I have always been pretty open about my struggles with anxiety and depression, as well as about the fact that I take what I guess could be described as a copious amount of prescription drugs to combat the disorders. It is what works for me and I am perfectly OK with this.
What has begun to worry me though, now that my husband and I are beginning to consider starting a family, is how my battle with these ailments will affect both my pregnancy and our future children.
Because for one, my husband and I have made the firm decision that I will absolutely not continue to pop my pills once we are trying to conceive, and while I am pregnant and (hopefully) breastfeeding. Studies have shown that some of the drugs used to treat anxiety and depression can lead to heart and lung problems, low birth weight and even physical malformation in an unborn child, and these are not things I am willing to risk. So my plan is to be one hundred percent medication-sober. This scares the absolute heck out of me.
My entire life I've been an anxious person. My fifth grade report card states, "Lauren is an excellent student and first-rate reader but she worries like an old man." The depression started later, when I was 18 and in college, and away from home. But when all is said and done, I have been treating both ailments with pharmaceutical remedies for over ten years. Who am I going to be when I stop? Am I going to be able to deal with every day situations without collapsing into a puddle of worry and tears? Will I be able to get out of bed every morning and keep up with the physical activity and nutritional guidelines that will help make my pregnancy, and thus my baby, a healthy one?
I comfort myself with the idea that yes, though it would be a difficult thing to watch a son or daughter of mine fight anxiety or depression at least I am in a good position to help.
Of course I will do what is best for my child, because this is a child I have so desperately wanted for years. But when it comes down to it depression is a powerful force and anxiety is a curmudgeonly nagging creature and they are both, separately or together, intensely difficult to fight. And what happens if after my tiny, fragile, beautiful baby is born, I become depressed postpartum? Will I be able to deal with that?
I also worry about my husband. If I do struggle through an un-medicated pregnancy will he be able to deal with that? Over the years he's been an absolutely amazing partner during my bouts of depression and he is unparalleled at soothing my anxieties, but is this putting entirely too much pressure on him? He assures me that it is not, but still, I fret.
And lastly I'm concerned with the genetics of it all. Depression runs heavily on both sides of my family. So this is something I could feasibly pass down to my children. I hope beyond all hope that my struggles will not be their struggles, that they will take after their dad in this respect but really there's nothing I can do to ensure that. I comfort myself with the idea that yes, though it would be a difficult thing to watch a son or daughter of mine fight anxiety or depression at least I am in a good position to help. I can show compassion. I can empathize. I can understand. Nonetheless, I do not want that for my child. No one does.
In the end, I know I'll be a good mom. And I am determined to be a great one. I know that despite my doubts, I am a strong enough person. I also know that I am willing to do whatever it takes to make my family, a family that I want so very badly, a healthy and happy one. So I am learning to take things one day at a time, to take deep breaths and to stress the idea that I do not know what will happen and so there is no sense in dwelling on it all now.