In 2006 and I was ranked #1 in the world. It was my third year running professionally and everything was going how I envisioned. So many great things happened that year, a career’s best performance, the purchase of my first home, winning the Visa challenge for $100,000 (not bad for one race!), and it was time for renegotiation of my Nike contract. My agent was excited about how the round of negotiations was going. I remember thinking, “this is how it feels to get everything you want” I took note of that feeling and cherished it, understanding that this feeling wasn’t permanent. Little did I know the feeling came to an end sooner than expected.
When my season ended I was so excited about starting training for the following year, a World Championship year. As the first week of practice approached so did my menstrual cramps. Every month I’m hit with cramps so this wasn’t a total shock. Typically, a day or two after I have cramps my period comes. I totally didn’t think I was pregnant because my symptoms were, what I knew to be, normal. This time, in particular, a week had passed and I still had cramps! The thought started to develop about me being pregnant but I just knew I wasn’t. To get this notion out of my head I went to the store and bought a pregnancy test.
Immediately when I get home I took the test. What seemed to be the longest two minutes ever, I finally get the results. Pregnant… This can’t be right. The test says that they are 99% accurate, maybe I fall in that 1% of the test being wrong. I return to the store to buy a value pack of pregnancy tests and one by one the results come in: Pregnant. Pregnant. Pregnant. I finally give in and except my positive test result after the third retake. I run to my bedroom closet, away from my husband (boyfriend at the time) crying. As if running off screaming wasn’t enough, he asked for the results?! I scream like a brat, “IM PREGNANT!”
As a little girl, I wanted to be a mom and have a big family. With the response I had toward being pregnant you wouldn’t think that was my dream at all. I wanted a big family, but I wanted it how I imagined it… not like this. This wasn’t the plan. I was immediately mad. Mad at myself for “ruining my career”. My thoughts were conflicted. “How could I let this happen?!,” “I’m so careless!” My life as an Olympian was over.
I immediately fell into a depression. I would stay in my room in darkness and try to sleep the situation away. It didn’t work. What was I going to do?! Should I get an abortion? I explained to my husband that it’s wasn’t the right time and that we needed to prepare financially for a child. He understood my concerns but advocated for keeping the baby, he said we would be fine. I made a decision… I was going to get an abortion. At this point, the depression deepened. Not only was I depressed about this pregnancy happening to me at the prime of my career, but on top of that, I was mad at myself for even being mad about being pregnant! I looked at myself like a bad person…
I started the process of going through with the abortion but once it came time to set an appointment I couldn’t go through with it. This sent me into a crazy crying spell. I now hated myself for not being able to live with decisions I made for myself- for caring so much. I was just plain old fed up with myself. So now I’m pregnant with, at that time, an unwanted pregnancy, without a college degree, and without a job. I suffered from severe morning sickness, would cry throughout the day, hide from friends, and attack those that simply were concerned about me and my well-being. Dealing with this by myself, I decided, was the only option because I didn’t want anyone to know.
I dreaded going to my first doctor’s appointment, this forced me to accept my situation. That day will remain a vivid memory. The nurse called me to the examination room to do the first ultrasound. She goes on to explain the tiny circle I see on the screen as the pregnancy. With bright eyes, she goes on to say, “Let me really blow your mind… There is another circle and it is also a pregnancy! You’re having twins!” This is the first time I can recall being happy about anything to do with the pregnancy but the depression didn’t go away from hearing exciting news and the days continued to be dark after leaving the visit. The beginning of my pregnancy was not fun and half of those days are a blur. What I do remember are days covered with tears, filled with sadness, and wrapped in loneliness.
I couldn’t hide my pregnancy anymore so I revealed it to close friends and family. Anytime they tried to take a picture I would turn them down. They warned me I would regret every moment they tried to capture. They were right. I hate the fact that I don’t have any captured memories from my first pregnancy. The fifth month of pregnancy is an important time. It was the gender reveal of the twins. My feelings about pregnancy changed. I compare it to awakening from, what felt like, a trance. It was at that moment, seeing my twin boys fluttering around in me that realized being a mom of twins was a childhood dream of mine and I have been completely denying that dream. It was my ah-ha moment.
It normally makes me uneasy to talk about depression because so many people throw it around like its this small thing. I want it to be noted that at that time I was going through, what I classified as depression, I wasn’t aware of it. But as I educated myself more about what I was feeling and my different reactions, it was clear to me that it was depression. It was a rough road to my happiness of being a mom, not the fairy tale story, but it’s my story and it’s real. Just like my friend’s feelings about motherhood is real (See the story here). We are both representatives of certain moms out there and the more we tell our truth the more it will reveal the truth about the many faces of motherhood. I’m not telling my story to encourage women not to love motherhood. I’m telling my story so women can see that it is normal to have these feelings and still fulfill being a great mother!