Basically, you need to have constant, consistent sex, said the doctor. All the time. Especially when you’re ovulating. He drew a rough diagram over the top of a calendar. He made it sound easy.
But it wasn’t easy. I had been told my chances of conceiving were very low. I was a chemo washed out cancer free woman knocking on 30. ‘Ovaries probably knackered’ my referral notes more or less said during my latest GP appointment.
When will we hear the patter of tiny feet? Our friends asked. Are you broody? Our family suggested.
The only thing I felt was anxiety. Extreme and constant anxiety to perform in the bedroom, during ovulation and then to successfully carry a child without having a nervous breakdown.
The whole process was a nightmare. The anxiety and pressure of now having to make a child to confirm my adulthood terrified me.
My husband and I took the advice very strictly. It wasn’t fun and exciting. It was tense and potentially could have split us up.
And then one day the test turned blue. And “I’m pregnant!” was whispered as the champagne cork popped that I couldn't drink. I felt depressed. I couldn’t cope with the worry, the anticipation.
The guilt of being pregnant and depressed
The guilt was unbearable. People are depressed because they can’t have children. Or they’re depressed because they’ve had a baby and feel alone. Who on earth is depressed before and during pregnancy? I should have felt lucky and happy but my mood sank lower and lower.
Six weeks into my pregnancy I was diagnosed with hypsermiss gravidum- consistent and constant throwing up my guts as my baby grew. I couldn’t drive and couldn’t get to my appointments.
Throwing up in the morning right through to the sun going down. Nothing felt positive.
An unhealthy obsession
My pregnancy became an unhealthy obsession of worry and panic. I became obsessed with my appointments, making extra ones in the gaps in between. I checked my knickers for blood every morning, for a sign that something was going wrong. I sent the same old text to friends saying “how excited I was” but really I dreaded every moment. The fear of bad news, the terror of the good being taken.
I replaced psychotherapy with anental classes. I instantly felt lonely, left out, the one who wasn’t smiling but should be. At £200 for the course I couldn’t afford to turn my nose up at how to be a ‘proper’ parent course. But no one talked about mental health.
I wanted to talk about my panic, my fears surely I couldn’t have been the only one in the room wondering, butut what if?
Medication plus pregnancy
Sertraline had always been my go to. And when I panicked Diazapm. For the past five years this helped me with my anxiety and panic attacks.
But my doctor advised I should stop the anti-depressants while I was pregnant, and against all the advice I abruptly stopped my sertraline. I felt like I had to choose between my mind and my baby. And then one day, sobbing into the lap of an obstetrician who listened to everything, my 8 months of hell and one month of hope to go. She said that she was happy for me to go back onto antidepressants, that the withdrawal of them was clearly doing me more harm than good.
Back on antidepressants I felt the he pressure release., I felt I could relax and finally be myself. I felt happier and stronger with the feeling of being in control again.
Finally I felt empowered and ready to embrace the last month of pregnancy.