MOTHERHOOD, MENTAL HEALTH AND MEDICATION
Jordan and her husband Kurt from New Jersey are at 27 weeks in their pregnancy. They’re speaking out after the challenges she’s going through. “I had a really large support system and access to health care,” says Jordan. “I just can't imagine how someone can do it without those things. I realize now how important health equity is, especially for pregnant people.”
The beginning of her pregnancy was rough for Jordan. Her mental health had been managed for many years, but she was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, which is severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. It’s not like usual morning sickness, but rather nausea and vomiting that can continue all day. Jordan says, “Your body just feels really depleted and then, for myself, it's important that I take my mental health medications, but not being able to keep anything down just kind of snowballed it into a bigger thing. I was pulling over probably five times on the way to work to vomit.”
This condition preventing her from taking mental health medication only makes matters worse. Knowing that his wife is struggling is not easy for Kurt either. “Emotionally it's been a struggle,” he says. “But we're in it together so we just put a smile on every day and just support each other.”
Like many people, Jordan found that starting, then stopping and then restarting medications for mental health can exacerbate symptoms. “I was so ill that I wasn't able to take the medications,” Jordan says. “I felt like I was spiraling and as time went on, my doctors got me on anti-nausea medication. Then I had to get back on my mental health medications, which takes a few more weeks, and there's more struggles with that. I'm finally now at 29 weeks leveling out, and starting to feel more like myself again.”
She can’t overstate the importance of having access to constant care. She spoke to her physicians almost daily—and she feels lucky. “My physicians all communicated with me back and forth on a daily basis,” she says. “But if I didn’t have that support or access to that support, I really don't know where we would be in this journey.”
For anyone struggling with mental health during pregnancy, Jordan insists making it a priority. “You absolutely cannot take care of another human being,” she says, “and nourish another human being, without your mental health being taken care of. It’s the most important thing.” Together with her psychiatrist and OB/GYN before she got pregnant, the plan was to stay on her medications. Hyperemesis changed all that.
“In the early days when things were kind of bad, I'll be honest, I was second guessing the decision that we had made,” Jordan recalls. “I was struggling with becoming a new mom and being a pregnant person, and then on top of that, all these added things made it that much harder. I questioned it every day for weeks and weeks and weeks.”
She adds, “I consume a lot of social media. It's difficult seeing what people put out there. They look great and pregnancy's great and becoming a mom is great and sometimes you don't feel like that.” She emphasizes, though, that talking to people helps to discover that many others have similar experiences. “It doesn't get portrayed through social media,” she says. “You have to try to tune that out a little bit. It's not the real world.”
By sharing her story, Jordan hopes that other pregnant people will see that her situation is common and that there is help. “I know going through it, I wasn't finding a lot of people who identified with how I was feeling,” she says. “I just hope that someone realizes that there are other women like you and you're going to make it through just like we are.”
To support our work to fight for the health of all moms and babies, DONATE NOW.