Birthing Dakota - Part 1: More Than The Blues
Updated: May 27, 2021
Well, here we go the beginning of my Covid pregnancy & birth story. It’s filled with highs and lows because, of course. So I felt I should start with the lows so I can end on hilarious high notes. This will be a series in 4 parts so look forward to that train wreck. There’s no cute or easy way to jump into this, that I could find, other than to just jump right into it so here goes nothing...
During my entire pregnancy, I struggled with perinatal depression. I had done all the research on postpartum depression and was ready to do battle if that was to be a part of my story. They forgot to tell a bitch the depression can come while you’re pregnant, too. Before pregnancy, I imagined myself as some beautiful earth goddess that floated everywhere I went, that dolphins would swim up to me at the beach and kiss my belly, and I’d enjoy every second of pregnancy.
My experience couldn’t have been further from that truth. We got pregnant on the first try, and while we were very fortunate for that, I thought that it would take more than one try giving me more time to prepare my mind for pregnancy. I assumed the first trimester would suck but holy fuck the suckage was unimaginable. See, I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) where your morning sickness is so severe that it is hard to keep shit down. Many people experience morning sickness that lasts throughout the first trimester and usually subsides by the second trimester, with HG it can last the entire pregnancy. Such was definitely the case with me.
I threw up constantly, I was afraid to eat or drink anything, and brushing my teeth was the goddamned devil. It got to the point where I just started brushing my teeth over the toilet because I knew it was coming. The pandemic did your girl a solid a few times, though, thanks to being given 6 feet and wearing a mask, because I just COULD NOT. I had to be hospitalized a few times to receive IV fluids due to not being able to keep down water... WATER Y’ALL! Like, if you could make ‘nothing’ edible, water is what you would get (nothing + edible = water). It was bad and lasted right up to the day I gave birth.
So being miserable like that had me feeling extremely sad during the first trimester, but everyone just said “Oh don’t worry it gets better in the second trimester”, so I looked forward to that. In the second trimester, I gained more energy which helped a lot and I thought the worst was behind me, but I was still throwing up multiple times daily. I would sneak off at work and throw up, and did it so much I was able to master throwing up silently as to not cause alarm to myself, even at home I did this. I was slowly losing interest in everything about my pregnancy because of my symptoms.
Due to Covid, I couldn’t see my family, because it wasn’t safe to travel. Leaving me feeling extremely isolated at such a vulnerable time, where one hug from my mom would've cured almost anything. Zoom baby showers were tossed around and secretly planned. However, it wasn’t what I envisioned and just felt like a shitty substitute for a feeling and atmosphere that just wasn’t going to be there, so I had little interest in a baby shower, which prior to pregnancy was the only thing I really wanted... Thanks Covid. All the while, my mental health continued to take a nose-dive. The days seemed to drag on forever, though, and by the time I got good into the second trimester I had already made three emergency calls to the suicide hotline and felt like I was tap-dancing on the edge of my sanity... but I was too ashamed to say anything. Everyone would ask me how I was feeling and I felt compelled to lie. In my mind, all they seemed to be interested in knowing was how magical everything felt. But there was no magic, only optimism. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to eat all of my food. Maybe tomorrow water won’t taste like pennies and toxic ass. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to stop taking all these meds just to function, ‘cause the granola me feels deep down they aren’t healthy for my baby. Maybe tomorrow I’ll finally feel like the goddamn goddess I wanted to feel like. Maybe tomorrow,,,
Always tomorrow, but rarely today. However, I kept pushing forward still ashamed to get help. Even in talking with my care professional, I felt like she would think I was crazy and needed to be locked up, or worse, I’d be deemed unfit to parent my kid. The anxiety became a huge weight on my already sore shoulders. After going through all of these hoops and procedures to prepare for insemination how could I not feel anything other than joyous about all of this?
My ray of hope came in the last trimester, towards the middle I began to recognize and feel stronger movement. Dakota would stick her foot in my ribs and try to play little peekaboo games with me. She used to kick me hard AF when I didn’t play our usual games. If I was feeling shitty, on those days she seemed to move way more, and reminded me that my body was still doing something fucking amazing! She inspired me to find a therapist and talk about how I was truly feeling. She made me want to do better instead of sinking further inside of myself.
It was hard. There were a lot of things to confront, triggers and trauma that pregnancy was amplifying, and a slew of other things made it an uphill battle. Then one day, despite not getting that hug from my mom that I so desperately needed or that round the clock pep talk from my wife that I usually relied on, I decided I wanted to try and enjoy it from where I was. I didn’t really take any pictures of myself pregnant, in fact my wife took the only pregnant photos of me that exist. But I decided I was going to try find contentment amidst the depression. I was going to allow myself to be a fully realized human capable of feeling multiple (often competing/conflicting) emotions at the same time.
For me enjoying pregnancy didn’t look like bliss, being catered to round the clock, or fashionably slaying the game, like I imagined. It looked like calm quiet nights sitting at home, ponytails and pajamas, and when I could handle it, short drives to the beach. Luckily, on Oahu there’s beaches fairly close in all directions. It also looked like throwing myself into getting the nursery perfect and putting the crib together by myself, to remind me I could still do stuff and be useful. And to this day that damn nursery is the most put together rooms in our home.
Dakota’s birth shifted everything. She was born on my wife and I’s fifth wedding anniversary, a very special day filled with so much love. And while she was tiny, she was mighty in spirit, she just had this calm presence that seem to make everything better. And somehow the depression seemed to subside when I saw her face. As soon as I saw my baby I cried tears of relief. I knew that after everything we’d been through she was okay, I was okay, and that we were going to be okay.
We’re a little over two months out and now I dealiing with postpartum anxiety. However, it’s managed with some solid self-care practices, therapy, the support from my tribe, and the fact that I’m not afraid to talk about it, even though writing this post was triggering AF and has me feeling exposed is SO many ways. I’m happy I’m in this place. I want telling my story to inspire others who maybe going through something similar to feel less alone and isolated. I’m your sister in the suckage, I understand first hand, and I’m in your corner. If I could do anything, I would encourage you to seek help even if it’s venting to a stranger you have no intention of ever speaking to again. Take care of yourself and know you will be okay, and even if you aren’t okay, you’re still ok and deserving of love and care.
And lastly for all you well-meaning peeps out there, leave pregnant people the fuck alone, they are not community property and don’t need the pressure of your vicarious questioning of their experiences. Unless they tell you otherwise, let them be goddammit!
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
Oh! And if you like stories and know other people who’d enjoy a good story like, comment, subscribe, and share. ✌🏾