Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Life after Ante-natal depression

A thread on my “pink place” forum has me thinking tonight. A friend started a thread that we could post on about our day today, and then one year from today we can go back and read it and see how our lives have moved on or changed. For (hopefully) the better, or worse.

It made me think about my feelings for Benjamin and how they have changed from the feelings I had during my pregnancy. It was a VERY hard pregnancy. Physically it was tough as at 5 months I developed Symphasis Pubis Disorder (SPD) which made walking excruciating. But more than that the mental side of the pregnancy was awful.

At 19 weeks I was diagnosed with Ante natal depression. This is an illness that is not always recognised, or worse, acknowledged by healthcare professionals. A lot of women with the symptoms quite often think the mood swings and emotions are part and parcel of pregnancy. A lot of emphasis is placed on post natal depression and how women are coping post birth, but there isn’t always the same support for women like myself who suffer from depression during pregnancy.

There seems to be an assumption that a women should be overjoyed to be pregnant. And initially I was thrilled to be expecting a sibling for Noah. But pregnancy isn’t always lovely bumps and floaty dresses. It can have very adverse effects on some people - I was one of those women. It knocked me for six, as I had nothing like this during my pregnancy with Noah.

I had to go on sick leave from my job, I was given anti depressants, older ones that really are not that effective at treating depression but that are safe for baby. A lot of newer tablets can cause respiratory problems in the baby after birth. I had left over anxieties from after Noah’s birth that meant my Dr thought this would not be the best treatment for me. I also received counselling from a Psychiatric nurse. I am very thankful that I had such an observant Midwife who sent me to the right people for treatment. I am very thankful that the nurse who did my initial consultation recognised how ill I was and immediately referred me for treatment.

I have a few friends who have or are struggling to start their families, and sadly three friends who have lost babies either close to their due date or after birth. So there was the part of me that knew how lucky I was that the pregnancy - baby wise was smooth. I suffered much guilt over this, as how could I feel so awful about my pregnancy when people I loved were suffering so much?

However, the crippling emotions and depression I suffered made me struggle to see how lucky I actually am. There were times when I didn’t want to be pregnant, and on one occasion when I had a particulary vile day I told my husband that maybe it would be better to have the baby adopted. I constantly questioned how I could possibly love another child as much as I loved Noah.

Of course, looking back there is no way that that would have ever happened. I hate myself for having these feelings and for saying that. My Nurse tells me I can’t think about it like that as I was extremely ill and had no control over my emotions,it’s easy to say, not so easy to do. Benjamin is the absolute light of my life. He is a golden baby, so well behaved, his sleeping is amazing compared to his older brother. His smile lights up the room, and makes my heart explode with sheer pride and love for him.

I watch him sleeping at night and I sometimes find myself crying tears of joy and happiness. I actually find all these emotions a little hard to deal with and I’m not sure why? It’s hard to get my head around how much love it is possible to feel for a person.

In the space of 9 months my life has changed a lot. The baby in my tummy that I did not bond with is now here, keeping me busy and filling me with joy and love I doubted I could feel.

It’s not always easy being a family of four, especially dealing with Noah’s sleeping issues, but honestly, I am feeling the happiest I have ever been.

There is life after depression, medication and feelings of worthlessness. I am testament to that.

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