It was September of 2018, and I was sitting in my doctor’s office trying to hide my smile. After six months without a period and lots of tests, my GYN was explaining that he thought I was getting close to menopause. “It won’t be official until you’ve gone a year without a cycle, but based on your hormone levels I’d say it’s highly unlikely that you’re ovulating.”
I walked out of his office and did a triumphant fist bump. I’d reached the finish line. After twelve pregnancies that gave us eight living children, at the age of 44, menopause was on the horizon. While I adore my children, I was so very tired of being pregnant.
Fast forward to early March 2019, and I was dying. There was something seriously wrong with me. My joints ached, I lived with a migraine that kept returning the moment my medication wore off, I struggled to find the energy to even eat, and my even my hair hurt. I soldiered on for two weeks before I finally called my GP, who is a friend of mine at this point, and cried as I told him what was going on. He ordered all the blood tests he could think of running, and then we waited.
The next day he called me and with a serious note in his voice said “Who is around you? Is there someone with you? I think you need to sit down.”
“I think you need to shut up with all this and just tell me what’s going on.” I demanded.
“You’re probably somewhere around three months pregnant.” He said softly.
“Shut the hell up!” I told him. “You’re not funny. If this is your lead in to tell me I’m dying of cancer, you need to know that I don’t like you any more and YOU’RE NOT FUNNY!”
He might not be funny, but he was right. I wasn’t in menopause yet after all. I was pregnant. And p*ssed. And oh so very tired already.
This wasn’t in my plan at all. I had things I wanted to do, and none of them included pregnancy and another new baby. I knew he would be wonderful blah, blah, blah, but wasn’t I entitled to my own plans? Why couldn’t my body be my own again at last? Surely by now I had earned the right to set my own course. I just wanted to be anything other than pregnant and a new mom. Again.
Angry and resentful (and perhaps a little hormonal,) I didn’t say a word to anyone. I just stewed in my own juices, and cried. A lot.
Two weeks later I exploded in tears and yelling when I finally broke the news to my husband. The next day I texted my best friend “I’m pregnant. I don’t want to talk about it, but I just needed you to know. But seriously. I don’t want to talk about it.” God bless her, she didn’t say a word until I was ready. I don’t know how she had the self control, but she did.
I fired my OB/GYN (obviously) and went looking for someone who would rejoice in this new baby until I was ready to. As sick as I was, as overwhelmed as I was with the life I was already living, as tired and run down as I already felt, I wasn’t in a place of joyful or hopeful expectation. I was sitting at the bottom of horrible deep pregnancy related depression with months and months to go.
I reached out to friends and family members, letting them know that I was pregnant, and hoping to find happiness that I could draw on. They made snide comments and lame jokes about whether or not we “know what causes that.” Others said that we were crazy. One family member actually yelled and lectured about our “irresponsibility.” The small support network I had around me watched as I drew further into myself as my prepartum depression deepened.
And I said nothing to the rest of the world. I made jokes on social media, laughed with people online, and put on a brave and smiling face to the people I saw in real life, but inside I was numb. We had a baby coming and I didn’t prepare. I bought no clothes, I didn’t set up the crib, I didn’t talk about baby names, or start making plans for his arrival. I couldn’t write, not even about other things.
Depression had stolen everything except my exhaustion and resentment of the situation and a general malaise that covered everything I looked at. The last thing I wanted to do was to talk about being pregnant, and I certainly didn’t want to speak what I was feeling out loud because I knew how awful it would sound, and so I didn’t talk about it. I ignored my expanding middle, and was, for the first time in my life, silent.