In the last few weeks, I’ve had a panic attack whilst hanging the washing. I’ve had my camera off, and mic muted on a zoom meeting whilst I cried until it was my turn to talk. I’ve been socialising then nipped off to cry in the loo. I’ve lay awake most of the night wondering how the hell I am going to cope with a baby if this is how I feel before one.
I’ve always wanted kids. I assumed that being pregnant would be the happiest time of my life. I thought, if I can get pregnant, I’ll be one of those women with all the intuition, it’ll come so naturally to me. I saw other pregnant women and thought, that’ll suit me. But now it is me, and my body and mind already feel like they aren’t mine anymore, I’m beginning to question the entire meaning of the word natural. I get weekly updates about the baby (mainly what sized fruit it is, this week is a pomegranate), my own body’s changes and how I may be feeling. Not one of these updates has said ‘you might be feeling like you’re on a comedown from a 48-hour MDMA binge, the type a good fry up can’t solve.’
Obviously, right now is a highly anxious time for most people. Both me and my husband work in the arts so uncertainty and underfunded are our middle names but having that worry, on top of the endless list of things to think about when you’re about to bring life into the world, is a lot to process. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the things that I worry about:
- Is that pain in my side normal or is something wrong?
- Should I feel more bonded to my baby at this point?
- If I’m not bonded now, will I feel a bond when it’s born?
- Why haven’t I felt the baby move yet?
- Why aren’t I enjoying ‘this special time?’
- Should I have bought all the nursery stuff now?
- I hope I can breast feed.
- Will I be able to go back to work?
- Is my husband getting sick of me?
- Will our relationship be OK?
- Will my friends leave me behind?
- I see articles all the time about stuff you shouldn’t do when your babies born like let it sleep in a car seat and surely, I can’t know all this stuff. Will my intuition kick in at some point or will I do something wrong?
- Am I already doing something wrong?
You get the picture. There are so many resources for mums to be, websites we can read information on and apps we can download. When you look on the ‘pregnancy health’ section of these, there’s loads of information on what cheese you shouldn’t eat and what products to use to stop you getting stretch marks but in terms of mental health, it’s pretty sparse. I’ve not chosen a snappy title for this blog because before I spoke to my midwife, I had never seen the term pre-natal anxiety and depression. I’ve heard of post-natal depression but no pre-natal. But even after posting my last few blogs I’ve got some lovely messages from loads of women telling me about how they’ve struggled mentally during pregnancy. Why aren’t we talking about this more? That’s a big question I’m going to keep asking until we are talking about it.
In the last few weeks I’ve also been on gorgeous walks with friends, I’ve had my mum call to chat every single day, I’ve had my husband comfort me and cheer me up, I’ve had work colleagues let me take a step back when I’m overwhelmed. I’ve got an incredible support network and I am so lucky for that. I’ve also spoken to my midwife and doctor, who have both taken the time to listen and check how I’m doing, in the midst of a pandemic! I’ve been referred to an NHS mental health service who have been wonderfully responsive. I start my cognitive behavioural therapy in a few weeks, and I feel really grateful to be getting help and positive that me and the baby will get there.
Preggo pals, this is the biggest thing we will do in our lives. I think it’s OK if we find it more difficult than it looks on the Johnsons baby adverts, we should’ve seen it coming after the deceit of those smiles and white jeans on the tampon adverts. Let's keep talking.