Pre-natal depression: a dark & lonely place

Pre-natal depression: a dark & lonely place

In early August 2012 I found I was pregnant. It was a shock. I’d been on the pill for 16 years. My fiancé and I were 6 weeks off getting married. My hens party was the following weekend. I had gone off the pill the month before because we wanted to have a few months break from drugs in my system before we tried for a baby.

About 2 weeks later we went to a friend’s engagement party. At the time I figured there was no way I would get pregnant so soon after 16 years on the pill. Surely my body would need time to recover. Apparently not… Boom! 2 weeks later and a positive pregnancy test had told me otherwise.

The fact we were about to start trying after the wedding made it better although it didn’t take away the shock. After the news sunk in though, we started to get a bit excited.

One thing I couldn’t do was allow myself to get too attached. After all, every woman in my entire family had suffered a miscarriage or still birth on their first pregnancy. Surely the same thing would happen to me. I went to the hospital once with pains that turned out normal and after that, I lived on Google. Every niggle, every flutter, every pain – I Googled. And we made it.

The wedding was fantastic although I ended up with the flu. The honeymoon was wonderful although we went to Thailand and I had to be extremely careful with what I ate – also being 3 months gone, my morning sickness had well kicked in and I had to cover my mouth and nose whenever I was out on the street to stop the sick feelings from taking over.

Then month 4 was probably the month where I got to relax, enjoy time at home. I wasn’t working too much with my business, and really my only stress was about money – but I wasn’t overly concerned about that either.

Pregnancy Changes Everything

Month 5 and I started to notice my baby belly. I started to notice that I was putting on weight and that I was no longer able to do everything I used to do as it was simply too tiring, or it hurt. Boot camp went out the door and I started to do Aqua Aerobics instead. I still went to the gym a few times a week, did classes right up til I was 6 months gone, Aqua til I was 8 months; but the fitness levels I had were gone, and the weight I had always worked so hard to keep off … piled on. With a past that includes eating disorders, not being able to control my weight was tough. And ultimately, I got depressed.

I still ate well. I still did what exercise I could. But of course I was also growing a baby! And my weight increased dramatically. In fact, by the time I had my baby – I’d put on a whopping 35 kilos!

From the 5th month, the weight went on, my feet started swelling, my hands started swelling, I was getting niggling pains, I could feel the baby start moving inside me. The first time I felt it, I was 21 weeks gone.

We had just found out the week before that we were having a girl. Which of course isn’t something I should have been worried about, but when I found out my intuition that it was a boy was wrong – I cried for 24 hours straight, worrying my husband would be disappointed. He wasn’t, of course.

Pre-natal depression: a pregnant mother

Joy versus Guilt

When I felt her move for the first time, I was at my mum’s place lying outside. It was a strange flutter, but I was thrilled. Then, I started to feel her more often and I started to hate it. The feeling made me feel queasy, I was sitting down at my desk trying to work and all of a sudden there would be a wave of sickness come over me and I would feel her jumping around in there. Many days I would end up in tears, but I’d end up in tears more so because I knew my feelings of hate were not normal. I’d read the books and stories about all those mums who love watching their belly move and feeling the baby kicks. I’d had friends who were unable to have children, and here I was, so lucky to have a healthy baby growing inside my stomach … and yet I hated it. The guilt of that ate at me.

That guilt, mixed with the hatred I had for my own growing body, meant I spent a lot of time alone, crying and thinking there was something wrong with me.

Changing your mindset

I cried inside every time someone jokingly called me “fatty”. I had family members telling me that my bum was getting bigger and saying things like “oh, you’re definitely putting on weight. Look at you!” … I was sad. I was depressed. And I kept it all inside.

I spent a few weeks away from my family; and the people with us were the complete opposite and instead of making me feel like the Marshmallow Man, they complimented me on my “glow” and saw my ‘flaws’ as magic. It was at that point – 7 months in – that I realised I’d spent so much of my pregnancy unhappy, it was time to change. It was then that I realised I’d had pre-natal depression and that I’d wasted months crying when I should be enjoying the magical ride my body was on.

So my mindset changed and I began to enjoy the movements. I talked to family and friends who provided me encouragement. I would film them so I could watch them back. I got a 3D scan so that I could see my baby’s face – and then I simply had so much more to look forward to that any sadness fell away.

Pre-natal depression is very real, and it’s raw. Not only are you going through all the hormone changes that pregnancy brings with it, your body is changing and your mind is sometimes so confused, it doesn’t know how to deal with everything that’s going on. That’s what leads to the depression. It’s important that you talk to those around you – particularly anyone who voices any concerns about your emotions. Don’t lie to them. And most importantly, don’t lie to yourself.

Pre-natal depression: pregnant mother

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