“How far along are you, anyway?”
Bobby couldn’t help but pry during one of his daily visits to the office. I listened from the desk beside him, already knowing the answer.
“Twenty weeks,” my coworker Kelli replied, gleefully. She was halfway home; her baby belly blossoming with each passing day. Another girl, her third, would make her arrival in October.
“Beth’s next,” Bobby said, looking in my direction. My usual smiley demeanor disappeared, my face hardened and tears begin to form. I wasn’t pregnant and he just didn’t understand.
I snapped something back at Bobby in rebuttal, questioning his constant need to pick at me and Kelli — the only two women in the office. To some, his remark would seem rude and inappropriate, rightfully so, but I knew better. It was his attempt at cheering me up. I wear my heart on my sleeve and today it was broken. He just had no way of knowing my heartsick was baby-related.
I need to have a plan — for my family’s sake, as well as my own.
Earlier in the week, I had made my yearly visit to my gynecologist. I have come to terms with the necessity of the ritual, even more so this year. My husband had made it widely known that he was ready to promote our nearly 5-year-old son to the role of big brother. I needed to talk to my doctor to map out the steps for me to follow.
The last time two pink lines showed up on a pregnancy test, there was no discussion beforehand. We weren’t prepared, but we were excited to become parents. This time, though, we want to have a plan. More specifically, I need to have a plan — for my family’s sake, as well as my own.
I feel this even more keenly as it has been less than three months since the death of my father. With both him and my mother now gone, saying I feel alone is an understatement. So is saying I’m sad. My father’s death has brought back my all too familiar dance partner of over a decade: depression.
A feeling of missing out
My dance began when my mother died. Then, it was deep and dark. I had thoughts of suicide and self-harm and near daily breakdowns. I barely survived. This time, I am older and have my son to think about, which is both good and bad. Good because his existence makes me push myself. Bad because the depression is currently keeping me from being the mother I want to be.
Some days I don’t even want to get out of bed, let alone go to work. It takes everything in me to not call in sick. After work, the desire to make dinner, eat or even play with my child has nearly became nearly nonexistent. The last family get-together we had, I hid in the bedroom and slept while everyone else took care of my boy, listened to him laugh and watched him enjoy the spring day.
I missed out and I hate it.
So, what's next?
Emotionally, I’m exhausted and my fatigue leads to irritation, aggravation and smart remarks that I would never make when I’m “myself.” But this depression transforms me into a living version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I see the effects it has on me and wish I could be the real me all the time, but unfortunately, even with medication, there are days I can’t be.
Therefore, I need a plan for any upcoming pregnancy. During this year’s annual appointment, my doctor and I talked about it, concluding that for now, wait wins over want. We went over what I need to do when the time is right, how to cut back on my medication and when to start vitamins. The plan is in place, but when to start remains undecided.
Bringing an infant into this world while I’m barely able to take care of myself and the family I already have is inconceivable and unrealistic. I know this. It wouldn’t be fair to my son to even try for another child. It’s hard to admit that, but I must.
Still, the desire to have another baby hasn’t disappeared. My biological clock has started anew, ticking ever so softly.
Maybe soon, I’ll feel like me every day instead of only some days. Until then, though, I’ll make the most of the days I’m the mom I want to be instead of the one depression makes me. Just last night, I cooked, cleaned and played with my child. We even stayed up late and watched “The Powerpuff Girls.”
It was a glorious night and a reminder of the best version of myself. Though I forget that woman sometimes, my son reminds me. It’s that version he — and any future children— deserve. It’s the version that I refuse to allow depression to destroy.