Ok so this sounds cheesy, but if someone had told me 2 years ago I would be a mother in a couple of years time I would have never believed them. I was always the person with not one maternal bone in my body. In fact, until my sister fell pregnant with my nephew in 2013 I wasn’t even comfortable being within a mile radius of a pregnant woman. The full idea of pregnancy made me feel instantly squeamish.
Our baby wasn’t planned. This was July 2015, me & Jamie had only been together since December the year before. A baby was the last thing on our minds. To me the relationship was still new, we were still enjoying the ‘honeymoon period’ and I was loving every minute so having to come to terms with the fact I was pregnant 7 months into our relationship was not easy.
I was at work when I found out, I had taken a test the week before which was falsely negative. Every afternoon I felt like I was going to pass out, like I was sea sick, something wasn’t right but I never thought I would actually be pregnant. So when I took the test , threw the again ‘negative’ test on top of the bin and then noticed that other solid little line slowly appear, my world just turned upside down there & then. What the hell was I going to do?!
I was 21 & a typical 21 year old at that. My life consisted of nights out with my friends, dates & lazy days with my boyfriend, spending every penny I earned on ASOS, I was a typical selfish 21 year old. I wasn’t ready for my life to ‘stop’, with no notice my life just changed. No last minute nights out, no glass of wine after a crappy day at work, everything was just different and I wasn’t
ready to give up all of these things.
I had no doubt in my mind what I was going to do, this was our baby. I felt blessed to be pregnant. I was so lucky & relieved Jamie felt the same as me, we were going to have a baby. The first month or so after finding out I just felt like I was in my own little world, a little bubble of happiness. It probably hadn’t quite sank in, the full reality of how our lives would change but that soon hit me.
I have always had problems with anxiety, nothing major but it’s always been there. I was obsessed with how I looked, I was never good enough in my eyes, for myself or my friends or even people I passed in the street. Every time I had to be somewhere there was usually a panic attack or two before I even left the house, that along with 5 outfit changes & redoing my hair/lipstick 3 times. I had pretty good control of this for about a year at this point which made it real easy to spot old habits creeping back up.
As soon as my beloved Topshop joni jeans didn’t quite fit anymore, and my bump began to show the more paranoid I got. I always pictured myself loving the bump, being quite slim I thought I would suit it & that would be the only thing about my body to change. I couldn’t have been more wrong and well, I hated it. I was around 13/14 weeks at this point. We had just announced to the world of social media that we were going to be parents, our family & friends were all so excited, Jamie was excited, everyone was so happy for us which just made how I felt about myself seem even more unacceptable to me.
My body was changing so fast & I couldn’t keep up. My boobs were bulging out my bra, my jeans didn’t fit, my belly was getting plump, my hips were getting fat. It was too much but I didn’t want to admit that I was feeling low it was probably just hormones. I constantly compared myself to my friends, my sister, girls on instagram, the girl serving me in asda, any girl that I saw!!! It was unbearable. As the bump got bigger the more I hated myself, how could I tell anybody I hated my baby bump? It was my baby.
My mind was just out of control, I didn’t want to see my friends as that meant having to find something to wear and nothing that fitted me was ever going to be good enough. I had myself convinced that Jamie was repulsed by me & would soon leave me, I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror how could he look at me & find me attractive? I was a complete wreck but I still couldn’t speak up, if I didn’t like my bump people would think I didn’t like my baby.
By this point I was 23 weeks pregnant, I was in constant pain with rib flare & each day it was getting worse. I had so long to go still & I was completely fed up. I was in work when I had a complete breakdown. I just couldn’t do it any longer, it was eating me alive.
I saw my GP that week & was honest about everything. About the unbelievable guilt I felt at not bonding with my baby, how I was worried people around me would think I resented my child because I hated being pregnant so much, how I felt I was still too selfish to be a capable mother & the unbelievable pressure I felt to succeed as a parent. I was just letting everything out & it was actually such a massive relief. Half my mind was telling me one thing, the other half telling me another, these thoughts in constant battle with each other. Half of me knew they were complete rubbish whilst the other half of me convincing me they were all true. I had to get my mind under control & admitting there was a problem would be the first & hardest step.
For the rest of my pregnancy, I was seen by a perinatal mental health Dr. I had finished work by this point as I couldn’t cope. It was time to get some control back. I found it strange how much I looked forward to my first appointment, I was so grateful to be getting help, I knew I had to get my head together before I could welcome our child to the world, I was finally in the right frame of mind. This was supposed to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I was adamant I would enjoy what time I had left of my pregnancy.
Things never really got ‘better’, but I learnt how to manage. How to cope & how to speak to those closest to me about what was going on. Without my boyfriend, my mum or my sister I would have been lost. I always felt when speaking out loud about what was going on in my head, that none of it made sense, I felt like a crazy person but that sense of release & just getting everything out well, I guess I owe my sanity to that.
I wanted to write this as I lost the enjoyment of my pregnancy through bottling everything up. Before falling pregnant, I believed after the morning sickness was gone it was a beautiful experience, you never really heard of people not enjoying being pregnant & I think that was where my shame & the amount of pressure I put on myself came from. I just wanted to put it out there, that there is no shame in not enjoying pregnancy, prenatal as well as postnatal depression is very real and it affects one in every ten women. My advice if anything, to anybody feeling like I did, is to speak up. Whether it be to your partner, your best friend, your mum or your GP the first time you say it out loud will be the hardest but things will only get better from there!
I’m writing this to you all with my newborn daughter, Nora Duncan, fast asleep by my side. She was born on March 9th weighing 6lb 8oz. I now realise the journey I’ve been on the last few months were all for her. She is healthy & so so perfect. I would do this a million times over for her, I’ve never felt so complete.