The day those two lines showed up on the pregnancy test I felt so excited. Becoming a Mum was something I had wanted for a long time. I could not wait for the day I would hold my baby in my arms and have a child of my own.
Heading to my first scan at 8 weeks I was nervous, as most new parents are. I had already been plagued by terrible morning sickness. But I had not given thought to the possibility of something else being wrong. The scan revealed a perfect beating heart, but also uterine abnormality that brought with it a whole lot of risk and a need for frequent extra monitoring. That is when the anxiety began.
Throughout pregnancy my anxiety grew day by day. My morning sickness turned to Hyperemesis (severe, ongoing morning sickness). I was grieving the loss of my grandfather. My husband was made redundant and I was struggling to work, I had no idea how we were going to cope. And I had a constant fear of losing my baby.
Every little pain or movement I felt would send my mind racing.
My baby was breech from early on and as my due date became near it was realised she could not turn due to my uterus. I would need to have a caesarean.
This brought another whole lot of anxious thoughts along with disappointment. Thankfully the birth went well, but we struggled with breastfeeding and my daughter lost too much weight. In the end we had no option but to switch to formula feeding. I was devastated.
During those first few weeks I knew I didn’t feel right. I loved my girl but my anxiety continued to grow to the point I started having panic attacks. I developed compulsive behaviours and was completely preoccupied with the thought that something bad was going to happen. I was in tears often, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat and I just wanted to escape my mind. I was capable and meeting my babies needs, but I believed I was a terrible mother, I had failed, and my daughter was surely going to hate me.
The day I completely fell in a hole was the day my cousin passed away. My daughter was 9 weeks old. I felt numb and exhausted. I knew I needed help and I promised my daughter I was going to get better. I had an urgent appointment with my psychiatrist. I was started on medication and less than a week later I was on my way to a Mother and Baby Unit. Going to the unit was almost a relief. There was someone else to do the worrying for me and make sure everything was ok. We spent 4 weeks here before coming home.
By no means was I fixed but it was a start. I had strategies and the support I needed.
I continued to see my psychologist and psychiatrist frequently. Each day things became a little better. Eventually I had more good days than bad. And now the bad are few and far between. PANDA were also an enormous source of support for me. I would frequently make a call to them feeling distraught, and by the time I hung up I had regained calm and hope. I cannot thank them enough.
My journey through PND and anxiety changed my life, and in some ways I am grateful. I found strength I never knew I had and am so much more at peace with who I am. The best advice I can give to expecting and new parents is to be kind to yourself. Ask for help when you need it and let someone you know if you don’t feel ok, you are not alone. When you are in the depth of depression and anxiety it can feel hopeless and easy to believe things will never get better. But with time and support, they can and they will.
"The scan revealed a perfect beating heart, but also uterine abnormality that brought with it a whole lot of risk and a need for frequent extra monitoring. That is when the anxiety began."