pregnancy

'None of these feelings are within my control'

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This morning I found myself crying uncontrollably in the walk in wardrobe, blowing my nose into my towel. As I listened to the phone ringing the hospital, I thought ‘just compose yourself enough to talk to whoever answers’. A lady at main reception answered my call and sure enough as soon as I attempted to explain why I was calling, I was a bumbling mess. To her credit, she managed to work out who I needed to talk to and promptly transferred my call, telling me, “It’s ok honey, just hang on.”

I attempted to compose myself again and waited for someone to answer. A nice, older sounding lady answered the phone and I managed to get a few more words out before bursting into tears and apologising. “I’m nearly 30 weeks pregnant,” I said, “and I need help.”  I thought perhaps I was being a bit melodramatic but then the little, concerned and confused face of my four year old poked it’s head around the door and asked “what’s wrong Mummy?” Ringing for help was the best thing I could’ve done.

I put my arms around my son and told him I was just not feeling well but it would be ok. I spoke to the lady on the phone for a few minutes and she promised that she would call me back tomorrow as soon as the doctors had read the referral that the obstetrician had sent through last week. She said they usually just make appointments and mail them out but she would call me herself as soon as she knew.  I sat on the bed with my son and he took his little hand and rubbed my arm reassuringly. How the hell do you explain depression to a four year old?  There are adults in the world who will never understand it, so a child has no hope.

As I sit and think about my gorgeous boy who has no real idea of what’s going on, the tears well up again. The guilt I feel for not being a good mum at the moment is overwhelming. All he knows is there is a baby in Mummy’s tummy and since the end of last year (which must feel like forever when you’re four) Mummy has either been sick in bed with headaches or cranky and sad for no real reason.  Writing that down makes me feel sick to my stomach. I feel like I’m ruining his life and I have absolutely no control over it. Well, perhaps I do, or at least I did.  I didn’t have to get pregnant. I could’ve been more careful.  I could’ve prevented it from happening. Had I have known what this pregnancy would do to my life, I would’ve thought long and hard about EVER becoming pregnant again and perhaps I might have made different decisions at the beginning.

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My first pregnancy was amazing. Apart from a little bit of morning sickness right at the start, that forty weeks was the healthiest and happiest I’d been in a long time. I took a minimal dose of my anti-depressants (which I have been on for a good portion of the last 20 years) and felt fabulous with none of these feelings of dread, despair or complete and utter isolation that I’m feeling right now.  As I just mentioned, I’ve suffered from depression for many years now but never before, not even in my darkest hours, have I ever felt so isolated, desperate and alone as I do today. Even though depression still carries with it a stigma, a dark cloud that leaves a lot of people feeling isolated, being pregnant and depressed seems to carry with it even more shame.  I mean, who can I tell that I have wished it all away?  Who can I tell that I feel like this baby, this beautiful miracle inside me right now, is going to ruin my life and the life of my son?  Not many people, and in fact, I’ve told only a couple – one of them a psychologist and one my Mum.  Even surrounded by wonderful friends as I am, there are some things I feel I just cannot reiterate for fear of being branded despicable.

I know that by writing this, people will label me selfish and ungrateful, perhaps even evil.  I want you to know that I’m not and the ONLY reason I’m writing these thoughts down and sending them off to be read by other people is that maybe there is someone else out there reading this who feels just like I do right now and maybe by reading this, they’ll feel just a tiny bit less isolated and desperate. None of these feelings are being felt by my choice.  None of these feelings are within my control. I look in the mirror and I hate myself for feeling the way I do and now all I can do is say to myself “you’ve asked for help, now you just have to wait until it comes and things will be ok. It’s not your fault.” I’ll be waiting by the phone tomorrow.

If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, contact PANDA – Post and Antenatal Depression Association. You can find their website here or call their helpline – 1300 726 306.

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Kate is a 37-year-old mother to a delightful little boy and lives with her family in Gisborne, Victoria. Recently, Kate has gone back to singing and performing after many years absence and being a stay at home mum for over 4 years. You can read her blog here and like her Facebook page here.

Have you, or someone you know, ever experienced antenatal depression? What helped you get through it?

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