Antenatal depression robbed me of the chance to have a happy pregnancy.
My first pregnancy that I will never have again.
Maybe my only pregnancy.
As I sit and type Squidge is playing in his doorway bouncer, alternating between bouncing and trying to chew it. His big beaming smile lights up my world and if I could take him to show everyone who told me it would be worth it I would.
But there are no guarantees that the depression won’t return with another pregnancy and I don’t know if I can go through that again. If I can put my husband, my family and my friends through it.
I can’t do that to Squidge.
Before Squidge we’d been talking about babies for a few years and knew that we both wanted children. We’d planned to start trying for a baby in about four years time; we’d both be 28, we’d both be properly established in our jobs, we’d probably have moved to a bigger house and we thought that by then we’d be ready.
As ready as anyone ever is.
A year or two earlier we’d discovered that I had some potential fertility issues and that it might be difficult to conceive. I took this really hard, especially as we’d been married for two years at this point and people kept asking me when we were going to have a baby. I eventually snapped at one colleague when she’d decided that we were buying our three bedroom house because I was pregnant and tried to make me admit it by repeating ‘Baby’ over and over again until I lost my temper.
I knew I wanted to be a Mummy and although I didn’t dream about it or make plans about my future children I did sometimes think about what it would be like to excitedly tell people that we were having a baby. I would occasionally spot cute little clothes when our shopping and wonder what it would be like to have a tiny person to dress.
And I could clearly see my husband carrying a tiny person in tiny PJs up to bed.
But when I sat in the bathroom holding the positive pregnancy test all I felt was despair.
Despair which continued for nine months.
I thought it would continue for the rest of my life.
As far as announcing the pregnancy went we only told people who needed to know, who asked directly or who I felt deserved an explanation for my behaviour.
Like our friends who got married the day after we found out and I burst into tears at the reception and had to be taken home.
Most people didn’t even know I’d ever been pregnant until Squidge was two months old and I decided I was ready to put some photos on Facebook.
My colleagues who were pregnant at the same time as me were proudly posting bump photos and scan pictures, organising baby showers and announcing due dates. I was hiding at home, pretending that I wasn’t pregnant and at the same time filled with jealousy and longing.
I wanted to be happy and excited, I did.
I just couldn’t be.
I signed up to some baby clubs, received text messages from the NHS and downloaded app that told me which type of fruit or veg Squidge was equivalent to each week of my pregnancy.
Squidge had arrived before I could bring myself to say that.
I steeled myself to buy nappies and baby clothes and sort out the nursery.
I tortured myself with the joy of others, imagining them as perfect expectant Mummies and glowing, shining with happiness while I sat at the bottom of a dark pit so deep I could only catch an occasional glimpse of the sun.
Sometimes the sun did come out, like the weekend my brother visited to help my husband paint the nursery. I went up to see how they were getting on and found them giggling like loons and painting rude pictures on the wall.
They found it a bit less funny when it took two coats of paint to cover them up.
But mostly it rained.
Not huge, crashing, tumultuous storms although sometimes that did happen.
Persistent, cold, grey rain that soaked through until I was saturated but still it kept falling.
I look back now and I know how I felt, I just can’t quite remember. In the same way I know that labour was the most painful, frightening experience of my life I don’t fully remember the pain.
That’s what makes me think I could maybe have another baby after everything I went through.