I had a homemade sign on my desk when I was in year six that said “I’m stressed, depressed and overworked.”
Ten year old me had no idea.
I did not know how stressed or depressed I could be until I found out I was pregnant.
We’d planned to have children in a few years time, it was something we’d discussed in detail as due to a preexisting gynaecological condition we knew conceiving could be difficult. So when I needed to take emergency contraception I didn’t think of it as much more than a precaution. I took it within half an hour, I read the little booklet from cover to cover and then forgot about it.
Five weeks later I’m sat in the bathroom in floods of tears holding a positive pregnancy test.
I’ve never seen a man look so much like he was about to faint as my husband did.
That little plastic stick marked the beginning of the most difficult 8 months of our lives. It would have been 9 but little one decided to jump the gun by three weeks.
I’ve struggled with depression for many years, I’ve had highs and lows, good days and bad but never before did my husband wonder if I would still be there when he came home from work. I just couldn’t understand how and why I had ended up pregnant, I knew the morning after pill wasn’t 100% effective but I felt like I was being punished. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that being pregnant now was just not part of The Plan.
Coupled with all-day sickness, SPD and gestational diabetes I have never felt so unwell both physically and mentally. Not being able to work hit me very hard, I have rarely felt so downright useless. At the same time I dreaded work even though I wanted to go back. I couldn’t bear the thought of being surrounded by babies, with people wanting to ask questions and comment on the bump as well intentioned as it would be.
I became fatigued, withdrawn and resentful. I resented my husband for being able to continue his career, I resented other pregnant women who I imagined were sailing through pregnancy and I resented my son. I tried so hard not to but I couldn’t not, I felt as though I had been robbed of my life as a nurse, my body, my health and my sanity.
I dreaded people asking whether I was excited, I avoided going out in public in case people wanted to touch the bump. I shrank away from friends, family and strangers who even looked at the bump.
I planned to run away, to hide from everything and everyone but at the same time I knew I couldn’t because as long as I was pregnant I couldn’t be alone. So I made plans for after he was born, so that I could just disappear and find some peace. I saved up my medications, planning how much of each I would need. I tortured myself reading about women who had suffered with both antenatal and postnatal depression, I ranted at those who declared that the women who had died were selfish for not being able to hold on. I raged at the idea of bonding and love at first sight so convinced was I that I couldn’t love this baby. I searched for people who understood but found them few and far between.
My midwife, my wonderful tough loving midwife said that having my son would either make me or break me. For the first few days of his life I thought I was broken but that’s a confession for another day. I can truly say that he has saved me in a way that I would never have managed without being his Mum.
Every day I look at him and marvel that we created something so beautiful. That from all the pain and fear and doubt came life, a life that finds joy in the smallest of things. A life that doesn’t know sadness or doubt or fear, only love and safety and happiness.
A life that by its creation saved me.