself for doing what needs to be done to feel better. Big hugs to you, Molly!

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  6. PTSD? You bet! I have read the symptoms, people will mock when I say that I suffered it after my second pregnancy, I certainly suffer it after the third. And it makes you a shadow of yourself, and just terrified. When women ask me will the HG go away right after delivery, I know they mean the physical, so I say yes to reassure, but you can not underestimate the mental toll this takes on us.

    Get the help you need. Physical mental, all of it. I have heard that magnesium helps relieave post partum, if you are concerned. It can probably help now. The easiest way to get it, soak in an epsom salt bath. When I was in the throws of HG, the only thing I wanted to do was soak in a bath, threw up right when I got in and right when I got out, but I was able to lay there for the most part uninterrupted for a half hour at a time. So perhaps you might try it, it can’t hurt, and it might at the very least relieve and muscle aches you have.

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  7. I’m sorry for not responding to all of your comments. I kind of wrote this post and then ran away and hid for a while. I really do appreciate the support. It means a lot to me. My appointment is scheduled for Wednesday of this week.

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  8. I will be honest. It can take a long, long time to resolve many of the issues caused by HG in mental health.

    Naomi was two before I really started to deal with the rage I felt at my DH for his less than stellar support during that pg. He had no idea how angry I still was — neither did I! it took a lot of talking it though before I was willing to do another pregnancy — Naomi was six weeks shy of 4 when Eddie was born.

    It is hard to describe pregnancy-related PTSD to someone who has never experienced it, and to describe the difference between PTSD and PPD. I have never had PPD; I am always so absolutely overjoyed to no longer be pregnant! But PTSD sure came on hard.

    I would have terrible nightmares I was choking on vomit, never able to draw a breath. I would feel inexplicable rage when I saw a healthy pregnant woman. I had an obsessive fear of death for me and my babies. I would fly off the handle with my husband for little things, and out of my mouth would come the things I thought when pg and he would ignore me on the bathroom floor: “I hate you. I wish I’d never married you. You don’t love me.” I wasn’t feeling these things anymore, but the echo of them kept coming up whenever we had an argument.

    I eventually saw a counsellor, and that was an incredibly helpful and healing experience. It was wonderful for someone to validate what I went through, and then help me find ways to cope.

    Much love to you as you start to face this and get a helping hand. My counsellor once told me PTSD was a sign of a remarkably tough person — it’s a coping mechanism people use when a situation is overwhelming. PTSD is saying to yourself, subconciously, I will deal with this later, when I am better able.

    Hugs.

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