As I sit here, it's as though I'm hoping these words would write themselves, praying that they'll somehow tumble out of my spirit.
There's two intentions behind my words. Before fully closing the chapter on one significant piece of my life also means to fully embrace it, dive into it, and remember it in a way to remind myself that I am whole. I am loved. That there's beauty in my own suffering.
Although it may seem like a release of emotion and pain, the main goal is community. Connection. Communion. That perhaps by reading this, you'll know that you're also held, heard, and seen. That your suffering matters. That you do not need to feel alienated by stories of (beautiful) positive experiences during pregnancy and birth. There's power when women come together collectively to share our stories, seeing each other's darkness and light. And there's room for all stories.
When I became pregnant with my first, I knew right away that I would be. I felt it intuitively and wrote about the miracle growing in my belly a couple of weeks before the pregnancy test confirmed it.
With my second, I knew it too - and when I saw that line appear to confirm what I knew to be true, a feeling of peace washed over me. Within moments, I could feel the love in me grow exponentially. I dreamt of a chubby baby boy with dark hair and blue eyes.
By 5 weeks, the nausea was in full force and the level of exhaustion I felt was something I hadn't experienced before. The first trimester is known to be particularly brutal but the weight of everything felt exponential during the 4 weeks that followed... losing a steady income, pulling my daughter out of daycare, family conflicts, tension, drama, stress. Out of nowhere, my world felt like it was crumbling around me.
It took awhile before I faced the truth of how I was feeling.
It wasn't just hormones, it wasn't just the pregnancy. It wasn't something I could "shake off".
Years had passed since I felt that way, it was something I thought I had closed the door on and when it came flooding back, it was all too familiar and it scared the crap out of me.
The fear, the sadness, the complete sense of disconnectedness, the hopelessness, the dark thoughts, the guilt. It burned through my spirit in a way that made me feel defeated and desperate.
I knew I didn't want to suffer in silence and it wasn't long until I was sitting across from a psychiatrist who swiftly diagnosed me with antenatal depression.
Depression during pregnancy? Wasn't I supposed to feel madly in love? Completely blissed out and positively glowing? There were days when I had to scrape through the barrel of my energy reserves just to care for my energetic toddler, only to crash, unable to move while she napped or slept.
Every day felt like an internal battle of trying to look on the bright side, grasping on so tightly to what I had to be grateful for (which was a lot), but feeling completely and utterly empty. I felt like a failure.
My soul begged me to keep going and I desperately searched for the light. Deep down, I knew I had the strength to rise above this, I had done it before.
Give me the strength, give me the strength, give me the strength.
The soul in my womb teaching me lessons already.
I reached out. I asked for help. And more often than not, I was left feeling more alone than ever before. I knew I didn't want to suffer in silence. I didn't want to feel shame for experiencing what I was going through... I was caught by surprise when I’d come up empty-handed.
And the lessons continued.
There's more to share but I want to leave it there, for now.
It's easy to look from the outside in, but you'll rarely get the whole story.
It's okay to not feel okay.
It's okay to crumble.
It's okay to reach out for help.
And it's even okay when the support you hoped for doesn't show up.
Because you are stronger and more resilient than you know.
And even in moments when you feel alone, you're never alone. (You are so not alone.)