Before I knew I was pregnant—when I was about three and a half weeks pregnant, or about a week and a half after probable conception—I decided to kill myself. But, I decided, I would wait until I got my period, because on the off chance that I was pregnant, I wouldn’t be able to.
It’s funny; reading what I say on this blog, if it weren’t for my constant reassurance, you’d never guess that I’m pro-choice. I just apparently feel hysterically protective of anything that I’m growing myself—if this were a sitcom, I’d end up with a tapeworm. Hilarity!
Actually finding out that I was pregnant was a huge relief; I got to blame hormones for the way I was feeling, and that black depression is part of why I’ve tended to guess that I’m going to have a girl. I heard somewhere that girls do that. Things got slowly better after that, and I’m thinking about it now because yesterday I started tapering off my antidepressants and looking forward to a hopefully drug-free year or two. When I was pregnant with Cricket, I went off of one drug immediately after figuring out that I was pregnant and going to stay pregnant and the other around seven months. Neither of them is anything like likely to cause any problems, but that 3 percent chance is more than enough to worry me, and I’d rather go ahead and wean before birth so that I don’t suddenly have to cold-turkey in order to breastfeed.
When I was at my appointment, I omitted some information from the form the midwives gave me. I do check the “depression” box, but (for example) when they ask whether I’ve ever been hospitalized for any reason, I say no. I don’t want to be treated like a crazy person, and this is how I handled it last time, although I’m aware that the policy isn’t without its flaws. I really need not to be a high-risk pregnancy, and if I end up with gestational diabetes or some other condition that takes that out of my hands, so be it. But I just want to have a low-key birth where I push out a baby all drug-free and relatively peaceful-like, and I know that I’m capable of that, so why not help my caretakers to believe it?
I recently read Dooce’s memoir about having her first daughter and then having severe post-partum depression. I’ve also watched a few women in an online community I belong to be dragged down by PPD over the past couple of years. Trying to figure out from my experiences after I lost Cricket whether I would have had PPD if I had parented him is probably futile, but I keep flashing back to, e.g., the conversation where I finally told my mom that I was hearing voices—I was careful to qualify that, explaining that they weren’t the kind of voices that tell you to kill, and it took me weeks to realize that my qualifier was just further freaking people out. Live and learn. Ultimately I don’t think that my depression then is a useful indicator for what parenting a newborn will do to my brain, but I hate that I can’t know until I get there what will happen.
My mother freaked out when I told her that I was going off meds—she had been trying to talk me into not going off at all and not breastfeeding, which is huge when you know that she worked as a lactation consultant for several years and still has a drawer full of “Breast Is Best” and “Eat at Mom’s” buttons. She eventually calmed down when I made it clear that I’m open to going back on drugs if it’s clear that I’m coming apart. I will be sort of heartbroken, though, which isn’t a great place to start climbing out of one’s depression. My decision has been to hope for the best in a careful way; we’ll see how that goes.