The trip of my dreams occurred when I was 13 weeks pregnant.
Since I discovered her, I was obsessed with her. Dolly Parton and everything about her was incredible to me. How she rose into the music industry after being raised in poverty in Appalachia. Her 9 to 5 song and all the confidence it brought to the song she wrote that Whitney Houston would go on to make mainstream. I was obsessed. When deciding on a family vacation I begged to go to Tennessee, specifically, so we could go to Dollywood, the Dolly Parton theme park!
When I tell you I was beyond excited for this trip until I was about 10 weeks pregnant. Suddenly, everything became unenjoyable. I was sick, and not even binge-watching a good Netflix show while I layed in bed. Everything was so uninteresting, boring, and not really worth the watch. I was so sick that its all I could think about, and even when things did happen that I loved or used to enjoy I really couldn't feel it. And then it was time to leave and go to Tennessee.
I was so sad while there. I wanted so badly to enjoy myself, but I couldn't do much walking because I felt so weak and tired, which meant I had to use a wheelchair. I was so excited to ride the rides at Dollywood but only managed to enjoy three. Everything made me sad. I wasn't feeling the joy of being in a place I'd always wanted to visit. I wasn't feeling the joy of being pregnant. I think the most excitement I got the entire time was for her tour bus, and on the way back for a good night's rest. It was the saddest vacation I had ever gone on. And on top of that, I felt so lonely. I didn't know depression could happen during pregnancy and hadn't heard much about it except for a few YouTubers I had watched. I thought that pregnancy was supposed to be magical, and yet I had been deprived of such an experience.
My depression would change as I went through my pregnancy. Sometimes being a lot more manageable and other times resulting in mental breakdowns halfway through the day. There was also a lot of anxiety, which I want to say every pregnant individual experiences to some degree. You are literally growing and then birthing a human, that is a lot to be anxious about. All that could go wrong in birthing a human is insane.
During my Tennesse blues, I learned so much though. I learned to be kind to myself, and give myself grace. I learned the importance of a good shower, and how to keep a routine that focused on meeting my needs. I learned how to self-preserve. I am a natural giver and always try to help others, sometimes at the expense of myself. But I learned during that time to put myself first. I learned the importance of sleep, and care. I learned so so much.
Would I have traded that experience for a joyful one? No. Because although it sucked I learned.
Luckily, I have the best family in the world, and for Christmas this year we are going back to Dollywood.
I get to bring the beautiful child I was growing, so he too can experience Dollywood. I get to re-live and enjoy one of my favorite destinations. I get to have a do-over with twice as much joy, and with a heart that is easily three times the size, it was before I had my son. And I'm so beyond thankful for the second chance to live again.
Prenatal depression affects a lot of pregnant women and can continue into postpartum depression. If you or a loved one is suffering from depression during pregnancy help them talk to their OB or Midwife about it. I spoke with my OB about it, and we were able to give me some medication that helped. I was also able to have a counselor who helped me a lot! She would put things into perspective for me, give me really great feedback, and even help me establish an action plan if I was ever feeling unsafe. Please talk to someone. We want you and baby on the other side of this journey.
Thanks again for reading this series. I know it's not the most upbeat, or positive but its vitally important that we talk about the fact that pregnancy is not always magical, and that we be honest with one another about this very real and human experience,