That’s what the doctor calls it.
Severe morning sickness.
That’s what I’ll tell you when you ask me what the heck that long name means.
Promethazine and Bupropion and Nortriptyline.
That’s what the doctor so willingly gave that I was too scared to ever take.
But even before the diagnosis, I’m surrounded by pamphlets in a lonely doctor’s office.
Postpartum Depression is treatable written on the front cover—but I hadn’t even made it there. Postpartum. If only.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was only sad during my first pregnancy because of my circumstances.
I’m married now. I have a house. A car. Job. Money. Stability.
A bed of my own to comfort me on the bad days. A bathroom of my own to reside for hours each morning and night.
As if somehow the comforts of healthy bank accounts and wall décor were enough to fill and decorate the empty feeling inside.
I was a mom already. A newlywed, at that.
You are so ungrateful. The devil stayed on my heels and whispered behind my back.
You see, this hyperemesis chews you up and spits you out in the most literal way.
First, it makes you miss a day of work . . . and then a second. It slowly chips away at your sick days and paid maternity leave that your coworkers already see as a vacation.
Then, one by one, it takes your abilities.
Your ability to run, your stress relief.
Your ability to teach.
Your ability to not always have a garbage bag in reach.
And then it takes your family.
You can’t play with them outside; you can’t fix them something to eat.
You do have good moments. Don’t get me wrong.
You take your bump pictures. You are showered with gifts, your baby with love.
You dine on your lunch break instead of napping at your desk. You have clean plates and forks every now and then.
You drive to your brother’s last baseball game and you only throw up once on the side of Interstate 65.
And as much as you keep face, and as much as you pretend like everything’s OK, the good just isn’t always enough.
The physical becomes mental. Bitterness grows little by little.
How are you feeling?
Have you lost weight?
What are your cravings?
Well, all I’ve been able to eat for nine months are pretzels and mashed potatoes.
And boy, does that add to the guilt. My baby knows carbs and my baby knows salt.
You should have taken your medicine.
Yeah, and later file a birth deformity lawsuit.
Your pregnant friends are nesting, like birds, crafting fresh nests and clean spaces.
But like a raccoon, your nest is more of a hole in the ground, 10-feet deep.
And they’re glowing with their honeydew complexions and their long locks, but you keep constant rashes and low iron causes circles under your eyes.
Comparison eats you alive.
And not only do you worry like every pregnant woman does about this unborn babe, but you silently cry from your bed while your 4-year-old spends the evening with Team Umizoomi.
You get up to throw supper in the microwave, which makes you gag, which makes you hurt, which convinces you that you’re lazy.
Your laziness and ungratefulness smother you when you don’t understand why you don’t feel so very blessed.
And just when you reach for sleep and pillows and bed sheets to build a wall against everything you don’t want to think, he shows up again.
Women are dying for what you have. How could you be so thoughtless.
And you almost believe him as you think of how easy it would be to give up on anemia and IVs and a never-ending deprivation of sleep.
I write this to all the mamas in this rough patch: the grass is truly greener on the other side of the fence.
We hear about postpartum and it needs attention nonetheless, but don’t ignore your demons just because they choose a taboo time to manifest.
I share with you what I realized mere minutes after giving birth, when the doctor asked me how I felt.
With all the honesty I have, I answered, I finally feel great.
And I pray that you will be rewarded for your perseverance with the breeziest 4-hour labor, full of laughter with your husband and sweet relief.
Because nine months will feel like nine minutes when you finally hold that baby.
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