About a boy (or two)

depression in pregnancy

I’ve never tried to put this into words, this story my heart knows and my gut feels and my mind won’t let me smother every time I look at their faces. It will forever be the pin that punctures the yellow balloon of sunshine, slowly releasing the air that fills it.

depresison in pregnancy

There are so many entry points for this story. How we tried for a year and a half to get pregnant the second time around. How I took a pregnancy test at six o’clock in the morning because I had been tracking my cycles so I knew the exact day that a positive pregnancy test was a possibility. How Mia was the only one home at the time and the second she woke up I told her I had a baby in my tummy because I couldn’t hold it in. I had to tell someone. I had to speak the words out loud. How we went to a friend’s house that night and my stomach protruded a little more with each passing hour. I called the OB-GYN’s office on Monday to set up an appointment. They were skeptical seeing as how early it was, but I knew. I got sick within a few days — feverish chills and dizzying nausea and insomnia and exhaustion. Maybe it was all of these things combined but all along there was a low hum inside of me, a frequency that my soul felt even as my mind chased it away.

I was having twins.

depression in pregnancy

So I was not shocked during the ultrasound when two little beans showed up inside a space reserved for one. I was shocked, however, that my gut instinct about something so HUGE was spot on. And yet it didn’t feel real to me. Everything I felt when I was pregnant with Mia was intensified. I was more nauseous, more exhausted, more emotional, just more. Literally. I gained exactly double what I had gained with Mia. So logically all signs pointed to twins but I couldn’t absorb it. I knew all along but even in the face of evidence I chased it away.

The day I went in to find out the sex of the babies my mom and Mia came with me. I wanted Mia to see the babies on the screen, to connect with them and feel her big sisterness. I was not expecting what happened next.

The ultrasound tech navigated the wand over my belly until she found what she was looking for.

“Baby A is a boy,” she said. I looked over at Mia to see her reaction. At my baby girl who was not such a baby anymore. At that moment I felt something I hadn’t before.

Please, God, let baby B be a girl. I’m begging you.

For reasons I can’t explain, I felt this shift inside of me. I clung to the hope of another baby girl as though it were a life preserve. I wanted desperately to take back our decision to find out the sex of the babies. I wanted to be able to deny the second instinct I had about this pregnancy.

“Baby B is also a boy.”

I wanted to crumble. This all feels so silly now, two plus years after the fact, after they’re here and woven into our lives so intricately that I can’t imagine the fabric of our family without them. Now that they’re here and they’re THEM.

All that time, if I only knew it was YOU. Not some faceless, nameless boys, but YOU.

depression in pregnancy

But it wasn’t silly then. Far from it.

My mom and Mia went back out into the waiting room while I went into an examination room and waited for the doctor. I don’t remember what he talked about during the appointment. I don’t remember the drive home. I do remember setting Mia up with a movie and closing myself in the bathroom so I could finally cry. I was grieving for the little girl I suddenly wanted so desperately. At that time, Mia was three (soon to be four) and her babyhood was something oily slipping through my fingers. Keenly aware of the impossibility to hold on tight enough, I thought another baby girl would take away this feeling of “losing” my first baby girl. If only I could do it all over again.

depression in pregnancy

the day after we found out the babies would be boys

I think I’ve never tried to put this into words because as someone who has had two healthy pregnancies resulting in three healthy babies, I’m aware of how it might come off as trite but here it goes.

The following weeks were filled with desperation and paralysis. I went through the motions of my days, covering the basics as best I could, but I wasn’t really there. I felt as though I were walking through a glass tunnel. I could see everything, hear everyone, but I couldn’t touch anything. I could never get close enough to life outside to feel it. I hid what I could during the day but cried at night. I cried so much that blood clots formed in my nose and I watched the blood and tears mix as I bent over the toilet at midnight, 2am, 4am, 6am. I started resenting the babies that invaded my body and seemed to grow at warp speed. I may or may not have fantasized about falling down the stairs. I prayed that I would go on bed rest to just rest. I just needed to rest. Physically, emotionally, mentally. I wanted to sleep for a long, long time.

And then something happened. I went for an ultrasound and as the tech switched to 3D this appeared:

twin ultrasound

“But they have their own placentas. How are they touching?”

“The membrane that separates them is thinner than a string.”

Those are my babies looking peaceful and serene despite the torment I was going through. Despite the torment I was putting them through.

This is when I started saying that though I couldn’t give them all of me, I was able to give them each other. And in the weeks when I felt that I didn’t want them, when I prayed that God would take them from me and give them to someone who did want them, who could love them better than I could, I know they drew strength from each other.

Where I failed in nurturing them through projections of warm and cozy thoughts or the sound of my voice humming soft lullabies, they had each other.

And so this is what I began to tell myself to eradicate the guilt that consumed me:

Though my laughter was scarce, my heartbeat was strong and steady. Though I was wracked with nausea and exhaustion and depression, my womb was hushed and still. Though I stood at the top of my stairs and thought, What if…, my body endured and protected them from my mind.

During the ultrasound above it was discovered that Baby B had too much amniotic fluid and preterm labor became a possibility, but there was nothing I could do to prevent it. So we just kept on keeping on and they held on.

They held on because they knew what I didn’t — that I needed them in a way I couldn’t understand until I saw them for the first time. Until I held them in my arms and looked into their faces and thought, So all along it’s been you. Of course it’s been you.

depression in pregnancy

For more information on depression during pregnancy:

http://www.babycenter.com/0_depression-during-pregnancy_9179.bc

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/depressionduringpregnancy.html

http://www.psyweb.com/articles/bipolar/antepartum-depression

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24 thoughts on “About a boy (or two)

    • Lara says:

      Thanks so much, Lindsey. I actually started writing it a while ago but I needed to sit with it before I published it. The boys turned 2 a couple of weeks ago and I suddenly felt stifled when trying to write about them, so I knew it was time to get this out. It was both an attempt to clear my conscience and an apology to my boys, but for the sake of being as concise as possible I left a lot out. As always, thanks for reading. xx

  1. Heidi says:

    Oh, my friend. There is nothing trite here. At all. This is honest and authentic. And resounds with the pain that all mothers know on some level even if it doesn’t match this experience exactly. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Lara says:

      Thanks, Heidi. I hesitated putting this out there because on some level I still feel like I didn’t own the rights to depression when so many multiple pregnancies suffer through complications and sometimes loss. There was no rhyme or reason for my depression, and I’m still learning (and trying to accept) that sometimes that’s just how it is. xx

  2. scribblechic says:

    This is both brave and beautiful – capturing an unedited moment of memory to mark your journey as a mother for your children and for strangers struggling with their own sense of loss. I especially love “something oily slipping through my fingers.” I am certain you could not have stated this more simply or more elegantly. Your love shines brightly between each shadow of this sharing.

    • Lara says:

      Thank you so much. Yes, another reason why I felt I needed to share my experience with antepartum depression was to hopefully reach someone who needs to read it. I quietly carried this guilt and shame throughout my pregnancy, and I think if I would have known more about antepartum depression I wouldn’t have been so lost. xx

  3. now at home mom says:

    I really love this, it’s beautiful Lara, I love everything you shared with us today! When I was pregnant I knew it was going to be a boy, don’t know why but I just knew, I think it’s because I desperately wanted a little girl and felt sad when we found out it was going to be a boy! I could relate! again I have to tell you, you are wonderful mommy raising your little girl and your gorgeous twins! 🙂

  4. little red pen says:

    What beautiful faces you all have. I have two very dear boys, and I still wonder where my little red-haired girl is, but I see them together and I know they are just who they were always meant to be. Thank you for writing the things that are sometimes too hard to say.

    • Lara says:

      Thank you. It took me two years to sit down and attempt to write about it. Now that I have, I feel like this was a rough draft in a way. I know I’ll need to revisit it again in the future to feel any sort of closure. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  5. belindambrock says:

    Thanks for your candor in sharing this. Only through writing and talking about these feelings can we eradicate the shame and guilt that so often accompanies them. I struggled with mixed feelings when I knew I was having a boy. When I told my mom I knew nothing about boys, she answered, “You’re not having a boy. You’re having a son.” And the truth is, no one has a better son than I do.

  6. pennypinchingpeach says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I had alot of depression when pregnant with my daughter, for various reasons. With my son, it was mostly fear and worry because it was an extremely complicated pregnancy. All of us go through some emotions we’d be ashamed to admit later. It’s just good that you came to believe and realize what a beautiful blessing your little boys are once you held them in your arms. Some mommies can’t get past those emotions, logical or not.

    • Lara says:

      Yes, you’re right. I still feel guilty but also so blessed that I was able to finally recognize what miracles they truly are. xx

  7. Celina Gomes Sutton says:

    Wow, this is exactly what I needed to read today. While I wasn’t depressed during my pregnancies, I did feel guilt and uncertainty during my second pregnancy. I couldn’t understand how I could possibly love another person as much as my son and often felt like I wasn’t excited enough or loving enough toward the baby in my belly. My husband admitted feeling this way too and we were really troubled about it and ashamed. We never talked about it with friends or family for fear of being judged by others. Or worse – that we would knowingly have to judge ourselves. Then she was born. And her birth was completely different from my son’s, which was the first blessing. Since their births were so different, it finally felt special and beautiful. The second blessing was introducing brother and sister and realizing that I had not just created another person, but a RELATIONSHIP. I still get chills thinking about the moment.

    I needed to read this today because I have let life take over once again, and have abandoned my blog. I have all this “REAL” writing I want to do just sitting around in my head, but fear of being judged holds it hostage. Thank you for writing this because I needed the push. I feel like I am in mourning every time I find out another friend is pregnant. I feel so jealous that they get to be the special one, that a miracle is not happening to me again, and that I don’t get to smell newborn skin. My kids are still toddlers, but I am mourning baby-hood. Thank you. Thank you, for writing this.

    • Lara says:

      I’m so glad this reached you and that you were able to take some comfort from it. I totally understand about the sibling relationship. I was completely out of it for the rest of the day after my c-section with the boys, and the only thing I remember with clarity is when the nurse asked Mia if she would like to help her bathe Wyatt (Luke was in the NICU). I watched Mia gingerly give him a sponge bath as pride and love radiated from her. The memory has since become one of my favorites ever. Chills, yes. Thank you for reading. xx

    • Lara says:

      Thank you for alerting me to this. I tried private messaging her on FB (nicely), she denied it and has since blocked me. I can’t see her FB page anymore, nor will she allow me to send private messages. I am seething and feel totally violated but I guess there isn’t much I can do. I reported it to FB but I doubt they’ll side with me — I don’t think I ever posted the ultrasound photo on FB. Anyway, thank you.

      • Jason says:

        You’re welcome. I have since checked and discovered that she either deleted the photo or Facebook removed it. This isn’t near the first time that she’s posted things of that nature. I am so sorry that this happened to you.

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