I swear if one more person told me to eat crackers or try ginger during the first trimester of my pregnancy I was going to puke on them! Morning sickness, or pregnancy nausea as it’s more accurately called, hit me with a vengeance around 6 weeks of pregnancy. And no, crackers and ginger didn’t help. To this day, if I smell too much ginger I have pregnancy nausea flashbacks that bear a resemblance to acid flashbacks. And no I’m not kidding.
Not only could I not keep food down, I couldn’t bring myself to eat. I remember staring at food like it was some sort of mountain I had to climb several times a day. And as the weeks went on, the nausea, dizziness, and overall crappy feeling made me feel like I was walking alone in a dark endless tunnel, with no idea if or when the tunnel would end.
Can morning sickness or pregnancy nausea cause depression? I Googled that endlessly, looking for a solution. I felt utterly hopeless. Every morning I would wake up, dry heave for a few minutes, and then spend over an hour trying to get down a bagel and cream cheese (the only thing I could eat in the mornings.) I could barely work, staring at a computer left me feeling dizzy and lightheaded. I couldn’t read – the headache was unbearable. I couldn’t be out socially – God help anyone who had to watch me try to eat anything. I felt like every road led to a wall. Even the medication – Zolfran- allowed me to keep food down, but didn’t help the overwhelming nausea.
How do you maintain a positive attitude when you feel so terrible during early pregnancy? I’ve studied positive psychology, meditation, and all sorts of self-helpy things for years. But even trying some of the tools I’d used for years to maintain my positivity didn’t work. Morning sickness hit me over and over again. It felt like what I imagine a boxing match between me and Mike Tyson would feel like (before the ear thing). After several weeks, my complaining and negativity had reached a level even I’d never known. I ceased to care about anything, including grooming myself or the house or maintaining my relationship. I barely washed my hair or put on deodorant, I mean who cared, I smelled like puke anyway. I was some sort of mixture between PigPen and Eeyore the donkey. I complained constantly, and put a negative spin on most everything. I even got into fights with people around me. In short, I became someone else, someone I’d never met.
At one point, it seemed like the complaining and negativity were taking me deeper into my depression. The tail started wagging the dog, or the pregnant lady, so to speak. The more I focused on how sick and terrible I felt, the worse I felt. Could negativity been contributing to my depression?
The one thing that kept me going was remembering why I was going through this – what it was all for – my baby. I was going through this because I was growing a human!
It’s especially difficult during the first trimester to remember this. You don’t feel the baby yet and you probably haven’t told many people. For me, during the first trimester, my baby felt like an odd figment of my imagination. But picturing her (even though I didn’t know it was a her), imagining holding my baby, showing her the world, somehow gave me something to hold on to. It made it all worth it. It didn’t make it any easier, but it was like handing me a raft in a terrible storm.
Handling morning sickness and depression is a topic near and dear to my heart, because I know that the negative feelings I experienced are felt by so many women. I felt so lost, so alone, and so hopeless, and I couldn’t find a solution. So I’m committed to finding tools and solutions that can help women facing these challenges. Luckily for me, the pregnancy nausea ended at about week 14. For many women, it lasts their entire pregnancy. These women are heroes.