Hello friends! So this is my first blog post in about a year and a half again. I recently have considered starting blogging again but I’m not even sure I know how to anymore. Nonetheless, here I am giving it a try.
So first a little update. I am now 20 weeks pregnant with my first baby (a boy). I also have been suffering from depression for 14 years. That means I have been on medication for years. I have been on a consistent cocktail of the same meds that work for 5 years. Four different medications. My husband and I got married in March this year and we both wanted to start having babies immediately so we didn’t wait. I fell pregnant immediately within the same month. Of course I never wanted to be on medication whilst I was pregnant but I was well read up on the risks and benefits and none of the medications I was on posed a risk of congenital malformations. Also, should a mother with severe depression discontinue her meds and relapse, the consequences are more detrimental to the baby than being on medication. High stress levels increase the risk for miscarriage, being in a depressive state during pregnancy has been shown to put the baby at risk of behavioural issues later in his life, lack of appetite and insomnia that comes with the depression puts the baby at risk of poor growth and developmental delay and the list goes on. Being on medication outweighed the risks of not being on it.
There are however risks in being on it as well. Like I said, the ones I am on pose no teratogenic risk which is the major thing. But when the baby who was exposed to meds in the third trimester is born, he/she may experience withdrawal symptoms and gastrointestinal issues as well as possible respiratory distress and neonatal ICU stay. That I definitely also don’t want for my baby no matter how small the risk. So of course, I started the process of trying to get off all my meds before the third trimester. So far I have over the last two to three months come off two antidepressants and besides being slightly more emotional, I have been okay and not had a depressive relapse. Even though it’s still early days, I am hoping it stays that way and I remain stable. Those two meds were my biggest concern. The challenge however started when I tried to come off Lamotrigine and Seroquel. The last two days have left me feeling like utter sh*t physically. My appetite is gone, I’m nauseas, I can’t sleep and I feel like I have flu. All I want to do is stay in bed. If I’m lucky, I fall asleep for about 45 minutes during a nap. It has now been four nights since I last slept well. Not eating and sleeping is not good for my baby. I contacted my Doctor and she changed my script to tapering more slowly so now I am going to try that. So far my baby is doing perfect and I want him to be born without withdrawal effects or struggles.
My point in all of this information overload is; pregnancy and depression is incredibly hard and I not only have the greatest empathy for mothers that have a mental illness but also those who have to make the biggest sacrifices for their baby and want to come off meds. Brain chemistry that has been adapted through years suddenly has to change completely through the span of 3 months and that can be incredibly tough and put you at risk of relapse. It’s not ideal to have to be on meds at all and the fact that I couldn’t just go cold turkey on it all from day 1 so many times makes me feel like a bad mother already because I even had to have my son exposed to medication. It’s so hard walking around feeling wretched with my stomach in my chest, constant back ache, nose bleeds, painful legs and hips when I sleep at night, headaches and constant paranoia about whether my baby is still okay in there between each ultrasound (I might end up being one of those neurotic, overprotective mothers) then add to that the medication situation… Pregnancy is not as easy as I thought it would be and I resent my depression greatly asking the big “Why? Why? Why?” all the time.
But despite it all, I wouldn’t exchange it for anything. I love my boy so much already and this little life I have been blessed with makes everything worth it and I can’t wait to meet him. But if I am going to get through this and give my baby the best I can, I need to be gracious to myself and my body. Every mother needs to be. Yes, my world suddenly revolves around this life in my hands and I want the very best for him and love him so much already, but I can’t give him my best if I don’t take care of myself and my body. So to all the mothers and mothers-to-be out there, remember to take care of yourself first, otherwise you won’t be able to take care of anyone else. Be gentle with yourself, listen to your body, rest and make sure you get enough nutrients in and remember, you’re a warrior, you can overcome whatever comes your way. ❤