Postnatal Depression: “10 days to go… How am I feeling?”

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Does this quote give you the general idea?  Is this ridiculous chocolate craving because I’m having a girl do you think?  I never had these types of cravings with the LM, with him it was all about Cornflakes with Two Fruits and milk… This chocolate thing is crazy, and so much unhealthier!  If I wasn’t actually giving birth in 10 days time I would seriously consider organising an intervention for myself… Seriously, I would.   The worst culprits:  Boost Bars, M&M’s, Tim Tams, and… oh, let’s face it!  ANYTHING CHOCOLATE!  Oh, and caramel… Did I mention caramel?  Caramel slice, Russian caramel, fudge… and the list goes on!

🙂

Whilst these cravings have been evident throughout this pregnancy, they have certainly kicked into high gear during my third trimester.  So worried have I been about the impact of all this processed sugar on our little girl, I’ve been researching the effects of sugar overload on unborn babies and am now convinced we are going to have a child with MASSIVE behavioural, attention, and not to mention mental health problems because of my inability to control myself (eg.  “Sugar and Pregnancy” article).  Okay, so maybe I’m taking the research with more of a relaxed approach than that, but still… I am concerned.  Frustrated also because in the months prior to my third trimester I had consciously made the decision to minimise my processed sugar intake (due to risk of gestational diabetes) and was doing really well.  But alas, be it hormonal overload or just plain lack of self control… Sugar remains my kryptonite!

Fortunately for me it seems, I have avoided the insulin-related issues of sugar overload with my gestational diabetes testing coming back on the “normal” scale, as with blood pressure, and most other indicators.  Can you believe I was actually scared of facing Dr B (my OB) to get those results – I was sure I had been found out and all would be revealed!  On a serious note, I was incredibly fearful my diet had contributed to my likelihood of developing gestational diabetes (particularly due to my age), and the potential impact this may have had on my pregnancy and the overall wellbeing of both myself and my baby perhaps should have been taken more seriously (recent Australian statistics on gestational diabetes).  This condition has very real consequences if not treated, and whilst can be managed through diet alone, still leaves a great many pregnant women (27% of those diagnosed) insulin-dependent for the duration of their pregnancies.  It’s a very scary reality!

So, with sugar cravings persisting and my general energy levels lacking, I am at a point where I no longer want to be pregnant but don’t want to be a mother to a new born again just yet – quite the conundrum!  Luckily for me though, I had made the decision to continue working up until the Friday before my CS was scheduled (on Monday 16th Sept).   And whilst some people thought this was ludicrous, it has actually kept me sane and more relaxed than I otherwise would have been in this lead up to our little girl’s birth.  Having returned to work for 3 days per week after my maternity leave with the LM, I don’t find work a burden on my overall health and wellbeing.  If anything quite the contrary.  The normalcy of this adult world maintains the work/life balance I’ve come to realise is so incredibly important to my mental state of mind.  Without this balance, particularly given the circumstances of this pregnancy, I am almost certain a recurrence of my depression and anxiety would have been a given.  Instead, whilst there have been increases in symptoms, I’ve managed (with the help and support of those around me) to tackle them as they arise and not allow them to control my overall experience.  This has been vital for me and although I’ve not had time to “rest” per say, I feel the positives of working right up until the birth have far outweighed the negatives that may have otherwise come into play.  Everyone is different, and for me this decision has definitely been the right one.

Generally, with the conundrum above aside, I feel okay… I say “okay” only because of the physical realities of this late stage of pregnancy:  the swollen feet, sore lower back, stretched stomach, inability to bend over (let alone pick up your toddler), restlessness (ie. sleeplessness), aching legs, etc.  On a mental health level, in comparison to my first pregnancy, this pregnancy has also been much easier to manage.  This is largely due, I believe, to my continuing to take my anti-depressant medication.  My dosage remains only small (20mg Lexapro, increasing last month to 30mg) and both Dr J (GP) and Dr B (OB) were comfortable with me remaining on medication.  Both indicated research on Lexapro has shown it has little to no effect in utero at low doses, or whilst breastfeeding, for new babies.  Whilst I know there is much discussion around this topic, I do feel it is a very individual decision and one others should not be quick to judge the expecting mother for – particularly if they themselves have no knowledge of what it means to have a mental illness (or even if they do).  My personal belief is simple:   If I have the opportunity to remain a happy and healthy mother for my children during a life experience known for it’s impact on my mental health, surely this is the greatest gift I can give them?   And with no evidence to support ongoing side effects of taking (my type of) medication during pregnancy why would I not give myself, my HF, our LM and his new little sister the best possible overall experience?  For me it was certainly not a difficult decision to make.

So all in all this has been my journey so far, and no doubt the next time you hear from me I will again be a new mum with a whole new chapter of life to write about… Scary, but also very exciting!  I hope you are all doing wonderfully and am very much looking forward to not only hearing from you but to sharing more of our experiences as this next adventure begins.

As always, take care.

TSM xx

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