Prenatal Depression & Creating During Pregnancy

While your body is busy creating a child and your hormones are driving you extremely insane it can be difficult to show up to your creative practice. The harsh reality and looming responsibility of having to create a future for you and your child can be paralyzing. Especially if you are self-employed or already working in the creative arts field.

The energy it takes to pursue my own work came to a complete dead end and I was fortunate enough that I wasn’t in the middle of a huge design project at work as I had no motivation to create anything. Projects that I excitedly began in the New Year fizzled out quicker than I could breathe life into them.

This was the only thing I had finished despite the fact that I had intentions in turning each image into a lino block.

Between the emotional spells I was also trying to navigate my trauma. Which who knew, things they don’t tell you about pregnancy, is that your past trauma can leave you knee deep in shit you thought: you forgot about, made peace with or just assumed you were over with. But that mess crept back in like a leak in a roof. Spreading mold and despair and sending me into a decent bout of prenatal depression.

Post Partum Depression is talked about a lot but Prenatal Depression seems to get you the stank eye as if you’re not grateful for the miracle taking place within you while others struggle to even get pregnant or have suffered a loss. Here I was navigating: all my past trauma, a relationship with the father (it’s complicated but we love each other), becoming a mother, letting go of my very independent single life, and honestly the relationship with my creativity.

While everyone was telling me how excited they were and are for me I was internally dreading all of it and questioning what the hell I was doing. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted this, I’m 36 and not getting any younger and the timing seemed more than perfect though my circumstances weren’t. But as all these feelings came bubbling to the surface I found my self questioning everything and relying on therapy to help me come to terms and validate what I had been through and feeling.

A few things that helped:

  1. Therapy! I can’t stress enough the importance of therapy. Luckily I had already had someone but please find someone you can speak too. It can be a lot of help to you to just have your feelings, concerns, & worries be acknowledged and validated. It takes the edge off as you come to grips with whatever you’re dealing with. And you can tell them things you may not tell your loved ones for fear of rejection or being further misunderstood.
  2. A trip: Now this may seem crazy and ridiculous especially if you’re already struggling and trying to save but I turned 36 while pregnant and I was going to cancel my birthday plans to take an overnight beach trip. In all honesty that tripped saved my life. Even if you can’t afford an overnight trip, a day trip to the beach or anywhere where nature can comfort your soul can be so nourishing.
    • At the time of this trip I was on the edge. I won’t explain why or what got me there but taking a solo trip to play in the ocean, journal, visit an art gallery and commune with the sun was exactly what I needed. I felt like myself again.
  3. Now things weren’t perfect when I got back as I still had a lot of work to do emotionally and spiritually but I had a therapist tell me to ground myself when things get hard or emotionally unstable.

Ground yourself through creativity.

Ground myself? I literally rolled my eyes. Like how the hell do I do that. What is this therapy garbage you are spitting at me and if it’s more foo foo self love bs I’m going to have another tantrum before we even hang up from this session.

Well duh, with creativity baby! šŸ™„ It seems so logical and self explanatory but my Dr. had a point. I mean creativity had always been a source of comfort for me throughout my life; I even say it’s saved my life. And here it was to do it all over again by grounding me.

And it had already been working. Though I wasn’t creating what I consider my main body of work, I found myself creating stuff for my baby. I made his name sign to hang over his crib, crocheted a blanket and several toys, made a sweater, and still working on completing my first quilt.

The sewing machine I had left sitting to collect dust ended up being a beacon of light as well as a new love for crocheting. I never expected crocheting to be my new hobby this year but the simplicity of repeating a stitch was comforting. I could mindlessly, to an extent, crochet and watch TV and processe emotions while I fervently single crocheted.

My artistic plans for the year definitely didn’t come to fruition but something else was born and will be born this month! Insert smiles. A whole new world of creativity opened its doors to me and I was able to explore a new hobby and even become inspired by crazy talented fiber artist.

I think as artist we’ve been told too often that we should stick to one trade, one form of art while the job industry expects the exact opposite (let’s not go there). But it was diving deep into crocheting which I had no monetary or career goal associated with it that got me out of my creative rut and gave me a new appreciation for it.

So pick up a camera, print your pictures, water color, collage, journal, paint your nails with copious amounts of glitter, do something new, crochet, knit, follow a recipe, doodle, buy the expensive markers and tons of glue sticks… just create and soon you’ll remember why you fell in love with it. Let it ground you as you navigate the new role of becoming a mother. Don’t give yourself crazy deadlines and project goals, create because you enjoy it and it’s comforting to your soul.

With much love, BEautifullyODD

The Pursuit of my Artistic Dreams (while pregnant)

At the beginning of the year I was desperate to get back into the flow of a daily art practice. And for about a month, I was able to.

Then I quickly realized I was pregnant and once sickness over came me, my art practice came to a screeching halt.

I’m now 14 weeks pregnant and am doing a bit better as I’ve entered my 2nd trimester but I have to admit my mental health took a deep dive into the abyss.

We all know that abyss of depression. Now don’t get me wrong I was initially excited but feeling sick 247 just exhausted my enthusiasm to no end. And as silly as this may sound I felt as though my dreams were coming to a screeching halt and that my glorious single life, full of art was about to shrivel up and die.

A much needed trip to Gualala for my birthday.

Realistically my dreams are going to be postponed as taking care of a newborn and getting acclimated is going to be a challenge of its own. I mean just being pregnant is proving to be quite the challenge. And we really need to break the stigma that it’s so glorious and easy… BULLSHIT! Food aversions and constant nausea and prenatal depression is not a joke. If it’s easy for you, more power to you but some woman really struggle and I’ve been blessed that my vomiting sessions haven’t been every single day 2, 3 times a day.

But anyway, as I try to climb or rather swim back to the surface. I had this overwhelming feeling and need to remember thay my dreams are still attainable. Despite contrary belief, I’m not under the impression that once you have a kid your life and needs are over.  But I do feel as though a whole new source of motivation and determination is needed to get me to show up for myself as I move forward with my art.

Honestly, I’m not sure what that’s going to look like. Or how it will manifest itself. And I’m not even going to stress myself out with expectations that I’ll be able to do x,y & z by this time and that while taking care of a newborn. And more importantly I want to enjoy the time as a new mom without feeling stressed about showing up for my art.

Worked on crocheting my babies blanket under the sunset.

It doesn’t mean I don’t need to show up for myself but it does mean I can’t continue to beat myself up if I feel like I can’t. I’m truly grateful I’m starting to feel better, though I still have my moments. But now more than ever its going to take even more effort to set time aside for it. And honestly that scares me cause then I wonder what have I been doing all this time.

Anyway my pregnancy support counselor actually said something rather compelling which was to use my art as therapy. Which duh… makes since. Not every art project needs to be a means to and end or this awesome finished product ready to go on etsy.

I have been art journaling a bit and before all this I did buy a bunch of canvases on sale and I think it’s high time to bust one out. I’ve also got sewing projects on standby as I found some amazing fabric when I was in LA a couple of months ago. And I’m enjoying crocheting my baby boy a blanket.

My goals and artistic dreams have not changed but maybe I needed this lackadaisical approach to getting back into the grove of it; A more authentic way of finding my voice as I create a brand without all these crazy expectations and demands of perfection.

So yea… that’s me right now… navigating becoming a mother while staying true to my idenity as an artist.

BEautifullyODD

Any mom’s out there balancing the two, I’d love some advice. Please feel to share your thoughts.