I am the first to admit that I have an excruciatingly lengthy laundry list of highly neurotic behavior. As many people close to me know, the insanity began in the aftermath of my 9/11 trauma and a slew of hyper-vigilance, anxiety, and insomnia spiraled out of control. While I will save that story for another blog entirely, after 9/11, it seemed that my only respite was to remain on a low dose of an SSRI. For years, I have been on and off Prozac, constantly struggling with the social stigma as well as any unknown side effects.
Discontinuing my medication has been a hot topic since the very beginning of my pregnancy. While always prescribed under the care of my doctor, my ob/gyn advised that I discontinue the Prozac five weeks prior to my due date, which could potentially cause a small risk of fetal hemoglobin binding. Daunting to my husband and instilling fear within me, I tee-tottered back and forth, carefully weighing the pros and cons of how I would handle motherhood without my daily dose of Vitamin P.
Of course, I did everything else--AND I MEAN EVERYTHING-within my power to ensure that the health of my little pea-pod was in pristine condition. I ate healthy, swallowed prenatal vitamins, walked about two miles a day, did squats, lunges, kegels,--if I read or heard about something beneficial for pregnancy, I was on it ASAP. So, I braced myself for the impact of experiencing Prozac withdrawal, tried to quell my fears as well as my husband's. And repeatedly told myself that this was just another small sacrifice I was making, initiating me into the life of motherhood.
Of course, all of my planning and anticipating rapidly disintegrated the second that I was admitted to Labor and Delivery at 1:30 am over a week ago. I quickly surrendered my body and allowed the nurses to hook me up to IVS, shoot me up with steroids for baby J's lungs to quickly develop, pump me full of Magnesium Sulfate to stop the contractions, and abstained from food and bathroom privileges for days. My 10 mg of Prozac was unequivocally the least of my worries.
With the exception of a couple of mini-meltdowns the first few nights in the hospital, I don't think that I ever experienced Prozac withdrawal. And of course, the mini-meltdowns could easily have been attributed to the high quantities of other medications in my bloodstream, the fact that I was starving, was strapped to the bed, etc. I think that would probably cause even the most stable person to break down into tears...I have decided to cut myself a little slack on this one...
The first few days were definitely my lowest points here....I woke up throughout the first two nights, trembling, and my husband held my hand, locked eyes with mine, and coached me to practice deep breathing. The third night, my mom encouraged me to "let it all out" and even put my aunt, the family therapist, on the phone for moral support. They non-judgmentally listened to me to cry and fully express my fears and worries about delivering a premature baby as well as becoming a mother earlier than anticipated. And believe me, I let it all out. I even admitted that I really did want a girl and of course a boy would give me this much trouble.
Now, my antepartum lock-down is slowly transforming into a minimum security prison. Every day that I am here, I am granted another good patient privilege. Yesterday, the hep-lock was removed, the last porthole allowing others access to my insides. My body feels like my own once again, along with my bulging baby bump housing the little trouble-maker. I can also admit that it took me over a week to get my vanity mojo back. I have sequestered my beauty products and have them tucked away in little alcoves in my room. My nails are painted, hair is blown straight, and am planning on wearing make-up for the first time today since I have been here. Of course, every time I ask Jon to bring me another item from home, he expresses anxiety that I am slowly having him move me out of our house and permanently into the hospital.
So, in concluding this rather serious blog, being pregnant without Prozac really isn't as bad as once anticipated. As I have experienced many times in life, the anxiety is oftentimes worse than the event itself. Also, as new parents, we can write lists, plan, take classes, ask questions to other moms until we are literally dying from information overload. However, we can never truly prepare for life's many deviations and have to expect the unexpected.