I was pregnant with my second child, a little boy when I started feeling depressed. I was in my second trimester and I felt like I was at the bottom of a deep well drowning. At one point, I took a whole week off work because I couldn’t drag myself out of bed.
Once my baby was born I planned to kill myself
I didn’t want to harm my precious child but I convinced myself that my family would be better without me once my baby was born safely in the world. Fortunately, I started to feel a little better emotionally in my third trimester. Once I started my maternity leave, I was able to get more fresh air and exercise and my mood was lifting.
I was planning a home birth and my midwifery team were supportive and amazing. The consultants at my local hospital had attempted to talk me out of it, but after a frank discussion with the lead midwife, I was feeling confident and relaxed.
My son, however, had other ideas and at 42 weeks, I was induced. I was still hoping for a water birth, but the induction progressed more quickly than anyone would have guessed. I begged the overnight midwife to examine me and transfer me to the labour ward but she kept telling me that I couldn’t possibly be in established labour.
I ended up giving birth on the antenatal ward, with the midwife rushing in as the baby was crowning and I started screaming in earnest.
I felt like I had failed when he was born
The birth was not at home, not peaceful and not accompanied by my named midwife. We went home about six hours after the birth (at my insistence) and things seemed okay at first.
My son was a big baby (9lbs 10oz) and we struggled with feeding. When the midwife weighed him for the first time, he had lost over 12% of his birth weight. She insisted I start topping up with formula – so here was another failure – I wasn’t even able to breastfeed him successfully.
I tried to put on a brave face around others, but when the midwife came to discharge us she asked how I was and I burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying. She was kind and supportive and let me know she wouldn’t discharge me until she was confident I had the support I needed.
Would she judge me?
I made an appointment with the GP while she was there and shortly after she left, the health visitor got in touch. I struggled with the health visitor – I was scared that she would think I would harm my children if I was honest with her, and nothing could have been further from the truth.
I think the only thing that kept me from suicide was concern that my daughter would find me dead, that my children would be left without a carer.
The GP was also not particularly helpful but did prescribe antidepressants. I was afraid of them, as my mother has been on them for her entire adult life, but I also thought I would do anything not to feel that way anymore. We adjusted the dosage a couple of times and agreed I would come off them once the weather got better to avoid any SAD complications.
I wanted to use the antidepressants as a tool rather than a lifestyle solution, so I started looking at things in my life that I could change. I had been a keen runner before my first pregnancy but had never got back into the habit after her birth.
I made an effort to start getting more exercise
I also realised that my job was a source of anxiety and stress, so I decided to take a career break and weigh up my options. We sold our house in London and moved out to the country to reduce our expenses and minimise the financial impact of my decision.
My new GP is as keen as I am to stop the antidepressants. I hope to come off them in the next month. I still have some bad days, but I recognise them for what they are and do my best to move past it.
I know that those days are not my best parenting days, but most days are full of love and laughter and I always make it clear to my children that sometimes mummy gets a bit sad, but it will all be OK.
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