Whenever I log into our pediatrician’s online portal to schedule an appointment for our youngest, Finn, this message is one of the first things that pops up: Jittery infant.
When Finny was born, he was absolutely perfect. Within minutes of holding him, I felt like our family was complete. It is such a cliche to write, but something that I felt down to my toes. Considering I got an epidural and maybe wasn’t able to feel my toes – this means a lot! He was a centimeter shorter and an ounce heavier than his older brother, William. His cries sounded like a baby lamb and every so often his little bottom lip would tremble.
Finn being my second baby, I knew how to take care of myself immediately after his birth; I knew that he would eventually latch; and I also knew not to pay too much attention to the specific words of anyone who came into our hospital room. Don’t mistake my words, I adore the nurses who cared for me and Finn and have so much respect for them and the work they do, but I also know they are human and don’t understand that a statement they made in passing could have such a lasting effect. When I asked the visiting pediatrician about Finn’s trembling lower lip he answered, without even looking at me, that it was likely because I was taking Zoloft while pregnant.
I first started taking Zoloft when I was in the depths of postpartum depression with William, and eventually stopped taking it when William was around one year old. After I stopped breastfeeding and my period became regular, however, I found that I had a really dark week each month. A week in which it was hard for me – a morning person, someone who is always filled with plans, and has never struggled to get motivated – to get out of bed. A week in which I would tell my husband and those closest to me that maybe someone else would be better equipped to raise our son. A week in which I felt like I was about to be fired from my job despite any evidence.
In January of 2022 I was in my first trimester of my pregnancy with Finn, suffering from extreme morning sickness, recovering from Covid and the flu, and about to travel to visit my parents to help take care of my mom after her second breast cancer surgery. I spoke to my doctor about the safety of taking an SSRI when pregnant and she assured me that it was completely safe. She and I had been discussing this due to my “dark week” each month and it felt like the time. My husband assured me of the importance of my wellbeing while taking care of a toddler and growing our second son. So, I started taking Zoloft again.
Finn is now the happiest nine month old baby. He has met every milestone – some early. He greets me each morning with a wet, open-mouthed kiss. He looks me in the eye like I am the best thing he has ever seen. I am still on Zoloft. I returned to work after four months and am as stressed and busy as everyone, but I don’t struggle to get out of bed and I can see what my son sees when he looks at me. I believe that is because of Zoloft. I am just now accepting the he is a healthy, happy baby because of what that visiting pediatrician said. Both things are true.