Malin Andersson – Navigating Pre-Natal Depression
As we’re approaching baby loss awareness week, I write this blog with a heavy but also light heart. I’m currently pregnant with my second child, but as many of you may know, I’m still grieving the loss of my first child, Consy.
After giving birth at 32 weeks and being alive for only one month, my beautiful baby girl died. As I write this, it still seems surreal to me; even 3 years on, it doesn’t get easier. You just learn how to cope and live differently.
Being a mum is something I’ve always wanted to be. Losing my own mum to cancer 4 years ago hit me hard and left me wanting my own family. My dad passed away when I was 11 months old, so I never had a complete family unit growing up. My mum was my rock, and the role she played in my life was so important. She’s made me who I am today. My strength comes from her, and I know being pregnant without my mum here is the most scariest thing.
As I walk into the end of my second trimester, I thank the universe for giving me the chance to have another precious girl again, but with each thankful moment, I know that it can be taken away from me at any time. which is why I want to speak about prenatal depression.
My pregnancy and prenatal depression
I never knew what prenatal depression was. I’d never heard anyone speak about it before, so when I entered this pregnancy I thought everything would be fine. I was having a baby again, so I should be grateful and count myself lucky, right? But that wasn’t the case.
I think as pregnant women we’re all expected to be happy, thankful and get on with life as normal. And for me, that is the most difficult thing to swallow. I wake up each day frightened that my unborn child has died inside me. I actively look for blood each time I go to the toilet, and I panic when I don’t feel any movement.
The fear that lives inside me stems from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). PTSD led me to have intrusive thoughts and depression. It got so bad that I started to sleep. A lot. I would cry, sleep and stay in a dark room. I knew that if I slept, I wouldn’t have to think; because each time I would think, it would be a dark thought. A cloud hanging over my head, and nothing I could do would get these morbid thoughts away.
The intrusive thoughts were so bad that I started to think there was something wrong with me. An example would be if I killed myself now I won’t have to do it when my child dies again. That’s the extent my mind would go to. Suffering in silence in my own mind was something I never thought would happen again so soon after going through trauma. I thought that the pain I endured would stop at some point, but I started to relive it all over again.
The depression hit its worst stages in my first and early second trimester, and I can honestly say I’m slowly coming out of it. I remember desperately going to my doctor to see what could be done and the first thing they suggested was to put me on antidepressants because of my past history.. but I didn’t want to take them.
I thought that I could tackle it on my own as I have done with everything else my life has thrown at me. If it wasn’t for my partner, family and friends, I think I would still be in that dark hole now.
Don’t get me wrong, each day is different; some days are harder, and the panic and worry will be here until my beautiful baby is in my arms, but I know that I can’t waste another day of this pregnancy living in fear. I want to enjoy every stage of it. The hormones, the sciatica, the pains in my back, the sore boobs.. every single bit of it.
How I’m slowly coming out of the dark space
You may wonder how I’ve managed to slowly creep out of the dark place I was recently in, and I’ll be completely honest with you. It’s realising the strength I have within me and also realising that whatever the universe throws at me, it was meant to be in my path either way.
I’ve come to an understanding that I have no control over certain situations. The only thing I can control is my perspective and my mind. I know now that I’ve been through the worst and that I was built for this life. I wasn’t put here on this earth to suffer; I have a place here. A place to share my pain and experiences so that it can help somebody else. That is my purpose. Since finding my purpose, I have felt a zest of life.
I read a lot. I stay active by walking in nature, and I’ve started hobbies I used to enjoy when I was younger such as painting, bird watching. I have therapy once a week, and I find it helps me by speaking about what’s going on in my mind. I also make sure I have plenty of self-care, and by that I mean alone time; time for myself and time to rejuvenate.
Please don’t suffer alone. I want you to understand that you can talk about whatever you’re going through. There are so many people that can help you. I know that isolating yourself feels like the best thing to do, but it isn’t. Depression is a real mental illness and to have it while you’re pregnant is frightening.
It’s a time when we should be enjoying our pregnancies, but things aren’t always straight forward like that. The pain you’re feeling now will soon turn into strength, and you’ll come out of this seeing the light shine so bright. If I can do it, I know you can too.
Don’t lose hope – it’s what got me through everything.
Written by Malin Anderson