Helene Combe

Through my journey as an English teacher and a language learner

Month: February 2021

I should be happy to be pregnant, but I’m not: let’s talk about prepartum depression

My entire adult life I have been told that I would struggle to conceive.

I have been diagnosed with endometriosis at age 24, after years of complaints from my parts, and numerous hospital stays. My symptoms were very common, but debilitating for years, before my then-new gynecologist took me seriously. I had lost hope until that moment, when I finally switched to a period-free birth control. I still experienced pain, on a lower level, but more importantly, I could fully function again.

In June 2020, my husband and I, after discussing the matter for years, decided to start a family. I stopped taking my birth control, and the pain came back, albeit more bearable. But that was not the most complicated thing I had to deal with: I wasn’t ovulating. It’s quite common to be clumsy when it comes to understand when you are or are not ovulating but in my case, the answer was crystal clear: I wasn’t.

You can easily imagine what went through my head at this time: I was doomed, natural procreation would remain a dream for us, that we had to go through IVF. My gynecologist helped me understand a bit more what was happening and remained reassuring; I was indeed ovulating the day I saw her. So the machine was working! It was just a matter of time!

It was indeed just a matter of time. But by late November, early December, I wasn’t thinking about my ovulation anymore; as I experienced some Meniere’s episodes. I have been diagnosed with Meniere in 2015, and I know how to live with it; but this time, my usual tricks to calm down didn’t work. I couldn’t teach anymore(too much screen can trigger an episode), I couldn’t drink coffee, I was just stuck in my bed with my fluffy and then obese cat.

My blood test results didn’t take long to arrive; and my HcG levels were up the roof. I was pregnant! But why wasn’t I happy. On the inside, I had million questions, but I mostly hated everything: the fact that my body was weak, that I couldn’t even stand up, that I was sleepy all the time, that I wasn’t myself anymore. I felt like a giant incubator and I was NOT happy about it.

I questioned everything in my life at this moment, and wondered if I really deserved this baby after all, considering how appreciative I was of the situation. I was not throwing up, like a lot of my friends were at this stage of their pregnancies, but the rest was as bad. Imagine being so weak that you can’t even put on your socks; that was me for WEEKS. I felt useless, a waste of space, I thought I could never come back from this dark place. I just wanted everything to stop so I could be myself again.

My doctor was reassuring; these symptoms should fade away around week 12. And he was right: they slowly faded away, and by week 15, I was myself again (I’m on week 17 right now). I really missed being myself, and I can’t even believe what happened to me. I feel guilty that I just wanted to stop everything, pack my things and leave on another continent to start a new life (yeah, I went that far). I feel grateful now that the first trimester of hell is over. I also feel grateful that my ultrasound went great and that despite what happened to me, our baby is doing amazing.

Do I understand why people are still trying to have a second kid after the first, now that everything is okay? Nope. I feel mostly traumatized by what happened and I am not sure that I could survive something like that again. Ironically, I am now, for the first time in my life, really comfortable within my own skin, which is a very strange feeling.

I wasn’t emotionally prepared to what could happen to me, and I am fairly sure women in general are not emotionally prepared enough. We are talking a lot about physical pain we can experience during pregnancy (back pain, huge tummy etc…) but we are definitely not talking enough about the psychological scars it could left us.

My first blog post in forever

I haven’t forgotten about writing, no. I even missed it, but I just couldn’t put words on what was happening. Because way too much happened in only a few months so I guess I’ll have to unpack article by article.

If you feel like you are no longer a teacher, but some kind of robot, raise your hand. If you feel like you are a therapist to your students, you can also raise your hand. It works also if you feel like that you now work for a litigation and complaints department.

Because that’s basically how I have been feeling for the past four months. Sure, at first, I was happy to avoid walking in the cold, I was fine teaching wearing my fave Harry Potter sweatpants, but hey, reality kicked in. And I felt less and less human. I felt used, tired, irrelevant. I felt like I couldn’t teach efficiently anymore, that I couldn’t bring anything to anybody. I was in quite a dark place for a while.

My doctor forced me to take a break in December, where I pretty much reconsidered everything in my life: from where I was living to my job. I felt like I was wasting my time being an English teacher in a country which despised English anyway, that I could simply focus on my administrative tasks as Head of Department, that the exam my students were preparing was a big joke… My brain was working 24/7.

Oh, and I found out I was pregnant at that time.

I feel fortunate to work for a business school with a very comprehensive boss; and I crawled back to my normal life in January. I started slowly, by taking care of administrative tasks, then I started to teach a bit, then a bit more… I am working full time again for three weeks now (even though I am mostly correcting papers this week) and it feels good. Not great, but I am working on it.

Despite what happened, I feel quite lucky to be a tenured teacher, in a world where education is often seen as an option and where teachers are used like plastic bags. I may not be teaching English all the time (I teach also Communication and Project Management), but I earn enough to make a living. Where you’re about to be a parent (well, this summer), that’s what matters. Perspective, I guess that’s how it is called?

© 2021 Helene Combe

Powered by Jonas ChopinUp ↑

Pin It on Pinterest