Pregnancy and Pre-Existing Depression
Depression after delivery may respond to an understanding ear and a reassurance that this is common. What many new mothers (and fathers) fail to anticipate is a selfish inner rebellion to the fact that they’ve been pushed to the number two (or number 3) position in the family, and they just can’t do whatever they want anymore. Up till now, life together has been one big date. Now even life’s little pleasures are drastically altered. For instance, as a couple, you can see all of the movies you want either at the theater or on cable or tape. Along comes baby and suddenly, forget movies for about two years. What a colossal drag! Forget about a movie at home uninterrupted by feedings or diapers. And, if you go anywhere, there’s no more just hopping into the car and going. Now, you’ve got to haul lots of stuff along, such as diapers, wipes, blankets, and clicky toys, not to mention the baby. As your baby gets older, this load of paraphernalia will grow to include collapsible rolling pods, strollers, medications, and snap containers of gruel. This depression won’t lift until you realize and accept the new world order: Your life is on hold for a couple of years.
On the surface, this is a bitter disappointment to your own inner child who wants to shuck ‘n’ jive and rock ‘n’ roll; but your thinking parental brain knows better. You are now a family, and you’re changing gears for your children. Fulfillment in life, trust me, is much better than just having a lifetime of fun.
During pregnancy, feeling depressed often occurs to a woman, who once felt fit, experiencing nagging physical discomfort caused by something over which she has no control. Her expanding abdomen is a physical sign symbolic of a shift from seeing herself as a woman to becoming a mother … from seeing herself as a sexual being to becoming a maternal one.
“What have I gotten myself into?” is a frequently posed question with simply the cruel, “Deal with it.” response. And because I’m told, men are from Mars, they’re not always the most sympathetic people and often fail to come through. However, a couple that is pregnant for all of the right reasons and who see the big picture of what pregnancy is all about, will ultimately find a way to stay afloat in this endless sea of uncertainty. It’s a “sea-legs” sort of thing and a matter of self-perspective. If the relationship between the expectant parents is good, mild depression need only be a temporary reaction to a permanent change in one’s life.
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